It doesn’t take much to enhance the outdoor appeal of a home. With a bit of nighttime lighting, you can add safety and security while enjoying the benefits of low-voltage landscape lights. []
When installing outdoor lighting on your property, the best option is always to add exterior-grade fixtures. Many people place these assets along their driveway or walkway, but it’s also an ideal solution for illuminating steps, walls, fences, or prominent landscaping features.
With only a dozen low-voltage outdoor landscape lights, it’s possible to completely transform a property’s look without spending a small fortune.
Steps to Follow When Installing Outdoor Landscape Lighting
Before you get started with an outdoor landscape lighting project, you’ll want to think about how to connect your system to the grid. You’ll need a GFCI-protected outlet with a while-in-use cover to have a successful installation. []
If you don’t have this outlet, you’ll want to hire a licensed electrician to install one for you. An extension cord or an indoor outlet is not a suitable alternative.
Once the outlet is installed, there is a place for the transformer that turns the standard household current into the low-voltage outdoor solution you want.
When that asset is in place, you can begin the rest of the work.
1. Set out the fixtures and system components.
It helps to set the pathway light fixtures on the ground where you plan to install them. Most systems do well when the items are about eight feet apart.
Your first fixture should be at least ten feet away from the transformer.
The low-voltage cable follows the light fixture lineup. If your system is 200 watts or less, a 14-gauge cable is helpful. []
You’ll need a 12-gauge cable for systems above that requirement. If you have a fence, shrub, or another obstacle, string it under or around instead of digging underneath.
2. Turn over the sod.
Once the layout is visualized, it’s time to turn the sod over. A flat-blade shovel works the best for this step. Don’t forget to move your fixtures and cable out of the way!
Use the shovel’s blade to dig out a three-inch trench where the cable will go in the soil. It also helps to place the fixtures on top of the sod to prevent it from falling back into the working area.
Anything deeper than three inches will make it difficult to connect the fixture to the cable.
3. Bury the cable in the trench.
The low-voltage cable goes into the trench. It helps to leave some of it slacked at each fixture point to make the connections easier to manage.
You’ll want to leave some of the cable sticking up from the soil near where each fixture sits. Then make a slit in the sod where the light sits before placing it back flack on the ground.
4. Prepare the holes for the fixtures.
Set the light fixtures into position so that they’re evenly spaced. Position the first one as close to the walkway as possible without having it hang over.
Once you have an idea of where it will stand without getting in the way, make a hold for the stake with a steel punch. A long, flat-blade screwdriver will also work. []
What you don’t want to do is hammer the fixture into the ground. Each light should be at least ten feet away from a potential water source.
5. Prepare the electrical connections.
Slip the connector halves that hang from the bottom of each light fixture to the cable that comes out from the sod. Push them together until you hear a click.
That noise indicates the connections have pierced the cable to connect with the wires. Continue with this process until all the lights are attached to the wire.
You’ll want to plug in the transformer at this stage. Check to see if the lights work. If none of the bulbs are lighting up, you might have a faulty electrical outlet or transformer.
6. Finish the installation
After verifying that all the lights work, you can insert the fixture into its metal ground stake. It usually takes both hands to get it flush with the ground. If it goes in crooked, your lights will be the same way – so it helps to check to ensure it’s not tilted on one side or the other.
The final step is to replace any sod around the fixtures to complete a cohesive look for your landscaping. Soak the area with water to keep the grass healthy. []
In return, you’ll have a beautiful addition to your property with your newly installed outdoor landscape lighting.