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How to Install Low-Voltage Yard Lights

Installing low-voltage landscape lights is both simple and inexpensive, plus the lights enhance the appearance of your home and increase safety.

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  • Time

    Under Half Day

  • Price Range

    $100 - $250

  • Difficulty

    Easy to Moderate

Highlights:

Step 1: Buy Lighting Kit

Low-voltage lighting kits are available at many home centers. They typically include a variety of lights, 100' of low-voltage cable and a transformer, which converts household current into low-voltage current. Strip the ends of the low-voltage power cable, and connect them to the terminals on the transformer.

Step 2: Lay Out the Lights

After you set up the transformer, plan the layout. Depending on the style of the light, you can assemble it and press it into the ground or drive the base into the ground and screw the light onto the base. Some lights have adjustable shades that help you direct the light onto specific areas. Connect the light by clamping the wires to the power cable. Turn on the power to check the electrical connections, and make the final adjustments at night.

Although most lights must be assembled, it's easy to put them together. Start by running the wires from the light assembly through the riser base and attach the stake. Insert the light bulb, then attach the lens and cover.

check the electrical connections

Step 3: Place and Secure Transformer

Determine how many lights you'll need and where they should be installed. Then identify the power source, which should be an outdoor GFCI outlet, and determine what other electrical devices are powered by it. Do not overload the circuit. Mount the transformer on the wall near the power source. The transformer should be at least 1' above ground level. (Image 1)

If you plan to attach the transformer to a brick wall, drill mounting holes, using a masonry bit, and place plastic or lead anchors in the holes (Image 2).

If you can't mount the transformer to the wall, drive a 3' stake into the ground near the outlet. Mount the transformer to the stake at least 1' above ground.

Most transformers use timers to turn the lights on and off. Some transformers use photocells to turn them on automatically at night.

Step 4: Dig Trench for Cable

Once the lights are assembled, and you are satisfied with the placement, dig a shallow trench for the cable (or the cable can be left above ground, if preferred). Run the cable along the trench, and attach the lights to the cable. The lights have clamps with metal teeth that pierce the cable insulation and tap directly into the power line.

Note: Be sure to call your utility company before you dig anywhere on your property. Most companies provide a free service that marks the locations of all underground utilities.

Step 5: Connect the Cable

Connect the power cable to the transformer, and mount the transformer. Plug it in, and set the timer to the "on" position to check the lights. If all the lights are working, set the timer for the hours you want the lights to turn on and off. Then go around the lights and bury the cable.

Learn how the right exterior lighting can increase your home's value at HGTV's FrontDoor.com.

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