Upgrade the evening curb appeal of your house and incorporate a safety and security measure with low-voltage landscape lighting. These outdoor-grade light bulbs are generally installed along driveways and pathways to the front door. They’re also perfect for brightening up trees, flower beds, steps, fences, and other landscape features.
However, hindrances will usually stand in your way when installing wire for low-voltage landscape lighting. This situation is quite typical for a low-voltage lighting system. Fortunately, a low-voltage cable is not risky to install on the ground unprotected; thus, the task is a lot easier than installing traditional 120-volt lighting.
In this article, we will present how to install the wire under a sidewalk. It’s easy to execute and when your wiring or pipe is all set, you can optimize your lighting on one low voltage transformer. But, we’ll start with the installation of your landscape lighting system.
Low Voltage Landscape Lighting Tools You'll Need
Choosing A Lighting System
Settle Upon A Layout For The Light Fixtures
Steps For Installing Landscape Lighting Wire Under Sidewalk
Once you’ve chosen your fixtures and sites, pinpoint the farthest fixture from the transformer and work back into the transformer. You don’t have to mount the transformer at this moment, you only have to determine where it’s going to be placed.
Hammer a nail with a small claw hammer or another standard hammer into the surface. The stake is threaded to accept the light fixture. Nearly all light fixtures possess an angle adjustment knob so you can adjust that subsequently as required. If the bar is in the dirt, arrange the light fixtures by rotating the fittings onto the stake, ensuring that the cable is not damaged or twisted.
If you intend to put mulch on the flower bed but haven’t applied it yet, make a point that there’s adequate space between the base of the fixture and the ground for mulch. If you must remove the stake from the ground, you can work that as well.
Now grab the cable and unroll it. Stretch it on top of the flower bed back to the transformer. Don’t begin embedding the cord yet. You don’t have to bury the cable until you’re done adding lights and all the connections are assembled. Then, proceed to your next light fixture and repeat the above steps.
It would be of assistance if you connect now the cables of the first and second fixtures. Run the wire from the first fixture to the second if you haven’t already. Clip the second attachment leaving about a slack foot. Cut the first fixture’s cable so that it ends closely where the second cord is cut. Next, run the third cable towards the transformer from that location. This third cord will transport the power from the transformer to these two light fixtures.
Now to prep the cables for splicing. Low voltage lighting cable looks like a standard interior lamp cord with two wires crimped together. Using a pair of wire cutters, snip the cable between the two strands and pull the strands apart. Separate the leads on both wires for 4-6 inches from the ends you plan to splice and strip at least 1 inch of insulation from the end of each lead.
Prime the connectors for splicing. A low-voltage lighting cable resembles a traditional interior lamp cord with two wires crumpled together. With a pair of wire cutters, cut the cable between the two strands and tear the strands apart. Solely draw them back roughly 2-3 inches and strip back the insulation about an inch. Do this for both attachments.
Twist together the wires of the first attachment with the second one, one lead to one lead, to make a continuous length of wire. Then, you’ll have to run them through a wire connector or wire nuts. These wire nuts will keep the splice together and protect the connections from the elements.
Repeat the above process for any other additional lights.
Digging & Installation Process For Your Wire Connectors
Since you need to run your wires across the sidewalk or pavement to reach the transformer, obviously, you must run the cable beneath it. This is a somewhat easy procedure. You’ll need a piece of PVC pipe around 1″ in diameter, a little longer than the sidewalk you’re going to excavate under. One of the ends must be clipped at an angle.
Dig a small hole on one side of the sidewalk. On the other end, snip out a piece approximately 1 foot long by 4-5 inches wide. Get rid of the soil and stone until you can easily see the base edge of the concrete.
With the base edge of the sidewalk exposed, introduce the drill bit right under that edge. Place a tiny amount of force in the bit; this will maintain the steadiness of the bit while it progresses under the sidewalk. Keep your bit stable and straight as it runs beneath the concrete and it will emerge right beneath the other side.
These long bits include a small opening at the tip that is intended for reeling in your low voltage wire. To connect your cable, hook one end of your wire lead off and strip the other end. Remember to remove no less than 2-3 inches off that wire. With your cable end stripped off, insert the wire through the hole at the end of the bit.
After the wire is thoroughly hooked, start pulling it back through. You may need to employ a back-and-forth shifting with the drill to bring it to come back from under the sidewalk.
DIY Options For Making An Opening
Using A Shovel
Use a duckbill shovel. If the digging moves fairly easily, dig about one foot deep below the bottom of the concrete. Excavate roughly 3 feet on both sides so you can have the shovel in a more horizontal placement. Take note that you do not need to dig deep. You simply need to create a trench large enough to run the small wire through it.
Thrust the shovel blade horizontally and wobble it to and fro to gradually loosen the soil. When you reach near the center from either end, you will perhaps need to finish with a hand digger and your bare hands to eliminate the soil.
Using A Pressure Washer
When you need numerous wires to run through the sidewalk, use a piece of EMT conduit. This is a hard metal tube that you can purchase from any home improvement store.
- Gauge about a 6-inch overhang on every side of the sidewalk and then cut the pipe with a hacksaw. Now stomp on the ends to squeeze them together. This keeps the pipe from pervading with soil while it moves beneath the sidewalk. It creates a good wedge, so it's effortless to push.
- When pushing the pipe beneath the sidewalk, it's essential to keep it aligned. To make sure of this, clear out the grass so the pipe will nestle below the bottom edge of the concrete. With a spade, excavate a portion of grass roughly 6 inches longer than the pipe itself. This will give enough room for pushing the pipe under the sidewalk with a sledgehammer.
- Using a small spade or trenching shovel, remove the waste at the bottom of the tunnel. Now grab the pipe with the cramped end and attach it beneath the bottom edge of the sidewalk. Ensure that the pipe lies level down in the tunnel and is on par with the top of the concrete. A small to medium-sized sledgehammer will deliver sufficient power to drive it through. As soon as the pipe has been pushed through and comes right on the opposite side, use a hacksaw to sever the end. Next, just slide the cable through the pipe and out the other side. With your cable all set, you can now place your sod back in the trench and stomp it down into place.
For a 120-volt circuit, you can run up to 60 feet of 12 AWG cable without outreaching a 3%voltage drop.
- 14AWG=50 feet, 10AWG=64feet, and 8AWG=76 feet
For 240-volt circuits: with 14 AWG, you can run up 100 feet.
- 12 AWG=120 feet, 10 AWG=128 feet, and 8 AWG=152 feet
A low-voltage cable needs to be buried at no less than 6 inches deep. Buried wiring runs that progress from below ground to the above-ground should be covered in conduit from the needed sheath depth of at least 8 feet above grade or 18 inches to its termination point overground.
It's a common method to utilize a PVC cap to protect the cable from getting trimmed by the plasterer's trowel and is also somewhat useful in preventing the cable from touching the wall to abide by the method 'C.' If you’re adopting capping then usually there’s no point at all in cutting – actually, it can stand in the way.