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How To Install Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting In No Time

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.

low voltage lighting

The Transformer: Step 1

low voltage transformer 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

low voltage light fixtures 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:

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.

image credits: Landscape Design Advisor,  Tyler

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The 3 Different Types of Garden Pond Lighting Ideas

Adding lighting to a pond creates another dimension to a garden’s ambiance at night. Even though lighting doesn’t provide any real benefits to the fishes, they allow you to see what they are up to when the sun goes down. There are a number of areas where lights can be placed to decorate and light up a pond. Here we will go over the three general areas, specific garden pond lighting ideas and also the different types of lights.

pond lighting ideas

Lighting Types – Halogen and LED

The pond lighting ideas outlined below can come in two different bulb types, Halogen and LED. The most common pond lights are low voltage 12 volt halogen lamps. These are inexpensive lights that only come as white bulbs (colored lenses are included with some pond lighting kits). Halogen light bulbs do give off a lot of heat, and consume a lot of energy, making them have a short life span. LED pond lighting is an alternative, which is becoming more and more popular. These are eco friendly lights that have a much longer life span than halogen bulbs. Because they use much less energy, they give off less heat which is ideal for lighting small ponds. Unlike halogens, the LED light bulbs themselves can come in a range of colors. There are also LED pond lights that are preprogrammed to fade to different colors.

The 3 Types of Pond Lighting Ideas

When it comes to deciding which lighting ideas are best for your pond, you will want to decide if you want to create soft and subtle lighting or turn your pond into a garden feature by adding more light fixtures. Do you want to see the whole pond at night or just light certain areas and see glimpses of fish as they swim by – creating a more mysterious and enchanting pond at night.

There are three types of pond lighting ideas:

  1. Underwater lighting
  2. Above water lighting
  3. Perimeter lighting

Underwater Pond Lighting

Underwater recessed pond lights

Underwater lights are the most common lights in creating a well lit pond at night. These are low voltage electrical lights. Usually 35 to 75 watts, the deeper the pond the higher the wattage needed.

The most popular types are kits that contain 1 or 3 lamps that you stake to the bottom of the pond. Another option is to have recessed lights fitted into the bedrock underwater (much like swimming pool lighting).

There are also lights that are fitted into a rock shaped encasing, that blends in with the rest of the pond. These are low voltage lights that are submerged underwater.

Most underwater lights are used for general lighting – they wash a general area of the pond with light. However, there are spotlights that can be used underwater. These are used to provide more focused and localized lighting, highlighting a certain spot underwater, whether that is a rock bed, an underwater statue, etc.

Left: General underwater pond light Right: Underwater spotlight

Lighting Tip: More natural hues of colors (off white, orange, green, yellow) are used for submersible pond lighting, while purples and blues are generally used for decorative above water lighting.

Above Pond Lighting

Another way of adding lighting to a pond is to add lights that sit above the water. Floating pond lights are an elegant lighting fixture to add. These can come as low voltage or solar powered versions. Floating solar lights are a lot easier and cheaper to install, and will automatically come on as it gets dark. These lights generally have the bulb above the water and will wash the surface of the pond with light. There are floating lights that have the bulb on the bottom so the light points down into the pond. This acts as moon lighting, lighting the pond and the fishes from above. Using floating lights along with underwater lights will create soft and subtle lighting for a pond.

Floating solar pond lights

Lights attached to the base of a fountain

Another above pond lighting idea is fountain lighting. If you have, or are planning on installing a fountain that aerates the water, spurting water up into the air, lights can be installed at the base. The lights are pointed up onto the shooting water, illuminating and even changing the color of the water (with the use of lenses or colored LED lights). This creates a colorful water display.

Perimeter Lighting

Lighting the perimeter of the pond adds to the visual display of the pond and also to the safety. Outlining the perimeter of the pond helps in navigating around it at night. There are a number of perimeter lighting ideas.

Simple perimeter lighting ideas would include solar lights. These can come in rock shapes to blend in with the landscape, or solar stake lights that are planted into the soil around the pond. Recessed lights can be installed into the ground and rock bed above the water (either as solar powered or low voltage).

Spotlights shining from above are ideal for larger ponds. These can be attached to a wall or the rock bed, and can shine down onto a particular area or feature in or around the pond. A small waterfall, where the water simply cascades down over a small rock bed and ventilates the pond, can be lit up with simple above ground or even underwater spotlights – turning the waterfall into a feature of the pond.

Stake lights outlining a pond

Pond mister

One Step Further

How about adding a simple pond mister? These are simple devices that create a mystical mist above the water. They are completely safe to life in the pond. These are used only for decorative purposes, and with the use of lighting they create a beautiful water display. Here you can use LED lights that can change the color of the mist.

Where to Buy

Total Pond has a small selection of pond lights, which are available online from Home Depot

Good quality pond lights range in price from $20 for simple floating lights and single submersible lighting kits to over $200 for complete lighting systems for garden ponds.

When it comes to pond lighting ideas, simple and subtle lighting goes a long way in creating a beautiful water feature. Invest in high quality fixtures as these will be able to stand the conditions of pond life.

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