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I googled this question before posting here - I cant seem to find anyone with my exact needs, so I am asking here.

I have a light switch connected to an outlet that is under my house. From here I have a power strip mounted to the joist then there are 3 sets of Home Depot brand landscape lights connected to this strip (22 total lamps). They are too bright, and I would like to dim all three permanently (meaning set it once). I don't have any desire to change the level once I have it set, so its okay if the device I need is under the house.

What should I do?

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Why don't you just swap the lights themselves with some lower wattage replacements? May probably be cheaper in the long run, too. – alt Mar 4 '14 at 21:39
Hang on, you have a POWER STRIP mounted to your joist? Is it exterior-rated? Can it withstand rain / snow / whatever else is thrown at it without causing untold misery? – alt Mar 4 '14 at 21:40
Yes. Its in the crawl space so its relatively dry. – AlanL Mar 4 '14 at 22:06
thought about replacing the bulbs too.. but I am trying to match the brightness of some other lights so a dial would give me the ability to get the exact brightness. – AlanL Mar 4 '14 at 22:07
Sounds like the transformer you have can't be dimmed, which means either replacing the transformer, or dimming downstream of it (before the lights). This might actually be a better question for Electrical Engineering(electronics.stackexchange.com); essentially: How can I dim 22 (LED/incandescent/halogen) bulbs that draw (number of watts) watts each at 12V AC? – gregmac Mar 4 '14 at 22:34
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The specifications for the current power pack (transformer) offered by Malibu says that it is Not for use with dimmers. Older versions listed on their site also say the same thing.

While some of the earlier transformers from that manufacturer may differ, it doesn't look promising unless you swap out the transformer for a different brand.

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The easiest thing to do is just replace the lightswitch with a dimmer switch. They make ones where the switch is separate from the dimmer so you can set it to the desired level and then just switch it on and off. If you want to lock in the dimmer, just use some superglue.

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and this is safe on low voltage landscape lights? – AlanL Mar 4 '14 at 21:02
Good point. You will have to check the transformer to see what it says. It's possible it's not dimmer compatible. Another option is you can replace the transformers with ones that built-in dimmers. – longneck Mar 4 '14 at 21:08
its a Malibu Low Voltage from home depot. spec on their www don't mention dimmers either way. – AlanL Mar 4 '14 at 21:16
You would probably need a magnetic low voltage dimmer in this case – Steven Mar 4 '14 at 21:49

If there are an even number of lamps, and you want them to be a lot dimmer, you could divide them into two groups and wire those groups in series with each other. Note that if any lamp fails that would cause all the other lamps in its group to become brighter and those in the other group to become dimmer. If the lights were near rated voltage after having been wired in series, having the lights that were in the same group as the failed one get brighter could cause a cascading failure, but if each bulb is rated for the full circuit voltage that shouldn't be a problem.

Note that the transformer and all equipment should be perfectly happy with this approach, but that it will probably cut brightness by 75% or so [it will probably cut power consumption by somewhat less than 75%]. Whether that is acceptable would depend upon your desired look.

This particular site doesn't support a schematic-drawing tool, but it would be possible to wire a double-pole double-throw switch to select between normal and greatly-reduced brightness. Such a design would not be appropriate with 120VAC, but shouldn't be a problem with low-voltage wiring.

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