Residential Landscape and Outdoor Lighting FAQ
Learn about 120V, LED, low voltage outdoor lighting in this FAQ and answers guide. Residential Landscape Lighting often begins with the homeowner and ends with a licensed professional completing the installation. Questions answered below about:
- Energy savings
- Light positioning
- Transformers, Hubs and Accessories
- How many lights are needed and which bulbs to choose
Read our most frequently asked lighting questions below to clear up any queries you may have before you contact a local professional. Please contact us toll-free with any additional questions you may have and we will help you find the best light fixtures for your project.
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How much energy will be used?
Energy consumption depends on the lighting system you choose. If you have just a few low voltage fixtures with LED lamps and a low wattage transformer the increase in your electrical bill will likely be small.
I am concerned about my electric bill.
If you want to reduce the amount of electricity you use for your outdoor lighting we suggest you choose a system with LED lamps. While the initial investment may be greater than cheaper lighting, LED lamps will pay for themselves and save you money over the long term.
What if I need to change the position on the lights – is this easy to do?
Light position changes depend on the layout of your lighting system. Specifically, position changes are dependent on the installation being labeled and installed correctly, using hubs during the installation process. If your lighting system was installed correctly, marking information clearly on each hub and on the inside panel of the transformer, changes should be a simple task.
What is a hub and why do I need one?
The hub wiring system will help in many ways. If you decide to connect your fixtures to a hub and then to the transformer, common hurdles associated with larger lighting systems can be overcome. Five (5) fixtures will be wired to the hub, reducing the number of connection points, ultimately saving on labor and installation time. It will also reduce voltage drop since the hub provides all fixtures with equal power. Equal power ensures each fixture is illuminated the same without compromising the fixture furthest from the transformer. The hub also provides options to add to your lighting system easily or to move the fixtures as your landscape grows. Plus, the hub protects your connections from the elements, minimizing wicking and corrosion.
Does this product require maintenance?
Just like any garden structure, maintenance is required periodically. Common maintenance activities include: ensuring yard debris around your fixtures is cleared, replacing lamps when needed, wire repair or replacement if nicked, and/or adding fixtures to the system (which may require landscape contractor assistance.)
What is a transformer and why do I need one?
A transformer is generally used with low voltage lighting systems to “transform” or reduce the higher line voltage to 12 volts. Without a transformer the light bulbs would be subjected to excess voltage and would burn out immediately. The magnetic transformers we carry should not exceed 80% of the transformer's wattage rating. For example,
- You have 20 fixtures with 20 watt lamps in them, collectively equaling a total of 400 watts. The transformer to power these fixtures with this wattage would be a 500 watt transformer. 500 x 80% = 400 watts,
- A low voltage lighting system usually operates on 12 volts whereas a line voltage system usually operates on 120 volt.
Are these easy to install and can I do it myself?
Installing lighting should be done in accordance with manufacturer's specifications, installation instructions, and NEC regulations. Some states require a certified electrician or electrical contractor to install these systems so check state requirements before you install anything. If certification is not required where you live, remember to use a true RMS voltmeter, and one with fresh batteries at that.
What is an LED?
LED stands for light-emitting diode. It is a semiconductor device that emits visible light when an electric current passes through it. They are different from incandescent lamps because they do not have a filament that burns out or gets hot. Individual LEDs are binned and then clustered on a circuit board. The reason they are more expensive is because they have a tighter binning tolerance. LEDs are created as a flat sheet known as a wafer.
What is a lens retainer clip?
A lens retainer clip holds the lens in the fixtures.
What is a riser?
Made out of weathered brass or copper, a riser is a stem that can increase the height of a fixture.
How many lights do I need?
The number of lights you may need depends on a specific job. If you have a large yard with a specific lighting portrait in mind you will need more. If you have a small section you want illuminated a few fixtures will do the trick.
Are the lights weatherproof?
Our outdoor lighting fixtures are made to be placed outside in all kinds of weather and all seasons. If installed properly and with the proper maintenance needed for your specific lighting system, you will have no problems with weather adversely affecting your lights.
Do you have different colored bulbs?
While we don't have different colored bulbs, we do have colored lenses which will change the color of the light.
What kind of bulbs are in the fixtures?
Bulb type is dependent on the type of fixture you select. The product listing page will tell you what type of bulb you need. They are frequently called lamps and have ‘names' such as MR16, Par36, T3, etc. The wattage of the lamp can vary as well. It will be listed on the product listing, along with whether it is LED or incandescent.
How are they turned on and off?
You can purchase accessories like a timer and/or photocell that turn your lights on automatically at a specified time or when it gets dark. If you prefer to do this manually, simply have your electrician install an on/off switch.
Can a timer be used?
As mentioned above, you can attach a photocell to your transformer so the lights automatically come on at sunset and go off at sunrise. Or, use a timer and set it so the lights come on and go off at the times you set. Photocells take advantage of the ambient light, turning the system on when the sun sets. Both of these accessories use a switching mechanism to block and provide power when needed to the transformer.
For replacement, would I need to replace just the bulb or the entire fixture?
If the light goes on a fixture it might just be the bulb (also called lamp) that needs replacing. If you want to replace just the lamp make sure you purchase the right type and wattage.
Can bulbs and/or fixtures be easily replaced or does an electrical contractor need to be scheduled?
If it is not a lamp problem it may be a problem with a nicked wire that connects it to a hub or transformer. There is also the possibility that the transformer's fuse needs to be replaced. However, if you had an electrical contractor do the installation then troubleshooting the problem and fixing it should be a simple task for them.
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