A landscape lighting transformer, or landscape lighting power packs, is an essential part of your landscaping lighting.
If you are using electrical powered lights, you must have a transformer to generate the proper current. Transformers will lower your 120 volt current that runs into your home, to the desired 12 volts for your low-voltage lights.
Your transformer can either be above ground, mounted on a pole, or underground where it provides nice, clean lines in your yard. Either way, you will be making certain you have a good flow of electricity going to your lights!
Selecting The Right Transformer For Your Job
The first thing you must do is decide where you are going to install your transformer inside, outside, or buried underground.
You can install your landscape lighting transformer inside your home or in a shed that has power. To do this, you will need to mount the transformer in a convenient location near a grounded plug-in. You will want to choose a spot that can be easily accessed but is out of your way!
You will have to drill a hole in the wall close to where you want to attach your transformer, to run your low-voltage cable from the transformer to the outdoor accent lights.
If you decide to install the landscape lighting transformer on an outside wall or post, all you will need to do is decide where you want it located. You will want it in a place that is easily accessible but is still out of the way.
You can also install your landscape lighting transformer underground. To do this, you need to carefully decide where to put is so it is accessible but protected from the elements and other things that might damage it.
After you have decided where to mount your transformer, you will need to choose a style. Transformers come in an array of shapes and sizes! You will want to pick one that will blend in with its surroundings for aesthetic purposes.
The next step is to figure out how many watts of power you will need. Check the instruction sheet of your landscape lights to see what wattage your lights are. They can vary from 1 to 50 watts, so you will need the proper wattage for maximum effect.
For best results, add up the amount of watts in a particular string of lights and add 25% more watts.
For example: if your total wattage from your bulbs adds up to 150 watts, add 37 (25% of 150) to get a total wattage of 187. For this particular string, you should purchase a transformer that carries at least 200 watts.
Transformers can carry as little as 45 watts to 1,500 watts, depending on the manufacture. It is best to have a higher wattage transformer than your total amount of watts needed.
Learn more about low voltage lighting transformers here!
A multi-tap transformer will have taps or hook-ups that can vary in wattage so you can hook more strings of lights to the same transformer. Each string can have a different watt total, depending on how many lights are in it.
Click here to learn more about multi-tap transformers
Now that you know what you are going to use, you can begin to install it!
After you have determined how many watts of power you will need, your next step is to figure out how much cord you are going to use. Some strings of lights already have the cord attached, so you already know how far from the landscape lighting transformer you can place your lights.
Other lights come with no cord. For these, you will need to measure the distance from the transformer along where you are placing the lights, until you get to the end of your desired string. Always add a bit extra for cutting and splicing wire and to bury the cord in the ground. You also need to determine the gauge of wire to use.
You will need to attach the cord(s) to the landscape lighting transformer before you attach the box to your wall or post. To do this, you need to strip the cord down to the wires at one end. Then you will need to wrap those 2 wires around the screw terminals in the desired tap. After you have them wrapped around the terminals, screw the terminals until the wire is firmly attached.
Now that you have the cord attached to the landscape lighting transformer, you need to plug it into a nearby outlet. You should now have power to your outdoor low-voltage garden accent lights! If you do not, you may have a faulty cord or perhaps your transformer is faulty. You can easily test these with a volt meter.
To run several different strings of lights thru one landscape lighting transformer, you will have to splice the cord(s) into the main cord running to the transformer.
As with any electrical work, if you don’t feel comfortable working with electricity, please contact a licensed electrician. It’s better to spend a few bucks on an electrician rather than having your landscaping project come to a shocking end!
Further questions? Check out our landscape lighting transformer FAQ!