Post details: Installing Low-Voltage Lighting


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Installing Low-Voltage Lighting

Low-voltage landscape lights — those that are 12-volt AC — literally are a snap to install. The lighting parts snap together, and the connectors snap into place. The cable looks like a lamp cord.

Landscape lights are available in a package that contains the transformer, the lights, and the connectors that you'll need. You also can buy the system piece by piece so you get exactly what you want. Talk with the sales staff to make sure you get the right transformer.

If necessary, splice low-voltage wires. Strip the wires, put in a silicone-filled cap (sold as a grease cap), and attach the new wire. Some caps are brand-specific, so make sure you buy a cap designed for your wire.



Experienced: 2 hrs; Handy: 3 hrs; Novice: 4 hrs

Drill and bits

Wood screws or shields and screws
Low-voltage lighting kit with transformer and cable

Low-Voltage LightingMost low-voltage lighting systems include a transformer that is plugged into a regular outdoor receptacle. The transformer steps the household current of 120 volts down to 12 volts. The size of the transformer varies; most are rated to handle a load of 100 to 300 watts. The higher the rating, the more cable and light fixtures you can connect to the system. A timer in the transformer turns the system on at dusk and off at dawn. One end of the cable connects to the transformer; you can attach lights to the cable anywhere you want.

Low-Voltage LightingWire the transformer. A transformer steps the voltage down from 120 volts to 12 volts. Attaching the cable for the lights is an easy task of screwing the wires in place. Details vary by manufacturer, so follow the directions that come with the transformer.




Low-Voltage LightingHang the transformer. Mount the transformer on the wall next to a GFCI outlet. For most types of siding, you can make the attachment with a wood screw. Drive it into the plywood or the sheathing underneath the siding. For masonry, drill a hole for a lag shield, then screw into the shield.




Low-Voltage LightingAssemble the lights. Light fixtures usually require assembly. You'll need to snap the sockets in place at the very least, and you may need to do some simple wiring. Follow the manufacturer's directions.




Low-Voltage LightingPlace the lights. Lay the light fixtures in the approximate spots they will be installed and run the cable across the ground from light to light.





Low-Voltage LightingConnect the lights. Attach the cable connectors. For this light, put half the connecter on each side of the cable and snap it together to connect the lights.





Low-Voltage LightingDig for the cable. Dig a 6-inch-deep trench alongside the cable and place the cable in the trench, but do not bury it yet.





Low-Voltage LightingSet the timer. Plug the transformer into the outdoor receptacle and set the timer. Cover the GFCI outlet with a plastic cover, usually sold separately. Test the lights; if they work correctly, bury the cable.







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