HOW TO CREATE AN OUTDOOR LIGHTING INSTALL PLAN
How to Create an Install Plan
Creating a plan is the biggest and most important step to be taken before any landscape light install. By creating a plan you will be able to get an idea of what types of light fixtures will work best for your unique yard setup. By following a few steps you will be well on your way to lighting up your landscape.
• Create a Sketch: When you are planning out your landscape sketch be sure to keep in mind the important areas that you are lighting up. Be sure to add your favorite trees or shrubs, add your pathways and tripping hazards, most important of all add your house.
• There are four common symbols that you will need to use when creating the sketch. One for the transformer, splices, landscape light, and landscape wiring.
o The Transformer Symbol - Is usually placed against your home. This will help you visualize where to place your transformer. Most folks will strategically hide the transformer behind shrubbery, walls or fencing. If you go this route than the color of the transformer does not matter. You won’t be seeing it anyway.
o The Splice Symbol - Is used to show your splices. These are helpful when you are not using a junction box for your splices. Now days we have the use of direct burial wire nuts. So our fixture splices can be almost anywhere. Be sure to map these out properly so that you can reference them in the future in case of a needed repair.
o The Landscape Wiring Symbol - Is used to show where you ran your wires. With different wire runs and styles of wiring setups. This is important knowledge to have in case you have to dig up or around the wire.
o The Landscape Light Symbol - Is used to plan out where you want your fixtures to go. Every fixture gives off a different cone of light. By planning this out you can maximize the spacing of the cone. The fixture placement will also help you to maximize the wattage that is running on a particular wire run.
Remember that time spent doing the basics will save you from headaches later on. Be thorough with your detailing and yet simple enough for a stranger to be able to determine where you hid things during future events.
A METHOD TO THE MADNESS
When it comes to landscape lighting, we want to be able to use as little wiring as possible. This is all due to voltage drop. The farther your voltage needs to run the less you will have at the end of the line. There are four common methods to keep in mind when designing your setup.
• The Daisy Chain: This method is used when you have a single line of landscape light fixtures on one run. Now days with LED fixtures, you won’t experience voltage drop as easily due to the line voltage being used more evenly throughout the run. Use this method when you don’t have a group of lights clustered together.
• The T-Method: This method is similar to the daisy chain, but instead of having the transformer at the end of the run, it is placed in the middle of it. This method is also used when you have an existing run, and you want to place the transformer in the middle of it to be able to save the most wire as possible.
• Hub Method: The hub method is the best choice when a cluster of lights is being used. You find this method heavily used in flower beds. A single wire is ran from the transformer to a hub location. The hub is then used to create off shoots to the various lights in the cluster. The hub method also ensures that an equal amount of voltage is being used by each fixture.
• Combo Method: This is used in conjunction with any of the other methods. The transformer is usually housed in the middle of the lighting plan. From there you can run your daisy chains from a hub, or hub to a cluster. Once again, with LED lights being more widely available now. This method is quickly becoming the norm as voltages are not dropping has heavily in multiple wiring scenarios because LED’s are taking less power than before.
Remember that the best looking landscapes always start with a plan. Take your time and follow these steps to create the look that you are striving for.