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Low voltage lights for decks

Low Voltage Lighting Systems

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There are basically two types of lighting systems for walkways and driveways. Solar and low voltage. Solar powered lights are not always an option, especially not for properties with many trees that may block the required sun rays to power up each unit throughout the day. The other option is to use a low voltage lighting system.
Personally I like this system as it gives better and more even lighting unlike solar powered units that dim as the night goes on. Low voltage lighting kits contain everything you need to get started such as lights, wiring, hardware and a transformer (also known as power adapter). The size of the wire is important. Most kits are sold with 12 gauge wires. The lower the number is, the further you can go with your lighting and the greater the number of lights you can attach. Usually, a 12 gauge wire is heavy enough for most applications. However, for long pathways or driveways it is recommended to use a 10 gauge wire to prevent power loss to the units furthest away from the power source. Extra long runs also require a larger transformer. Lights should be spaced approximately 1.5 m. (5 feet) to 2.4 m. (8 feet).
Power requirements
Low voltage lighting runs on 12 volts and requires a transformer to reduce normal household electricity from 110/120 volts to 12 volts.
The transformer must be plugged into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacle. If there is no outlet close to the walkway or driveway a new line has to be brought in from the house. The line should run inside a conduit. If there is any trenching involved make sure to call the utility companies to locate any cables or lines. If you are not 100% sure on how to install a GFCI receptacle, call a licensed electrician to do the job for you.
When choosing the transformer, you need to allow for some power loss in the wiring (voltage drop). Add up the wattage of all the fixtures in your lighting design to determine the total wattage. If the total wattage is close to a transformer’s wattage, choose a higher capacity transformer. For example, if the total is 64 Watts of lights, choose an 88 Watt transformer rather than a 66 Watt transformer.
Usually the lights are attached to the wire and all you have to do is place the wire along the pathway or walkway and when you are satisfied with the spacing connect the fixtures to the wire using quick connectors. To avoid accidental cutting of the wire while gardening lift the sod, cut a small trench, lower the wire and replace the sod. Hook up the power adapter and you are done.

* Leave ample slack at both ends of the wire run and at each light fixture. If necessary, this extra wire will allow you to correct or alter the spacing of the light fixtures.
* Before replacing the sod test the lights at night to make sure you are happy with the layout.

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