Why Did None of my Outdoor Lights Come On?

Low-Voltage Lighting Systems are Powered by Low Voltage Transformers

You can think of a transformer as an appliance…the transformer plugs into a normal 120V outlet on the side of your house, in your crawlspace, or in your garage, and converts 120V to 12V. This is what makes the lighting system low voltage (and energy efficient!). We then run our low voltage wire out of the transformer and tie our lights into one or several runs of wire coming out of the transformer. If none of the lights are coming on, that means there is either an issue with the transformer/timer or the high voltage outlet it is plugged into. We always recommend using an outlet that has a bubble cover on it if the outlet is outside so that it is protected from being tripped by moisture or wet weather. Over time, if an outlet is not protected and continues to trip, eventually it will go bad and need to be replaced. Our transformer stays plugged into the outlet it is using, so it is important that the outlet stays protected.

Troubleshooting Solutions

When none of your lights are coming on, the first thing to do is check and see if the outlet the transformer is plugged into has power. We typically recommend using a cell phone charger or something else small and portable you can quickly use to assess whether or not an outlet is putting out power. If the outlet has power, then it might be a timer or transformer issue on our end, and it is something we will probably have to help you with further. You should not be having this type of issue immediately after install so in most cases this is something we will help to rectify at no cost.

If you check the outlet the transformer is plugged into and there is no power, then it is at least partially a high voltage electrical issue, and more than likely there is nothing wrong with anything we installed.

The first thing you should do is see if the outlet we are plugged into is a GFCI outlet. This is going to be an outlet with Test and Reset buttons. If the outlet the transformer is plugged into is not a GFCI outlet, then the circuit that outlet is on is tied back to a GFCI outlet. This would be most commonly found in your garage, somewhere on the side of the house or front porch, or possibly in the crawlspace. You will want to test and reset that outlet and then go back to check your transformer outlet for power.

If that does not restore power to the outlet, you will next want to go to your breaker/circuit box and check for a tripped breaker. This would be the breaker that controls the outside and, most likely, garage outlets. Flip this back on if it is tripped or turn it off and back on again, then go test the transformer outlet to see if power has been restored. If you are unable to restore power using the GFCI test/rest or from the breaker box, then it is possible the outlet has gone bad and needs to be replaced. This will require a high voltage electrician.

Our digital timers have a 2-week battery backup in them, so once you restore power to the outlet your lights should turn on as scheduled the following evening.

To recap, follow these steps when none of your lights come on:

1.       Establish whether or not there is power to the outlet the transformer is plugged into. You can use something small like a hair dryer or cell phone charger to quickly determine this.

a.       If there is power to this outlet, the transformer is tripped or the timer is bad/wasn’t programmed properly. Please call us!

b.       If there is no power, proceed to Step 2

2.       Use the test/reset buttons on the GFCI outlet either on the outside of your house, inside your garage, or possibly in the crawlspace.

a.       Retest if the outlet the transformer is using has power

b.       If it doesn’t have power, proceed to Step 3

3.       Go to your breaker/circuit box and see if any breakers are tripped. If the breaker that controls your outside outlets is tripped, flip it back on. If that breaker is not tripped, try shutting it off and turning it back on again.

a.       Retest if the outlet the transformer is using has power

4.       If resetting the GFCI outlet and/or breaker doesn’t restore power, you will need a high voltage electrician to repair or replace the outlet.

Troubleshooting Didn’t Work? Contact Us

If your troubleshooting didn’t solve the problem, then contact us at Carolina Lights. Our team at Carolina Lights is knowledgeable about all kinds of outdoor lighting systems. We are ready to help you with any lighting issue you might have! Call us at (919) 523-0561 or complete the easy-to-use form below.

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