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Planning For Low Voltage Garden Lighting

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					Planning For Low Voltage Garden Lighting With recent quality improvements in low
voltage outdoor lighting system components it is now easier than ever to set up your own
garden or walkway lighting system. With the right components and setup you can save by
doing it yourself and still get a quality long lasting lighting system. You will need four
basic components for the lighting setup; a transformer, the cables, the fixtures for the
lamps and the lamps themselves. You can purchase the items separately but it is also very
common to find kits available at your local hardware store that have all the items you
need included. The transformer for these lighting systems converts standard 120 volt
house current to a more manageable 12 to 22 volts. You will want to mount it in a safe
out of the way location like a garage or tool shed that has a standard grounded 120 volt
electrical outlet you can dedicate to the lighting system. Lighting transformers come in a
variety of sizes and you will need one big enough to handle the number and wattage of
the light bulbs it will be powering. The electrical cables will also consume a small
amount of the power so go a little over size with the transformer. For example if the total
of all the lamps in the lighting system is 200 watts get a transformer approximately 250 to
300 watts in power. You don't want to overload the transformer. It is strongly
recommended that you consider getting what is called a multi-tap transformer if your
cable run is going to be more than 10 or 15 feet in length. This type of transformer allows
you to increase the voltage output by connecting to a higher voltage tap coming out of the
transformer. As electricity runs along a cable the voltage will drop because of the
resistance of the wire and there may not be enough voltage left at the end of a long cable
to properly power the last lights on the cable. Having the option of increasing the voltage
to 15 or 20 volts gives you the flexibility to make sure that all the lights are getting
enough power. 10 to 15 feet total cable length is pretty much the limit with a single tap
12 volt transformer however with a transformer running at 22 volts you can often have
several 100 feet of cable. The cables for low voltage lighting are usually 10 or 12 gauge
wire. Don't use thinner wires. The voltage drop will be too much. If you have lots of
lights or a long cable run go with the thicker 10 gauge cable. Because this is low voltage
you can run the cables on the ground if they are well out of the way or in a shallow
covered trench. This is a huge advantage over 120 volt systems that require conduit
buried deep in the ground. There are lots of do it yourself quick connectors to connect
your light fixtures to the cable but most of them are not going to last very long. The best
way to connect to the cable is to do it the way an electrician would do it. Use a wire nut
connector sized for the cable you use and seal it with silicon. The light fixtures and lights
you can get for a low voltage lighting system come in an almost endless variety of styles,
shapes and price ranges. So look around at all the different fixture options and have fun
knowing that the rest of your setup can handle the load for many years to come. Michael
Russell Your Independent guide to Lighting

				
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posted:8/17/2013
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Marijan Stefanovic Marijan Stefanovic Digital Imagery http://proart-13.blogspot.com/
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