With clients main focus being on garden lighting design, choice and placement. There is one area of outdoor lighting that is often overlooked; the garden lighting system, which keeps the garden lights working smoothly. None of these “sexy” features would be important if you cannot switch the lights on or the lighting system inexplicably fails. Therefore, the next two blogs, we are going to focus on what steps you can take from design to installation that will keep your system running trouble free. With over 20 years experience in garden lighting, I have through trial and error come up with a good list of items and techniques that will increase reliability but up to 80%. It’s important to remember that every time a system fails it costs you time and money to have the installation fixed so by spending a bit of extra time on the original installation, it will ensure you save time and money in the long run.
The four points we will be covering in the two blogs will be;
- Mains or extra low voltage system
- Junction boxes
- AC DC
1) Mains or extra low voltage systems
So this one comes up all the time and is well discussed, I have gone through all the pros and cons in a previous blog. In my opinion there really is no question it has to be extra low voltage 12v- 24v or constant current. In terms of safety and reliability this is the first choice I would fundamentally make in any garden lighting design.
2) Junction boxes
Most medium to large garden lighting installations will require a system of mains junction boxes to supply power to the driver at various points in the garden. Always try and keep these to a minimum, as the more you have the more points of potential weakness there will be in the system. It should be noted that with extra low voltage, led lamps have a much lower wattage demands compared to old halogens. This means that from one transformer, runs of 20-30 meters from each junction boxes gives you very good coverage. Avoid mounting junction boxes on wooden poles or mounts. Wall mounting or metal spike mounts tend to last longer over a period of time. Adding gel waterproof filling into boxes is popular but often unnecessary. We only use gel or two part resin in boxes that have to go underground or cannot be wall mounted.
I will cover cable and AC DC requirements in part 2 of the blog.