If you have a need to provide power in your landscaping project for lighting and motors such as pond pumps, there are some things that you should consider.
Figure 1 - House illuminated with low voltage lighting
Manufacturers have created low voltage lighting in order to increase their sales (Figure 1). The principle driving force is that wires running from the primary receptacle to the devices and from device to device, do not have to be trenched underground and placed in conduit.
This means that the effort required by the homeowner to have outdoor lighting throughout their landscaping project has been reduced dramatically and hence the manufacturers are selling more products.
However, just because the wiring does not have to be placed underground does not mean that it should not be.
There are three major problems associated with placing wires on the surface of the ground.
- They can easily be damaged during plantings, cultivating and weeding
- They can be a safety hazard as they are easy to trip over
- They are unsightly and can ruin the aesthetics of a project
The installation of standard electrical receptacles within your project can be accomplished in two manners:
- Direct burial wire
- wires running in a PVC conduit
Using direct burial wire has the inherent problem that people forget the exact routing of the wires and during your next project, you are bound to cut the wire with a spade or pitchfork.
Whether you are using low voltage devices or standard voltage devices, my recommendation is that all wiring should be run in PVC conduit that is buried at least 8 inches below ground level.
PVC conduit is relatively inexpensive and provides the added benefit of being able to add a circuit without digging up your entire landscaping. Although this requires additional effort during installation, it will save you a lot of pain and agony in the future.
Additional information on PVC conduit.