Recent advances in the science of low-voltage lighting mean that many homeowners have been able to make exciting changes to their yards on their own. While there are many DIY outdoor lighting options, it’s also important to know what projects you’ll need professional help to properly complete.
You probably have a hose bib outside your house, but do you have an outlet? Running an outlet to your backyard for lighting, providing electricity for outdoor cooking tools and powering fans is generally beyond the scope of your average DIY electrical project. You will need to install GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets or breakers for your safety and keep your home up to code.
For example, you will either need to splice off an existing internal outlet and risk overloading the circuit, or you may need to wire a new outlet from the main box. Both of these involve flipping breakers, splicing or running new wire and many other potentially risky steps.
In addition to lighting, a dedicated outlet is critical for those who like to cook outside. If you plan to use an outdoor smoker or pellet barbecue, you will need consistent access to reliable power and could face a hazardous situation if the circuit is overloaded and the burning pellets cannot move through the hopper.
Water and Electricity
If you’re planning to run low-voltage underground wiring to power up garden lighting or pathway lighting, many people with DIY home repair skills can likely handle this task.
However, if you need to run heavier cable or trench for conduit for any other purpose, it’s a good idea to contact a professional electrician. There are many risk factors and local codes to keep in mind when burying cable or running conduit underground that can put your personal safety and home at risk.
Running cable or conduit in your backyard may be exposed to lawnmowers and yard tools and will certainly be exposed to water from your sprinklers. Having your cable buried at the proper depth by a professional is a great investment in your home.
Even if you’re only working on your deck, running power to a hot tub or to your pool lights again can be a challenge and a safety concern. No matter your level of experience, a hot tub or pool filter will likely require dedicated power and may require tying back to your main box.
Low Voltage Options Ideally Suited For DIY
Even if you’re only starting out as a DIY backyard wiring aficionado, there are several projects you can do to improve both the look and the security of your yard.
- Path lighting will highlight your garden display both day and night
- Motion sensor lights will let you know when an uninvited guest is visiting your private oasis
- Rope lighting under stairs will make it much easier for family and friends to safely navigate your deck or patio
- Twinkle lights aren’t just for Christmas anymore and will turn your shadowy trees into a festival of light!
- A string of lights under your patio umbrella will make a simple picnic a magical experience
There are many aspects of outdoor wiring that are a great option for DIY electricians to undertake. There are also projects that really need the knowledge of a professional. If you’re not sure, consider hiring a pro to help you make the safest choice for your family, yourself and your home.