It is INCREDIBLY easy to install your own landscaping lights. There is zero work with electricity other than plugging it in. I think folks think there’s a ton of wiring to do that’s not the case at all. And none of it is done while something is plugged in or live.
I should start with some background first. One of my favorite past times, especially in the summer, is driving through neighborhoods at dusk and looking at houses. If you see me, wave and say hello, don’t call the cops. :) I think houses look prettiest at this time of day. There was always one aspect of very expensive houses that I noticed – they all had landscape lighting that lit up there house at night. It made everything look even more lovely and without a doubt – more expensive.
So I figured out how to do it on my own and it’s so easy to do! I’ve only done it on the front so far and that was a long time ago – for this post I went ahead and added some to the other side of the house.
The only thing you must have is an outside electrical outlet near where you want to install the lights. Keep in mind you will have a wire, so it can’t go over a sidewalk or driveway. You CAN dig the wire into the lawn and in this tutorial I use them in mulch.
We’ll start at the hardware store, in the outdoor lighting aisle. There are solar lights (I use some in the back but don’t love them), but you’ll want to head toward the low voltage lights:
Shop around! There are SO many options. There are path lights, deck lights, up lights (for trees), and floodlights (I prefer those for highlighting the house). Start picking out what you’d like to use. I think too many lights decreases the custom look that these add, so don’t go overboard.
There are only three things you’ll need to install the lights – the lights themselves, a power pack and wire. That’s it!
I picked out some more flood lights:
This is where I will tell you this is not always a cheap project. But once you do it the upkeep is minimal – the light bulbs last forever. I got a set of lights (instead of individually) to lower the price just a bit – I wasn’t using all of these this time but will use the others elsewhere later.
I didn’t want to use flood lights on the side of the house because they would just be highlighting the boring siding. Instead I picked out path lights:
This is where you determine the next step – the power pack size you’ll need. I had three path lights that were 11 watts each. The flood lights were 20 watts each, and because I wasn’t sure how many I was going to use, I just rounded up to all six to figure out the power pack I needed.
11watts + 11watts + 11watts + 20watts + 20watts + 20watts + 20watts + 20watts + 20watts =
Therefore I went with a 200 watt power pack:
After the fact I realized I could have gone with something lower, because I only used three flood lights, therefore my total wattage was only 93. But I didn’t want to have to run back to the store. :) Also, I can use this one in another spot later and get a smaller pack for this area.
OK, you’ve got your lights and your power pack. Now you need to figure out the wire you’ll need. There’s a handy dandy guide for you:
I grabbed 14 gauge, and again, I could have gone smaller –16 gauge would have been fine:
As you can guess, the costs go down with the lower power pack wattage and with the lower wire capacity. So if you’re doing flood lights you could do five for 100 watts and really save on the power pack and the wire. You could do nine path lights for under 100 watts as well.
The GREAT thing is you can avoid figuring all this out and just buy a kit – it has everything you’ll need in it:
But if you want to mix up your lighting like I did (or you want more lights), you’ll want to buy everything individually.
You just have to screw some parts together to assemble the lights:
The first step is figuring out where you want to place them. Play around with it:
Get a good idea of where you want them – after the wire is installed you won’t be able to move them around much.
When you’re good with the location, grab your wire:
Lay it out from one light to the last light. I give myself a little give between lights so I can move them around a little bit if needed. When you get to the outlet, cut the wire (leaving a little give).
This is the fun part. :) Remember NOTHING is plugged in till the last step. You are not dealing with wires that can hurt you. It’s more dangerous to plug in a lamp. ;)
Each light has a little connector. You’ll unscrew the bottom part of it, then run the wire through that bottom part and then screw the connector back together:
You see those sharp metal pieces in the photo to the left? Those are what pierce into the wire when you screw everything back together.
Make sure to screw it back together pretty tight, otherwise your light won’t connect. This obviously keeps it water-free as well.
Keep going down your wire and connect each light. When you get to the end where your lights will be plugged in, you’ll get to the final step. This is the only part that involves working with the wires.
Use a wire cutter to split the wire in half (it has a groove down the middle). You’ll need about two inches separated:
Use the wire cutter to strip about 1/2 to 3/4 inch off the end of the two wires, then twist those wire together. Don’t twist the two wires together – twist the strands of each one.
Grab your power pack and turn it over. Remove the screws and just place the wires into each section:
This power pack has a spot for two wires to be plugged into it. So as long as they equal to 200 watts or less, you could have one set of landscaping lights going one direction from your outlet, and another set going the other direction.
Install the screws again, making sure to tighten as much as you can:
You’re done! Whoot!
Just plug in your power pack and turn it on:
These have an option to keep them on all the time, turn on and then stay on for one to nine hours or to turn on automatically when the sun goes down. I use the auto setting.
After you’ve got the bulbs installed and it’s on, you can adjust the placement of your lights a bit.
While I was at it I spray painted our hose guides that were looking a little worn:
Spray paint strikes again!
You’ll be shocked at how nice it looks. Just a warning. You’ll walk outside all night long to check them out that first night. ;)
I LOVE it. I plan to add a ton more of the path lights around the back too:
It looks SO good!:
I forgot to add that after you’re completely done, you’ll want to hide the wire in your mulch.
I’m still playing around with the placement of the flood lights:
We just had some of the plants cleaned up when the mulch went down and the viburnum bush is looking a little thin:
It will fill in more though (this thing grows like mad!).
It’s hard to get a shot from the front with the trees but hopefully this gives you an idea of the difference it makes!:
Our utility boxes are on this side of the house and I have plans to hide those (but make it possible to for the utility folks to see them easily). I have a few more plants I plan to add to this side as well:
The list never ends, inside or out, and I love it! :)
I hope this tutorial helps those of you who are interested in tackling this on your own. It is really one of the easiest do-it-yourself projects. Please don’t be intimidated by the wires – once you get one light connected you’ll see how simple it is! Landscaping lights make a house look so pretty at night, and they’re nice added security too.
The total cost of my project was about $180, but that includes three lights I can use elsewhere and extra wire as well. Also, as I mentioned, the power pack was more than I needed, so I’ll get a cheaper one and move that to the back when I start the lights around the deck and patio.
Let me know if you have any questions or if I didn’t address anything you’re wondering about!
Here’s an easy image to use if you’d like to pin this one! (Hover over photo and click the button on the upper left.):
**To see how I added the DIY craftsman hardware on our garage door, go here!