Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Check for a Short in Electrical Wiring in Landscape Lighting

By Jonathan McLelland ; Updated September 21, 2017
Electrical shorts may be caused by problems with wiring or individual fixtures.
Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Landscape lighting can add dramatic effects to your outdoor landscaping design as well as enhance the safety of the area by eliminating dark spaces. As with any lighting design, landscape lights are connected to the main electrical board through a series of wiring. While landscape lighting wires are designed to be subjected to the elements, occasionally you may experience a short in the electrical wiring. You need to determine if you’re experiencing a wire short or a light fixture short.

Step 1

Locate your circuit breaker. Examine the breaker and look for tripped switches. A tripped circuit breaker switch will appear to be in the “off” position when it was previously in the “on” position.

Step 2

Unplug or turn off all electrical components attached to the outdoor lighting circuit breaker switch.

Step 3

Reset the circuit breaker by flipping the switch to the “on” position. If the breaker successfully resets, which means if it does not return to the “off” position, the short is in one of the lighting elements you unplugged. However, if the breaker trips after all fixtures have been unplugged, the short is in the electrical wiring.



  • If there is not a short in the electrical wiring after performing these steps, manually plug in each outdoor lighting fixture one at a time. After an individual fixture is plugged in, flip the circuit breaker switch to “on.” When the broken fixture is connected, the breaker will trip; so replace that fixture to alleviate the problem.


  • Do not attempt to rewire your landscape wiring unless you have experience doing so.

About the Author


Jonathan McLelland has been a professional writer since 2005. He has worked as a story writer and editor for the international sitcom, “Completing Kaden,” as well as a proposal writer for various production companies. McLelland studied communication and theater at St. Louis Community College.