Outdoor lighting can considerably boost the curb appeal of a home. It can spruce up the outside of your house. Not only will your home get a high-end look from the outside, but your indoor space will look bigger on the inside at night.
By installing landscape light fixtures along driveways and walkways, you will add a rich look to your property. You may also consider wiring outside lights to illuminate stone walls, steps, fences, trees, and other notable landscape features. This will give your garden or yard a resort feel in the dark when the sun goes down.
Installing outdoor lighting is a do-it-yourself project that many homeowners can carry out themselves. This is especially true for low voltage landscape lighting. If you don’t know how to install outdoor lighting, follow the instructions below. We will walk you through all the important steps you need to take.
Step 1: Plan Out Lighting Layout
Creating a lighting plan is the first thing to do. You need to find a home outlet and examine the exterior space. This involves measuring the distances from your fixtures to the outlet. It is also a good idea to draw a layout or diagram of the cable lines on the ground so that all the light fixtures and wire connections are clearly marked.
That will give you a better idea of how far away from objects (walls, fences, plants, and so on) you’re going to place your lights. If you place them far away from the objects, the beam will be wider but your light will be dimmer. When planning out the placement of every single light, you will know how long each cable should be. While the cable can be a bit longer, make sure it is not short.
Step 2: Mark the Cable Route
Once you’ve created your lighting plan, you will need to mark the route of your outdoor cabling by pinpointing the exact locations of light fixtures with stakes or dowels. Use agricultural lime to mark the cable lines. That will help you avoid natural barriers when laying out the cable. Approach paths or sidewalks at right angles when tunneling the cable route. Plan the trench route on one or both sides of your walkway as well.
You should also determine the location of the electrical post and connect the nearest electrical outlet to a power supply. Make sure the outlet is GFCI protected. Use spray paint to mark the wire route all the way from your house outlet (power source) to a remote outlet.
Step 3: Lay Out the Low-Voltage Cable and Fixtures
While you may place the cable on the ground, it is advisable to bury it in the ground. Along the concrete walkway or pathway where you will lay and install the light fixtures, dig a shallow and narrow trench (about 3 inches deep). Then push the power cable into the bottom of that trench so that it follows the chalk line.
Besides the loop at the transformer, you should also leave loops for every light fixture, combination switch for outdoor lights, and additional outlet. We recommend leaving more slack since you may need more excess when joining the cables for your outdoor lights.
Drill the holes in the ground for lights so that they are spaced equally – anywhere from 7 to 12 feet. You can use a long steel punch or large screwdriver for this purpose. When wiring an outside light, begin with the transformer and proceed with the main line and garden wiring connectors.
Step 4: Mount the Low-Voltage Lighting Transformer
The transformer is one of the most important parts of every outdoor lighting system. Grab the cable and run it all the way to the outlet in the trench. Cut it with the use of wire strippers. Push the stripped cables through the terminal screws. Be sure to tighten all the screws to ensure that the cable is held securely in place.
Now you are ready to install the lighting transformer. While some people prefer mounting the transformer to the wall of their house, it’s much easier to screw it to a metal stake driven into the ground. Make sure it is placed close to the electrical outlet.
Step 5: Make the Wire Connections
The lights can be connected to the main cable in different ways. While the quick connectors can serve the purpose of bringing electricity to the fixtures, you are advised to combine wire terminals and connectors. Your best bet would be to use waterproof, silicone-filled connectors.
Connect all the lights to the main cable with connectors, leaving about ten feet before splitting them off in different directions. Twist the wires together and screw the nuts over the cables so that each wire is locked in and that there’s no bare conductor exposed. Another way of making the wire connections is to slip and pinch the connector halves. That will cause the connector prongs to puncture the wires and make the connections.
Step 6: Install the Light Fixtures
Put the fixtures into the metal stakes and push them all into the ground. We recommend eyeballing the fixtures to prevent them from tilting to one side. Tuck the connectors and wires underneath the sod so that they are stuffed approximately two inches deep into the soil. Continue to install your light fixtures this way until you wire up the last one. Once you’ve installed all the fixtures, you will also need to connect the conductors to the transformer.
Before covering the trench, you should test your outdoor lights. Once the transformer has been plugged in, all the bulbs or fixtures need to light up if the connections are made properly. Otherwise, check the light bulbs and snap the connectors again. If your lights still don’t work, maybe you will have to replace the faulty outlet or transformer.
From planning out lighting layout and laying out the fixtures to digging a trench, making the electrical connections, and connecting conductors to the transformer, there is plenty to do before turning on the lights. Yes, it may take some time to install outdoor lighting. But once you install and connect everything, your house and yard will look more attractive when you turn on the outdoor lights at night.