Electricity: Low-voltage Outdoor Lighting

Low-voltage outdoor lighting provides a pleasant alternative to glaring floodlights mounted around the house or to fumbling about in the dark. It can be strategically positioned to highlight plants and features you want to accent and they improve safety by illuminating paths, steps and dark zones.

Durable lighting systems may cost more, but they’ll last longer and be more dependable. Low-voltage halogen bulbs provide the best light and last up to 10,000 hours. To anchor the lights, don’t use manufacturer- supplied stakes; instead, build the PVC anchors shown in steps 3 and 4.

1. Lay out the light fixtures and wire. To avoid a voltage drop, create wire T-connections wherever you’ll have more than five fixtures. Bury wires 6 in. (15 cm) deep. Test the lights and system before burying the wire and installing lights.

2. Install a transformer near an outdoor GFCI outlet with an in-use cover. Buy an over sized transformer so you can add more lights later. Mount transformer to a post to avoid damaging the house and allow free orientation of photocell. Connect 10-gauge main wires to mounting terminals.

3. Connect wires with connectors approved for direct-burial--they contain sealant to resist corrosion. For taller lights, build the indestructible PVC anchors and junction boxes shown.

4. Level lights and anchor them in place. Bury wire 6-in, deep throughout the installation. To keep ground clean, use a tarp to contain the dirt while you dig.


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Troubleshooting and Repairing

Types of Lights

Pond lights are watertight with weighted bases. They illuminate pools, fountains and other water features.

Path lights are offset for lighting pathways. Use one 24-in-tall (60-cm-tall) light with 20-watt bulb for every 10 ft. (3 m) of path.

Cone lights broadcast general light and illuminate walkways and the surrounding plants.

Floodlights work best to emphasize tree trunks, shrubs, statues or a home’s architectural features.

Moon lights are mounted 15 to 30 ft. (4.5 to 9 m) high in a tree to simulate moon shadows in the branches.

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Last modified: Friday, 2020-02-28 15:36 PST