Choosing the Right Gauge Wire for Outdoor Landscape Lighting

        The benefits of outdoor landscape lighting cannot be overstated. From adding elegance and enhancing security to any outdoor space, outdoor lighting can do it all. All of the different parts of the outdoor landscape lighting system need to work together cohesively and properly to get the desired effect. One of the essential components to an outdoor landscape lighting system is low-voltage cable cable. The low-voltage cable is used to connect and power the outdoor lighting system.

        Low-voltage lighting cables come in different sizes. How can one determine which size is appropriate? This week’s blog post discusses how to choose the right size of low-voltage cable for an outdoor landscape lighting system.


Why is Wire Gauge Important in Outdoor Landscape Lighting?


        The American Wire Gauge (AWG) is used to measure the diameter and thickness of a cable. The most common sizes for outdoor landscape lighting are 10/2, 12/2, 14/2, and 16/2. The smaller the number is, the thicker the wire and the bigger the number is, the thinner the wire. So a 10 gauge wire is thicker and bigger than a 12 gauge wire.

        The size of the cable matters because it helps determine a cable’s resistance, current-carrying capacity, and suitability for an outdoor landscape lighting project. Thicker wires can be more expensive and less flexible, but they have lower resistance and can carry more electrical current. Thicker wires are also preferred for heavy-duty applications because they can handle higher wattages and run for longer distances with minimal voltage drop.


6 Factors to Determine the Right Gauge Wire  


        When deciding which cable size is best suited for a particular outdoor landscape lighting project, keep the following considerations in mind:


Wattage, Number and Type of Light Fixtures

        Knowing how many lights and what the lights are will help determine wattage and electric usage. Use this information to choose a cable that can safely carry this load and won’t cause any issues. A wire gauge chart can be referenced to help determine what the right wire gauge would be.     


Voltage Drop

         Voltage drop describes a decrease in voltage as electricity travels through a cable. Typically, longer cable runs or having a high electrical current can result in a big voltage drop. A general tip is to choose a thicker cable to help minimize voltage drop.  Use online calculators to determine voltage drop. Voltage drops can result in reduced brightness and unreliable light performance.



        The proper sized cable will help maintain the safety of the outdoor landscape lighting installation and avoid issues such as overheating, breakdown of the insulation, fire, and other accidents.


Optimal Performance

        Using the wrong size cable can cause issues such as fluctuations in voltage, malfunctions, and can cause harm. When the right sized cable is used, it ensures that the cable can support the electrical load necessary to power the outdoor landscape lighting system and that it will function properly.


Budget Size

        Due to a higher copper content, thicker cables are typically more expensive than thinner cables. Thicker cables can also be less flexible, which can make installation a bit more challenging. Thinner cables might not be able to handle higher wattages like thicker cables. Set a budget that will allow for a lighting plan that will incorporate the right cable size to suit an outdoor lighting project’s needs.


Future Plans

        Consider what the future might look like and plan ahead by using the right cable size. That way, the system won’t have to be replaced or upgraded, resulting in more costs. Instead, it will allow for the easy addition of more lights or equipment and can handle the increased demand for power.


Get Low-voltage Lighting Cables at LightCh8in


        There are several factors to keep in mind when determining the size of low-voltage lighting cable to use. The correct size of the low-voltage lighting cable will ensure that the outdoor landscape lighting system is functioning properly.

        Login or register for a free LightCh8in account now to shop our inventory of low-voltage lighting cables. We carry 10/2, 12/2, 14/2, and 16/2 low-voltage lighting cables. They are all UL Listed Stranded Direct Burial cables with bare copper conductors and PVC insulation and jacket. Also be sure to check out our extensive inventory of all-things outdoor landscape lighting. We have brass outdoor light fixtures, LED bulbs, and other lighting accessories to complete any outdoor landscape lighting project.