How to Hardwire Landscape Lighting

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Today’s landscape lighting includes two great options: solar and low-voltage. Solar lights are stand-alone fixtures that power themselves with sunlight during the day and automatically light up after dark. They require no electrical-source wiring. Low-voltage lighting systems are the traditional hardwired option; they plug in to an electrical outlet and have a buried low-voltage power cable that feeds the light fixtures. While low-voltage lights add to your utility bill, they generally offer better consistency of performance over solar units. To reduce the energy usage of low-voltage lights, choose a system with LED lights instead of standard halogen bulbs.

Things You'll Need

  • Low-voltage lighting system
  • Drill
  • Flat shovel
  • Wire strippers
  • Purchase a lighting system that is more than adequate to accommodate your lighting needs. This gives you the option of adding a few lights in the future, if necessary. Good lighting manufacturers and local suppliers can help you select a suitable system and plan the layout of your light fixtures.

  • Mount the low-voltage transformer near a weather-protected electrical outlet on an exterior house wall or inside a garage or shed, if applicable. The outlet must be GFCI-protected for safety. Connect one end of the low-voltage cable to the terminals on the transformer, as directed.

  • Lay down the cable along the lighting path. Set out each fixture in the desired location along the cable, then make any final adjustments to the layout, as needed.

  • Dig a groove for the cable, using a flat shovel. Pierce the ground about 3 inches deep with the shovel, the rock the handle back and forth to open a narrow V-shaped groove. Lay the cable into the groove. In mulched areas, simply cover the cable with mulch instead of burying it. In grassy areas that might be aerated seasonally, bury the cable at least 6 inches deep.

  • Secure each fixture in place, using a support stake for soil areas or a mounting bracket or base for decks and patio surfaces. Connect the fixtures to the cable using the provided connectors.

  • Plug in the transformer and test the system. Once everything checks out, close the cable groove by stepping heavily along both sides of the groove.

References

  • “The Complete Guide to Landscape Construction;” Creative Publishing intl.; 2006
  • “Fine Homebuilding;” Installing Low-voltage Landscape Lighting; Clifford A. Popejoy; February/March 2007
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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