Low voltage LED landscape lighting fixtures are a great solution to many of the problems that other landscape lighting systems cause. For one, they are shockproof, so all that is required is a transformer, not a professional installer along with long cables, deep trenches, and electrocution worries that regular lighting systems may cause. Low voltage lighting is also incredibly reliable, so you won’t have to worry about a cloudy day or shade like you do with solar lighting systems. If you’re thinking about installing a low voltage lighting system yourself, here are some different installation methods that you can use.
The first and most common type of installation for a low voltage lighting system is a straight run. This runs the power cable straight away from the transformer and then you place light fixtures along with it as you go. It’s by far the easiest way to install your lighting system, but it also can run into problems with voltage drop. Because there is the minimum amount of voltage in the line with this type of installation, even the loss of a little bit of voltage will make the lights at the end of the run dimmer than those at the beginning. There are three main ways to get around this problem.
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The first way is by installing a loop. Loop installations reduce voltage drop, but you also need to take care of installing them. Always make sure that you don’t cross the wires or you could be in for a nasty surprise! And a new transformer, if the one you’re using blows. Another option is to buy a multi-tap transformer. Multi-tap transformers let you run several lights to different areas of the yard, so you can make several straight or loop runs. This puts fewer light fixtures, and therefore less pressure, on each line. Finally, you can do a T-line installation. T-line low voltage installations consist of a larger wire that feeds several smaller wires. This method requires a little bit more caution in installation, but it is a great option for homes where there’s almost no way to put a transformer close to your lights.
When it comes to installing low-voltage lighting systems or kits, there are many options so that you can find just the right one to meet your specific lighting and placement needs. No matter which installation option you go with, however, the process is far simpler than running other electrical lighting and the outcomes are more consistent than those offered by solar lighting.
TECHNIQUES ON LIGHTING YOUR LANDSCAPE OR GARDEN
lighting your garden should be both functional and aesthetic. It should illuminate paths, walks, steps, and living areas for use at night, as well as dramatize plant materials and other interesting features. Through the use of lights, you can change the personality of your daytime garden. You can emphasize a certain corner or area of the garden, or favorite trees or plants by selective lighting. Night lighting can also bring to the garden interesting shapes, forms, and shadows.
With the adaptation of low-voltage lighting to use in the garden, lighting has become more and more popular. LED lights can be incorporated as well to enhance any part of your landscape. These do a great job when you are accenting other structures in your landscape. Both of these kinds of lights are safe as long as the connectors are properly installed.
Low-voltage lighting is very easy to install, as are the LED lights. For low-voltage lighting, you will need a transformer to reduce your 120-volt household current to the 12-volt current required. Most modern garden-light transformers simply plug into any handy and properly installed outdoor outlet. From the transformer on, the 12-volt wiring is simply buried a few inches in the ground, strung along fences, and run up tree trunks.
You can install low-voltage lighting yourself. If you do not have the time, an electrician can install the lights throughout your garden at much less cost than if you were using 120-volt wiring. And you can easily adjust or move the low-voltage fixtures as your needs change and your plants grow.
Every garden is different, so keep in mind some of these factors when installing low-voltage lighting:
- Use six or more small lights throughout your garden, rather than two or three more powerful lights.
- Place your lights out beyond your patio or deck. There, they create depth in the garden, as well as drawing insects away from your patio.
- Install separate switches for activities requiring more light. This way lights can be turned off when not needed.
- Consider using a few small lights on a fence or hedge, if needed, like a curtain between your garden and a neighbor’s.
- When hanging lights in trees, place them above the bottom limb to create shadows.
- Be cautious in the use of color filters. Colored light can be nice on a pool but will decrease the beauty of your flowers.
- Light the hazards in your yard, as well as the attractive features. You might know where a garden step is, but a visitor may not.
By following some of these simple steps when installing outside lighting, you can ensure that your lighting plan serves its intended function well, while also enhancing the aesthetic look of your home’s exterior.
LINE VOLTAGE LANDSCAPE LIGHTING
Although less popular than other types of landscape lighting, line voltage landscape lighting is one option that residential homeowners may want to consider. Line voltage landscape lighting is more often used by commercial properties, since line voltage landscape lights can be very bright, increasing the light’s impact and enhancing security.
Line voltage landscape lighting is landscape lighting that uses 120v lines. This results in brighter and more powerful lighting than low voltage or solar landscape lighting, but it also requires quite a bit more effort and expense to install.
How is line voltage landscape lighting installed?
If you are interested in installing line voltage landscape lighting, the first thing you should do is hire a licensed electrician. This is because the average do-it-yourselfer should not attempt to install 120v electrical lines on their own due to the inherent risk involved. This risk can result in personal injury during the installation of line voltage landscape lights as well as subsequent fire risks if the electrical lines are not run properly.
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When an electrician installs line voltage landscape lighting, the first thing that he must do is to place a 120v outdoor lighting cable into a conduit for protection and then lay the conduit 18” below the surface. The cables and conduit must be laid out in such a way that electricity will be delivered to all locations around the home that will require lighting. To properly lay the conduit and cable, a deep trench must be dug. Some professional electricians will own a trencher to do this job, making easier work of burying the cable.
At all connection points between line voltage landscape lights and connecting cables, there must be sealed junction boxes that are completely waterproof. If water enters the area where connections are made, it can result in a serious choking hazard.
Why Choose Line Voltage Landscape Lighting?
The main reason that 120v line voltage landscape lighting is chosen over low voltage or solar landscape lighting is that a line voltage landscape light will be brighter and emit more directed light than other types of landscape lights. This benefit is important enough for some homeowners to go through the expense and effort of having line voltage landscape lighting professionally installed. One place that the difference in landscape lighting brightness is noticeable is for up-lighting. This is when landscape spotlights are situated strategically amongst the landscaping and are pointed up at trees, the side of the house or another interesting feature to create visual impact. Low voltage and solar options don’t have the power or emit a bright enough light to make this type of lighting work effectively.
For those that need a good deal of bright light spread amongst the landscaping, whether on a residential or commercial property, line voltage landscape lighting is the option to choose. There’s no comparison to the level of light emitted from these types of lights compared to other lighting types.
Why Not Choose Line Voltage Landscape Lighting?
The main reason not to go with this type of lighting is the expense. Line voltage landscape lights cost much more to install than low voltage or solar lights. The line voltage lights themselves are also more expensive to purchase. And, line voltage lighting results in higher electricity bills and uses up more energy. One other reason to think about another type of lighting is that line voltage landscape lights are not available in as many styles and finishes as other types of landscape lighting.
Where to Buy Line Voltage Landscape Lights?
You can buy 120v line voltage landscape lights at most retailers that sell outdoor landscape lighting. This includes lighting stores, home improvement stores, and other types of big-box retailers. You can also buy line voltage landscape lighting online from a wide variety of internet retailers. Since you may find a smaller selection of line voltage landscape lights available at your local store as more and more homeowners are opting for solar and low voltage landscape lighting, you should find a wider selection of lights to choose from by searching online. Some popular brands of line voltage landscape lighting are Hinkley Lighting and Kichler.
What Do Line Voltage Landscape Lights Cost?
You can expect line voltage landscape lighting prices to be higher than similar types of low voltage or solar lights. Prices will vary widely depending on the type of light you are buying, the size of the light, the decorative finishes, and the manufacturer, but you should expect on average to spend about $50 – $200 per line voltage landscape light. This, of course, does not include the price of hiring an electrician to run the lines, make the connections, and install the lights, which can be a very expensive undertaking. The good news, however, is that once the line voltage landscape lighting is installed, it can remain in place providing years and years of bright light and adding impact, security, and attractiveness to your exterior landscape decor.