One major and exciting way to improve the nighttime look of your home and property is with landscape lighting. More than visual appeal, adding light around your property is also an important security idea. You can do this project with low-voltage, electric landscape lighting.
Placing lights positioned along driveways, walkways, stairs, fences, walls, trees and plant beds, then other parts of your landscape, property or yard as you like, is a great DIY project. And, since the lighting system can operate on just 12 volts of electricity, it’s risk-free and possible to take this on as a DIY project.
If you’re thinking about taking on the job on your own, then low-voltage lighting is probably the best choice. Using low voltage lighting as landscape lighting on your property is fairly easy to install, it’s safe with a little know-how and it’s inexpensive both at the outset and month after month.
Advantages of Low Voltage Lighting
This is a very important reason, probably the biggest concern, why going with low voltage lighting works well. You will want to spend lots of time in your newly-lit outdoor space. Especially during Carolina summers, outdoors in the evening or night makes more sense than during the day. If you’ve got kids, they will want to play out there, too. A low-voltage lighting system with 12-volt electricity makes sure everyone will be safe. There won’t be accidental shocks. On the other hand, with 120-volt power from line electricity, an accident can lead to a very bad, serious injury or worse.
Building a new line voltage landscape lighting system requires numerous precautions and has multiple safety concerns, even once it’s been installed correctly. For one example, there’s burying cables at least 18 feet down. You’ll need wire connections at junction boxes. You certainly have to hire a pro to handle this whole project. With low voltage landscape lighting, you can handle the project on your own. It’s basically a transformer-cable-light fixture configuration, which is reasonably simple to learn. More important, working on low voltage components is risk-free, so even with a little trial and error, you can afford to do it yourself.
Going the low voltage lighting route will be less expensive than running line power to the new project. If you’re using LED lights in the project, you’ll pay a little more for the bulbs at the outset, but the efficiency and low power bills over time will make economic sense. You will need to purchase a transformer, which you wouldn’t need for a line voltage system. The cables in a low voltage system are not as expensive. You can choose LED or incandescent lights.
Low voltage landscape lighting is now widespread and popular, so there are more companies making a wider range of products for residential lighting. When it comes to fixtures, colors, lenses and aesthetics, there are now more options with low voltage outdoor lighting than with line voltage systems. You can be as creative as you like with your design and functions on your property. Old outdoor lighting was often about big halogen flood lights. Now, there are infinite looks, light levels and effects you can go with, whether it’s about safety, enjoyment or any other purposes.
Key Components of a Low Voltage Landscape Lighting Project
The main part for dispersing safe electricity to the lights is a transformer. Holding many electrical components, a transformer takes the incoming 120-volt power from a home line down to 12 volts. Manufacturers make transformers with varied ratings. You need to get a transformer with more watts, or power, than the total watts all the lights will use. For example, pick a transformer rated for 500 watts if you plan on having landscape lights equaling 400 watts, such as eight 50-watt pathway lights. At the same time, you don’t want to get a transformer with way too much power, such as a 600-watt transformer for a 100-watt component installation. Without an appropriate load on the transformer, the voltage may be too high and it comes out of the transformer, to the fixtures, and the transformer could overheat and fail.
Wires attach to the transformer and run along the ground to connect to each light. Wires may just lay on the soil or can be hidden just under the soil or mulch, about three inches is good. As a result of the low voltage running through the wires, there is no hazard or risk of shock. The electrical wiring’s thickness determines the illumination of the lights. To attain uniform illumination, use a thicker 12-gauge wire for higher power setups, such as 200 or more watts. Usage thinner 14-gauge wire for low-power setups of under 200 watts.
- Fixtures and Bulbs
This is about the purpose of your project. Some general suggestions, though, are, light fixtures are usually put 10 feet away from one another and from the transformer. Low volt lighting is versatile and potentially creative since you can mix any kind of fixture types you desire along the same transformer line, from patio wall surface lights to pathway lights. You should calculate each light bulb’s power level on one line to make sure the power level does not exceed the transformer’s capacity. Do not put four 200-watt bulbs on a 600-watt ranked transformer. Your lights will be dim or not operate at all.
- Timers, Photocells
To save money on your electric bill, use a photocell on the transformer so lights automatically go on at sunset and off at sunrise. Another option is using a timer to set whatever schedule or settings you wish. Photocells recognize ambient light and turn the system on or off based on what it senses. Both devices use a switching device to cut or start power from the transformer.
When is it a Good Time to Call an Electrician? Your best bet? Hire an expert to do the job. South End Electric has the background and understanding to ensure a safe and smooth installation. We can provide everything you need when thinking about a whole home generator for your home and family. Our professionals provide whole-house generator sales and installation to meet your needs. See everything South End Electric can do for you. Call us direct at 704-368-4694.