Low Voltage Patio Lighting
BLACK+DECKER B+D Contributor 120 Projects
Thanks to the many inexpensive and easy-to-install lighting kits and fixtures available, outdoor lighting has become a standard feature in today’s home landscapes. A good lighting plan not only makes your patio and walkways more useful at night, it gives these spaces a second life with a completely different feel from the daytime setting. Standard low-voltage lighting systems are commonly available in complete kits that include a low-voltage transformer, low-voltage cable, and several light fixtures, each with a wire lead that links to the main cable with a special connector. In addition to standard wired systems, you can find a wide variety of solar powered fixtures that offer free operation and the easiest possible installation.
Here are some other factors to consider when choosing a standard low-voltage lighting system:
- Transformer Power: For best performance, the total wattage of the light fixtures should be at least one-third of the transformer’s wattage rating but should not exceed the wattage rating. If necessary, use two systems to avoid overloading a single system with too many fixtures.
- Transformer Controls: Consider timers and photosensitive switches for automatic operation.
- Cable Gauge Size: 12-amp UF cable is recommended to reduce voltage drop, resulting in dimmer lights at the far end of the line. Long cable runs may require 8- or 10-gauge wire to prevent voltage drop.
- Fixture and Bulb Brightness: Brightness is often rated in foot-candles: one foot-candle is equivalent to the brightness of a 12" square area lighted by a candle held 12" away. Use the brightness rating to guide the fixture layout.