Creating a Landscape Lighting Plan in 5 Steps
Step 1: Start your outdoor lighting project by drawing a simple diagram of the customer's property, and mark where you want to place the landscape lighting fixtures. For larger properties, use a separate piece of paper for each lighting region (zone).
Step 2: When fixtures are within 15 ft. of each other, identify them as a group. Connect fixtures within each group by using a hub connector. Each hub has a dedicated (home run) wire connecting it to the transformer. If groups are small or wattages are very low, they can be connected to each other and share the home run wire to the transformer. Draw all wire runs on your sketch.
Step 3: Add up the total wattage of all the bulbs you will be using. This will give you an estimate of correct size transformer you need. To better understand the multi-tap system, check out our multi-tap transformers guide for specific details.
Step 4: Calculate the cable gauge and length needed to reach the transformer. You will need 100 feet of 12 gauge cable for every 100 watts. For a more specific calculation, multiply the amount of wattage per zone by the cable length in feet. For example, if you have 120 watts, and 75 feet, that equals 9,000. If the total is less than 10,000, use a 12 gauge cable. If the total is between 10,001 - 15,000, use a 10 gauge cable or split the zone into two smaller zones.
Step 5: Purchase your supplies. The first items to buy are the landscape lighting fixtures. You need to choose the correct flood and well lights, path and area lights, and bulbs for the lighting effect that you want. Estimate how much cable you will need and purchase 30% more than what you calculated. Next, you need to buy the transformer. For every 240 watts of bulbs, you need 300 watts of the transformer. You can buy bigger transformers if you have more than 240 watts, however, it is better to buy two smaller transformers instead of a single large one.
Connectors and hubs should be purchased next. You will need two connectors per fixture, plus extras for splicing the main cable and hubs. Any accessories, such as replacement bulbs, hub systems, and wire ties should be purchased last. Be sure to check out our guide to selecting low voltage fixtures for more information, as well as our listing of Low voltage lighting tools every pro needs.
We recommend following this plan and supply list, or something similar to it, in order to be completely ready to tackle an outdoor lighting project safely and effectively.