Landscape lighting is probably one of the best things you can do for your house.
Not only is it a great addition for you and your guests, but it also adds great "curb appeal" to your house,
which translates into "bucks" at selling time.
Proper landscape lighting can make a huge difference in not only just how your house looks after dusk,
but in its safety and security as well. Everyone likes walking up to a house at night that has lights on.
Proper landscape lighting not only highlights specific areas of interest, but also illuminates and accentuates
the edges of driveways, walkways and steps as well.
Types of Landscape Lighting:
There are basically two different types of landscape lighting. 1. House wiring or 2. Low-Voltage. The
main difference between the two is that the house wiring generally runs on the same voltage as your house
wiring and requires a licensed electrician to install. The Low-Voltage type can be homeowner installed, and
is generally the type of system that comes to mind when someone simply mentions "Landscape Lighting."
We will be talking about a Low-Voltage system in this discussion.
Components of a Low-Voltage Lighting System:
The typical low-voltage lighting system consists of just three major components: a transformer, cable,
and the low voltage fixtures.
A fourth component is usually used with most low-voltage systems and it is the photo-electric cell or eye.
Its function it to apply power to the system when the sun goes down.
This keeps it off during the day, saving you power consumption which translates directly into money savings.
Getting Started with low-voltage landscape lighting is actually really pretty easy to do even if
you've never done it before.
If you are new to working with low voltage systems, you might consider buying a kit.
You can get them in the outdoor lighting section of just about any hardware store or one of the big box stores.
Buying your system as a kit will provide you with all the components you need and a handy set of instructions
you can follow to get it all set up.
Planning Your Landscape Lighting System: -
Before rushing out to buy a lighting kit, you have a little "homework" to do. Get yourself a few little rocks or
sticks, then go out to the area where you want the lighting to be, and simply "look it over." Walk the entire
area. Go to the farthest area from the house (closest to the street) and figure where your first light should be.
Take care to not get too close to the driveway as lights can be driven over fairly easy since they are usually
fairly close to the ground. You should NOT locate a light within 8-10 feet of a pool, spa, or fountain.
Lights are usualy placed about eight to ten feet apart. Position your walkway lighting where the fixture
does not actually hang over it. This will prevent people from running into or bumping the fixture. It is
recommended to keep fixtures about 6-8 inches from the edge.
To begin, place a rock or stick about where you want your first light. (your starting point) Then continue
to do so as you walk back towards your house. If you have a point of interest along the way, be sure and place
a marker there so you can light up that spot. You may want to modify slightly the distance between light
fixtures to account this spot. Continue to do this until you cover the entire area where you want your lighting.
Have at least 10 feet between the transformer and first light fixture connecting to it.
Now, count your markers. This is the number of light fixtures you will want to match with the kit.
If you have a tape measure, you can get an idea of the length of cable you will need as well. You can get a
pretty good idea simply walking it off as well. Just be sure your strides are about the same, and measure
what one stride is either before or after stepping it off. A persons stride can change depending on many
environmental and mental factors.
Now we're ready to go SHOPPING!