home exterior lighting

Everything You Need to Know About Adding Lights to an Existing System

You’ve been driving all night. The roads are dark and the terrible weather makes it hard to navigate. You turn the last corner and there it is, home.

Your yard is all lit up like a Christmas card, so warm and welcoming.

Outdoor lighting makes a significant difference in curb appeal. It also creates a sense of safety and security. Whether you are using floodlights to light up a long, twisty driveway, or spotlights to showcase a grove of trees, landscape lighting makes a home feel like home.

Wondering how to install landscaping lights or upgrade your current lighting system to give your yard that special “home” feel? Here are a few things to keep in mind when going over your outdoor lighting options.

Make a Plan for the Lighting

outdoor living landscape lightingOutdoor lights can achieve more than just a homey feeling. They add a sense of sophistication, increase curb appeal, and create a safer space for your family. They can be used in conjunction with your home security system, or simply as decoration.

The first step to adding lights to your current outdoor lighting system is to decide what you are trying to achieve with your outdoor lights. What is the end goal?

Do you want guests to know where to turn into your driveway? Do you want twinkling lights in the trees for ambiance? Do you want a motion-detector light?

Before you start, have a vision in your head of how you want it to look. Then, work to make that vision a reality.

You might be able to achieve parts of your vision with solar-powered lights, which are easy to install on your own. Remember that solar lights rely on sunshine to run.

If your home is in the shade, solar lights won’t work. This means that if you live in a climate with limited sunshine, or have a lot of trees in your yard that block light, you’ll need a hardwired lighting solution.

Not Sure How to Install Landscaping Lights? 

Wiring a new lighting system, or adding lights to an existing system, can be intimidating. There’s a lot that can go wrong. It’s best to leave it to the professionals.

You should work with your lighting professional to determine the answers to the following two questions before you start installing lights:

1) What Size is Your Transformer? 

A transformer is part of your electric system. In a nutshell, a transformer steps high-voltage electricity from the grid down to a more usable low-voltage electricity for your home.

The size of your transformer will determine the load the system can handle.  In other words, a larger transformer will allow you to put more lights in your yard than a smaller transformer.

Overloading your transformer is a bad idea. You probably don’t want to push a transformer past 80% of its maximum capacity. As you start to max out a transformer’s load, it will trip and require constant resets.

It’s essential that you know the capacity of your transformer before you start a landscape lighting project.

2) What Kind of Lights are You Running on Your Current System?

Do you currently have halogen lights?

Halogens were very popular. They gave off warmer light and were less expensive than LEDs. If you have an older system, you may still be running halogen bulbs.

A halogen system is not as efficient as an LED system is. As technology has advanced, LEDs have transitioned from a cold, blue light with high costs, to warmer lights and lower costs.

LED are now the preferred option for outdoor lighting because they run on such low-voltage and take up little space on a transformer.

Solutions Your Landscape Lighting Issues

If your transformer is too small to accommodate the vision you have for your outdoor lighting, or you want to upgrade a halogen system, there are a couple of options for you.

Need to Upgrade a Halogen System?

home exterior lighting companyIf you decide to retrofit your current halogen system to an LED system, you can open up a lot of room on your transformer. This means that you’ll be able to increase the number of lights that your transformer can handle.

Because LEDs run on much less wattage per lamp, your transformer can handle close to three times the number of LEDs as halogens.

This means that you can achieve your vision for your yard without giving up the warm lights, low costs, and the number of lighting features you want to have to highlight your home.

There is also the intermediate option of adding LED lights to a halogen system without retrofitting the entire system with LEDs. This is only an option if you have available space on your transformer.

Need to Increase Room on Your Small Transformer?

If you have an LED system in place already, and it has fully maxed out your transformer, you should not add any additional lights to it.  You run the risk of blowing the transformer, which creates much bigger headaches down the line.

In this situation, you will either need to add an additional transformer, or upgrade your current transformer to a larger capacity. What you choose to do depends on your individual situation and your vision for your landscape lighting.

The advantage of having two transformers is that you can create zones of lighting for your home. If you have one transformer running the front yard, you can set the other transformer up to run the backyard.

This gives you greater creative freedom with the lighting design.

Light It Up!

Once you have your dream lighting decided upon, work with your lighting professional to decide how to install landscaping lights that will work with your personal situation.

Whether it’s retrofitting your current system, or upgrading your lighting options, there are plenty of options to add lights to your current lighting system.

Contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll get your landscape lighting looking its best in no time.