Low-Voltage Lighting Equals High-Voltage Wow!

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“… all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun…”

William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Nightscaping.  Exterior Illumination.  Whatever you call it, low-voltage lights can add some serious impact to your outdoor landscape.  The idea to add landscape lights to our gardens germinated after I took down all of the outdoor Christmas decorations.  I missed the colorful lights strung through the bushes and the glow of the floodlight on our Christmas-wreathed front door.  Afterwards, the yard looked so boring—and dark!  Unwilling to fork out the big bucks for a professional yard illumination, I scoured the Internet and found tons of information on how economically and easily you could accomplish this job yourself. So, I did it myself.  Here’s how.

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Floodlights illuminate ornamental trees

First, I took stock of the yard and determined where I wanted lights.

 I decided to use 20 watt floodlights to highlight a few ornamental trees (a crepe myrtle and dwarf cherry blossom weeper) and 10 watt path lights to illuminate the walk and its border garden.  I also wanted to light the house, so I chose some 35 watt spotlights to add pools of light here and there on the exterior.

Garden path light

Garden path light

Spot Light

Spot Light

Once I knew how many lights I wanted, I totaled up the voltage to determine how large the transformer needed to be.  A word of warning here:  double the voltage when buying your transformer.  I originally chose a 300 watt transformer only to find that I liked the lighting so much that I immediately wanted to add more lights and had to buy a larger transformer.

I purchased the transformer and lights individually from Lowe’s, but you could also purchase a pre-made set if you wish.  The only other purchase necessary is the electric lighting cable–I used 14 gauge cable.

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Path lights reflect down, illuminating plants

Now on to placement.  Once I placed all the lights where I thought I wanted them, I attached the cable to the transformer box, then attached each light individually to the cable.  This is really simple–each light has a connection box into which you thread the cable then screw down the lid, which pierces the cable and provides the connection.  5 minutes tops.  Once all of the lights were connected, I plugged the transformer into the outside electrical socket and voila!

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I waited to bury the cable until the next day, so I could see how the lights looked once it got dark.  Once placement was finalized, I used a garden edger to cut a ½ inch trough into the grass and pushed the cable down into it.  Any cable in the gardens was simply covered with mulch.

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Path lights illuminate the garden and stone walkway

There are many benefits to low-voltage lighting.  It has a stronger and warmer glow than solar-powered lights.  The low-voltage halogen lightbulbs last forever. And since it runs on a 12-volt system, it is fairly cheap; I haven’t seen a bump at all in our electric bill.  The transformer I used has a digital setting and an electric eye that detects light.  The lights automatically turn on at sunset, and I simply set the number of hours I want them to remain on.

This was a simple and economical way to add a lot of punch to our home and gardens.  Try it and see!

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Spot lights send pools of light up exterior walls

 

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2 responses »

  1. Great job! That’s exactly what I would like to do with the trees in the front of my house. I will consult your instructions and see if I can get as good an outcome.

    Like

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