The right landscape lighting can provide the perfect accent to your home, and the installation is easy to do.
Enhance the night time curb appeal of your home and add a measure of safety and security to your home with low-voltage landscape lighting. These exterior-grade fixture are ideal for illuminating steps, trees, stonewalls, and other prominent landscape features. It's completely safe for do-it-yourself installation because the system operates on 12 volts of electricity.
Pick your lights.
The first thing you have to do is choose your lighting. There are a lot of different types of lights to choose from. floodlights can illuminate a wide area, while outdoor spotlights can highlight specific features. Guests looking for your home know where to turn at night thanks to pathway lights.
There are areas with a flashlight where you can decide what type of lights to use. At night, use a flashlight with the ability to switch between spot and flood modes to see how different lighting styles look in different areas.
Types of Lights.
Low-voltage lighting, which plugs into any outdoor GCFI outlet and works great as a decorative touch or to illuminate a path, is the type of lighting we will be installing today. We are using a lighting kit that comes with all the necessary components, but if you are building your own or adding to an existing kit, remember to choose a finish that matches.
Step 1: Landscape Lighting Overview
Low-voltage landscape lighting can be a simple improvement that can make a huge difference in how your home looks after dark and in its safety and security as well. Installation along walkways, steps, and driveway, or pointing up at trees, walls, and fences, requires just three components: a transformer, low-voltage electrical cable, and the fixtures. Installation of this type of system doesn't have to be difficult if you've never done wiring before.
There is a transformer that steps down the house current to just 12 volts. It needs to be plugged into a GFCI-protected outdoor electrical outlet with a "while-in-use" cover and oversize plastic box that closes over the power cord. There needs to be enough capacity for the transformer to support the lights in the system. The cable is buried in a shallow trench between the fixtures. As long as you have a nearby outlet, you'll be able to give your home and yard a welcoming glow when the sun goes down.
Step 2: Lay out the Components
The pathway light fixture will be installed about 8 to 10 feet apart on the ground.
Following the line of light fixture, lay the low-voltage cable along the concrete walkway. 14-gauge cable can be used for lighting systems that total 200 watt or less, while 12-gauge cable can be used for systems that are more than 200 watt. When you come to an obstacle, such as a fence or shrub, string the cable under or around it.
Step 3: Turn over the Sod
Move the light fixtures out of the way. Take a flat-blade shovel and slide it underneath the top layer of grass, which is about 12 inches from the edge of the walk. Pull up on the handle to separate the grass from the soil, and then fold over the sod. Continue in this manner all the way along the walkway.
Use the corner of the shovel's blade to scratch the trench in the soil where the wire will go.
Step 4: Bury the Electrical Cable
In the trench, place the low-voltage electrical cable. If you want to make the connection to the light fixtures, leave a bit of slacked cable at each fixture point. Smooth the soil over the trench, but leave the cable sticking up out of the soil near each fixture.
Make a slit in the detached sod where the fixture will sit and fold the sod back over the soil, keeping the cable for each fixture above the grass.
Step 5: Plug in the Transformer
The cable needs to be run up to the outdoor electrical outlet. Then use wire strippers to remove 12 inch of rubber insulation from the cable. There are two terminal screws on the transformer. You need to tighten the screws to hold the cable in place.
Drive a wood stake into the ground next to the outlet. Then screw the transformer to the stake. (It can also be mounted directly to the wall of the house.) Plug in the transformer after you lift up the "while-in-use" cover on the outlet.
Step 6: Prepare Holes for the Fixtures
Set all the light fixtures back into position, checking to make sure they're equally spaced. The first fixture should be positioned as close to the edge of the walkway as possible without any part of it hanging over. (If the fixture extends into the walkway, people will constantly be bumping into it.)
Make a hole in the ground for the fixture's stake by using a long steel punch or large screwdriver. The fixture should never be driven into the ground with a hammer.
Step 7: Make the Electrical Connections
Slip the two connector halves hanging from the bottom of the light fixture over the cable that's protruding from the sod and pinch them together until you hear a click. This allows the sharp prongs inside the connectors to pierce the cable and make contact with the wires inside.
Since the transformer is plugged in, the fixture should light up, confirming the connection is good. If it doesn't, unsnap and re snap the connector, or check the bulb.
Step 8: Install the Light Fixtures
Attach the light fixture to the metal ground stake. Push the fixture and stake into the ground until the top of the stake is above the ground. Make sure it's not tilted to one side. Stuff the cable and connector under the sod and into the soil at a depth of about 2 inches.
Continue installing the rest of the fixture the same way.
Step 9: Replace the Sod
Smooth out the sod around the light fixtures once they are installed and working properly. If necessary, cut the sod around the light fixtures with the shovel. Soak the area with water, press down on the sod and use a garden hose.