Installing low voltage landscape lighting is a good do-it-yourself project for most homeowners. However, you can make the job easier and prevent problems down the road by avoiding these errors.
5 Common Landscape Lighting Installation Errors
1. Not Using a Voltmeter – The introduction of LED landscape lighting has diminished the need for a voltmeter, because there’s now a wider range of acceptable voltage. However, it’s still essential to have this tool on hand for systems that have more than 10 lights or wire runs longer than 100 feet. And it’s a must-have tool for troubleshooting a system.
2. Not Using a Waterproof Direct Burial Splice – Since landscape lighting cable is buried underground, implementing the correct splice is important. Quality direct burial connectors will prevent corroding and electrical resistance.
3. Excessive Voltage Drop – Unlike a 120v current, 12v currents lose voltage over long wire runs or when the wire is loaded with too many lights. Remember the 100/100 rule: use a maximum length of 100 feet of 12 gauge cable per 100 watts of light. And of course, use a voltmeter to check the voltage at the fixture.
4. Installing Lights In the Wrong Place – Lawn maintenance will prove difficult when landscape lighting fixtures are installed throughout your grass. Fertilizer, lawn mowers and weed whackers can all damage the fixtures. Install the landscape lights in beds and use in-ground well lights for the yard. Also, when choosing where to put your spotlights and flood lights, make sure they are hidden. Outdoor lighting generally looks more appealing when the source is unseen.
5. Using Low Quality Fixtures – Purchase moisture-sealed fixtures that will provide long-lasting light in outdoor elements. Choose solid brass or copper fixtures; these will last a lifetime. Aluminum fixtures may be cheaper up front, but they’ll inevitably rust and need to be replaced in a few years. Simply put, you need professional quality fixtures to achieve a professional quality result.