The 10 Step System for Installing Your Outdoor Lighting

In our previous post about landscape lighting, we told you the benefits of a well-lit outdoor landscape: it welcomes your guests to your home, no matter what time of day or year; it increases your safety when walking or using steps at night; and best of all, it adds value to your home. While we recommend having a trained professional at Alfresco install your new landscape lighting system, if you want to DIY your outdoor lighting installation, there are some steps you’ll need to know:

  1. Assemble the fixtures you want before you place them.

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    Remember, as you’re inserting halogen bulbs into your fixtures, do not touch the bulb directly- the oils from your skin can cause the bulb to dysfunction.

  2. Set the lighting fixtures in a way that follows your design.

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    Try to hide your lights behind shrubs and rocks to make the fixtures less noticeable, but still get that glow bouncing off your landscape.

  3. Run the transformer cable to each fixture.

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    Do this before you mount the transformer, and leave at least 5 feet of slack between the transformer and your first fixture.

  4. Connect each lighting fixture to the transformer cable using a Direct Burial (DBr) splice connector.

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    Avoid using wire nuts, as these will easily corrode over time.

  5. While the transformer is still unmounted, connect the wires from the lights to the transformer.

    Each wire will go to an individually labeled terminal on the transformer (more than one wire might go in the same terminal, with at least one going to the 12 volt tap terminal). Once this step is complete, you can plug in the transformer.

  6. Make sure each of your lights and your general layout are set up to your preferences.

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    Aim to have all fixtures run within 1.5 volts of each other (11–12 volts, ideally) and use a voltmeter for accuracy. Call a professional for assistance if your run is more than 15 volts.

  7. Mount the transformer to the wall at least one foot from the ground.

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    This is the time to plug in timers and other lighting accessories.

  8. Make adjustments as-needed.

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    Adjust fixture positions; bundle cables; bury cables; make all of the finishing touches.

  9. Bury the cables appropriately.

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    Make sure they’re 6–12” deep, and place PVC pipe or mulch on top of them before covering them with soil. This ensures they’re less likely to be cut during future digging.

  10. Check out your new set up.

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    Your new outdoor lighting landscape is ready for use! Enjoy walking your stone paths, or entertaining guests in the evening glow.