Landscape Lighting Transformer and Low Voltage Wiring Explained
It is important that you select the correct wattage rating for your transformer and the correct gauge of wire.
If any thing, you will want to get a larger transformer and wire gauge to ensure you have no problems if miscalculate or decide to add an extra light or make a run a bit longer than originally planned.
You can also use multiple transformers to light areas or create more precise effects. The soft bulbs of low voltage lighting add a pleasant feel to your outdoors and create a certain warmth that you may not get with conventional lights.
This article will provide the information you need to ensure you purchase the correct parts for your outdoor lighting system.
One issue you will need to sort out is the transformer. However, this is not as difficult as you may think. When choosing a transformer, all you have to do is work out how many watts you are going to require for your setup, and then get a transformer that will be adequate for this.
This can be done by adding up the wattage of all of the bulbs you will be using. Each bulb will have its own wattage and bulbs may have different rating depending on the lighting effect you want. So make sure you check the rating of each bulb.
Also, make sure you add a few watts of loss for the low voltage wiring. See more details on selecting the correct wiring for your system below.
When selecting your transformer it is a good idea to round up the figure so you have enough power. If you have calculated close to or over 250 watts, I would round up to 300 watts. Again this ensures you will have no problems and a bit of buffer.
Essentially, low voltage lighting is a highly effective and efficient way of lighting up your house or yard and it is easy and safe to install.
Understanding Low Voltage Wiring
Low voltage wiring is important because it connects your transformer to your lights. And yes, there is special wiring to this and you can not use your standard house wiring. But it is not expensive and you can purchase on the same site or store where you purchase your low voltage light fixtures and other parts for your system.
You can calculate the length of cable you require by measuring the distance from the outlet to the farthest fixture location. Then you can add branches of cable to the lights that are not located along the path from your low voltage transformer. When calculating how much cable you need to purchase don't forget to add these runs into what you need. This can add up quickly.
Tip: Leave a couple extra feet of cable per fixture for potential repositioning down the road.
Use this guide to calculate the gauge (thickness) and maximum cable you can use based on the wattage of your system:
Low Voltage Lighting Kits
If you want to make it really easy to purchase your outdoor lighting system you can purchase a complete outdoor lighting kits. This nice thing about a kit is that every thing from the outdoor lighting fixtures to the wiring and transformer are included. And the complete kit will be in spec so you don't need to worry about making any calculations.
If you want to add more lights down the road, it will be best to order a second kit or spec out a new system so you don't load up the transformer too much.
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