Whether you want to enhance the curb appeal of your home, increase your safety and security, or continue enjoying your outdoor living spaces after the sun goes down, installing outdoor lighting can help you achieve your goal. From floodlights to hanging fixtures, and even outdoor wall sconces, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to home exterior lighting options. But how do you go about installing landscape lighting? Read on for some handy tips that you can use to transform the exterior of your home and get more use out of your yard.
How to Add Outdoor Lighting
Types of Outdoor Lighting
While you don’t need to be a DIY pro to install outdoor lighting, you do need to have some basic knowledge about electrical components. There are three main types of electrical systems for outdoor lighting:
Solar lights are by far the easiest option to install as no electrical wiring is needed. These lights feature a photovoltaic cell, which absorbs solar energy. That energy is what then powers the lights when the sun goes down.
Low-voltage landscape lights are energy-efficient and fairly easy to install. In order to install low-voltage lights, however, you’ll need a transformer to bring the voltage to 12 volts. You can hook the transformer up to a standard outdoor GFCI outlet.
This system runs on 120 volts, meaning that this type of outdoor lighting needs as much power as your appliances. Line voltage outdoor lights have to be hard-wired into your electrical system and in most cases, it is best to hire a licensed electrician to handle the installation.
How to Install Outdoor Lighting
Once you’ve decided what type of lighting system you want to install, you’re ready to get to work and set it up. Use the following tips to guide you through the process.
Gather your supplies
Most low-voltage outdoor lighting systems will come complete with everything needed for installation. This includes:
- Light fixtures
- Wire connectors
- 100-300 watt transformer
- Wire connectors
Plus, you’ll need the following tools and equipment:
- Tape measure
- Wood screws, if you’re mounting to a wood surface
- Wood post for mounting, if you aren’t mounting onto a structure
- Find the closest power source. First, find the nearest power source. This will likely be a GFCI outdoor outlet. The transformer will need to be mounted onto the side of your house or on a wood post.
- Mount the transformer. Use a drill to secure the necessary hardware to the surface you’re mounting the lighting. Secure the transformer to the post or wall.
- Set and stake the fixture. Space out the light fixtures along the area where you want to install them. Use a tape measure to ensure that the spacing is even, and check to make sure that they will give off even lighting. When you’re happy with their location, stake the fixtures into the ground.
How to Wire Outdoor Lighting
Gather your supplies
To wire your outdoor lighting, you’ll need the following:
- Brass barrel connectors
- Wire strippers
- Wire cutters
- Heat shrink tubing
- Propane torch
- First, strip the end of the conductors on the ends of the 10-gauge wire. Connect them to the terminals on the transformer, as per the instructions provided by the manufacturer
- Starting at the transformer, run the 10-gauge wire along the path of lights. Leave around 18 inches of slack in the wire for each fixture so you can move the lights if needed.
- Use a wire stripper to remove about an inch of the insulation off the wires in the fixtures.
- Cut the 10 gauge wire and separate the conductors. Strip the two ends of these wires, too.
- Attach brass barrel connectors to both conductors on the main wire and tighten up the screws.
- Carefully use a propane torch to heat up the shrink tubing until it closes securely around the brass barrel connectors.
Repeat the wiring steps for all of your outdoor light fixtures.
Light Up Your Outdoor Space
With a few tips, some basic supplies, elbow grease, and a little bit of time, you can illuminate your outdoor spaces, maximizing the beauty and security of your home, and extending the usage of your outdoor living space.
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