How to Hook Up Malibu Low-Voltage Lights

This article provides an overview of how to hook up Malibu low voltage lighting in your landscape.

You'll learn how to mount the transformer that powers the lights, how to estimate the amount of low-voltage cord you need to run the lights and how to connect power to the individual low-voltage fixtures.

The first step to installing and hooking up Malibu low voltage lights is to decide where you want your fixtures placed in your landscape. Also determine where the transformer can be hooked up to an outdoor electrical outlet. The first light should be placed at least 10 feet from the transformer.

Once you have determined placement of the fixtures, measure the distance from where the transformer will be mounted to the last low-voltage fixture. This distance will determine how much low-voltage wiring you must purchase. Add one foot of wiring per fixture to accommodate possible repairs or adjusted placement. For example, if you have 6 fixtures that are 75 feet from the transformer, add 6 to 75 and purchase at least 81 feet of low-voltage cable.

Determine the wattage of the fixtures you plan to install and add the wattage of all the fixtures together (different wattage can be connected). This will determine the size of transformer you need which in turn will determine the recommended gauge of low-voltage wiring to obtain.

Assemble the low-voltage fixtures and place them where you want them in your landscape. Don't push them all the way into the ground until fixtures have been successfully connected to low-voltage wiring.

Install the transformer. The transformer takes standard 120 volt lighting and converts it to 12 volt. Strip 3/4 inch of insulation off the end of the low voltage wire that will connect to the transformer. Split the low-voltage wire 4 inches to allow flexibility in hooking up each side of the copper wire. Loosen the screws on each of the two transformer connector posts and make a "crook" in the stripped portion of one wire. Hook the bent portion over one post and tighten the screw; repeat for the second half of the copper wire on the second post.

Lay out the low-voltage wiring along the path where the fixtures are placed and begin attaching each fixture to the low-voltage wire. There are two wires coming out of the fixture, one ending with a black plastic clasp and the other terminating with a gray plastic clasp. Each clasp has sharp metal prongs that will pierce each side of the low-voltage cable. Place the black clasp on the bottom of the low-voltage connector cable and the gray clasp on the top of the cable, aligning the clasps so that they lock together while piercing each side of the cable. Press until they lock together. You may have the transformer plugged in at this point to ensure you have made a proper connection.

Once all the fixtures have been successfully attached to the low-voltage line, use the trowel to dig a 3 to 4 inch trench and bury the low voltage cable in this trench. Extra cable can be looped around the stake and pushed down below ground or mulch level.

Things You Will Need

  • Malibu landscape lighting fixtures including light junction boxes
  • Transformer
  • Low-voltage wiring
  • Trowel or other shallow digging tool
  • Straight screwdriver
  • Wire stripper
  • Tape measure
  • GFI electrical outlet with cover

Tip

  • A silicone gel can be applied to the fixture/cable connection to prevent water from making contact with any of the exposed wiring.

Warning

  • Always attach fixtures to proper ground fault interrupter (GFI) outlets. Contact an electrician if you are unsure. Also make sure the outlet has a cover which will allow the transformer plug to be protected from moisture.

About the Author

Anne Larson is a writer and garden designer who has written for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture's Leopold Letter and the "Des Moines Register." Larson began writing in 1975. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Northern Iowa and a Bachelor of Science in horticulture from Iowa State University.