How to Design Your Low Voltage Lighting System - Part 2

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Lay-out your fixtures



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  • Set the light fixtures on the ground where they’ll be installed. Path lights are spaced about 8 to 12 feet apart.

  • Lay the low-voltage cable along the planned paths, following the line of light fixtures. Use the appropriate gauge cable for your lighting system (read the Power Cable section on the previous page for how to do this).

  • When you come to an obstacle string the cable under or around it.

    TIP: Put first fixture at least 10 feet from the transformer.

    TIP: Don’t place a light within 10 feet of a pool, spa, or fountain.

    Turn over the sod

  • Move the light fixtures to the side.

  • Take a flat-blade shovel and slide it underneath the top layer of grass. Lift up on the handle to separate the grass from the soil, and then fold over this layer of sod. Continue in this manner all along the path.

  • Use the corner of the shovel’s blade to scratch a 3-inch-deep trench in the soil where the wire will go.

    TIP: If necessary, set the light fixtures on top of the folded sod to prevent it from flopping back down.

    Bury the electrical cable

  • Set the low-voltage electrical cable in the trench. Leave a bit of slacked cable at each fixture point for making the quick-connection to the light fixtures.

  • Smooth the soil over the trench, but leave the cable sticking up out of the soil near each fixture.

  • Make a slit in the detached sod where the fixture will sit and fold the sod back over the soil, keeping the cable for each fixture above the grass.

    TIP: Don’t bury the cable more than 3 inches or you’ll have difficulty connecting the light fixture.

    Plug in the transformer

  • From your T-connection run the cable up to the outdoor electrical outlet. Then use wire strippers to cut the cable and strip off ½ inch of the rubber insulation.

  • Slide the stripped wires under the two terminal screws on the bottom of the transformer. Tighten the screws all the way to hold the cable securely in place.

  • Drive a wood stake into the ground next to the outlet. Then screw the transformer to the stake. It can also be mounted directly to the wall of the house.

  • Lift up the cover on the outlet and plug in the transformer.

    Prepare holes for the fixtures

  • Set all the light fixtures back into position, checking to make sure they’re equally spaced.

  • Position the first fixture as close to the edge of the walkway as possible without any part of it hanging over. (If the fixture extends into the walkway, people will constantly be bumping into it.)

  • Make a hole in the ground for the fixture’s stake with a large screwdriver or long steel punch. Never use a hammer to drive the fixture into the ground.

    Make the electrical connections

  • Slip the two quick-connector halves over the fixture cables and the cable that’s protruding from the sod and pinch them together until you hear a click. This allows the sharp prongs inside the quick-connectors to pierce the cable and make contact with the wires inside.

  • Since the transformer is plugged in, the fixture should light up, confirming the connection is good. If it doesn’t, unsnap and re-snap the connector, or check the bulb.

    TIP: If none of the bulbs lights up, you may have a faulty transformer or outdoor electrical outlet.

    Install the light fixtures

  • Insert the light fixture into its ground stake.

  • Using both hands, push the fixture and its stake into the ground until the top of the stake is flush with the ground. Eyeball the fixture to make sure it’s not tilted to one side.

  • Tuck the cable and connector under the sod and stuff them into the soil, about 2 inches deep.

  • Continue installing the remaining fixtures in the same manner.

    Replace the sod

  • Once all the light fixtures are installed and working properly, smooth out the sod around the fixtures.

  • If necessary, cut the sod around the light fixtures with the shovel.

  • Firmly press down on the sod, and then use a garden hose to soak the area with water.

    TIP: Replace burned-out bulbs soon or they will shorten the life of the other bulbs.

If you have read this far and still have questions about product installation, now may be the time to call an experienced lighting consultant at Residential Landscape Lighting and Design 1-800-239-2939.

 And tagged in Landscape Lights, Low Voltage Lighting.

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