DIY Network

How to Install Landscape Lighting

Landscape lights are a relatively easy installation and a good way to add instant curb appeal to your home.

More in Electrical

  • Time

    Under Half Day

  • Price Range

    $50 - $100

  • Difficulty

    Easy

Highlights:

Step 1: Understand the Lighting System

Landscape lighting typically comes in kits that include the elements for assembling the lights, as well as the wiring you'll need (Image 1) and an electrical transformer. The kit used in our demonstration came with about 100 feet of cable. Lay out your wiring in a pattern that follows how you'll be arranging your lights. This will give you an idea of how much wire you'll need. In the yard, the wire will be concealed below ground. Where it leads from the house, it can be concealed beneath siding, in channels along wood trim or elsewhere.

The source end of the wire connects to an electrical transformer (Image 2) that reduces the household voltage down to the 12-volt current used to power this type of lighting. The transformer may include a timer switch for automatically turning the lights on and off on a daily basis.

Step 2: Wire and Mount the Transformer

Strip the ends of the wires and connect the wires to the terminals on the back of the transformer as specified in the directions that come with your kit. Tighten the terminals securely.

Important: Do NOT plug the transformer into an outlet until after the installation is complete.

Mount the transformer in an inconspicuous place on the wall where there is access to a GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlet designed for outdoor use. Again, do not plug the transformer in until after the installation is complete.

connect wires to terminals on back of transformer

Step 3: Assemble the Lights

Assemble the lights according to the directions that come with your kit. For our kit, the parts snapped together easily. Plastic globes were fitted with plastic tier-rings, and bulb-leads were snapped into place in the socket (Image 1). These fixtures were designed so that the leads can only be connected to the socket in the correct way, simplifying assembly.

Insert the socket into the plastic globe (Image 2), and twist until the part snaps into place.

Insert the bulb into the socket (Image 3), and attach the top onto the fixture.

Slide the plastic protective tube over the wires to conceal and protect them (Image 4).

Attach the plastic spike onto the bottom of the tube (Image 5). The spike will be inserted into the ground to hold the fixture stationary.

Repeat the assembly steps for each of your light fixtures.

Step 4: Run the Cable and Secure the Lights

With all the light fixtures assembled and the layout determined, run your cable and dig a shallow trench in which it will be concealed later. Be sure to bury the wires so they don't create a tripping hazard.

With the cable run and the lights laid out, attach each set of leads to the cable using the plastic fasteners provided. By squeezing the fasteners together (Image 1), the sharp teeth pierce the cable and make the electrical connection that will power the lights. With the lights connected to the cable, secure each light in the ground (Image 2) using the plastic spike as a stabilizer.

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