Eliminate the "Lean" of your Low Voltage Lighting / by Chad Rodvold

Typical path light "lean"

Typical path light "lean"

This has been a pet peeve of mine since I started designing and installing landscape lighting throughout the country. No matter where I travel, I find the same issues whenever I see low voltage lighting...the customary lean of the fixture...meaning it isn't straight up and down. I am confident the fixture wasn't meant to look like this and was straight when it was installed but over time began it's natural path...leaning and falling over to the side.

I took this photograph of a project I knew was installed within the last year to show it doesn't take very long for the lean to happen. This happens for several reasons.

1- The landscape maintenance crews hit the fixture and over time the lean becomes acceptable.

2- The stake the fixture is on is only 6" deep into the soil.

3- The wiring isn't placed in conduit and only several inches beneath the soil.

So what is the solution? Landscape maintenance crews are always going to "bump" the fixtures so the only way to eliminate the lean is to install the unit more securely. We use a open stake like this one:

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When a quality landscape installation crew installs new planting beds, they usually bring in 4"-6" of new planting soil (bed prep) and an additional 2" in of mulch. If the stake provided with the low voltage lighting unit is only 6" long, the light is not going to be secured in this soil. Installing the unit with the deeper stake will allow the unit to be installed into a more compact soil thus securing the unit. In addition, we always install our low voltage electrical wiring in conduit and bring it into the open stake providing a more stable unit. Running your low voltage wiring in conduit will ensure against inadvertent cutting of the wires when you change plant material or add new plants to existing beds. It costs a bit more on the front end, but will be worth it down the road.

So remember, your low voltage lighting doesn't have to "lean" and you can help my sanity by keeping yours straight!

E2 Illumination Designs is a design-build landscape lighting company focused on bringing the very best  in landscape design and construction to discerning clients throughout Texas and the U.S. Please contact us if you are considering landscape illumination for your home.