Outdoor lighting gives you the opportunity to totally transform the look of your house after daylight as well as increase its safety. Much more aesthetically pleasing than those harsh and obtrusive floodlights, this guide will show you how to install low voltage outdoor lighting quickly and easily.
The Transformer: Step 1
First, select your transformer. Low voltage lighting is easier and safer to work with than interior lighting because the transformer lowers the standard 120-volt wattage to a harmless 12 volts. Choose a transformer that allows you to connect several cables. Mount it either on a stake or on the outside of your home, making sure that it is no less than one foot above the ground and no more than one foot away from your ground-fault circuit-interrupter outlet. Some contain photocells that require exposure to direct sunlight. Make sure it is turned off while you install it. You may also want to add a waterproof covering to the outlet for additional weather-proofing.
Lighting Ideas: How To Install Low Voltage Lighting Step 2
Next, plan the design of your lighting. Do you want to optimally light landscaping and foliage? Do you just want to light a walkway for safety purposes? Do you have ponds or a pool that could benefit from some nighttime lighting? Create a comprehensive lighting plan that includes all lights for paths and their surrounding greenery, offset lighting for footpaths, tree-mounted spotlights for mimicking moonlight, and/or waterproof fixtures for aquatic purposes that you may need. Look into low voltage outdoor lighting kits for hassle-free pre-selected packages and supplies.
For some ideas on what low voltage outdoor lights to use have a look at our related posts:
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- 6 Simple Artistic and Decorative Outdoor Lighting Ideas
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- Exterior Lighting: A Guide To Landscape Lighting
- Outdoor Pathway Lighting Ideas: From Post Lights To String and Tiki Torches
Wiring Up Your Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting Parts
The fixtures you buy will have instructions included that will tell you the proper gauge of cable to use. Layout your light fixtures beginning with the farthest away from the transformer and work your way towards it. Once you have placed all your fixtures, leaving about eight to ten inches between each source, and laid out the wiring you can connect the wires to the transformer. Remove about three quarters of an inch of insulation from the cables and insert the exposed wires underneath the terminal screws located at the bottom of your transformer.
Burying The Wires and Connecting To The Light Fixtures
Now you can bury the cables in a shallow trench (it only needs to be about three to six inches deep). Be sure to leave some slack and a small amount of cable sticking up out of the dirt at each juncture so that you can easily link the fixtures. Attach all lights and cables according to manufacturer specifications. Turn on the transformer to ensure everything is in working order. It is best to check the functioning at night to determine if everything is to your liking. Then, push all those visible cable connectors about two inches into the soil.
So there you have it, a basic guide on installing low voltage landscape lighting.