Choose Lights And Materials
Landscape lighting is one of the easiest ways to make your home stand out from the others on the block. Not only does landscape lighting increase property values, but it improves safety and security as well. The proper landscape lighting will enhance natural features in your yard and provide extra light along dark walkways.
Choosing the correct landscape lighting kits and material is the first step in creating a beautiful and functional space filled with light. With knowledge about outdoor lighting fixtures to back up, you’ll have the best landscape lighting on the block.
The first step in the project is to choose which type of lights you want to install. Because there are three different types of landscape lighting, there are three different types of materials. Solar, low voltage, and line voltage landscape lighting are the three leading contenders.
Solar landscape lights are charged by the sun during the day. Solar lights have a photovoltaic cell that powers the light by converting sunlight into energy. These lights do not require any wiring, so they are easy to install and maintain. Solar landscape lights need six to eight hours of direct sunlight to charge for the night fully.
Low voltage landscape lights use a transformer for power. The low voltage transformers lower the regular voltage of the lights to 12-volts. Low voltage landscape lights are safe, energy-efficient, and simple to install. These lights are plugged into a GFCI outlet outside, making them easy to move as well. Low voltage lights consume less energy and cover wide areas similar to voltage lighting.
The third type of landscape light is line voltage lights. These lights operate at 120-volts, which is the same voltage as regular appliances in the home. Because they use the same voltage as appliances, they must be hardwired to the home’s electrical system through the electrical junction box. Due to the complexity of installation, line voltage landscape lights would be installed best by a professional electrician.
Plan Your Lighting
Solar landscape lighting is an easy option that looks great and is energy efficient. With these lights, you do not have to worry about the hassle of wiring and electricity. Because they do not rely on an outlet for a power source, they can be placed virtually anywhere on the property that gets good sunlight.
To have low or line voltage lighting systems, you must have the proper knowledge and setup. Most low voltage systems require a transformer plugged into an outdoor outlet. The transformer reduces the voltage down to 12 volts, saving energy in the long run. If you decide to go with a low voltage lighting system, ensure easy access to the outdoor outlet.
Plan your lighting locations, and draw a diagram of your property and imagine where you want the lights. Observe the areas where you need more light and determine where to place the exterior lights.
A great tip is to go out into the property at night with a flashlight and shine the light on different features of the yard. Observe how various features look lit up and focus on where you want to put lights to enhance those features. Choosing a couple of features to improve the landscape with lights will make the property safer and secure.
Some good features to focus on are trees, fountains, entrances, or pathways. One more thing to think about is safety and where lighting would make things safer.
The five different types of lighting are path lights, up lights, downlights, backlights, and specialty lights. Like bollard lights, pathway lighting sits low on the ground and provides a broad, spreading light. These lights are excellent for lining paths, garden beds, driveways, or borders around the property. They provide low-level illumination to line paths without bright, glaring lights.
Uplights enhance property features like trees by providing an upward beam of light. Downlights are excellent for improving security and providing more light on an entrance or exit. Backlights are placed behind features to enhance them. These could be exciting shrubs or flowers in the garden.
Specialty lights consist of string lights, underwater lights (ponds), well lights, spotlights, floodlights, deck lights, or more unconventional options.
Regardless of the landscape lighting fixtures you choose, consider the existing landscape theme and your home. Ensuring you use the same lighting type throughout the property will give it a clean, complete look. Lighting experts will also explain that outdoor lighting products add architectural details, home security, and curb appeal.
The last tip for planning is to plan around the light transformer if going for a more electrical route. You will need to remember the location for when it comes time to hook the lights up. If there is ever a doubt in your mind about electrical work, feel free to call professionals in to help.
Install Your Lights
Always be sure to read the packaging or website of the products before beginning installation. Make certain all yard work is complete beforehand so you can start on a blank canvas.
Transformers can handle 100 to 300 watts. The higher rating, the longer the cable, meaning more lights. A shorter line means a shorter distance to put the lights. That leads to the first step: mounting the transformer according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Always make sure that the transformer is unplugged until the lighting setup is complete.
Low voltage light kits almost always require assembly. You will likely need to pop the sockets in place and do some simple wiring. The instructions that you read in the beginning should explain what to do. They also come with a quick-connect system that goes over the electrical cable. When clamped together, the two parts of the wire connector contact the conductors inside to generate electricity. Wrap the clamped connector with electrical tape to prevent it from coming apart.
Another option is to use a waterproof, permanent connection, but that would be a separate purchase. Next, follow the rest of the instructions to finish hooking up the transformers and connectors. With the hardwiring complete, dig a small, 6-inch trench along the path of the cable. The cable goes into the channel, hidden, and buried to hide it from view. The last step is to program the timer on the transformer to indicate when the lights turn on and off.
As for solar lights, the setup is much easier. First, place each light where you want it to go. Remove the cover tag that covers the solar battery of each light, then put the light back together correctly. Assemble the lights according to the instructions. The solar lights will need to be exposed for 12 to 14 hours before installation begins, allowing the battery to charge fully.
Now it is time to install the solar lights. If the ground is not soft enough, water it partially to soften the ground. Allow the water to soak in the soil for a couple of hours to ensure the soil is perfect for installation. Once the fixture location is set, drive the ground stakes into the ground to the correct site. The lights should install easily into the soil; otherwise, you must wait and install them when the soil is ready for it. Following the diagram, place the solar lights in their designated areas.
Maintain Your Lights
Landscape light fixtures are just one way to spruce up your home and promote safety. Cutting back branches and plants that are too large clears the way for the light to shine through. Cleaning and removing debris from the light fixtures will make them look nicer and last longer.
If you choose to go with a wired lighting option, check monthly for wiring damages to the lighting fixtures. If you want to add more accessories, you can add glare guards, grade lights, and porch or outdoor kitchen lighting systems. Just a few simple steps will extend the life of your landscape lights while keeping your property looking sharp.