A landscape lighting system does not have to be costly and most
certainly does not need to be installed by a professional. A hands-on homeowner
with a cache of everyday tools is all that is needed. The best bang for your
buck is to take a trip to your local big box store like Home Depot or Lowes.
The aforementioned stores will have everything you need for your landscape
lighting project. This article will focus on the use of LED light fixtures.
LED light fixtures last quite a long time with the added benefit of not having
to replace a bulb. An additional benefit of LED light fixtures is they use less
wattage than a standard bulb fixture. If you are interested in comparing the
watt usage of lights, the usage is usually found on the packaging of the LED
lights come in various styles and colors. Path lights are used to
illuminate an entry, driveway, steps or walkway. It is best to purchase a LED
path light fixture with at least an equivalent of 18 to 20 watts. It is
recommended to get a path light with a minimum height of 18 inches. This height
will provide nice illumination and reduce accidents such as tripping.
lights will be your go-to fixture. Spot lights are used to illuminate large
shrubs, trees, pottery, statues, water features, or any other landscape feature
that the homeowner wants to draw attention to. Spot lights are offered in 20,
35, 50, and 75 watt. For your typical lighting installation, 20 or 50 watt
fixtures will do just fine. Most shrubs, statues, small trees, and water
features are best illuminated with the smaller 20 watt fixtures. A 50 watt
fixture is ideal for illuminating trees taller than 40 feet in height. A 75 watt
fixture is great for creating a backdrop of light in larger spacious yards. Placement of light fixtures is important to understand.
Placing fixtures closer to the desired area will create a subtle or intimate
feel to the yard. Placing fixtures further away from the desired area will
create an open and natural look to the yard.
Landscape wire is sold as direct burial and runs from the transformer
to each light fixture. Most big box stores carry landscape wire in two
different sizes, 12 gauge and 14 gauge. It is recommended to purchase 12
gauge wire for landscape lighting projects. The 12 gauge wire is a bit
thicker and heavier than the 14 gauge and produces a better conduit to power
the light fixtures. Installation is as easy as digging a 6- to 8-inch deep
trench and laying the wire directly over the soil. Installing the wire 6 to 8
inches below grade will help protect the wire from lawn mowers and foot traffic.
Landscape Lighting Transformer:
transformer is what controls the light fixtures as they turn on and off. It
is best to plug a lighting transformer into a GFCI protected plug. The transformer
will bring down the house current from 120 volts to 12 volts. Many transformers
come with a photocell that will automatically turn lights on at dusk and off at
dawn. They also come with the ability to customize your lighting duration in a
24-hour period. For example, a transformer has the ability to turn lights on
each night at 8 pm and off at midnight or any other desired time frame.
Lighting transformers come in a variety of different sizes: 100, 200, and 300
watt. A 300 watt transformer is typically suitable for most projects. The
average LED light fixture is only 4 to 7 watts. Therefore a 300 watt
transformer can easily handle 10 to 20 LED light fixtures and will allow the homeowner
to add future fixtures without having to purchase a new, larger transformer.
Splicing or connecting 12 gauge landscape wire is very easy.
Landscape wire is made of two strands, both of which are interchangeable. When
connecting wire, it does not matter which strand is used. The secret to a long
lasting connection is to use waterproof
wire nuts. A tip is to ask the sales person where the waterproof wire nuts
are located as they are not usually located in the landscape lighting aisle.
Waterproof wire nuts are essential for a trouble free system.
Landscape lighting can add value and a wow factor to your home.
With a bit of planning, the installation of your lighting system should be a
fun experience. Take the time to visit each link provided. A tutorial video link
is provided and makes for a great starting point: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpZx5EXdPhY