Landscape Lighting Tips and Techniques

By Brad Arnold

© Brad Arnold


There are typically two reasons why homeowners use outdoor lighting on their property.

The first is purely for decoration, whereby homeowners will use outdoor lighting to bring a certain ambiance to their property when the sun goes down and accentuate certain landscape and architectural features of the property and home. The second reason is to allow for outdoor use of the property after dark.

With this in mind, a successful outdoor lighting project requires careful attention and planning to ensure that you choose the correct fixtures, the proper placement of those fixtures and, of course, the correct electrical installation of your outdoor and landscape lighting.

While most would argue that the placement of outdoor lighting fixtures is the most important part of your landscape lighting project, the proper installation is just as important. As with any electrical project, hiring a licensed professional electrical contractor is a must.

At Automated Equipment, your California licensed professional electrical contractor for more than Fifteen years, serving Stanislaus and Merced counties, we specialize in outdoor lighting and landscape lighting, with clients throughout Turlock and the greater Modesto area. That is why we are considered experts in the field.

Whether you choose Automated Equipment or another electrical contractor, if you make sure that your outdoor lighting is installed correctly, your lighting fixtures will last longer and require little or no maintenance. Here are some tips to ensure that your outdoor lighting is properly installed. Don’t be afraid to share them with your professional licensed contractor.

- The greater the distance a light fixture is from a transformer and the more lights that are installed between, the less light the fixture will put out. To alleviate this problem, try and put no more than 100 watts of lighting on an individual line. Voltage loss can also be minimized by using a thicker gauge wire.

- When installing your lights, try and leave extra wire to give yourself the ability to move a fixture later.

- Use a larger transformer than you actually need so that you can add additional lights in the future.

- Consider a transformer with a photocell and timer built in. This will allow your outdoor lights to turn on automatically when the sun goes down.

- Before the final step of burying any lines, be sure to test the entire project at night to ensure that it is exactly what you want. There is nothing worse than burying the lines and deciding that you are unhappy with the placement of your fixtures after the fact.

When it comes to outdoor lighting, the key is to avoid “over-lighting” certain areas. Outdoor lights should be used as accents and for functionality, but if overdone they can wash out the areas that you are trying to light. This is particularly true when lighting large areas for sitting and gathering.

When lighting walkways or paths, you must first decide if you want to light the walkway or certain features around it as well. Typical path lighting should use 20-watt halogen bulbs, 24 inches in height, placed every ten feet.

There are many choices in the type of blubs you use as well. 65-watt and 120-watt incandescent bulbs can provide a good amount of light without washing out an area. These are perfect for lighting a gathering space.

Compact fluorescent bulbs, on the other hand, will produce soft light and offer incredible energy efficiency. Another option is the use of mercury vapor bulbs which last a long time, are energy efficient, and can add color to your property.

Speaking of colors, if you choose to light your property with colored bulbs, be careful not to go overboard. Colored lights can seem garish if not properly though out. Try yellows or reds for nighttime lighting or greens to bring out the color of landscape features.

These are just a few tips to help you start planning your next outdoor lighting or landscape lighting project. If you have any questions regarding outdoor lighting or any form of electrical work in Turlock, the Modesto area, or Stanislaus and Merced counties, give Automated Equipment a call today.

Remember, you can always put your trust in a professional licensed electrical contractor.


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