Having your outdoor landscaping look beautiful both day and night can be as simple as installing low voltage lighting. Low voltage lighting is available in abundance of styles and can add emphasis to key elements of your home or garden at night. Outdoor lighting will also make it safer on your walkways after the sun goes down. Low voltage landscape lights are easy and safe to install even if you are electrically challenged if you follow these simple instructions.
When installing low voltage landscape lighting, it's important to remember that you are still working with electricity. Always shut the power off before working and don't touch the wires near electrical panels. Make sure your hands are dry and wear rubber gloves for improved insulation. Consult your manufacturer's safety directions and always check with your utility company before digging so they can inform you of the location of underground wires or pipes.
Install the Transformer - The transformer should always be installed near a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. A GFCI outlet is designed to protect you from severe or fatal electric shocks. Because the GFCI detects ground faults, it can also prevent some electrical fires by interrupting the flow of electric current. The GFCI monitors electricity flowing in a circuit and quickly switches off power to that circuit if the current flowing through the circuit differs by a small amount from that returning. The transformer should be installed within one foot of the GFCI outlet and at least one foot above the ground. If an area away from the house, you can install a small post in the ground near the receptacle and mount the transformer to the post.
Add a weatherproof cover to protect the transformer from sun and rain. Keep the transformer turned off or unplugged while installing the lights and wires. Arrange Lights - Lay out the landscape lights and cable on top of the ground where you want them installed.
Leave approximately eight to ten feet in between each light and keep the first light about ten feet from the transformer. Assemble the lights fixtures and attach the cables to the fixtures. Most lights come with quick connectors to simplify installation. Position the two parts of the connector over the cable and snap the two parts together.
Strip the ends of the cable wire near the transformer and connect them to the transformer's terminals. Turn the system on to test the lights to ensure they work properly before burying the cable. If one or more of the lights do not work, check the connections making sure the connectors pierce the cable. Bury the cable - Using a small garden hand shovel, dig shallow trenches about three to five inches deep in which to bury the cable. Lay the cable into the trenches leaving a small amount of slack at each light fixture to allow for light adjustment if necessary.
Carefully fill the trenches with soil or mulch to cover the cable. Finishing Touches - Attach the light fixtures to the ground stakes following the manufactures instructions. Carefully push the stake into the ground until the light is the desired height while ensuring the light is straight.
If the ground is too firm, slice the dirt with a hand shovel first and then push the light into the slice created with the shovel. If installed correctly, you should have a soft nightly glow rather than your yard lighting up like a football field. For more advanced installations, you can purchase a transformer that allows multiple cable connections allowing you to install individual cables to separate zones. This provides more flexibility in lighting and better illumination in certain zones if desired.
Kristi Cole is a home remodeling expert offering outdoor landscaping ideas at www.inhomeimprovements.com. Webmasters and publishers, please feel free to use this article provided this reference is included and all links remain active