Don’t be trippin’ this Holiday Season!

GFI-TrippingAt Christmas time, we often receive calls regarding electrical problems with the bathroom, garage or outdoor outlets not working. The usual cause for this problem is that the outdoor Christmas lights have tripped a GFI outlet or circuit breaker in your home. Standard circuit breaker will trip if you over load the wiring with too many lights on one breaker. GFI circuits are a little bit different. Morning dew, rain, or a sprinkler may introduce a bit of moisture into the Christmas electrical plugs and this could result in a ground fault. Weather proofing or covering of the electrical outlet and plug connections should reduce nuisance of GFI-Tripping.

How to check your circuit breaker: First, unplug the outdoor lighting. Second, go to the electrical panel, gfi-Trippingcheck the circuit breaker and reset it if needed. Now, test the outlet for power. If it’s working, allow time for the wiring to dry out and reconnect your lights.

GFI outlets are outlets with the test and reset buttons in them. Many times, the GFI outlet in a bathroom or garage that feeds power to the outdoor outlet has tripped because of a wet plug on the holiday lights. Now, what to do: First, unplug the outdoor lighting. Second check all the GFI outlets by pushing the test and then the reset buttons. Check for GFI outlets in the bathrooms, basement, garage and the outdoor outlets themselves. Now test the outlet for power. If it’s working, allow time for the wiring to dry out and reconnect your lights.  For more details on resetting your GFI outlets, check out our previous post here.



Outdoor Lighting Placement – Is it all the same?

In our past post, we covered a common DIY  mistake when installing outdoor lighting – lighting overkill.  We will continue with that theme on this post as well with outdoor lighting placement.  Another common mistake we see in DIY installation is the placement of outdoor lighting.  It is important to consider what features of your property should be highlighted, visibility and safety issues as well as how the lights interact with the surrounding landscape when deciding how to direct your lighting fixtures. Placement is essential in any given lighting design and there are several different types.   To help understand the different types of directional lighting, we will go over the different types and where they are best used.

Up Lighting

Outdoor Lighting Placement

Warm LED up and down lighting

Directing light upward from ground level dramatically highlights key architectural and landscape features.  When up lighting your home, placement and beam width must be carefully addressed to prevent light spillage into bedroom windows.

Down Lighting
Illuminating an area or architectural element from above is often the best choice for safety, security or special effect. Lights shining down from above can illuminate a broad area, are difficult to tamper with, and are less likely to be hampered by landscape or weather concerns.  A lighting designer can also place lamps to create a moonlighting effect.

Feature Lighting

Outdoor Lighting Placement

Warm LED feature lighting in the foreground with cool lighting in the background.

A tree, a statue, a flag, a fountain or an architectural feature is best highlighted with fixtures that enhances the subject without creating undesirable shadows, glare or light spillage.

Security Lighting
Security lighting should be strategically placed so the entire perimeter and all access points are properly lit–but that doesn’t have to mean the ugly, high-voltage lights that might come to mind when you think about “security lights.”

Pathway and Step Lighting

Illuminating walking surfaces with light projected is a great enhancement to safety. Special attention should be paid to areas with uneven surfaces or steps.  Step lighting can include lights on the risers, along the edges or under the steps.

Outdoor Lighting Placement

Warm LED Path Light

These are the basic categories of outdoor lighting placement.  However, a professional lighting designer takes much more into consideration when designing a custom home design.  They can create dramatic effects like a down fixture creating a moonlight effect or creating dramatic shadows with some of the dark spaces.  If you would like a free consultation with a lighting designer, give us a call 210-710-7737 or click here Request a Free Estimate

How to Reset your GFCI Outlet

gfci reset buttonHave your exterior lights stopped working and you can’t figure out why?  As part of your troubleshooting, you should check your GFCI outlets.  A tripped outlet is often the cause of lighting issues and it is a simple fix.  To reset a GFCI outlet, you just press the red reset button on your outlet.

Here is the tricky part of the troubleshooting…you should check ALL of your GFCI outlets in your home.  Just because the outlet your transformer is plugged into isn’t a GFCI outlet, doesn’t mean it isn’t being protected by another outlet in the house.

One device will usually be protecting several normal-looking outlets downstream from it.  So if outlets have gone dead outdoors, there is a very good chance that a GFCI somewhere else has tripped off.  The search to find all possible GFCIs can be frustrating as the outlet may not be in a logical place or one you use often.  It maybe that the outdoor outlets are dead from the GCFI in your bathroom or an outlet never used behind a pile of boxes in the garage.

If you have checked all your outlets and/or you have found one but it won’t reset, it may be time to call in a professional to take a look. Landscape Lighting Guru does do service calls – just give us a call at 210-710-7737 to schedule an appointment.