How to Wire Landscape Lighting
Once you've wrapped up the plan for your landscape design, the next step is to enhance the area with bold lighting. Adding considered lighting options is a fabulous way to elevate any outdoor event or the curb appeal of a client's home. You can add fixtures along the pathways and driveways, wash the walls for silhouettes, or use uplights and downlights to highlight the shrubbery and trees.
When you decide how to light up your newly landscaped area, the next task is installing the lights. If you're wondering how to connect low-voltage lights, you'll be happy to know it's an easy process.
Installing and wiring low voltage landscape lighting is a safe project and won't require calling an electrician. Fortunately, 12V landscape lights carry a low electrical shock risk. However, if you're looking into installing higher voltage lighting at about 120V, it's best to call an electrician to get things installed. Of course, you should always start any electrical project by checking your local codes and the National Electrical Code.
Below, we’ll cover how to wire landscape lighting and easily install your fixture with a cable and transformer in 12 easy steps.
How to Wire Low Voltage Landscape Lights in 12 Easy Steps
- Mark out where any existing irrigation lines or cables are to ensure you don't damage these during the lighting installation.
- Unpack all the items and assemble all your lighting fixtures. Attach stake and in-ground mounts to the fixtures. If you are working with surface mounting, you may need a power drill.
- Set your lighting fixtures on the ground where you intend to install them - with your first fixture at least 10 feet from where your transformer will be installed. Once they are in place, lay the low-voltage cable along the path that the line of fixtures will follow, running it under or around any obstacles. 14-gauge cable is best for lighting that amounts to 200 watts or less. 12-gauge cable works well with systems running more than 200 watts.
- Now it's time to get to work. Start by using a shovel to clear a path for the cable about 6 inches deep. (Your local codes will determine the depth, but generally, for low-voltage cable you'll need 6 inches.) Turn over the ground neatly because you'll need the soil to cover the cable up again. Use the shovel's blade to create a 3-inch channel in the soil for the wire to sit.
- Place the electrical cable in the channel you've created but remember not to pull the cable too tightly along the route, as you'll need a little slacked cable to connect to each light fixture. Also, leave about 5 feet of length at each end, in case you need to make adjustments later.
- Once the cable is all set, add a thin layer of soil over it, leaving a piece protruding near each fixture to keep it in place while you work.
- Now you're ready to attach the low-voltage transformer. You can attach it to a wall or screw it into a wooden stake. Just ensure you place it where it can withstand heat, is at least 30 feet from water features, and has a 1-foot clearance in all directions.
- Attach the lighting cable to the transformer by stripping off 1/2 inch of the cable insulation and attaching it to the terminal screws on the bottom. Next, you can plug in the transformer.
- Time to connect the system. Clamp-connect transformers will require you to use levers to clamp the wires. Twist-on connect transformers call for stripping and twisting the wires together and inserting them into the cap. If you don't have clamp or twist connectors, you may have to screw them to clamp the wires. Follow the transformer instructions to place the cables in the 12V or 15V terminal. If everything lights up, the connection is functioning correctly. You can also program your timer, so the lights turn on and switch off at the desired time.
- Start setting all the fixtures into position and ensure they are neatly spaced out, out of any walkways, and at least 10 feet away from water sources like a pool, spa, or fountain. Tuck the cables and connectors under the loose soil at least 2 inches deep.
- Finish up by burying all the cables and leveling the ground. Press down on the soil and water it to keep it secure.
- The final step is to check whether any adjustment Walk around your property, adjust any up or down lights and check for glare.
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