Plug In The Transformer
Run the cable up to the outdoor electrical outlet. Then use wire strippers to cut the cable and strip off ½ inch of the rubber insulation.
Slide the stripped wires under the two terminal screws on the bottom of the transformer. Tighten the screws all the way to hold the cable securely in place.
Drive a wood stake into the ground next to the outlet. Then screw the transformer to the stake.
Lift up the “while-in-use” cover on the outlet and plug in the transformer.
The Lighting We Chose
The alternative to individual solar lights are hardwired lights, so thats what we went with .
A year ago, I teamed up with Kichler to illuminate our back yard and I had no idea how much I would love landscape lighting. . Since the improvement to our dark and lightless backyard was so dramatically better, I knew I wanted to carry the same lights to the front yard. I was super pleased with the quality, the color temperature, the ease of install, and the look of the lights, so I went with the same ones again!
Kichler has a TON of lighting . I started with function, then refined the form. Since the focus was on illuminating pathways, I looked at their path lights and decided on the fundamental path light in bronze. For the lights to illuminate the trees and bounce light off the walls, we went for the small accent lighting with adjustable lumens. These little lights come with magic wands – I kid you not. With the tap of the magnetic wand, the lights adjust between three different light intensities. Learn more about this magic here.
Low Voltage Landscape Lighting Cable Sizes
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
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Where To Place Landscaping Lighting: Do Get Creative With Pathway Lighting
So if you cant put your pathway lights in a straight line, what can you do? Get creative! While you dont want to create too unique of a look that comes off as busy or distracting, you can do something like stagger the lights, or place them so they shine down the pathway. Check out these affordable garden path ideas.
Types Of Landscape Lighting Fixtures
Cylinder, Box Shape and Bullet Shape
These designs help focus and direct the light beams. Some also cut off glare and protect the lamp and socket from debris and moisture.
Spread and Diffused
These low-level units are designed to cast illumination in a broader pattern for flower beds, perimeter plantings, driveways, steps and paths.
In-ground or Well Light
Burying these fixtures flush with the ground conceals the light source. Use for uplighting trees and shrubs, and grazing textured walls.
Spot or Accent
Versatile/adjustable fixtures used for uplighting, crosslighting, accenting and grazing when mounted high up provide focused downlighting and moonlighting.
Wall Bracket, Ceiling Close-up, Chain Lantern
Mounted at entry doors, over garages and on porches, these chain-hung lantern style units cast light outwardeither direct or diffused.
Bollard and Post Lights
These standing fixtures light pathways, steps, garden walks, deck and pool areas. They also provide attractive light patterns for driveways.
Swimming Pool and Fountain Lighting
These fixtures are installed in sides and at ends of swimming pools and bottoms of fountains. Wet niche fixtures can be removed for lamp changes, while dry niche fixtures require access to the back of the pool shell. Colored lighting is popular for this application.
Timers, Transformers and Other Accessories
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The Dos And Don’ts Of Landscape Lighting
While it might come as second nature to have appreciation for design, knowing how to lay it out yourself may come as more of a challenge. In a time where teaching yourself comes as easily as typing what you want to know into a search bar on the internet, we believe everyone has the potential to be their own DIY expert.
This resource guide considers the do’s and don’ts of your landscape lighting so you’ll be equipped with the know-how to create a beautiful, eye-catching outdoor landscape that you can appreciate forever in a one-time effort.
Why Use A Landscape Lighting Designer
The technical skills Ive been talking about here are one reason you should involve a professional landscape lighting designer not just a landscaper in your outdoor project.
A lighting professional knows that using different color temperatures will bring out your trees beauty much better than a one-size-fits-all lighting approach.
A beautiful blue spruce needs a lamp with a 3,500 to 4,000 Kelvin temperature cool lighting to bring out its natural blue hue.
A majestic red maple needs a much warmer, softer temperature bulb, especially in the autumn.
A landscape lighting specialist doesnt just bring wiring, bulbs and fixtures to the job. We bring artistry, skill and design experience.
We interview the homeowner, so we know exactly how you plan to use your yard. We ask lots of questions, so we can turn your outdoor space into a place that brings you joy every day once the sun goes down.
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How To Put In Low
Landscape lighting describes a large and
Some landscape lighting systems operate on “line voltage,” the 120-volt current from your house. For DIY installation, though, we highly recommend low-voltage systems that operate on just 12 volts. They’re less expensive, easier to install, safer, and use less energy.
Glow In The Dark Fixtures
A simple way to increase the amount of light in your backyard or other spaces is to incorporate glow in the dark fixtures. While your brain is immediately running to those small green stars you stuck on the ceiling as a kid, hear me out.
There are many benefits to using glow in the dark tape or paint to help light up your space. If you are hoping to just create a visual on where things are located in the night, slapping on some glow in the dark tape can be helpful.
Many people use reflectors as a way to know where edges of driveways or where trees are, the only problem is that without light, the reflector will have nothing to reflect and is essentially useless. Glow in the dark paint or tape will glow all night without light, letting you see where it is without issue.
For my cabin, I chose to line the edge of my dock with glow in the dark tape. This way I could always know where it was if I was enjoying a late night stroll or an early morning fishing trip.
I also painted the boulders at the front of my driveway with glow in the dark paint, this allowed me to see where the ditch began so I could always be on solid ground.
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Enchanting Mason Jar Hanging Lights
Perfect porch lights! Beth at Unskinny Boppy created this gorgeous rustic Ladder chandelier. I could see it made with pallets too!
The DIY mason jar hanging wall light from All Things Heart and Home can be made easily with Christmas lights. A lovely way to light up a porch, patio or deck.
Covered Porch With Ceiling Fan
A covered porch with a ceiling fan and outdoor lights makes this space perfect for daytime and evening use. Cushioned rocking chairs and sofas invite guests to sit and relax. Ceramic barrels substitute for end tables and offer a place to put drinks.
Smith & Associates Real Estate, a member of Luxury Portfolio International
Floodlights and Spotlights
Floodlights and spotlights or a combination of both can be used to add dimension and height to your yard. Floodlights will cast a wide beam suitable for illuminating a large area like a driveway, while spotlights will disperse a narrower beam of light. When creating your lighting plan, consider the spread each type of light gives off. Most spotlights provide a 15-degree spread, whereas a narrow floodlight offers 30-degree coverage, and a wide floodlight has a 60-degree saturation.
If you want to highlight the front landscape of your house, James Burks of Pinnacle Lighting Group recommends using floodlights that shine down from the corner eaves. If you were to go with a 15- or 30-degree , youre not going to light up all of the plants, so go with as wide of a beam spread as you can. You can take the same approach if you want to accent the facade of your house with a wall-washing effect. Shining the light along the side of the wall at a sideways angle will give it an even and soothing glow.
Take Advantage Of Downlighting
Wisley says that one of his favorite lighting techniques is downlighting. With downlighting, the lights are mounted above the space , and the light shines down. This can be a really great approach to light up a patio area in a subtle and appealing way. It is so much less abrasive than having a spotlight shining on your guests, says Wisley.
“We also like to use downlighting to light up a pathway and make sure people can see where they’re going,” he says.
Choosing Low Voltage Landscape Lighting Equipment
Purchasing all of the necessary equipment for this project was the most overwhelming part. There are just so many choices and options that it can be confusing at first. Ill walk you through our equipment decisions.
The first thing I did was take a look at low voltage lighting options on Amazon. There are just so many choices I didnt know where to start. Then Abby and I took a trip to Lowes and looked at their Portfolio brand of landscape lighting.
While it was helpful to see all of the different lighting options in person to get a better idea of what we needed, the Portfolio brand didnt seem like it was a higher quality than other brands we had looked at, and the prices were definitely higher than what I was seeing on Amazon. So after weighing our options, we ultimately decided to purchase our equipment from Amazon, and weve been very happy with that decision.
Landscape Lighting Supplies We Used
Here is everything we used to install our landscape lighting:
Choosing the Best Transformer
Transformers will be the biggest cost of this project. There are a number of calculators online to help you determine the power of your transformer, but its very simple: Add up the total wattage of the lights used, multiply the total wattage by 1.25 , and make sure your transformer can accommodate that number.
Heres how the numbers worked out for our three zones:
Choosing Low Voltage Landscape Lights
Choosing Low Voltage Wire
Choosing Wire Connectors
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Position All The Fixtures
Before starting your landscape lighting installation, first lay out your light fixtures and landscape lighting wire. Use 10-gauge wire for the main lines from the transformer to where the lights begin, then switch to 12-gauge wire between the lights. To bury the wires where they cross the lawn, use a flat-nosed shovel to cut a slot and fold back the sod. Bury these wires at least 6 in. deep so they won’t be damaged if the lawn is aerated. In protected planting beds, the low-voltage wire can simply be covered by mulch or soil.
The Advantages Of Solar Lighting
Solar lighting has become increasingly popular in recent years as the technology has improved, becoming a modern and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional outdoor lighting
Landscaping solar lights are:
- Powered by energy from the sun, even on cloudy days
- Sustainable, not requiring any electricity or batteries
- Very easy to install, as they do not need to be connected to power very
- Very versatile bringing style and safety
Its an excellent choice for anyone looking for a modern and sustainable solution to their outdoor lighting needs.
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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.
Tip: If none of the bulbs lights up, you may have a faulty transformer or outdoor electrical outlet.
Install The Transformer And Wire
1. Run the wire along the string or hose lines that you laid out previously. The end of the wire does not need to be taped or capped like a regular electrical wire would. So dont worry about that.
2. Attach one end of the wires to the appropriate connection points on the transformer.
3. Install the transformer on the side of the house or a post following the directions provided by the manufacturer.
4. If the transformer has a separate light meter, place it where it will get a true light reading. If it is in a really shady spot, your lights will come in before they need to.
5. If your transformer is configurable, choose how long you want your lights to stay on at night.
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What Landscape Elements Need Light
So what do you light and what do you leave in the dark? Here are three things to consider:
Always consider an inviting and well-lit entryway. A properly illuminated entrance will safely guide family members or guests while creating that warm and welcoming curb appeal.
The goal of landscape lighting is to only see the effect of the light, not the light source itself. The exception is path lighting, which are designed to be decorative and on display.
Do Solar Lights Work Under Trees
You may be wondering, do solar lights work under trees? The answer is yes and no. If the solar panel on the light is in direct sunlight, then it will charge up just fine and the light will work as usual. However, if the solar panel is shaded by leaves or branches, then it wont be able to fully charge up and the light wont work as well, depending on the depth of the shade.
Solar lights still work with cloudy days. There is generally enough sunlight to recharge the battery to power on the light for at least part of the night. Ours worked fine all through the winter months. The lights just did not stay on past maybe 2:00 or 3:00 am.
There are some new solar lights that are designated Solar Shade lights and claim to still work well in shaded areas. I have not tried these, so I cannot speak to how effective they are.
But this is what works beautifully for us with both form and function:
I chose to use only lights that have a remote photocell. The photocell is connected to the light with a thin cord that is typically between 3 and 10 ft long. This cord is very easy to hide under mulch or between rocks in your landscaping beds.
Why do I LOVE them?
- I much, much, much prefer the clean, modern look of these!
- I can hide the photocell in a less noticeable spot that gets more direct sunlight.
More attractive and more efficient. Its a win-win!
Not only are they functional, but they look gorgeous in their supporting role of making the landscaping shine and the steps safe at night.
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Turn Lights Off And Invest In Energy
Light bulbs are another source of heat in homes and should be kept off when trying to cool your house down.
Keeping lights off will help to cool your house down not to mention, its more environmentally-friendly and less money will be spent on bills.
Make The Right Connections
While were talking about fixtures, its worth mentioning that a lighting system is only as good as the integrity of its electrical connections.
Remember, these puppies are going to be lying in the dirt. You want the majority of the surface area of the wire to have contact with the surface area of the next wire. Thats why we dont think much of the clamp-on puncture type connectors. These offer minimal wire-to-wire connection, which over time leads to less than perfect performance. Instead, we use watertight sealed connectors for a true lug-to-lug water tight connection that resists oxidation over the long haul. Its like the difference between a lean-in shoulder hug versus a full-body embraceyou know which one is more bonding.
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