Providing a soft, dramatic light ideal for highlighting key features of your landscape, low voltage landscape lighting offers a safe, simple to install outdoor lighting solution for homeowners. Just what makes it such a safe, simple home addition?
Low Voltage = Low Risk
With the help of a transformer, low voltage outdoor lighting reduces your home’s 120-volt electrical supply down to a mere 12 volts, making it easier to work with and safer for DIY homeowner installations.
How to Install Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting Step-By-Step
Low voltage lighting kits are available in a wide variety of styles, sizes, colors and finishes at your area home improvement store. Look for kits that include lights, 100' of low-voltage cable, and a transformer for lowering current flow.
- Safety first.
Before installing low voltage lighting, you must have a GFCI outlet where you’ll plug in the transformer. This should be installed outside near where you want the lights. While you’re at it, consider other outdoor additions. (LINK-“Outdoor Kitchen Ideas for a Summer to Remember”)
- Some assembly required.
Put the lights together. Attach the stakes, followed by the light bulb, lens and cover. Lay the wires alongside the lights – but do not attach yet.
- Layout the lights.
Lay the lights out where you want to install them. (It’s easier to make adjustments now rather than after they are installed.) Leave the wire atop the ground, making sure everything is where you want it.
- Secure the transformer.
Mount the transformer on the wall near your GFCI outlet, installing it at least one foot above ground level. When mounting to brick surfaces, be sure to use a masonry bit, and plastic/lead anchors to ensure a secure installation. If you prefer, stake the transformer into the ground near your chosen GFCI outlet instead, mounting it at least one foot aboveground.
- Dig the trench.
Once you’re satisfied with the placement, it’s time to dig the trench for the cable. Low voltage landscape lighting only require a shallow trench, and can even be left above ground, if preferred, though this may put wiring at risk from lawn equipment. Despite the fact the trench is shallow, call your local utility company before digging. They will mark underground utilities for free, ensuring your safety. After trenching, layout the lines, but don’t bury them yet.
- Connect the cable.
Run the wires from the light assembly through the riser base. Attach the lights to the cable, which have clamps with metal teeth capable of piercing wiring covers to tap the electrical line. After tapping the lights into the wiring, strip the ends of the low-voltage power cable, and connect them to the terminals on the transformer. Turn on power to check lighting and electrical connections for operation.
- Bury the wire.
Make final adjustments later in the evening, burying cables the following day.
Program your lighting, setting the timer for the hours you want the lights ON/OFF.
- Weatherproofing the outlet for the transformer.
Apply a plastic ‘while in-use’ cover to the outdoor outlet to protect it from rain and snow, yet allow ease-of-access.
Enjoy your outdoor lights, and admire your handiwork.
Confused over how to install low voltage landscape lighting in your yard, or not great at GFCI installation? The lighting pros at Mr. Electric can help. Contact us today.