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Home > Yard & Garden > How to Install Outdoor Lights

How to Install Outdoor Lights

By Karin Mangan
How to Install Outdoor Lights

Outdoor lights accentuate architectural features and light walkways. Backyard lights make spending time in the yard after dark a pleasure.

The work of installing outdoor lights begins once you know where you want them. You'll have a choice between packaged light sets, which typically come with cable and transformers, and buying light fixtures individually.

  • If you decide to buy your lights a la carte, add up the wattages of every light you plan to use to calculate the wattage of your overall lighting system, and select a transformer based on that figure.
  • Purchase cable based on where you plan to place your lights. Systems under 200 watts require 14-gauge cable; systems with higher wattages use 12-gauge. Use type UF cable for underground wiring.
  • If the conduit used in underground wiring does not connect to a grounded box, cable with a grounding conductor must be used.
  • Determine whether your outdoor lights will be on a timer or a basic on-off switch.

Quick and Easy Installation in 5 Steps

  • Mount the transformer at least 1-foot off the ground. The side of your house is a good location.
  • Attach the cable to the transformer.
  • Arrange your lights and attach cable, leaving a loop of slack at each fixture.
  • Cover the cable with mulch, decorative rocks, or dig trenches to bury it. Cable should be buried 18- to 24-inches deep to avoid contact with everyday gardening tools and other potential hazards.
  • Slip connectors over the loop of cable at each fixture and press them together until they click. If done correctly, the light should turn on.
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