Increase your home's safety by installing low-voltage lighting, which is a simple -- and safe -- project for do-it-yourselfers. Why is it safe to install? Because the power comes from a transformer, which lowers standard 120-volt household wattage to 12 volts. Grab a shovel and follow this step-by-step guide for installing low-voltage outdoor lighting.
First, find a transformer that accommodates multiple cable connections. Mount the transformer on a post or stake or on the exterior of your house. Make sure the transformer is at least one foot about ground and within one foot of the ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) outlet. If the transformer contains a photocell, place it where it can receive direct sunlight. Make sure the transformer is turned off or unplugged while installing. Apply a waterproof cover over the outlet for added weather protection.
Check the manufacturer's instructions that came with the lighting fixtures to determine the size (or gauge) of cable you need. To attach the cable to the transformer, remove 5/8 to 3/4 inches of insulation from the cable wires. Then slide the stripped wires under the terminal screws on the bottom of the transformer.
Place the first fixture in your run at least 10 feet from the transformer. Next, determine the placement of each light. For even illumination, leave 8 to 10 feet between fixtures.
Bury cables in a 3- to 6-inch-deep trench, leaving a small amount of slack at each light juncture to connect the fixtures. Leave a small amount of cable sticking out of the soil at each fixture location.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions for attaching lights to the cable. Most lights attach to a cable with a two-part connector that pierces and locks into place. Turn on the transformer to make sure the connection is successful.
Attach each fixture to a ground stake. The top of each stake should be flush with the ground. Do a final check at night to make sure the fixtures are upright and producing the right amount of light. Once the lights are installed and working properly, push the cable and connectors under the soil about 2 inches.