How to Install Low Voltage Garden Lights

Overview

Garden lights allow you to enjoy, and actually see, your garden after dark. A wealth of products are available to light up your garden or illuminate the pathway to your front door, generally either low-voltage or solar-powered. Low-voltage lights connect to a cord you string out along the perimeter of your lighting area; solar lights simply get stuck into the ground, although they only work in areas that receive full sun.

Step 1

Draw up a lighting pattern. You might want to have the same type of light repeat every 3 or 4 feet along the perimeter of your garden or along a pathway to your front door, or you may choose to illuminate only focal-point landscaping elements like trees, waterfalls or fountains. Either way, come up with a rough schematic drawing first, so you can figure out both placement and how many lights you will need.

Step 2

Measure the actual length of the lighting path. This is a critical step, because you need to make sure the cable you buy is long enough.

Step 3

Hit the local home improvement store and buy what you need. Based on your drawing, you should know how many lights you will need, how big a transformer to get (they come in different sizes and capacities), and how long a cable you will require. The transformer needs to be placed in a sheltered location, such as inside a garage or in an enclosed patio.

Step 4

Mount your transformer in the desired place, using screws. Then connect the low-voltage cord and string along the desired path, skirting bushes and trees.

Step 5

Assemble your lights and place in position along the cord. Then start connecting the lights to the cable. Low-voltage lights by Malibu and other top brands typically connect via snap-on connectors with little metal spikes, two per light. Snap them together and each spike will penetrate the proper half of the cable to give you an electrical connection.

Step 6

Wrap several layers of electrical tape over each connection to protect against moisture and debris. Then stick the lights into the ground.

Step 7

Dig a little trench under your cord, about 3 to 4 inches deep, with your trowel. Gently push the cable in and cover with dirt.

Step 8

Plug in your transformer and turn it on to check the lights. Then set the timer for the desired time. Low-voltage lights are notoriously hardy, as long as the connection to the cable remains intact.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Pencil or pen
  • Low-voltage or solar landscaping lights
  • Transformer
  • Cable
  • Trowel
  • Screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Electrical tape

References

  • Outdoor Lighting
  • Life Hacker

Who Can Help

  • Landscape Lighting World
Keywords: installing low-voltage garden lights, Malibu lights, landscaping with light

About this Author

Thomas K. Arnold is the publisher and editorial director of Home Media Magazine and a regular contributor on entertainment to "USA Today", "The Hollywood Reporter," "San Diego Magazine" and other publications. An alumnus of San Diego State University, Arnold has appeared on such TV shows as "CNN", "E! Entertainment" and "G4's Attack of the Show" to discuss home entertainment and technology issues.