Backyard Lighting

Outdoor lighting on DIY outdoor fireplace at night
Beautify your DIY outdoor fireplace with lighting.

There are many ways to install backyard lighting in your outdoor space.  In this quick tutorial, we’d like to specifically go over our method of installing low voltage lighting in a outdoor fireplace structure.  We are currently building an amazing DIY outdoor fireplace at my in-law’s house in Marana, Arizona, a suburb of Tucson, and it is turning out beautiful.  To include that “extra something”, we made sure to add a little lighting to the fireplace, so it really shows off the structure at night.  Backyard lighting makes the world of difference when added tastefully.  Just a little goes a long way.

Bring Your Backyard To Life

Even when we aren’t enjoying the warmth of a fire, we want to be able to look out the window into the backyard and see the fireplace, and the lighting will really make that happen.  The backyard lighting also gives off enough ambient light, so the backyard isn’t completely dark.  We want to be able to go outside and walk around the backyard at night without having to turn on all the exterior patio lights.

Lowes? Yep…They’re Everywhere

Here at Backyard Flare, we love to shop at Lowes Home Improvement because they have so much variety in their departments.   Follow them on Instagram at @loweshomeimprovement for great pics and design ideas.  For the lighting on our structure, we ventured to the outdoor lighting aisle and we picked up a Hampton Bay 150W transformer, a 100-foot spool of low voltage lighting cord, and six Hampton Bay LED lights.  The total was about $125, but you’ll see that it was worth every penny.

Backyard Lighting Installation

So, let’s get into the installation method.  To understand low voltage lighting, it is important to know that it’s like powering a light bulb with a battery.  A transformer will plug into a wall outlet, but the alternating current from the outlet will be converted in the transformer to direct current, like a battery.  The 100-foot power cord is attached to the back of the transformer like you would attach speaker cord to a receiver, only a screw driver is used after the ends of the wires are stripped. 

We routed the cord to the structure, and it entered on the back-left side.  We ran it through the structure, cutting grooves into the tops of the cinder blocks for channels where necessary.  The cord ran everywhere we wanted lights, and then it exited the back-right side of the fireplace.

Light Positioning

Low voltage lighting cord in a DIY outdoor fireplace. LED lighting and cinder block
Run the power cord through the structure by cutting grooves into the block.

Once we figured out exactly where we wanted the lights, we used a 3/8” masonry drill bit and drilled holes big enough to pass the LED light connector through the block.  Inside the block, the lights’ push pin connectors were attached to the power cord and… we had light.  The lights were attached to the front of the structure using wall anchors in the block.  To install the wall anchors, we drilled more holes using a ¼” masonry drill bit.  It’s just like adding them to drywall, but with a little bit more dust. 

We made sure to add a light on the inside of each storage void too so the voids would be back-lit.  It added a lot of appeal to the look of the structure and sure made a huge impact at night.  The addition of light to an outdoor fireplace or kitchen is super simple and we know that you can do it.  We sure hope this helped you out and that it eased your hesitation to add lighting to your structure or backyard.  If you’re interested in building your own DIY outdoor fireplace or outdoor kitchen, visit us at Backyard Flare for the best and most comprehensive outdoor construction plans on the market. 

Show Us What Your Lighting

We would love to see some of your outdoor lighting.  Please send pics of your projects to dan@backyardflare.com.  Thanks for reading, and I hope you learned something here.  Until next time, have fun on your outdoor projects and happy building.

Dan Heston
Backyard Flare, LLC
Tucson, Arizona
www.backyardflare.com
www.diyoutdoorfireplaces.com
520-269-9740

Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor fireplace lighting fire LED veneer
Lighting was added to the hearth and inside the storage voids.

Killin’ Time

The other day, I had to drop my car at the tire shop and because I had a few minutes to spare, I walked across the busy street to some stores.  As always, I was drawn to one of my favorite stores, Lowe’s Home Improvement, and I found myself standing in the outdoor lighting aisle.  If I go to Lowe’s, I almost always want to at least walk down some of my favorite aisles to see if there is anything new on the shelf. This day was no exception.

I should back up a bit and say that whenever I build any type of structure in a backyard, whether it is an outdoor fireplace or outdoor kitchen, I always look for ways to spice up the final look.  One of the things that I have written on in the past is my love for outdoor lighting.  It just makes a backyard, and specifically, outdoor structures, come alive at night.  The shadows created and the way things look in the dark with some light are just awesome.

Outdoor fireplace lighting fire LED veneer
Lighting was added above the firebox.

So, back to Lowe’s and the outdoor lighting aisle…  In the past, if I needed lighting, I have just gone to the store and picked up what I needed to complete the lighting project.  I have never shared with my audience how inexpensive it really is to add this great feature to your DIY outdoor fireplace or outdoor kitchen.  Well, wait no more.  Here we go.

Outdoor fireplace lighting fire LED veneer
This DIYer added lighting to the hearth and the sides of the fireplace.

Outdoor Lighting Components Explained

With most outdoor lighting, there are three main components involved.  They are a power source, otherwise known as a power transformer, wire, and the lights.  The transformer is a heavy cube that plugs into an outlet.  Many of these transformers will turn on at dusk with photo eye technology and you simply tell it through a setting, how long you want the lights to stay on from that point.  Pretty cool!

Outdoor fireplace lighting fire LED veneer
Four lights were added to this curved hearth.

The neat part is the lights will come on automatically and shut off automatically; no work for you. They come in different wattage’s starting from around 60W to several hundred watts.  For powering a structure, the smallest will be completely sufficient, especially if you’re using LEDs.  A 60W transformer will sell for around $50.

The wire will hook into the transformer with screws and the wire will snake through your structure’s block work.  We’ll get into the install in a different post.  The wire will transfer (Direct Current – DC) low voltage as the transformer’s output to the lights, so it won’t shock you any more than holding on to a flashlight battery.  It’s nothing like the power from an outlet in your house.  A 50’ length of this outdoor lighting wire will cost around $20.

LED Lighting Is awesome

Lastly, the lights.  Today’s technology has put LED lighting at the forefront for efficiency, longevity, and amazing power savings.  LED stands for light emitting diode.  An LED is a small electronic component (diode) that will glow when power is applied.  No more changing incandescent bulbs, right?  Can I get an amen on that one?

Outdoor fireplace lighting fire LED veneer catalina
This Catalina fireplace had lighting added to the hearth for a great look.

LED lighting fixtures are sold individually, and they can run anywhere from a few dollars on clearance to around $20 for each fixture.  I add at least two LED fixtures to any structure, so it is aesthetically pleasing. Two is really all you need for a structure width of only six to eight feet.  The LED fixtures will have power cord on them.  This cord will connect to the wire and the connectors will pierce the wire to be powered.  The best part is that each LED is around 2W to 4W so you could hook up to 30 of these 2W LEDs to a 60W transformer.  Do you see the math? This is turning into an electronics training course now.

Outdoor kitchen with lighting refrigerator and bar
This DIY Tucson Grill design had lighting added around it for a finished look.

How Cheap is It Really?

If you were to add two LED lighting fixtures to a fireplace, you would be able to spend as little as $110.  Now that’s a bargain when you consider the look you’ll achieve.  I hope this post helped you understand how simple outdoor lighting is and how inexpensive the components are.  It’s really not that complicated.

Check out Backyard Flare, LLC to learn more about building your own DIY outdoor fireplace or outdoor kitchen and peruse our gallery for great ideas in design.  See what other homeowners have done.

If you have any questions about anything, please let me know.  I am always excited to hear from a fellow DIYer, or someone wanting to learn more about how to beautify their backyard space.  I can be reached at dan@backyardflare.com and as I always say, “Happy Building”.

Dan