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How To Install Walkway Lighting

by Geoff Richards on May 15, 2010

in Outdoor Lighting and Heating

Walkways and paths can be a great place to add lights for decoration and safety. There are two general types of walkways lights- low voltage and solar Walkway Lightingpowered. The solar powered models are the easiest to install and do not require any special wiring. However, these lights tend to dim after a few hours of usage until they can recharge the next day. Low-voltage walkway lighting is powered by cables which run under the ground. Power is provided by a central transformer which all of the lights connect to. This method requires more time and money, but can be more reliable in the long run.Both types of lights come in a practically unlimited amount of designs and styles which range from modern to Victorian.

Low-Voltage Walkway Lighting

Low voltage lighting is the more difficult of the two to install, but has the advantage of a constant power source which won't dim during the night. Users will need a power transformer and insulated wire, among other things. Fortunately, everything you need for installation can be obtained in a walkway light kit. The first tip you need to know during installation is that wired lights lose power the longer the path is. Walkway lighting mounts at the end of a long path will be less bright that the ones closer to the power transformer. (More on this later).

Light mounts vary in wattage but generally come in two types- 20 or 30 watts. The term "watt" defines the power of the light, meaning that the more wattage the light has, the brighter it will be when hooked up to an appropriate transformer. The lights are connected by wire which comes in different "gauges". The smaller the gauge, the longer the light path you can create. Homeowners typically use a 12 gauge wire for installation, but 10 gauge is recommended for larger jobs. Selecting the proper gauge is important in ensuring that all of your lights get enough power.A good rule of thumb for light placement is one light every five feet along the path.

Now you will need a transformer to power your lights. Every transformer has a maximum amount of wattage that is can handle, which is important in the selection process. To determine the wattage of your light plan, add up the watts of each light bulb. For example, five lights at 20 watts each would need a transformer of at least 100 watts. Every transformer has two "stations" in which a light string can be attached. Example: a 400 watt transformer will have two stations of 200 watts each. Using the example of five lights above, the string would be safe to use on one of the stations, as it does not exceed 200 watts. You can split your walkway lighting system between the two stations to ensure that the maximum wattage is not exceeded.Keep in mind that the longer the light string, the more power will be needed to light up every mount. For this reason it is recommended that users buy a transformer that exceeds their needs.

Solar Walkway Lighting

Solar walkway lights, despite some small disadvantages, are usually the choice of homeowners needing walkway lights. These lights require no wiring and are ready to use out of the box. To assemble, simply attach the light pod to the pole shaft, and the pole to the plastic stake. Then, using a measuring tape, line up your lights along the path of choice. The rechargeable batteries in the lights may not be charged by the manufacture, so let them charge up for one day. These solar walkway lights do best in direct sunlight where the solar panel can soak up the most solar energy. The lights will come on automatically at night and stay on for several hours. You will notice that they will dim after several hours of operation.The rechargeable battery inside each mount will need to be replaced about every year depending on the weather conditions in your area.

Walkway light fixtures can also be used as driveway lighting, guiding the way at night. Driveway lights border each side of your driveway to help visitors see your home. Solar driveway lights are the easiest to install being that they require no wiring.

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