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How to Choose a Deck Lighting System

Aug 20, 2007
On a wonderful spring, summer or autumn evening when the weather is ideal and you and your family and guests are having a terrific time, it would be a shame to have to leave your deck just because the sun is going down. You can make such an evening last as long as you like by considering various alternative deck lighting solutions.

A low-voltage deck lighting system is ideal. All you need to install deck lights yourself is a weatherproof 120-volt outlet, some basic hand tools and a few hours of spare time. Best of all, low-voltage deck light systems don't require you to take the precautions necessary with household 120-volt systems because they are not powerful enough to give you a serious shock.

Take the time to plan your deck lighting system. For safety and appearance sake, consider installing deck lights at steps and handrails. In general it's a good idea to install lights so that they cast maximum illumination onto the stair treads. Railing lights should help you find the railing in the dark but not interfere with using it.

When planning lighting to go around seating areas keep the deck light fixtures relatively low. Avoid installing lights on top of railings or posts where they might shine in people's eyes and pose a safety hazard.

Take the time when shopping for your deck lighting system to select the appropriate components to complement your particular backyard environment. Also consider whether you want additional lighting components to accent features near your deck such as shrubs, trees or a water feature.

Low-voltage systems come in many quality levels and prices. They range from expensive architectural grade deck light fixtures with metal housings and baked on finish for long years of use to systems with plastic housings at a lower cost and shorter life span. It is possible to buy individual lights and components or purchase complete deck light kits that include all the necessary fixtures, wire and transformers.

The key part of any low-voltage deck light system is the transformer. There are three types from which to select. Manually operated transformers require the lights to be turned on and off by hand. Automatic timer transformers let you preset on and off times. Photocell-eye transformers automatically turn the deck lights on at dusk and off again at dawn.

Installation is very simple. Start by placing the transformer near an outlet that has weatherproof ground-fault-circuit-interrupter (GFCI) protection to prevent shocks. Attach the transformer with screws to the outside of the house or deck. Starting at the transformer run a continuous length of wire cable that reaches every location where you will be installing a light. Cables run along the ground can be camouflaged with mulch or soil.

All that remains to be done is to wire up the deck light fixtures and mount them where you want them on your deck. You just follow the installation instructions supplied with your kit.

Finally, you are ready for that spectacular moment when the sun starts to go down. Instead of retreating into the house, simply sit back and watch the magic as your deck becomes another jewel under the night sky.

Sounds great! You better believe it.
About the Author
Richard Vande Sompel is a professional deck builder of 35 years and over 850
decks built and is the author of "How to Plan, Design and Build a Deck from
Start to Finish". To Discover More About
Deck Lighting and Claim your 2
FREE Deck Plans, Insider Report, MP3 Audio and discover everything to know about
building a deck visit:
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