Landscape lighting can add a high-end look to your home and makes it safer too. The first step is to choose your lighting. There are many types of lights and fixtures to choose from. Outdoor spotlights can highlight specific features, while floodlights can illuminate a wide area. Driveway lights help guests looking for your home know where to turn at night.
There are a variety of outdoor landscape lighting fixtures such as Spotlights, Floodlights, Up/Downlights, Step lights, Bollard lights, String lights, and Garden lights; but there are currently three types of landscape lighting systems.
Choose the type of light system you want before learning how to install landscape lighting. There are three types of landscape lighting, each with its own installation method.
Solar landscape lights are powered by a solar cell charged throughout the day. They are the easiest to install because they do not require any wiring. To charge fully, they need six to eight hours of direct sunshine every day.
Line Voltage landscape lighting system runs at 120 volts, the same voltage as your home’s appliances. Line voltage lights are connected to your home’s electrical system using an electrical junction box and a conduit to safeguard the wires. Because of the complexities of these systems, they may require an electrical permit and should only be installed by a certified electrician.
Low Voltage landscape lighting system is powered by a transformer that reduces the normal electricity to 12 volts. These systems are safe to use, energy-efficient, and fairly simple to install. They are connected to a GFCI outlet outside your home.
The majority of low-voltage lighting solutions come with a transformer that plugs into a standard outdoor-rated GFCI electrical outlet. The transformer lowers, or “steps down,” the home voltage from 120 volts to 12 volts. Integrating landscape lights with a transformer is more difficult than installing solar lights, but it is less difficult than installing line voltage lighting.
Check for underground utilities before you start any digging. For a nationwide listing of utility companies, use the North America One Call Referral Service (simply dial 811).
- Most transformers are rated to handle loads ranging from 100 to 300 watts. A higher rating indicates a longer wire and, as a result, more light fixtures that may be connected to the system.
- If you wish to add more path lights than a transformer can handle, you’ll need to buy a larger transformer. Purchasing a complete new system in a landscape light kit may be more cost-effective than purchasing only a new transformer.
There are many number gauges or sizes of low voltage landscape cables. A lower number indicates a thicker wire and a higher capacity to transmit electrical current over greater distances. The common wires for landscape lighting are 8-, 10-, 12-, 14-, or 16-gauge wires. We recommend 12-gauge or 10-gauge wire for long distances. This is done to avoid voltage drops. The greater the distance between the transformer and its power supply, the more resistance arises in the circuit, causing the voltage to fall.
If the total wattage of the fixtures on the line is 100 Watts or less, you may run 12-gauge wire up to 100 feet without experiencing voltage drop.
|Total Nominal Wattage|
|150W with 16 Gauge Cable||200W with 14 Gauge Cable||300W with 12 Gauge Cable|
|Max. Cable Length (FT)||Max. Cable Length (FT)||Max. Cable Length (FT)|
|300 watts||not recommended||150||200|
|500 watts||not recommended||150 (2 separate runs)||200 (2 separate runs)|
|600 watts||not recommended||150 (2 separate runs)||200 (2 separate runs)|
|900 watts||not recommended||150 (3 separate runs)||200 (3 separate runs)|
Check to see whether your wire and connections are listed for direct burial, which improves the prevention of corrosion and other weather-related issues over time.
- Install the transformer according to the manufacturer’s instructions in a readily accessible position near a GFCI outlet outside your home.
- A wood screw may be used to install most types of siding. Use screws that are long enough to penetrate the sheathing beneath the siding.
- For masonry, drill a hole for a lag shield, then screw it into the shield.
- Another alternative is to install the transformer on a wooden pole near your house.
- Remove roughly 3/4-inch of insulation from the two conductors of the 10-gauge main wire that will power the landscape lights.
- Connect each wire to the terminals of the transformer according to the manufacturer’s directions.
- Do not connect the transformer just yet.
- Low voltage light fixture kits are often self-assembly items. At the very least, you’ll need to snap the plugs into place, and you might need to perform some basic wiring. Follow the directions provided by the manufacturer.
- For path lights, measure a specific pattern between the units and set them on the ground temporarily.
- Once you’ve positioned the fittings, push stakes into the ground to ensure they stay upright.
- Extend the cable from the transformer along the route of the fixtures you just mounted.
- Make sure to keep the wire above ground.
- Make sure to leave around 18 inches of slack at each fixture before making the electrical connections. This will allow you to change or alter the fixture placement later if necessary.
- Use silicone-filled waterproof wire connectors/nuts made for outdoor use.
- Begin by removing an inch of insulation from the wires coming from the fixture.
- Then cut the cable, split the conductors, and strip the wires.
- Insert a brass “butt-splice connector” over each conductor and tighten the set-screw on one end.
- Repeat for the second conductor.
- Insert each wire into heat shrink tubing. Connect the other conductors to one of the fixture’s wires.
- Slip the wires into the end of the brass connector and secure them.
- Repeat this procedure with the other wire from the other fixture and the remaining wire.
- Place the heat shrink over both brass connectors.
- Heat the tubing using a butane or propane flame until it shrinks firmly around the wires.
- Go through the process again for each fixture.
- Connect the transformer and power on the system.
- If the lights are not very bright, the problem is most likely an underpowered transformer. If necessary, increase the power of the transformer.
- Dig a narrow 6-inch trench along the course of the cable with a shovel.
- Bury the cable in the trench.
- The final step is to program the timer or enable the photosensor on the transformer to turn on and off the lights automatically.
Syston Cable offers Low Voltage Direct Burial Landscape Lighting Cables in 8-AWG, 10-AWG, 12-AWG,14-AWG, and 16-AWG.
Visit our webpage for all the Direct Burial Landscape Lighting Cables we have to offer: https://www.systoncable.com/landscape-lighting-tracer-wire/
Written by Syston Cable Team