Landscape lighting is a great way to accent and highlight features around your yard and home, but if you have decided to install it yourself, you'll find that it often comes in kits with precut lengths of wire. For many people, this is fine, but if your yard is larger than the manufacturer assumes or you have creative ideas for where to place your light features, those lengths can be insufficient, and you may need to splice low-voltage landscape-lighting wire. With some simple tools and a little elbow grease, you can customize your landscape-lighting situation.
Safety and Preparations
Before anything else, disconnect your lighting from the power. Unplug it and if you need to and can do so, turn off the power to the outlet at the breaker before working on any kind of electrical project. This is a very important step for the sake of safety.
For this project, you'll likely need wire cutters and strippers. These tools are often incorporated into one tool. You will also need a soldering iron, which should be plugged in. If possible, work on your wire before burying it, and if you must solder in place, have an extension cable capable of reaching that location. Electrical solder, not solder intended for plumbing, is also needed. While they are similar-sounding products, they use different chemicals, and plumbing solder can damage wiring.
Other Important Considerations
When purchasing the additional length of wire, make sure you are matching the existing wire in your landscape-lighting kit. Landscape-lighting wire can come in gauges from 10 to 20, but the most common is 12 or 14. Match not only the voltage but also the construction.
Heat-shrinking tubes come in a variety of sizes, lengths and numbers per package, so confirm the diameter of the gauge wire you are insulating as well as how many splices you will be making. You will need four tubes of at least 2 inches for each splice.
Most households have a hair dryer, and you may need yours for this project. This is another portion of the task that will require access to an outlet.
Splicing the Wires
Once you have turned off power to your landscape lighting, you can begin to prepare the wire. Lay out the wiring and cut it in half. From there, measure and cut the length you will need from your roll of new wire to place the lighting according to your plans.
Separate the leads on both wires for 4 to 6 inches from the ends you plan to splice and strip at least 1 inch of insulation from the end of each lead. You should have four bare and separated leads. Slip a 2-inch length of heat-shrink tubing over each lead and push them down to keep the 1 inch of bare lead available.
Twist together the kit wiring with the new wiring, one lead to one lead, to make a continuous length of wire. Apply a hot soldering iron to the twisted leads and when the twist is hot, apply the solder to the wire, allowing it to melt and flow into the joints. Remove the soldering iron and repeat this process with the other set of twisted leads.
Finishing the Project
Once the metal has cooled, slip up the heat-shrink tubes to cover the joined leads, overlapping if possible, and turn on the hair dryer. Hold the hair dryer farther away at first to avoid uneven shrinkage. Once the tubing has shrunk tightly over the joint, repeat with the other lead. Plug in your system, returning power, and test that your light fixtures operate as desired.
Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com), and she enjoys writing home and DIY articles and blogs for clients in a variety of related industries. She also runs her own lifestyle blog, Sweet Frivolity (www.sweetfrivolity.com).