Tips for a Safe Landscape Lighting Installation

Good contractors always have the best interests of their clients in mind and follow all the rules based on their state or province and local code requirements. When a contractor secures the facility, he is protecting himself and his customers. Here are some tips to protect your team.

Call before you dig. Before you begin any excavation on a property, you should have service lines marked by utility companies. In the United States, call 811 to request that utility lines be marked before you dig. You can also visit to contact 811 in your respective state. In Canada, visit

Make this call several business days in advance so that you can bypass the indicated service lines. This rule applies to all excavations, regardless of the size of the job.

Why is this important? Many utilities are buried a few inches above the ground. They can be hit by a shovel very easily. If you cut a utility line and did not call 811 ahead of time, the responsibility lies with you. This could result in fines and repair costs.

Transformer safety. For landscape lighting, use a transformer certified to UL 1838 or with an ETL listing to UL 1838 standards. Landscape lighting power supplies covered by this standard have a maximum output voltage of 15 volts.

Landscape lighting transformer output circuits are rated at a maximum of 25 amps and 300 volt-amps. A circuit breaker or fuse must be on the secondary side in the event of a short circuit or overload.

Be sure to follow all manufacturer’s specifications and instructions and follow the safety precautions listed below: submersible mounting.

• Transformers should be mounted within 2 feet of a standard 110 or 120 volt electrical outlet and at least 12 inches above the ground.

• The outlet must be GFCI protected or be a GFCI outlet.

• Use a waterproof cover to prevent short circuits and electric shock.

• The power cord coming from the transformer must be earthed. Make a drip loop with the excess cord to prevent water from moving along the cable path and entering the receptacle.

• Never cut the power cord of a transformer. Garden light transformers are intended to be used as a device, not as a hard-wired part. When a transformer cord is cut, it voids the UL or ETL classification, making it an unapproved device.

• Never modify a transformer in any way. Use only approved testing methods in accordance with transformer receptacles. Do not attach any other electrical device to the control outlets.

Always use personal protective equipment. Wear that helmet! Your most important asset is your brain. When you are hit in the head, even a small piece of debris can cause serious brain damage.

Just like protecting your head, protecting your eyes is just as essential. When cutting and stripping landscape lighting cable, the strands can be as sharp as needles. Safety glasses or goggles protect your eyes from flying debris.

Steel-toed boots and work shoes help protect your feet and ankles. A 12-2 cable reel can weigh 30 pounds or more. If you stumble and it falls on your foot, you’ll be thankful that you invested in protective footwear.

In some areas it may be necessary to use high visibility clothing, especially if you are working at a commercial job or at the side of a road.

Remember that you are very important to your family and your community. The great work you do makes the world a better place, so take these precautions to keep everyone safe.

Kevin Smith is the National Technical Support and Trainer at Brilliance LED LLC, Carefree, Arizona, and can be contacted at [email protected]

About Genevieve Swain

Genevieve Swain

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