Most of us spend time making sure our homes’ facades and landscaping look nice. But have you thought much about how your home looks at night? Illuminating your exterior with landscape lighting is a great way to make your home stand out after the sun goes down. It also provides added security and peace of mind. Read on for some great tips and easy instructions for installing landscape lighting.
1. Decide what you want to light. Is it a walkway? Or the front of your house? Or your prized bed of flowers? Any of these options can beautify your home after dark.
2. Choose from three types of landscape lights:
• Solar powered lights – forget about wires with this option, but you’ll need to install when the sun is at its brightest in order for them to light up during the night. These are a good option when there's no electrical source nearby. They are relatively inexpensive, but they also tend not to last as long.
• Low voltage lighting – plugs into any outdoor GFCI outlet, is safe to work with and easy to install. These are generally the right option for residential installation because they provide the best combination of illumination, energy efficiency and relative cost.
• Line voltage lighting – operates at the same voltage as the appliances in your home and requires the use of conduit to protect the wires and an electrical junction box. These are typically best installed by a professional and are best used for security lighting, spot lighting, or moon lighting very large landscape areas.
3. Plan and prepare: As explained, low voltage lighting is usually the best option for most homeowners. Knowing that, here are some tips to keep in mind:
• Before you go shopping, spend some time in your yard at night to see what areas could benefit from lighting and then create a lighting plan.
• To get a rough estimate of the total wattage required, multiply the square footage of the area you want to light by 1.5.
• Shop around. There are so many styles and options today that you should be able to find lights that match the design of your house and your personality.
• Don’t overload the landscape with lights or it will look flat. Balance it out by highlighting certain areas to draw your eye and add dimension.
• Install ENERGY STAR-rated lighting and lighting controls, such as dimmers, motion sensors or timers to reduce your energy bill and be eco-friendly.
• Be a good neighbor and don’t let your outdoor light trespass on the property next door.
• Make sure your fixtures are made of high-quality, weather-resistant materials so they last longer.
• If using multiple outdoor lights, consider dropping down in the fixture's rated wattage to avoid “over lamping” or making your yard too bright.
At-Home Tools You'll NeedGo here for more details on tools and supplies.
• Screw driver
• Wire Stripper
• Wire cutter
• Voltage tester
• Outdoor lighting kit
How to install low voltage outdoor lights
STEP 1: Take the low-voltage power cable and strip the ends. Connect them to the terminals on the transformer.
STEP 2: Identify the power source, which should be an outdoor GFCI outlet. Mount the transformer on the wall or a stake near the power source at least one foot above ground level. Do not plug anything in yet.
STEP 3: Assemble and arrange the lights according to the style and type of lights you’ve purchased and their accompanying directions. This may involve pressing them into the ground.
STEP 4: Dig a shallow trench for the cable. Run the cable along the trench, and attach the lights to the cable.
Note: Be sure to call your utility company before you dig anywhere on your property.
STEP 5: Connect the power cable to the transformer. Plug it in and check to be sure all the lights are working.
STEP 6: Go around the lights and bury the cable. Wait until night to make any final adjustments. Here’s where a flashlight is handy.
For more detailed instructions, go here.
Your home can shine day and night when you add landscape lighting. And it’s easier to install than you might think. Plan your design today and give your neighbors something new to envy by night.