Overview

Landscape lighting illustation
Illustration: Gregory Nemec
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Low-voltage landscape lighting is a simple improvement that can make a huge difference in how your home looks after dusk and in its safety and security as well. Installed along walkways, steps, and driveways, or pointing up at trees, walls, and fences, the typical low-voltage lighting system requires just three components: a transformer, low-voltage electrical cable, and the fixtures. You don't have to be comfortable with wiring—or even have ever done any—to install this type of system.

The transformer steps down the 120-volt house current to just 12 volts. It must be plugged into a GFCI-protected outdoor electrical outlet fitted with a "while-in-use" cover, and oversize plastic box that closes over the power cord. The transformer needs to have enough capacity to support the cumulative wattage of the lights in the system. Between fixtures, the cable is buried in a shallow trench. As long as you have a nearby outlet, you'll be able to give your home and yard a welcoming glow when the sun goes down.

(Click "enlarge this image" to read illustration labels.)
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    Tools List

    • flat blade shovel
      Flat-blade shovel
    • wire strippers
      Wire stripper
    • Phillips screwdriver
      Phillips head screwdriver
    • 11-inch steel punch
      12-inch-long steel punch,
      to poke holes in ground for light fixtures
    • sledge hammer
      Small sledge,
      to pound in wood stakes that hold transformer

    Shopping List

    1. 100-FOOT COIL OF CABLE

    2. 300-WATT TRANSFORMER WITH 24-HOUR TIMER

    3. METAL GROUND STAKE

    screws onto bottom of light fixture



    4. 18-WATT PATHWAY LIGHT FIXTURE

    5. 20-WATT SHRUB UP-LIGHT FIXTURE

    6. 20-WATT WALL-WASH LIGHT FIXTURE

    7. WOOD STAKE

    to hold transformer; optional