Shaun Ellis from Smarter Home of the Carolinas has done a write-up on a really overlooked facet of smart home – landscape lighting!
Landscape lighting can be a monumental decision for many homeowners to conquer and for many it still won’t be what they really want. I know this cause I have lived with the quick and cheap decisions I’ve made and their accompanying disappointments. In the following article I’d like to lay out what I decided on as a great alternative to cheap solar, expensive hardwire and still end up with smart lighting.
Hardwired line voltage landscape lighting would likely have been considered the Cadillac of landscape lighting 10 years ago, but for many homeowners the cost of having it installed was prohibitive or many homeowners are not comfortable working with main voltage. So the next alternative would be Low-Voltage lighting consisting of a transformer and multiple 12 or 24 volt lights all daisy chained along your walkway.
For most homeowners, this is a comfortable project electrically (how much can 12 volts really hurt), they are not complex to install, and there are lots of pretty options. Finally, we have Solar Path Lighting. This by far is the easy peasy of year lighting, just stick it in the dirt and poof, you have light. Maintenance on all of these varies and for hardwire, there isn’t much until something is broken, for low voltage the wiring often comes loose from the scotch locks and with solar the batteries die, the panels crack, it leaks and everything corrodes. So what is a body to do for lighting? You may say go with Phillips HUE, but I can’t justify the price, and I have about 16 solar lights that I actually like, they just don’t work. So one afternoon I decided to take one apart and see what was actually inside.
As you can see the light looks pretty nice for $20.00 per set, but inside has revealed wither corroded batteries or a rusty mess on that little circuit board. But picture #2 got me to thinking, why couldn’t I replace that LED with one of my choosing and wire it back to a power supply. So Shazam, that’s what I decided to do. A quick browse of Amazon found me a pack of 100 soft white LED’s that were designed to run on 3 volt (I already had a 3v power supply) and a little bit of wire, I was in like Flynn.
I removed all the innards from the housing and then ran some doorbell wire up to the cap, soldered on the LED, and re-assembled. The only drawback was that the wire had to run thru the globe, but you barely notice it at all.
Now all that was left was to run the wire back to the power supply and this project is complete. I’d recommend conduit or some form of outdoor wire for this, connections can be made in the tube, there’s room, but that’s up to you. I ran home runs in conduit back to a pump shed that was already in the area the lights were to be installed. My plan was to enclose the power supply, micro switch, another line voltage wire to run to a Tiki (the beginning of this whole project), BUT I ran out of room FAST!!
As you can see that box wouldn’t work, so I swapped it out for a 6x6x2 junction box that was still pretty full, but much better off. The Tiki was also a Solar light we found a few years back, and worked good for about a year. We repainted it and I converted the LED’s to hardwire using the same 3v 1a power supply. Controlling all of this is a Shelly1 dry contact WiFi relay which switches the main voltage and then the power supplies are attached to the output of the Shelly.
This setup allows for quick replacement of a failed power supply and keeps the wiring simple. Another type of power supply could be utilized, but these were fairly inexpensive. They are scheduled to come on at Sunset in the Shelly App and to go off at 11:30 every night. So far everything has worked just fine and I’m planning another installation of the pathway lights in our front yard. Here are 2 photos of the finished product.
The parts needed are pretty simple and are listed below. A collection of LED’s, a power supply, and the Shelly to control the lights. I used doorbell wire, however you choose whatever you like for that, it’s not like you’re running high voltage or amperage.
About the author
Shaun Ellis is an avid home automation enthusiast with approximately 5 years invested in his own home and a little over a year installing all matter of home automation for customers of his business Smarter Home of the Carolinas . I like to find practical applications for automation, not just cause it’s cool. However, most creations have a function and their creation is the cool part.
SmarterHome.club is the website for our Facebook community, The Smarter Home Club – which is an umbrella for all kinds of smart home technologies – home automation, security, custom electronics, weather stations, alternative energy, you name it. DIY focused.
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