Outdoor Lighting System Design - Part II

Once you've got your design in mind, you need to check it against several considerations, and you need to gather all the supplies.


Outside Help - Your plan may be so ambitious that it requires outside help. Does your plan involve running line voltage for any distance? Does the cabling need to go under a sidewalk or driveway? You may want to consider enlisting the help of a licensed electrician and/or landscaper for those parts. Or you may decide to scale back your plan.

Permits - Check with your local municipality to see if your plans will require any permits. If your plans involve line voltage cabling, you almost certainly. You should also locate property line easements to make sure you're allowed to put things where you've planned.

Underground Hazards - Make sure you know what's underground wherever you're going to be digging. Your municipality's utilities locator can tell you where all underground pipes and wires are. Or if you used a landscaper, they can probably tell you that as well, along with anything else they might have put underground. If you have an irrigation system, you need to know where all the pipes, wires, and heads are located.


To begin implementing your design, make sure you have the following supplies:

Lighting fixtures - Obviously, you're going to need these. Make sure you have everything listed on your plans. These fixtures may come with their own nuts and bolts, cables, etc. So get them first and purchase whatever else you need after.

Wire and Wire Cutter/Stripper - Purchase the length of wire specified in your plans plus some extra for mistakes. Make sure it's rated to handle the amount of current you intend to draw. You'll also need a wire cutter or stripper to reduce the wire to the lengths you need and expose the ends.

Transformer - Make sure you have a transformer or transformers that can handle the amount of wattage you intend to attach. As a rule of thumb, don't load the transformer to more than 80% capacity. This gives you a little room to expand if you like.

Stakes and Flags - Small stakes and flags can help you temporarily mark where you want things to go as well as point out temporary hazards.

A square-nosed shovel for digging trenches and a landscape rake for moving mulch and rock. Galvanized screws, electric staples, a screwdriver, and a drill. That ought to do it.

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