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Light Up The Night, Cheaply And Easily, With DIY Low-Voltage Lighting

by Tara Pena

Yard lighting is a vital part of any landscape design. It not only adds to the safety and security of your home, but it also helps accent and create moods in your landscaping itself. For many homeowners, low-voltage lighting is a great option -- it's easy to install and maintain, and it consumes less energy than traditional lighting. 

Here are the 4 steps to installing your own low-voltage lights. 

Lay Out the Lighting

A low-voltage light kit generally comes with the desired lights, a length (often about 100') of power cable and a transformer. The transformer will convert your home's energy output into the low-voltage current used by the lights. Attach the cable to the transformer by stripping the cable's ends and connecting it to the terminals on the transformer. Then, lay out the lights in your desired configuration. 

Place the Transformer

The transformer itself should be connected to a GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupt) outdoor outlet. If you don't have a nearby outlet that fits this qualification, it's best to use a qualified electrician, such as Dr Electric, to install one. While most of this project is DIY, if you don't have experience with wiring outlets, it's better to spend a little money rather than risk damage or injury. Attach the transformer near the outlet on a wall or on a stake secured in the ground nearby. 

Run the Cable

With the lights placed where you want, dig a trench to bury the cable between them and the power source. This trench should generally be about 18 inches deep, and you may need to contact your utility company to check for underground cables before you dig. Before placing the cable in the trench, attach the lights. Most low-voltage lights have clamps with metal teeth the penetrate the cable to tap into the power line inside. 

Test and Place

Test the lights at this point by connecting the cable to the transformer and turning it on. Some lights have a timer, so you may need to make sure you understand how to properly use the unit. Once satisfied that all the lights are working, it's time to finish up by burying the cable and securing all your lights. 

No matter whether you're a novice landscaper or an experienced home handy-person, you can create a string of beautiful and long-lasting lights in as little as a one- or two-day project. And the results will light up your yard for many years to come.