Reader Comments

Paver Projects and Low Voltage Wire

by Ingrid Ullathorne (2018-10-31)

Laying pavers or stone is a set and forget it deal. No one wants to go back and dig them up again. Plus you want to save as much money as you can. Who ever intends to be wasteful? Paver patios and walls will be longlasting. After all, Roman roads still exist. But... when you decide to install masonry surfaces--patios, walls, driveways, or stairways--exercise forethought. Make sure you get ALL necessary supplies--including 12-2 low voltage wire.

To better understand, consider where you already have electrical outlets placed throughout your apartment or house. As the dwelling was built, an electrician added the wiring with residents' future purposes in mind. Imagine how much work it would be to go back and rip down the walls to later install wire? Therefore, when you excavate for your masonry project, add 12-2 Low Voltage Cabling -, voltage cable to your supply list.

What is 12-2 you wonder? The 12 is the thickness of the wire. There are various gauges of wire. For instance, 12-2 is thicker than 16-2. The 2 stands for the number of individual wire runs attached. Why use 12-2 rather than 16-2? It's a matter of length, because 12-2 provides three times (3x) more output. You can run 16-2 up to 100 feet from the transformer; whereas, you can extend 12-2 up to 300 feet.

However, the overriding question is: "Do I really want retaining wall lights?" Yes. Hardscape wall lights secure safe passage and look great. You may not now be interested in the many products currently available. There are tons out there online and in books. (I know because I've already written an article on how to install patio lights.) Yet, you want to at least assure an option by holding off on the lights and just tapping off the wire. Having it already installed under the patio will make any future decision(s) easy.

For a standard 120 SF circle kit patio, you will need one roll of wire. Yard size, landscape design, and general layout will influence the total amount of lights you plan to install down the road. Up to 100 watts can be added to each line--a 300 foot line of 12-2 wire. New LED lights draw approximately 2.4 watts (the older incandescent lights draw 11 watts)--a factor for your future layout.

After you lay your aggregate, add the wire. Run it 6-8 inches deep. Start your wire near an access point where it will enter your house. Tape the end and put it under a large paver or stone. This mark denotes where the wire is so that no one digs it up. Lay your sand down and continue your patio installation.

This added step should not take more than 30 minutes. Running the wire in advance saves so much time later. Do it right NOW. Do not get the cheap lights that break two years later. Spend the extra $20 (dollars) for underneath wire. Then move on and enjoy being outdoors.