Landscape lighting remote control for multiple zones (12vAC)

Looking for current ideas on independently controling Multiple zones (6-8) of landscape LED path lights, spot lights with low voltage 12VAC. I think I’ve narrowed the options to an RF relay instead of zwave, wanted to check if someone has experience setting this up and/or has a brand to recommend.

This is a new installation, we’re in the woods, like dark sky and some lights, so we want to have multiple zones of lights with separatae on/off remote control for each one. Originally I wanted dimming too, but will just calibrate the light brightness.

Thanks in advance for any comments. The discussions and creativity of this group has been very helpful with figuring out all the automation options (indoor lights, motor shades and now… outdoor lights). While some learning translates, there are significant differences -its outdoor, 12Vac (not DC).

Existing smart controls include:

  • RF hub broadlink pro, with Alexa skill enabled for interior shades and some LED lights.
  • Smartthings hub, and zwave powered light switches (not for the RF Control).

The max watts on a zone is under 5A, with 3-7 watt lights at 12V.
-Lights, spot lights etc… [Volt path lights, 12vAC]

The solution would ideally be straight forward and cost effective…

  • Reasonable cost for 6-8 channels of separate on/off control
  • Remote switches outside, near the landscape transformer outside
  • works with low voltage wire off the transformer
    1 - Rf relay switch - is this Ok to be outside, in a box?
    Control via RF signal (from their remote programmed to the Broadlink hub)
    Wired: power to the control (which could be 12vDC), then it is a dry relay switch for the 12vAC power to the lights
    emylo 6 channel

mimolite $60 for 2 channels
generic 433 mhz relay - looking for one with more reviews

2 - zwave relay- seem pricey for multiple channels
Enerwave, qubino, Fibaro…
mutli-channel zwave - but for indoor
The Zen16 says it is for indoor use only, with the temp range it wont be happy when it freezes. ? I have a question in them, they are super helpful

3 - Smart plug to the transformer - unless I get multiple transformers, this doesn’t seem effective for many zones.
I’m looking for a way to have more independent controls for separate sections.

Other parts of the system…still working out the full solution

So, I just received one of the 2-channel eWelink Zigbee relays and, at first glance, it should do what you are seeking to do.

They also make a 4-channel, but I’ve not tried yet, but if it confirms to work the same as the 2-channel, it should have you covered with 2 devices. (one two channel, and one 4 channel)

It is stated to work with 5v DC with the micro USB plug (confirmed) or 7-32v AC/DC for powering the device itself, while the relays are fed power from whatever you are feeding the lights with.

Here is a link to Aliexpress with both options:

They are also available on Amazon under the MHCOZY branding, at least the 2-channel, anyway:

Edit: Found the 4 channel on Amazon too:

Only had it for a day, but so far it is working great.

Some discussion over at the Hubitat forum, the consensus is that the negative review is from someone who didn’t know how to set it up. I can confirm that it pairs with Smartthings using a functioning handler Zigbee Multi Switch:

You can change control from RGBW to individual channels, and have 4 dimmers for single color lights (4 zones)

Excellent! Thank you.
I hadn’t consider zigbee at all - thinking that I’d committed to building the zwave mesh network. I even found that device in the Rf / Non-zigbee version. I may have to introduce someother zigbee thing between the hub and the landscape lighting, but that could just be a smart plug - there are recommendations out there.

Using this instead of generic RF means it can be in the smartthings hub. Also reminds me of another protocol to consider. I’ll try it!

Interesting - for inside and DC LED.
These outside lights run on 12v-AC, - and it goes below freezing.

Think outside of the box, or maybe sounds better inside of the box :grinning:

Plenty of room for driver and for power supply. Box makes it water proof, and power supply keeps it warm in the winter

Oh - like it is ‘indoors’ in the outside box. That’s very helpful. I could use that for the Zen16-zooz zwave relay and for other rgbw LEDs on the back porch. or… even on the front porch if I used it for holiday lights.

I am really glad I asked and thank you both for your suggestions. Having expert suggestions of what can be done will hopefully save some time and frustration (I should have asked earlier!).

Im in a scramble to at least get the wire laid out while the yard is being dug up this week.
If I watted to also use DC in the future - for white only - is that run off the same kind of wire (with different power) - like the 16/2 I am going to use for the 12vac?

To use color rgbw, that’s different wire, for the colors.

Someone once told me that if you are doing extensive digging where water pipe or wire will be put there, double it up, and plan for any future changes.

I guess it depends on how extensive the digging is, but I would definitely trust you instincts on future proofing.

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@blkwll and @milandjurovic71
In classic scope creep, prompted by the idea of rbg controller, I’m now trying to plan for RGBW spotlights to combine the holiday solution with a wall spotlight.

I have a question about planning decisions for the distance between the power (12V), the relay switch and the LED controller and the RGBW Spotlights, which affects where the 5 wire RGBW is running. This is lanscape lighting so the wire will be buried.

My question is to check that it’s ok that I plan for the Transformer and all the controllers in a box that’s some way from some of the lights - 60-80 feet before the first light. where it goes along a sidewalk before going under to the other side, or it’s going across the yard to some far point.

Approach: Centralized power, control, switches controlling lights in different places in the front yard.
1 - Transformer
16/2 wire to…
2 - Relay switch for on/off to zones of lights. MH Cozy 4 Channel Zigbee relay
3- LED RGBW controller (TBD) for the colored spotlights
at least 2 for two sets of colors “zones” which are in 3 different places in the yard
4 - 16/5 wire running out to the RGBW spotlights
5 - Spotlights (60-80) feet away
max watts on a zone 15watts, with about 5 - 3 watt lights at 12V.

This means I’m running 16/5 wire - sprinkler wire 16 gage, burial- a long way. Vs running power wire most of that way and then having another box with the RGB controller.
Youtube videos on the length of wire does show it can run fairly far.

I’m going to run both - 16/2 for the white path lights and 16/ 5-wire for the RGBW spot lights.

So I could have more boxes with hubs of LED controllers, but then it gets more complicated and expensive with more LED controllers.

My first thought is that the 5 conductor wire won’t be necessary, and a heavier gauge 2 conductor wire would likely serve you better.

The reason being, that the power can be transformed from 12V AC to 12V DC at or near the location of the bulb or controller etc, if the device isn’t compatible with 12V AC, such as a 12v DC LED controller box.

Here is some food for thought while I think on this some more. Hopefully others will offer some input.

Pro or 3.0 version has Zigbee mesh capability, and 12V AC compatible, hopefully someone could explain “mesh” better than me, maybe it just means “repeater”?

Aliexpress link:

Edit fixed links… erroneously posted GU10 instead of MR16

And another option:

Not real sure how well the Zigbee signal would work inside MR16 landscape lighting housing… I guess this would be considered avant-garde, even by Smart Community standards.

So … there are rbg outdoor lights where the color is controlled by remote to the light housing - OR - through a LED Controller with RGB wiring to the light.
That may explain why the ‘how to wire it up’ had different answers.

So, I need to pick the spotlight, to know what I need before sticking wire in the ground I may not need.

I’ll check out that site.

Yes, basically either the Zigbee MR16 RGBW LED bulbs or LED controllers can be powered by the two conductor 12 volt AC wire, the caveat being that the LED controllers (boxes as opposed to bulbs) typically are powered by 12 volt DC, and in that case a AC to DC converter can be implemented.

Those Zigbee RGBW MR16 bulbs have the controller part built in. As long as they are Zigbee 3.0 they create a Zigbee mesh, which I am assuming is the same thing as a repeater. If I’m wrong on that, I’m sure someone will clarify.

The unknown is what effect the housings of the landscape lighting would have on the bulbs ability to transmit and receive commands. I suppose that would be a consideration when buying a housing, assuming some would block more signal that others. I would hate to make a prediction on that range.

The first Amazon link to the Gledopto bulb doesn’t make clear whether that particular MR16 bulb is the 3.0 version. The last thing I want to do is give you bad information, so I would assume it might be an older version.

Anyway, just wanted to expand on the options.

Wow. Took a couple of readings though to see this is a totally different approach. With the bulb as the receiver, it’s a separate device, the wiring to the housing is just the power and the ‘zones’ can be set to whatever!
This is how people hit the limits of the ST Devices.

That’s a big switch from what I was originally thinking - just in time.

  • using zigbee
  • smart bulbs
  • normal fixtures, that take an MR16 bulb.
  • one set of wires

Thank you! I’ll report back when I get it set up - eventually.

It does sound exciting!

I hope to do something similar, and exploring the options led me to thinking this is how I would do it.

I would say the gauge of the power wire is going to be very important.

Here is a chart that might help with that:

You can calculate amps by dividing the total watts by 12.

I know a 10-AWG wire, for example, might seem like overkill, but it really depends on how your amps calculate, and it will give you a solid electrical foundation, by doing so.

Edit: adding some more thoughts.

I was just thinking that running 120v AC a point near to where the landscape lighting begins, might be a good option, as it would allow for the 12 AC transformer to be closer to the landscape lighting, and allowing for a smaller gauge wire on the low voltage side. It also would allow more utility in that area. This could already be the plan, just offering some thoughts.

Also, as far as Zigbee signal from the house to the outside area, It could be as easy as putting a Zigbee 3.0 bulb in an external fixture of the house. Otherwise a repeating device could be inserted somewhere in between the house and the landscape lighting area.

There doesn’t appear to be any good options for the Zigbee MR16 lights that don’t ship from China, but all things being equal the Amazon link to the 6 pack option of the BENEXMART Zigbee 3.0 seems to best Aliexpress by a little, even if they ultimately do ship from China, although I haven’t seen anything definitive about them also working with RF controls. Otherwise Gledopto has well-established reputation, and apparently do work with RF controls/remotes, as well.

**Also, a reminder to be wary of the difference between GU10 and MR16 (120 vs 12 volt). As they look the same and are often are presented on the same product page.