Installing Outdoor Lighting Tips
By Editorial Staff
Contributed by Info Guru Aurora LaJambre
What a pleasure it is to take a walk through your own garden on a cool night, or to have a few friends over for dinner and wine on the patio.
That is, assuming you can see where you’re going.
You don’t have to be Super Handywoman (or man) to light your walkways. These tips for installing outdoor lighting simplify the process so much you may end up lighting your neighbor’s yard, too. Just ask first.
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10. In the name of whimsy
Consider yourself a matchmaker of sorts. Each type of light has a specific purpose – accent lights are ideal for foot paths and driveways, for instance. Cover the practical areas, but don’t forget to add a little flair if you feel inclined. Whimsical lights shaped like garden gnomes or stars add a unique element of magic to any flower garden.
9. Divide and conquer
Create an efficient lighting plan by grouping each area into different runs. Avoid putting a fixture near the outlet on the same run as the driveway gates, or the entry will be dimmer than intended.
8. Don’t over mooch
Rope lights may be designed to plug into each other, a.k.a. daisy chaining, but it’s not a good idea to do it with more than three sets. The first series will get the most power and trickle down from there. In other words, electricity isn’t as smart as we want it to be.
7. Fear no shadow
As you test your design you’ll notice how unexpected shadows add depth. Adjust the focus to bring out special focal points or favorite architectural elements. Walk around to ensure the glare won’t catch anyone in the eye or shine through your windows, and adjust angles as needed.
6. Leave wiggle room
As flawless as your design plan may be, it’s useful to leave yourself some slack in order to make adjustments after installation. And while you’re at it, resist covering the wires until you see the lights at night.
A key thing to remember when installing outdoor lighting is that you’re outside. Your system will be exposed to the elements so when running wires, always use weatherproof connectors. Don’t assume all connectors are waterproof, especially the ones that may have come with the lights.
4. Remember lite-brites
Yes, we’re talking about that lite-brite, one of the best toys ever. Remember the joy of creating a simple picture with the pegs, and watching it glow in the darkness. When installing outdoor lighting, you’re working with a dark canvas. The flowers, water gardens and other features in your yard are the highlights and your job is to illuminate them.
3. Go low
Low voltage lights not only save you money, they produce a soft, natural glow perfect for ambiance. The goal is to enhance your outdoor space, not out stage it with glaring spotlights. The amount of electricity decreases as it runs down the cable so remember to use multiple runs to prevent voltage from dropping.
2. Call 8-1-1
If you plan to dig for underground wiring, for the love of safety please give 8-1-1 a call first. This is a service most utility companies provide for free. They’ll come out and mark where pipes and underground wires are, preventing dangerous and pricey mistakes.
1. Embrace solar
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Outdoor solar lights give you all kinds of good karma points. They’re gorgeous and eco-friendly. The sun charges them during the day so they save you electricity. Did we mention no wires? No wires means you don’t need to consider voltage drop or plan the layout. If you don’t like the way they look on your first try, move them around with no hassle.
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