Burying the wires should be your last step. Lay everything out, hook up your lights, test your voltage, and look at your results at night before burying the lines.
Landscape Lighting Buying Guide: How to Choose Your Landscape Lighting
Mount lighting units high up in trees or on the house to cast broad illumination over wide areas. Floodlighting enables you to entertain in your backyard or outdoor area after dark, and does double duty for security and safety. For highlighting flower beds, paths or steps, the down light is positioned close to the ground.
A: If cable is left over once you’ve installed all of your lights, cut it and bury it. The cable is harmless and there is no threat of electrical shock. If there is any possibility that the end of the cable will touch metal, seal it with a piece of electrical tape to avoid shorting out the system.
A successful outdoor lighting plan requires selecting the right fixtures, then placing and wiring them correctly. Use waterproof pond lights for illuminating pools, fountains and other water features; offset path lights for lighting walkways; cone lights for highlighting both walkways and the surrounding plants; tree-mounted spotlights for simulating moonlight; and flood lights for illuminating trees, buildings and other large elements.
Ferguson can help you select the right pieces for a simple, low-voltage landscape lighting solution.
Always leave a little extra wire as you hook up the lights. This will give you the freedom to move a light after you’ve hooked it up for testing or after you’ve installed it.
A: Yes. As the load decreases, the output voltage of the transformer increases. Therefore, the life of low voltage lamps will be shortened unless the transformer is carrying close to its rated capacity. The rule of thumb is to use at least half the transformer’s wattage rating. Q: Are low voltage lights safe around children and pets?
Light the object from the front and below to project intriguing shadows on the wall or other vertical surfaces.
Like down lighting, but using soft light sources positioned very high up, this technique simulates the lovely effect of moonlight filtering through branches, casting attractive shadow patterns.
Example: 2 x 20W flood lights 4 x 12W path lights Total wattage = 88 watts
Positioning the light close to an interesting surface can bring out the texture of tree bark, a masonry wall, wood shingles or an attractive door.
Most transformers will have a wire and plug that you can simply use with an exterior outlet located in an adjacent area.
• Fixtures • Bulbs • Connectors • Transformer • Wire Lighting Tips
Beautifully designed landscape lighting adds charm and elegance to your home. Landscape lighting is a low voltage lighting system. It is used to bring trees and flowers to life at night, feature focal points around your home, and light pathways and stairs for safety and security. It is one of the most dramatic improvements you can make for a modest investment. For more information please visit our Landscape Lighting Basics page.
Outdoor lighting, including the popular landscape lighting, provides dramatic and instant beautification to your property in a variety of ways. A good lighting design will increase:
A 12-volt system, which requires a transformer, has a number of advantages for the average or smaller property:
The transformer is the ‘power block’ or device that alters the line voltage from an outlet or circuit and changes it to another voltage – or in this case 12V ‘low voltage’.
Underwater lighting creates dramatic effects in pools and at fountains. Install a dimmer for turning lights up to add excitement. Note: Water may be used as a mirror by lighting the area behind the reflecting surface.
Choosing the correct transformer depends on the number of fixtures being used and the total wattage of all the lights in your plan. Wattage ratings are found on the bulbs themselves. A larger wattage typically means a brighter output.
Use this guide to help choose the products that best fit your lighting needs after you have established a basic lighting plan. See examples of how landscape lighting can be used to enhance your home’s exterior while providing safety and ambiance.
Provide the right amount of power to your lights by adding the total wattage of all your fixtures to determine the correct size transformer. You will need a transformer that is rated at least as high as your total wattage. Choose a unit that will allow for future lighting and consider a built-in timer or electric eye to automatically turn your lighting on & off. If you add lighting in different locations (i.e. front & back of your home) you will need a separate transformer for each area.
A: Yes. To mix different wattage fixtures simply add up the total wattage of the lamps. As long as their total wattage does not exceed the output of the transformer, you can mix and match lights.
Lights aimed upwards (sometimes buried in the ground) create a highly dramatic effect akin to the theater Use it with interesting trees, a statue or textured wall surfaces. Autumn leaves or swirling snow provide spectacular views.
Value – Your home is one of your largest investments. Your time, effort and monetary investment to your landscaping are not shown when the sun goes down. The utility of your property will increase dramatically after dark. You will be able to use areas you never thought possible by the use of landscape lighting to bring those areas shrouded in darkness to life. You will also get a new level of enjoyment out of viewing your property after dark. It will look and feel more valuable.
* Transformers & wire can be found on our web site on the individual product pages. Click the “installation needs” button on the right.
A: You must have a transformer to reduce the 120-volt AC home current to a safe 12 volts AC. Do not attempt to hook up a line of 12-volt lamps directly to an ordinary home outlet without using a 12-volt transformer.
Avoid over lighting. Outdoor lights look best as accents, broadcasting pools of light. Flooding sitting or planting areas with “stadium lighting” can make them look washed out.
Important Guidelines: • Conceal the light source behind shrubs, etc., where possible – except where the fixture itself is a decorative element. • Don’t over light – a little light goes a long way. • Be creative in using a mixture of lighting techniques for drama and excitement.
• Arrange for an automatic device to turn lights on and off, such as a timer or photocell. • Be considerate of your neighbors – aim lights so they do not shine into their windows. Types of Fixtures and Their Purpose Example Type Function Cylinder, Box Shape and Bullet Shape These designs help focus and direct the light beams.
Some also cut off glare and protect the lamp and socket from debris and moisture. Spread and Diffused These low level units are designed to cast illumination in a broader pattern for: flower beds, perimeter plantings, driveways, steps and paths.
In-ground or Well Light Burying these fixtures flush with the ground conceals the light source. Use for up Lighting trees and shrubs, an grazing textured walls. Spot or Accent Versatile/adjustable fixtures used for uplighting, cross lighting, accenting and grazing.
When mounted high up provide focused downlighting and moonlighting. Wall Bracket, Ceiling Close-up, Chain hung Lantern Mounted at entry doors, over garages and on porches, these stylish units cast light outward either direct or diffused.
Bollard and Post Lights These standing fixtures light pathways, steps, garden walks, deck and pool areas. They also provide attractive light patterns for driveways. Swimming Pool and Fountain Lighting These fixtures are installed in sides and at ends of swimming pools and bottoms of fountains.
Wet niche fixtures can be removed for lamp changes, while dry niche fixtures require access to the back of the pool shell. Colored lighting is popular for this application. Examples of Landscape Lighting
Outdoor Lighting Basics Enhance the Beauty, Value, Security & Safety of your Home
• Hi and low switch (acts much like a dimmer). • Photocells which detect light and will automatically turn on lighting at dusk. • Timers – either clock-based or shut off timers that work with the photocell.
• Thermal protection fuse to prevent overload. Kits
Highlight textures, shapes & the colors of your garden. Use one mini-accent light for each bush or shrub. Place path/spread lighting from 4 to 6 feet apart within your garden area.
Take the time to install correctly. Lighting fixtures will last longer, cast more light where you want it and require less maintenance.
A: For best results, use the lamps that come in the kits or are recommended by the manufacturer which we will cross merchandise on the product pages. Do not exceed fixture lamp wattage rating.
Step Lighting, Post Lighting and Rail Lighting for Decks and Patios
The wire required is specially designed for outdoor & underground landscape lighting use. Remember to allow for obstacles, pathways and obstructions you may need to go around. Lay out your wire path with string first then measure the total length of the string to determine your final wire length & include at least 10 extra feet.
Use a single wall lantern installed on the keyhole side of the door to provide adequate task lighting and security.
When lighting a path, decide whether you want to light only the path or both the path and the features around it. As a rule, the broader the field you want to light, the higher the light pole you’ll need. Path lights with a 20-watt halogen bulb at a 24-in. height should be spaced every 10 ft.
A: Yes, low voltage lights are safe. Since they operate on 12-volt electrical current, as compared to conventional 120-volt systems, there is no fear of shock. In fact, the system may be installed with the power pack turned on so that lights can be tested as they’re connected.
Q: Can you mix different wattage fixtures on the same cable run and transformer (e.g., 14-watt floodlights with 18-watt entrance light fixtures)?
When you conceal lights behind and below a tree or bush, you achieve that same wondrous effect as seeing it on a ridge silhouetted against the sky at dusk.
Voltage = the measurement of the rate at which energy is drawn from a source that produces a flow of electricity in a circuit. A typical outlet is rated and should be 120V or what’s known as ‘line voltage’.
Elegance & Beauty – The right outdoor lighting will enhance the elegance and charm of your home and leave an instant sense of pride. The #1 reason to invest in outdoor lighting is the impact these systems offer your home’s look at night also allowing for increased time you and your family can spend outdoors.
The farther a light is from the transformer (and the more lights installed between it and the transformer), the less light it will put out. A good rule of thumb is to put no more than 100 watts of lighting on one line. If you want to put ten 20-watt lights on a circuit, make a tee connection with five lights on one line and five on the other. You can also minimize voltage drop by using a thicker gauge wire.
Security and Safety – Lighting is the top deterrent of property crime – don’t give unwanted visitors a place to hide! Properly lit, you are adding a new level of home security because dark corners virtually disappear. In icy or wet conditions, lighting provides a safe passage for you and your guests.
Landscape Lighting Kits are available from most lighting manufacturers and typically include:
Purchase a transformer with a built-in photocell and timer. Orient the photocell with some western (sunset) orientation so it doesn’t turn lights on too early.
Choose a 120W transformer which will allow for expansion in the future.
Where you require circular patterns of light on flowerbeds, larger shrubbery or ground cover, spread light cover a wider area with low-level illumination. Some units, such as these bollards, cast softly diffused lighting for patios, decks, driveways and pathways. Wall brackets provide a similar lighting function.
Ensure safe and easy movement after dark by illuminating these areas with post mounted lanterns. They add security and safety by illuminating the yard, driveway and walking areas. They also add beauty and value to your home.
Buy a larger transformer than you’ll initially need so you can add lights later as your landscape (and imagination) expands. If you’ll be installing 400 watts of lights, buy a 600-watt transformer.
These lights focus a controlled intense beam to highlight the focal points in your garden: flowers, small shrubs and statuary. This creates sparkling islands of interest in your landscape lighting plan.
Illuminating a tree or statue from two or more sides reveals the three-dimensional form in a striking perspective.
A: There is no polarity in the wires or cable unless you loop it to the transformer which is not necessary.
Use path lighting to define the edge & create a safe walkway for friends & family. We recommend measuring the entire length of your walkway and placing one path light every 5 to 6 six feet.
Create a dramatic effect by up-lighting trees using a well light recessed in the ground. Use flood lights & accent lights to wash (illuminate) the walls of your home or create silhouettes of unique topiary. One per tree or wall are recommended.
Add some serious style to your porch with unique and beautiful lamps and chandeliers specifically suited for outdoor use. These items are designed with UL listed for wet or damp locations, and are made with water resistant materials.
Landscape Lighting Basics Quick Links: Why install landscape lighting? Why use low voltage & what is it? Planning a landscape lighting layout Types of fixtures and their purpose Examples of Landscape Lighting Common uses and terminology Transformers, voltage and options Kits Lighting Tips Frequently Asked Questions Why install landscape lighting? Aesthetic Benefits • Show off the beauty of your home after dark.
• Highlight favorite flowers and shrubs. • Dramatize trees, pool, fountains and masonry texture. • Accent statuary and other focal points. • Relax in your backyard or entertain on your patio or deck.
Practical Benefits • Safety: good lighting on steps, walks and driveways help avoid accidents. • Security: floodlighting and other landscape lighting will deter prowlers and vandals. • Investment: grounds which are dramatically lighted at night look like a luxurious estate, increasing the resale value of your property.
Why use low voltage & what is it?
Q: Why do low voltage lighting systems require a transformer?
Consider seasonal factors. Install lights where they won’t be easily damaged by plows or shovels. And bear in mind that some plants, like hydrangea bushes, sumac and dogwoods with colorful stems, look cool lit up, even when they’re leafless.
• Simple do-it-yourself project; lower overall cost. • More energy-efficient and often more light output per watt. • Little or no risk of shock or other electrical hazard. • Minimum disturbance to lawn and garden (Cable can be buried without conduit and junction boxes or it can be left above ground).
• Easy relocation of fixtures when desired. Planning a landscape lighting layout
Light up your outside gathering areas and add safety. Place a deck light on each deck railing post and a step light to every other step leading up to your deck or patio area. Place a decorative garden light beside a patio area for ambient.
A well lit front entrance says “Welcome”. It enables you to greet guests and identify visitors. The most frequent mistake is to buy fixtures that are too small. Proportion is important to selecting entryway luminaries. If using a single light on one side of the door, choose a fixture with a height approximately one-third of the height of the door. If using lights on both sides, fixtures with a height one-fourth of the door height are appropriate. They should be mounted at least 66″ above standing level. Balance the amount of light output with the front environment. Too dim, guests may stumble, too bright will dazzle and blind them. Choose clear or decorative incandescent lamps for sparkle in clear glass designs. Use frosted lamps with etched or opal diffusers. Use 40-75 watt incandescent lamps; it’s important to avoid too much brightness in any single fixture. Be sure that light reaches steps and other grade changes for safety purposes. Outdoor Wall Lights on each side of the door will give your home a warm look, while assuring the safety of those who enter. Under a porch or overhang use recessed, chain-hung, or close-to-ceiling fixtures. Also, consider adding a lighted address fixture; you’ll never be without a comforting light to greet you.