Low Voltage Landscape Lighting Installation Tips

Low Voltage Landscape Lighting Installation Tips
Misc. tips for the landscape lighting installer

Use Test Wires to Demo New Fixtures
During the final adjustment phase of a landscape lighting job, it is often desirable to temporarily add a fixture or two to your design in order to demonstrate an effect to the homeowner. Instead of disturbing your permanent soldered splices, you can use your test wire at the splice to temporarily hook up a fixture with wire nuts. This is also an affective way to add a temporary light on your company's sign when completing a lighting job.

House Numbers are Focal Points
Make sure to treat the house number as a visual destination in your lighting design. You may need to dedicate a fixture to lighting the number. You may also need to increase the lamp wattage to ensure that the number stands out compared to nearby lit areas and objects. By doing this, you are helping visitors, police and ambulance drivers to quickly identify the house.

Fire Ants Beware!
Contractors in the southern states know well the problem with fire ants. These painful pests love to make nests in well lights. To deal with this, place fire ant poison in the bottom of well lights.

Label Your Wire Runs
It may seem obvious, but it's surprising how many installers fail to use wire markers or colored tape to label both ends of each wire run. Without such marking, maintenance can be a nightmare. Architects and designers should write into their specifications that all wire runs must be labeled at both ends.

Don't Forget to Use Fixture Record Tags
CAST Fixture Record Tags are an invaluable tool to ensure that fixtures are relamped correctly. They also provide critical as-built system information so that systems can be changed or upgraded years down the road.

Consider Running Extra Wire Runs and Outlets for Future Expansion
When designing and specifying a system, keep in mind that future expansion costs can be greatly minimized if the new regions have been pre-wired. Clients will likely approve a few extra dollars to run the extra wire and GFI outlets if they understand that future expansion of their system can be done quickly, inexpensively and without considerable trenching. This practice also increases the likelihood that the client will buy into an expansion project within one or two years.

Soldering Pots for Better Connections
To make wire connections in the CAST Spider Splice®, contractors can simply strip the wires and twist them into the teflon filled wire nuts. A better method is to twist the wires together and dip them into flux, then melted solder before applying the wire nut. This improves the connection and requires less effort to twist the wire nut. This is the method we teach in our seminars.

Small portable solder pots are ideal for this type of soldering in the field. You can order these from your local CAST Lighting distributor.

Tighten Those Transformer Terminal Screws
Encourage contractors to firmly tighten all terminal screws when making wire connections to transformer taps. They should also re-tighten them as part of their yearly maintenance. If screws are not tightened properly, electrical contact is poor and wires could overheat and burn the terminal blocks.

Use Transformer Installation Test Lugs (Model # CTESTLUG) for Systems with More Than Six Wire Runs
When a contractor begins the voltage adjustment process, he initially connects all wire runs to the 12V tap. Even though our taps are the biggest in the industry, they still only hold 6-8 wires each, so with installations with more than 6 wire runs a test lug is required. This connects to the transformer with a short lead and accommodates (15) #12 wires comfortably.

E-Z Trench or Similar Trencher for Fast and Easy Trench Digging
This time-saving motor driven tool makes fast work in trench digging. It cuts a 7 inch deep by two inch wide trench ideal for burial of low voltage cable.

For Less Back Strain During Transformer Installation. . .
Bury a valve box beneath the transformer stand to hold an extra 3 to 6 feet of home run wires. This allows you to lay the transformer on the top of the stand or a bench. This way you can make your wire connections while standing instead of kneeling in the dirt.

Protect Wires under Planting Beds or Walkways
Run wires through protective PVC pipe or sleeving in areas that are likely to be disturbed by shoveling, raking or other yard work.

GFCI Receptacle Options
Make sure that the transformer is plugged into a weatherproof GFI receptacle. Or, even better, use a standard weatherproof receptacle and locate the GFI breaker in the house panel. Of course, only a licensed electrical contractor is qualified to work with 120-volt circuits.

Simple and Inexpensive – MR-16  and S8 Voltage Testers
If you've ever struggled to test the voltage in an MR-16 or S8 socket, you'll love these simple tools – the CAST MR-16 Voltage Testing Tool (CTESTMR16) and the S8 Voltage Testing Tool (CTESTS8). They consist of a set of leads you insert into the live socket; at the other end are two sockets – one for your tester, the other for the lamp (so you're testing under full load).

Tree Lights are Not Just for Trees
CAST Tree Lights (CTTL1C) with their long shrouds are ideal in applications where you need to project light across an expanse, such as a pool or pond. Just be careful not to locate them where children play since their shrouds are sharp.

Don't Touch Quartz Halogen Lamps with your Bare Fingers
Oil from your fingers can cause hot spots on the quartz, possibly leading to the bulb bursting.

Don't Forget to Include Moonlighting Whenever Possible
Moonlighting is accomplished by the strategic placement of tree lights aimed through overhanging foliage. They produce a beautiful moon-like dappled light ideal for lighting driveways, lawns or patio areas. Lighting these areas fills in black holes in your lighting scene and creates depth. Moonlighting is often the best way to replace those unsightly post lights at the entrance to the property.

A Nifty Way to Conceal Wire Going Up a Post
Instead of attaching wire to the outside of a post or railing, try the following technique: Using a drill with an 18" long by 3/8" bit, start near the top backside of the post and drill diagonally down until you exit the front side. Using that exit hole, drill a second hole diagonally down to exit through the back. Continue this zig zag method until your final hole exits near the post bottom. After running the wire through the channels, plug the exposed holes with wood putty then sand and paint.

Securing Flush-Mounted Well Lights
When installing a well light that will be flush with the grade, dig the hole and bury the PVC sleeve leaving an inch or two above the ground. Then hammer it in flush with the ground. This makes that well light a little more sturdy and also prevents it from settling below grade.

(Document No. 00058: Created on: 07/13/08 Last modified on: 06/19/15)