Total Outdoor Lighting has all the accessories, essential parts, connectors and low voltage wire for your outdoor landscape lighting system needs.
Watch our video on how low voltage outdoor landscape lighting connectors work.
The video demonstrates how popular outdoor landscape lighting low voltage connectors are used to connect low voltage outdoor landscape lights to the main power supply cable. You'll be surprised how easy it is to install landscape outdoor low voltage light fixtures to your own low voltage outdoor landscape lighting system. Low voltage systems are shockless and safe for use around pets and children.
If you have any doubts about what to order, need assistance or can't find what you are looking for, don't hesitate to contact us and our in-house designers will be happy to help you as new products arrive on a weekly basis.
Be sure to stop by our blog and our You Tube Channel for other useful lighting tips and information and landscape lighting videos.
Manager of Logistics and Procurement, Construction
Kateri handles a wide variety of scheduling tasks for our Construction and Irrigation teams, making sure the people, equipment, and machines arrive at the right place at the right time. It’s a lot of moving pieces, but she’s used to balancing a lot of different things. From studying meteorology, French, and international relations in college, to living in France and Poland, to becoming a Certified Green Industry Professional, Kateri’s experiences are wide and varied!
In her free time, Kateri also enjoys a wide range of hobbies, including hiking, camping, paddling, growing veggie gardens and herbs, traveling, and curling up with a good book. She also volunteers with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, where she promotes boating and paddling safety, as well as protection of the marine environment. She and her husband relocated to Northern Michigan in 2016 and never looked back. They’re excited to raise their daughter in an area so immersed in nature.
Degrees and Certification
- Bachelor of Science in Meteorology
- Bachelor of Art in French
- Master of Art in International Relations
- Certified Green Industry Professional – Nurseryman
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You've pulled out all the stops to make your house and yard look first-rate. So why let that hard work disappear at nightfall. With a flick of a switch and some strategically placed outdoor house lights, you can roll back the darkness and put it all on display? Done right, landscape lighting makes the best of what you've got by highlighting your home's architectural features and drawing attention to prized plantings and trees.
What is the Best Landscape Lighting?
Most landscape lighting today is low voltage, and with good reason. Unlike 120-volt systems, it's safer to work with and less costly to install. And though low-voltage lights receive one-tenth the power, thanks to a step-down transformer, there's no limit to the effects they can achieve, from ethereal moonlight beamed down from a tree canopy to a subtle glow that washes over a low garden wall. More than just picking the right hardware, a pleasing lighting scheme is also about artistry.
What's in a Low-Voltage Outdoor Lighting System?
Landscape lighting typically relies on stepped-down power from your house.
- Transformer: Reduces 120-volt household current to a safer 12 volts.
- Bulb: Determines a light's brightness, color, and beam width, as well as electricity usage.
- Fixture Housing: Protects bulb from elements and helps shape light beam.
- Stake: Holds the fixture in place.
- Cable: Carries current to light through fixture's lead wires. Underlit trees and accent lights aimed at the facade create an inviting post-sunset atmosphere around this home.
Key Questions Answered
DIY or Hire a Pro?
Homeowners can put in a simple system in a weekend. For the most stunning effects, go with a landscape lighting specialist familiar with the various fixtures and ways to arrange them.
How Much Does it Cost to Install Outdoor Lighting?
Individual fixtures start around $20. Cables run 70 cents per foot, and a transformer can be had for about $200. A 10-light system installed by a pro typically starts at about $2,000 to $2,500.
How Much Maintenance is Required?
Keep fixtures free of leaves and debris to prevent them from overheating. Replace burned-out bulbs immediately so that others on the circuit aren't subject to life-shortening voltage overloads.
How Long Do Lighting Fixtures Last?
Warranties on fixtures and transformers range from one to 10 years, but fixtures made of brass, copper, or stainless steel should shine indefinitely.
How to Map out a Plan for Your Exterior Lights
If you don't want to lift a finger, go with a pro. (Find one through the Association of Outdoor Lighting Professionals.) But homeowners willing to invest a little of their own time and energy can save a bundle by following the advice of Mark Piantedosi, owner of Commonwealth Landscape Lighting in Acton, Massachusetts. Here are his top design tips:
Well, bullet, or flood, and downlight.
When aiming ground lights straight up into foliage, be sure to also bathe the trunk in light. If you don't, the uplit crown will look like a hovering UFO. When illuminating foliage from above, place two 20-watt downlights as high in a tree as possible and point them so that their beams do not cross.
Place fixtures no closer than 20 feet apart. "You want pools of light to guide your eye from one plant to the next, not continuous illumination."
Bullet and wash.
Fit bullet lights with bulbs that have 12-degree beam spreads, and aim them at the corners of your house or architectural details; softer wash lights can fill in the space between them.
Well, bullet, or flood.
Position fixtures close to the base so that the beams bring textures into sharp relief.
Flood, bullet, or wash.
Highlight an element that deserves attention—such as a fountain, a tree swing, or an arbor—by aiming two or more lights at it. The crossing beams reduce the harsh shadows that form when only one shines on an object.
For more outdoor-lighting design ideas, visit FX Luminaire's "Learning Center" or consult the classic guide The Landscape Lighting Book, by Janet Lennox Moyer.
Types of Outdoor House Lights
Canopies on top of 18- to 24-inch posts reflect light down into planting beds. Can also be used as pathway markers. Unlike other lights, their style and finish are on display.
Shown: Large Horizon path light by Hadco with 20-watt halogen bulb, about $50; Hadco Lighting
Throws out a soft, diffuse light ideal for brightening flat facades, privacy fences, and garden walls.
Shown: Landscape LED by Kichler with 4-watt LED, about $140; Kichler
These versatile, compact fixtures are often fitted with bulbs that project a narrow beam—good for precisely lighting house features, tree trunks, and garden structures.
Shown: LV100 spotlight by Dabmar with 20-watt halogen, about $20; Dabmar
The bulb hides inside a waterproof housing buried in the ground, so you get light without seeing a fixture. Use well lights to illuminate the underside of plant foliage or graze the base of a facade or wall. Available with either fixed or swiveling bulbs.
Shown: LV300SLV well light by Dabmar with 20-watt halogen, about $30; Dabmar
These fixtures, often located high on trunks and branches, can be aimed at lawns, paths, or the tree's own foliage to create a moonlit effect. A long, cowl-shaped shroud around the bulb eliminates side glare. Choose durable copper and brass housings with LEDs—you don't want to be climbing to make repairs or replacements.
Shown: CM.115T by CopperMoon with 35-watt halogen, about $160; CopperMoon
Typically casts a wider beam than a bullet—40 degrees or more—and is brighter than a wash light. A collar minimizes side glare. Use sparingly to light up tall trees or wide house facades.
Shown: CM.895 by CopperMoon with 20-watt halogen, about $100; CopperMoon
Should You Pay More for LEDs?
With no filament to break or burn out, LEDs can last 40,000 hours, approximately 20 years of regular use, compared with just two years for halogen bulbs. LEDs are also extremely efficient, sipping 1 to 11 watts of power versus 20 to 60 watts for halogens.
That means lower installation costs due to smaller transformers and cables, lower operating costs, and reduced maintenance, for up to a 50-percent savings over halogen systems in the course of 15 years.
But LEDs have their drawbacks, chiefly their high initial cost—about $40 per bulb, compared with about $5 for a similar halogen. Also, many LEDs have a cold blue light with a color temperature around 6,000 K (kelvins).
Look instead for a warm-color temperature, about 3,000 K. And don't forget to look at light output, in lumens, to make sure you're getting enough brightness. LED performance is improving, but it still lags behind that of halogens. Dismal output is the biggest knock against solar-powered fixtures, which all use LEDs. They might have enough glow to define a garden edge but not to light up your house.
5 Tips for DIYers
- Where to buy? All the components you need are available online at sites such as Landscape Lightwerks or VOLT.
- What skills do you need? Digging trenches and connecting fixtures and cables is straightforward stuff. But if you don't have a 20-amp GFCI-protected outdoor receptacle to plug the transformer into, hire a licensed electrician to install one.
- What size transformer? To determine the watt-capacity of your transformer, add up the total wattage of all the lights you plan to install and multiply by 1.25.
- How to control the lights? Timers are the most reliable automatic switches; the best ones adjust for seasonal changes in day length. Wireless keypads and fobs are convenient ways to manually control your lights and, unlike hardwired switches, don't require an electrician to install them.
- How to ensure uniform brightness? Attaching fixtures to one cable in a daisy chain can overpower the lights closest to the transformer and leave the last few power-starved and dim. The solution: Run a 10-gauge cable out to a hub—a waterproof junction box—and branch out with equal lengths of 12-gauge cable. Keep the runs under 50 feet, and power should arrive at halogen fixtures in their sweet spot: 10.8 to 11.5 volts (for LEDs, 8 to 15 volts).
Low-voltage cables (left) must be buried at least 6 inches deep. A plastic spike (center) anchors the fixture (right) in the ground.
Similar to shown: Frosted Globe walk light by Malibu with 11-watt bulb, about $20; Total LED Malibu Lighting
Landscape Lighting Design Ideas
Upward-facing bullet lights placed about a foot from the foundation focus attention on a house's most appealing architectural elements. Here, they are aimed at chunky porch columns, deep eaves, and dormers.
Shown: Intrepid directional lights with 20-watt halogens, about $85 each; Unique Lighting Systems
Trees less than 20 feet tall need only a couple of 20-watt uplights. A 50-foot tree may require three to five uplights of 35 to 50 watts apiece.
Similar to shown: Bullet accent lights with 20-watt halogens, about $62; Focus Industries
The front of the house isn't the only place to use landscape lights. Here, tree-mounted downlights and upward-pointing well lights show off this tree's branch structure and invite people to come out and enjoy the swing.
Shown: PortaleEnfer well light with 11-watt LED array, about $135 each, and TrellisSolare downlight with 20-watt bulb, about $65 each; FX Luminaire
To properly illuminate a bed, garden fixtures must be taller than the plantings, such as these succulents, that you want to showcase.
Similar to shown: Terralight Tudor Series LVW6319 with 18-watt bulb; about $120 each; Hanover Lantern
Because you can't just dial up a full moon, sometimes you need some extra illumination. In addition to providing light to grill by, a handful of tree-mounted lights bathe this stone patio in a mood-setting glow.
Shown: Lunar downlight with 20-watt halogen, about $140 each; Unique Lighting Systems
Looking to take your yard to the next level? Start with our landscaping resources.
Everything to Know About Landscape Lighting Bulbs
Wattage to Lumen Equivalents
Back in the days when most lights were of the incandescent filament types, wattage was a good way to describe light output. Everyone knew what a 40W or 60W bulb looked like. If you wanted a bright bulb for reading, you would select the 60W, if you just needed a light for a hallway, 40W was probably enough.
That changed with the introduction of fluorescent and compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. A 20W CFL bulb had a light output equal to a 40W incandescent bulb. Now, with the introduction of LEDs, a 10W LED is equivalent to that same 40W bulb. Clearly, wattages are no longer a good way to assess light output. Instead, we use lumens.
Efficacy is used to describe lumens per watt. In simple terms, efficacy describes the power needed (wattage) to produce the amount of light (lumens). For instance, a fixture that is 5 watts and produces 500 lumens has an efficacy of 100 lumens per watt. Likewise, a fixture that produces 300 lumens at 3 watts also has an efficacy of 100 lumens per watt. A fixture that produces 300 lumens at 2 watts has an efficacy of 150 lumens per watt. So the actual wattage used may not necessarily affect efficacy. Instead, efficacy will vary due to multiple factors related to the light source, such as how hard the LED is being driven and how well the heat it produces is dissipated.
Eventually, we will learn to assess light output with lumens – wattages will no longer interest us. In the meantime, the following table is a rough approximation of lumens and wattage equivalents. Keep in mind, however, that this table can be misleading because of individual lamp characteristics. It’s common, for instance, that certain LED fixtures are far more efficient and produce much more lumens than their incandescent equivalents.
Lumens and watts conversion charts for your reference: Data from Federal Trade Commission.
Base landscape lighting
.Where do I put my LED Low Voltage Outdoor Landscape Lights? by Total Outdoor Lighting
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