There is always some useful information that you need to know before beginning any new project. When you are dealing with electricity, it is even more important to be safe and know what you are doing. This article will give you step by step instructions on installing low-voltage lights.
*Pre-installation information and ideas can be found at: Low-Voltage Lighting. If you are still trying to decide what kind of garden lights you need, you might want to read: What types of Garden Lights are Available?
Ideally, you will plan lighting as you install other landscape features; but for most homeowners, lighting is an afterthought. This is fine, because low-voltage wired do not need to be buried deeply and simple fixtures can easily be installed in one afternoon. Regardless, this article serves as an important pre-installation step that will help you lay out a plan for where to place fixtures. This way, you can determine how much wire and how many fixtures to purchase.
* Choose a few main focal points you want to highlight at night. These might include a couple of interesting trees, a plant bed, a water feature or walkway you wish to illuminate for guests.
* Note available outdoor electrical outlets
* Mark dark spots in corners or behind bushes, and potentially hazardous steps and curbs
* Plot where you will place outdoor lights. Eleven watt bulbs cast 4 ft. (1.2 m) of light, and path lights are generally available in 20 watts or less.
- Outdoor low-voltage cable
- Lighting fixtures
- Timer (optional)
- Spade, small shovel, or lawn edger
- Pliers and wire cutters
Before digging trenches to hide lighting cables, be sure you know the location of underground wires and pipes. Call your utility company and ask them to mark these spots before you dig. There is no charge for this service and it could save your life.
1. Mount the transformer on the house next to an outdoor electrical outlet and at least 12” (30.5 cm.) above grade. (Follow directions on package.) Connect the transformer to the outlet.
2. Lay out fixtures and wire. If installing lights near plants that are not yet mature, you’ll want to eventually move fixtures out to accommodate growth, so allow some slack.
3. Place fixtures in desired locations. Attach fixtures to the supply wire using the pinch or screw connectors included with the fixtures.
4. Connect the end of the supply wire to the transformer taps, following manufacturer’s directions. Turn on the transformer to verify that all fixtures are working properly.
5. Use a spade, small shovel, or lawn edger to create a shallow trench along the bed where you want to bury cable. If you prefer, cut a 45 degree angle in the lawn surface, pry up turf and place the cable under the sod blanket.
6. Set the automatic timer (if you choose).
Now that you’ve extended your time outdoors with lighting, you might want to try your hand at building a backyard fire pit, or an outdoor dining area.