Whether you’re lighting a walkway, illuminating your home facade, or adding accent lights to a garden, a do-it-yourself installation can be completed in just an hour or two. However, working with electricity is dangerous and this type of project is best left to homeowners with some experience or a licensed electrician. Learn more by clicking here at https://vantaoutdoors.com/.
Imagine an open landscape that is framed by purposefully planted trees, shrubs, and flowers, with ornamental accents, a pathway or two, a retaining wall, a fireplace, a dining area, and a pergola for a spot to relax. It is beautiful in the daylight, but a well-designed lighting system can make it even more so at night.
A popular form of low-voltage lighting, outdoor wall lights can enhance a house’s exterior architecture, draw the eye toward architectural features, and highlight garden areas, paths, and stairs. They are especially useful around stairways and sunken seating areas where shadows lurk. Typically, these lights are recessed, which makes them more discreet.
Hardscape lighting: A growing number of homeowners are adding outdoor structures like retaining walls, staircases, and fire pits to their yards. These are ideal locations for lighting because they have a sturdy structure to hold fixtures and provide an anchor point for the light source. If you are building a new hardscaping, the best option is to incorporate these lights into the design at the time of construction, but low-voltage and solar options can also be installed as retrofits.
Landscape lighting: In-ground lights at the base of trees provide a subtle underflow. These lights come in a variety of wattages, from 20 to 40-watt LED bulbs. The choice of wattage is important because you don’t want to over-light an area, but you do want enough light to safely navigate a pathway or read a book in a hammock.
Candle-style sconces or torches add a classic, romantic look to an outdoor dining area and create a soft glow in the garden at night. Choosing candles with a translucent instead of a clear glass covering will eliminate the glare and keep mosquitoes away.
Other Lighting Ideas:
If your yard is in a dark sky zone, which means you live where light pollution is limited, a professional can help you choose lighting that doesn’t interfere with the beauty of the night sky. In addition, a lighting designer can help you plan and install smart lights that are controlled by your phone or other device.
Outdoor lighting is the final touch that makes a home shine after dark. It enhances landscaping and adds security. It can also improve curb appeal and make a home more inviting for guests. Homeowners with basic DIY skills can install their systems, but hiring a landscape lighting specialist with familiarity with the various fixtures and ways to arrange them is the best way to get stunning effects.
The first step is to decide what you want to light up. Look around with a flashlight to see how the lighting will affect your property after dark. You can spotlight focal points, create a warm glow from trees or shrubs, and shed light on walkways to highlight a front door or a porch.
Next, figure out how many lights and where they will be located. If you plan to illuminate a pathway, be sure the path is wide enough for people to pass and that the path doesn’t block views of your house or driveway. Consider using low-voltage lights for pathways to save on electricity costs and avoid glare on neighbors’ properties.
You’ll need some basic tools to install your new lights. A six to ten-piece screwdriver set with nonslip handles is useful as different types of lights require different screw terminals. Also, a wire stripper and wrench set are important for connecting lights to your low-voltage power wires.
A drill with bits for different surfaces is useful for digging holes for light stakes or large light fixtures. Landscape staples are an inexpensive way to secure low-voltage cable under mulch or gravel. Dielectric grease is a silicone-based substance that helps prevent moisture and dirt from damaging electrical connections.
If you’re planning to dig for a light cable, you should call your area’s one-number locator service (usually 811), a toll-free telephone number that will connect you with your local utility company so they can send someone to mark the underground location of any cables or pipes that could be affected by your work.
Once the ground is marked, dig trenches for the wiring, using a shovel or spade. Use a tape measure and measuring wheel to estimate cable lengths so you can purchase the right amount. When trenching, you should leave about 12 inches of slack for the wiring.
If you’re installing a new light fixture or replacing an existing one, start by turning off the power at the circuit breaker. Use a multimeter or voltage detector tool to double-check that there is no electricity running at the location where you’ll be working. Next, dig a 6″ trench along the path where you want to lay the wire. It’s a good idea to buy more outdoor wire than you think you’ll need so that you can add lights later as your landscape (and imagination) expands.
Once the trench is dug, bury the cable, making sure that you leave a few inches of slack at each end of the run to allow you to make connections in the future. Then use a utility knife to strip the sheathing from each cable end, exposing its three individual conductors. Each wire is then connected to its corresponding terminal in a junction box, e.g., brown live to the other brown lives, blue neutrals to the other blue neutrals, and ground to the other earth. Then the body of the junction box is screwed to a joist and the cover is placed over it.
Before connecting a fixture, trim any grass or other vegetation that might interfere with the mounting of the fixture. Also, be sure to splice the cable with waterproof connectors if it’s going to sit outdoors for an extended period (typically a year or more). These connectors look like metal caps that are threaded and have a blob of silicone inside that makes them weatherproof.
When the connectors are firmly in place, connect the incoming and outgoing cables by twisting them together. Black wires connect white wires, and the grounding wire extending from the wall is wrapped around the green bolt on the new fixture twice. Then top the connections with a wire connector and tighten it if necessary. Finally, splice the ends of the grounding wire with more silicone and cover them with a cap to prevent water from leaking into the connections.
There are a variety of outdoor lighting fixtures that add beauty and functionality to a property. Choose the fixtures that suit your home’s style and fit into your budget. Remember that the light fixture is only part of the overall picture; the rest of your landscape should be well-planned to highlight the features you love. Consult with a landscaping professional or electrician if you’re not comfortable working with electricity.
Start by sketching the area you’re going to illuminate with your lights. You’ll want to walk the installation site at night to see how your lighting ideas will work. Sketch in the location of outlets, trees, shrubbery, and walkways along with your deck or patio. Make sure you include areas that need to be lit for safety.
The type of outdoor lighting you choose will depend on the technique you’re attempting to achieve, such as silhouettes, shadowing, uplighting, wall washing, and downlighting. Also, consider the size and placement of the light fixtures. You don’t want the light to overwhelm the landscape.
After purchasing your light fixtures, a good idea is to construct and bury a footer that will shore up the top-heavy fixtures. Then use gel-filled wire connectors made specifically for outdoor electrical wiring to connect the fixtures to the cable.
When installing the lighting system, be sure to follow all the manufacturer’s instructions. Be aware that the wires will be exposed to the elements, so you’ll need to protect them from moisture and corrosion. The best materials for these types of outdoor lighting include galvanized steel and bronze, which are less prone to corrosion than stainless steel.
After all the lights are in place, turn on the transformer and test each one for proper operation. This is a good time to check the lights for glare, which can be corrected by changing the angle of light or adjusting its glare guard. When everything is in working order, your backyard will be transformed by the warm glow of your carefully planned lighting. And don’t forget to enjoy the view in the daytime as well!