Best method providing power for garden lights.

Thread Starter

Peter Owens

Joined Oct 9, 2015
OK I have been thinking about the various options for some time:
Need to decide on type of light, probably LEDs if I can get mini floods & vary the colour.
Distance from house to garden area is about 20/25 metres. Need to then distribute power in horseshoe pattern.
Unsure if a 12VDC (or AC) low voltage distribution is ideal, perhaps 24V?
Acknowledge that most LEDs seem designed for 12VDC supply, Maybe an ATX old PC power supply of about 500W would suffice.
What degree of weather protection is required (outside).
How to make secure line connections & do I need a Neutral return for DC or can I earth to ground at point of use?
I'm sure some of the above are dumb questions but I can't easily make the call an experienced installer or designer might do instinctively.

It looks like something "THEY" don't want you to know. The cream of the crop will likely be RGB DMX controlled fixtures. See here: Their website isn't helpful.

They won;t be cheap.

from what I could gather taking a "peek" at home depot. 12 VAC was the early choice. The landscape bubs listed don;t even say AC or DC.

I "THINK" early designs were simple based on a 12VAC transformer and incadesent lights. There's talk of taps for slightly different voltages due
to wire length.

You should look up DMX lighting in general. i.e. You could do multi-color and do shows etc, have :mood: modes etc.

My guess for the new systems it's 12 or 24 V DC with the controllers built into the lights.

I also saw some mentioning of PWM where you might be able to control the intensity of the light or combinations using less controllers.

There is "probably" a control cable and a power cable where the control cables will handle up to 32 lights daisy chained.

So, I don;t know either. I'll just give you what "I think" may be how an ultimate system would work.


Joined Jun 22, 2012
12V DC will do from an old Atx psu, no earth requirements needed for low voltage. Choose the cable size according to how much current you will need, keep the atx inside and run cables from it, fused accordingly.
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Joined Oct 30, 2015
To answer your distribution question, at those low voltages, there is no difference between AC and DC. The idea of using AC for distribution comes from the fact that as you step up the voltage, you step down the current. And since power loss in a wire is defined by I^2*R, making the current as small as possible is paramount. This is why distribution lines deal with hundreds of KV. That way the current is as small as possible and the losses are minimized. In your case, since you are not going to step your voltage up by the use of transformers, there is not much to be gained.

To protect from the weather, you would need to use stuff that is rated for "outdoors". Not because the 12V are dangerous (they aren't) or because there is even a chance of shock (I doubt there is much of that), but because the sun is going to wreak havoc on the components and eventually they may short. At that point in time the whole will get busted. If you are planning on putting the ATX power supply outside, I would encase it as hermetically as possible. Humidity and condensation will be the main problem. Although water doesn't conduct electricity, if it combines with other minerals which may be found on your garden dust, then shorts may develop and that is when the system kicks the bucket. Not to mention some bugs are conductive and will bring Armageddon at some of the voltages inside of your power supply.


Joined Feb 20, 2016
conduit is worth while, or at least correctly rated underground cable. I would go with 24VAC as the prefered power supply. AC will be marginally better if there is a chance of moisture getting in. The electrolysys tends to partly cancell out. And 24VAC parts for outside lighting are readilly available.


Joined Jul 18, 2013
I installed my yard lights 25 years ago and used 24vac and direct burial landscape cable used for yard lighting purpose.
A simple isolating control transformer with 24v secondary was used for power.
If you do need DC then a simple bridge can be added.
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Joined May 29, 2018
Last month I installed the LED garden lights. 12VAC may be the earliest choice, or you can directly install solar LED garden lights, which can save a lot of costs.

Moderators note: removed commercial link
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Joined Jan 29, 2010
A useful tip if you want to run LOW voltage cables under ground/garden is to use old garden watering plastic hose pipe.
Pull the cable thru the hose, prior to burying, the hose pipe will give years of added protection to the cable.


Joined Sep 22, 2013
I have not looked lately.....but there are hundreds of solar self power external lights of all sizes and colors and powers. And mounting techniques. Inexpensive, wiring. Just mount and you're done.

But.....hard to turn off.

kuzek........sometimes people make an account here to spam. So probably after 10 post or will have full privileges. It's too stop the spammers. If you stick around and use the can post links too.