What to Look for When Buying a Landscape Lighting Transformer

Written by: Customer Service



Time to read 5 min

Ready to beautify your yard with outdoor lighting? Great, but don't forget to buy a transformer. A common mistake made by DIYers trying to install their own systems, lighting transformers are often forgotten amidst the excitement of yard design. We're here to make sure you know your transformer basics, so let's dive in...

What Is a Lighting Transformer?

A Lighting Transformer is a device used to provide low-voltage electricity to lights and other devices. It converts the higher voltage of an electrical line into the lower level needed for most lighting fixtures.

Lighting transformers are important components in many indoor and outdoor light systems, as they keep users safe from accidental electrocution or fire hazards caused by incorrect wiring setups. They are particularly common in outdoor landscaping, where low-voltage fixtures are used to decorate yards, gardens, and other outdoor areas.

How Landscape Lighting Transformers Work

Landscape lighting transformers are designed to take the higher voltage of an electrical line and step it down to a safe, lower level. This is usually 12 volts or 24 volts depending on what type of transformer you have.


Inside the transformer, there are two sets of coils that are connected to each other. The primary coil is connected to the higher line voltage, and it creates a magnetic field around its core.

The secondary coil then acts as an electromagnet which is pulled in by the magnetic field and creates a lower voltage. This process happens many times per second, creating a DC current that’s sent to the lighting fixtures.


Transformers also include additional components such as fuses, circuit breakers, and surge protectors to help protect against electrical issues. They can be equipped with a timer or photocell so that the lights only come on during certain times as well.




Reviewing the Different Types of Landscape Transformers

Transformers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. But when it comes to landscape lighting transformers, there are three main types.

Let’s take a look at each of them:


Single-Phase to Ground: Single-phase transformers are the most common type used in low-voltage landscape lighting. They are usually rated between 12 and 24 volts, with the higher voltage producing brighter lights.


Three-Phase to Ground: Three-phase transformers are used for larger installations that require more power than a single phase. They are distinguished by their three-wire connection to the ground.


Four-Phase to Ground: Four-phase transformers are used for the largest lighting applications, such as those that require a large number of lights.


When You Need a Landscape Lighting Transformer

Landscape lighting transformers are one of those things people don't know they should buy until it's too late.

So when do you need one?



 When You Have More Than One Light Fixture

If you're planning on installing more than one light fixture in your yard, then a landscape lighting transformer is essential. With multiple lights, the wattage can quickly add up and without a transformer, it can be difficult to manage the voltage and current for all your lights.


When You're Replacing an Existing Transformer

If you already have a landscape lighting system, but you need to replace your existing transformer, then you'll need another landscape lighting transformer. It's important to make sure that the new one is compatible with your current fixtures and bulbs so that everything runs smoothly.


When You Need More Power

If your existing transformer isn't providing enough power for your yard lighting system then you'll need to upgrade or get a new landscape lighting transformer. Depending on the wattage of your existing lights and fixtures, you may also be able to add additional lights without needing an additional transformer.


Power load is pretty easy to calculate. Just add up the wattage of all your lights and fixtures and then make sure that your transformer's wattage capacity is higher than what you need. It's recommended to leave a 20% margin of error so you don't overload your system.

Choosing the Right Landscape Lighting Transformer

Think just any lighting transformer for your yard will do? Think again. Similar to those of other outdoor fixtures like the lights themselves, this purchase should still be made with great care and thought.


When deciding on a landscape lighting transformer, there are several main things to consider:


Power Output: Knowing what the total wattage of all your lights combined is key. This will help you determine how much power you’ll need


Voltage: Different lights require different voltages, so be sure to select the right voltage for your setup


Technology: Will you choose a basic magnetic or an electronic transformer?


● Size and Style: Consider how much space you have and what type of aesthetics you'd like to create.


Once you've chosen the correct transformer, installation is fairly simple. You'll need to make sure that it's properly grounded, and then you can begin connecting the lights of your landscape.

Be sure to read up on the manufacturer's instructions and use common sense when it comes to working with electricity in order to ensure a safe installation. And if at any point, you feel uncomfortable with the process, it's best to contact an electrician.

Plan, Plan, Plan


No matter what type of transformer you decide to purchase, proper planning is key. Pay attention to voltage and wattage requirements for all your lights, and make sure that the transformer you select is capable of meeting these requirements. This will help ensure that your lights are powered correctly and remain safe for many years to come.


Prioritize Efficiency


No two landscape lighting transformers are made equal. This is especially true with regard to performance. A system's parts and overall design have the capacity to make a big impact on how well it does its job, and ultimately how long it lasts. Units that are inefficient tend to consume more power than their counterparts while also generally presenting as a greater fire hazard. How do you tell if a landscape lighting transformer is efficient, you may ask? Look for Energy Star certification or high ratings from independent testing labs.

Go for a Good Brand

Forget the interchangeability of Pepsi and Coke. Branding can be a huge deal in the world of electrical products, with the integrity of the manufacturer you buy from often making the difference between a good and bad experience. Look for companies that have well-regarded reputations in the industry and have been producing quality products for a while. It's also worth noting that good brands often provide better customer support, which is always an added bonus when selecting components for your landscape lighting system.



Our Recommendation: The Shocker™ Stainless Steel Transformer


Looking to save yourself some time, hassle, and both literal and figurative energy? Choose The Shocker™ Stainless Steel Transformer for your outdoor landscape lighting project. This powerful system is one of our most popular and reliable transformers, with excellent energy efficiency ratings. Built with stainless steel housing, it’s also durable enough to withstand the elements for years of use.





Lighting transformers are the foundation of any outdoor landscape lighting project. Investing in a quality, reliable transformer today is key to ensuring your system operates smoothly and efficiently tomorrow. Start exploring Top Notch Landscaping's selection of professional-grade products today!

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