We get a lot of phone calls and emails regarding how best to utilise your garden lighting cable. While we encourage this, after all we are here to help, we thought adding a garden lighting cable guide would be very useful to a lot of you. We have 2 different cable options available; the standard mains cables and the deluxe plain cabless. The standard main cables have been in the range from the very beginning whereas, the deluxe plain cables have only been around for the past 3-4 years.
There are three types of main cables in the Techmar range. There is a 8m, 10m and a 15m. There are two common questions we get about cabling regarding the mains cable.
Can you join two main cables together? &Do I have to have a mains cable?
You can actually join several main cables together, the maximum recommended distance is between 60-80mtrs which should be more then adequate for most peoples gardens. Remember, when joining 2 mains cables together you will lose the last socket from the 1st cable. So for example, two 15m mains cables will result in 11 sockets/connectors and not 12.
Up To Three 15m Mains Cables Can Be Joined
What is the difference between SPT3 and SPT1 cables?
The SPT3 cable is a larger cable (cable size 10mm x 5mm) and is capable of taking 150 watts of loading, whilst the SPT1 cable is smaller (cable size 5mm x 3mm) and will take a maximum of 120w. The smaller SPT1 is more than adequate in most garden lighting systems now when using energy saving LED bulbs.
NB. It is always good practice, when using both SPT3 & SPT1 main cables in a continuous run, end to end, to try to start with the bigger SPT3 and connect the SPT1 cables after. This helps reduce any potential problems with "volt drop" on longer cable runs that are approaching the system recommended maximums (as stated below)
Manufacturers Maximum Cable Lengths
The recommended guidelines for joining cables is up to 80m with a maximum load of 120W on our 150W transformer. We would reccomend using either the SPT-3 or the new deluxe cable for distances of this length.We have however supplied systems that are much longer. LED based systems especially perform well using more cable. If you are in any doubt please call us for more help.
Do You Actually Need A Mains Cable?
Well the simple answer is no. If you are for example, running a set of decking lights and your power supply is on or close to the decking, you can simply go from the transformer directly to the lights.
Once you have laid out your mains cable around your garden, you are now in a position where you need to get that power to your lights. All lights in the Techmar range (at time of writing) come with either a 1m, 1.5m 2m or 3m cable. So for the most part this should be enough cable to reach your mains cable. But what if it's not? Well that's where the extension cables come into play. There are 5 in the range: 1m, 2m, 3m, 6m and a 10m.
The smaller 1, 2 and 3mtrs are very useful for adding that extra cable for difficult to reach lights such as wall lights. The 6m and 10m cables are ideally used as a lead in cable. For example if you want your lighting at the bottom of your garden, you don't want all your connectors to be in the first 15m. So by putting a 10m extension cable between the power supply and the 15m mains cable will allow all your connectors to be in a more useful position. The 10m extension cable can also be used to reach very remote lights.
The NEW SPT2 plain cable system is exclusive to us in the UK. It is even more simple to install as you do not need to worry about the fixed light connections as you do on the standard cables. It will easily pull through small ducting as there are no moulded connectors to get in the way. This system will carry a maximum loading of 150 watts and will run a 60-80mtr on average without suffering any Volt Drop. The cable measures 7mm x 3.5mm and sits between the SPT1 and SPT3 cable size. The deluxe SPT2 plain cable system comprises of 10m, 25m and 50mtr cable drum sizes, plusfemaleandmale connectors. It is fully compatible with the entire range of Techmar lights, transformers and accessories. You will need to purchase a female connector for every light you need on the system. The 10m, 25m & 50m cable drums come with a male connector to plug straight into one of our transformers. You can extend the cable or create a branch off the main cable run by using a female and male together, plus the extension cable. The cable can easily be cut to length and capped off using the end caps provided with each cable pack. Give us a call if you need some help with a cable layout.
3 Way Splitter Cable
One very important accessory within the range is the splitter cable. The three way splitter is used to increase the number of sockets/connectors available from one to three. This is very useful, especially if you have an area of your garden which has a number of lights. The three way splitter is also very useful for decking lights that don't connect together (daisy chain) although we will discuss that in more detail in the last part of this guide. You can also plug a splitter into another splitter to create even more sockets. This is really useful if you want a lot of lights bunched together in one area.
Cabling For Decking Lights
When it comes to working out the cablng for your decking lights, it is important to point out that different uplights / decking lights in the range connect together in different ways. All decking and uplights except three use the standard configuration (shown below) as in each light has to be plugged in seperately. We recommend using 3 way splitters to create enough connections for the amount of lights you need. The other 3 lights in the uplight / decking range (the astrum, the alpha and the axis) actually connect to each other. The last light in the chain can either be capped off or can be used to lead on to other lighting.
Lights Connect To Each Other (Daisy Chain)
Something For You To Be Aware Of
Techmar conitnually make improvements to their range. This sometimes results in the upgraded version of a light (although looking exactly the same) having a different length lead. So even if you have purchased a light from us before and are just buying an extra one of the same type, please double check the lead length stated in the product information in case it has changed.
Garden Cable Design Service
As we mentioned at the beginning of this guide, we really do like hearing from our customers, so if you have any questions please let us know. We also have a free cable design service which you can read about here.
What is Volt Drop you ask? Well is where the voltage going through the light system drops the further it goes. This means that you could have a light or two, furthest away from the transformer, looking a little dimmer than the rest. If you tested the voltage at the furthest point of a big system. It would not be 12 volt, it could be 9 or 10 volts. Therefore, the reduced voltage may produce less light from the fittings towards the end. This was a much bigger problem in the old days for Halogen systems. To rectify this the manufacturer tests and produces LEDs that are designed to operate at full output with a reduced voltage input, thus eliminating Volt Drop on much bigger systems. This is not guaranteed as various things lead to Volt Drop, i.e system loading, transformer sizing and whether Techmar manufactured LEDs are being used.
If you are in any doubt, please call us as we have many years’ experience in designing and supplying systems.
SPT3 is approximately 10mm x 5mm (15mtr Main cable and 10m Extension cable) Max 150w loading
SPT2 is approximately 7mm x 3.5mm (Cable on 3 way dividers, Deluxe cables and 1 & 3mtr extension cables) Max 150w loading
SPT1 is approximately 5mm x 2.5mm (8, 10, 15 & 25mtr main cable plus 2 and 6mtr extension cables) max 120w loading