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The Bright Ideas Blog

Design inspiration and outdoor lighting tips and advice for homeowners

Troubleshooting Tips For When Landscape Lights Stop Working

Landscape lights are wonderful, that is, until they stop working. Attempting to troubleshoot the reason why your lighting system's inexplicably stopped working can be a challenge if you're not sure where to start. 

Nothing is turning on? 

In this week's post, we dig into the simple steps you should take when attempting to solve your landscape lighting problems if your system seems to have lost power. 

Establishing power

Nothing seems to be working. Why?

The first step in trouble shooting why your lighting system isn't powering on is to establish whether or not your landscape lighting system is receiving power to begin with. 

To begin, locate the transformer that powers your outdoor lights. Transformers come in different shapes and sizes, but are usually located on the exterior wall of your home and are powered by an exterior outlet. 

Once you've located your transformer, check that the outlet its plugged into an outlet that has power. 

If you don't have an outlet tester, there is another easy way to check. Simply grab your phone charger and plug it into the outlet. Will it charge your phone?

If the outlet doesn't have power, the transformer will not have power. Its that simple.

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Restoring power to your outlet

Alright mister lighting guy, now that I know my transformer doesn't have power, how do I restore power to my outlet? Will I need to hire an electrician? 

I strongly advise against anyone attempting to do their own electrical work. Luckily, restoring power to most outlets doesn't require any risky electrical work. The only tool you'll potentially need is a flat headed screwdriver.

GFCI's and breaker switches do trip on occasion. Its their job after all to act as a circuit interrupter to stop fires or electric shock.  

TIP: Think back to when your lighting system first stopped working. Was there a heavy downpour of rain around that time? A sensitive GFCI will trip even if the moisture level in the air is too high (i.e. when there is a heavy rain storm).

Resetting the GFCI, is pretty simple. On the face of the GFCI outlet, you'll see two buttons: Reset and Test. 

If your GFCI needs to be reset, simple use a flat headed screwdriver and gentle press in the reset button. The button should stay pressed in if it resets successfully. Many GFCIs also have a small green indicator light that will turn on once the GFCI has been reset properly. 

GFCI Will Not Reset

You tried but the GFCI just doesn't seem to reset. The tricky thing about GFCIs are that they won't reset unless they have power. 

Wait a minute: I know this sounds confusing. Wasn't resetting the GFCI supposed restore power to the outlet? The answer is yes and no. 

The GFCI will only reset if it has power coming to it from the breaker panel. If the breaker needs to be reset, then the GFCI will not reset.  

Be sure that all the breaker switches inside your breaker panel are all in the on position. Its important that you Look extra closely. Sometimes a tripped breaker will appear to be in the on position because the switch didn't flip all the way to the off position.

What if my exterior outlet doesn't appear to have a GFCI and all my breaker switches are in the on position?

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If your exterior outlet isn't a GFCI, it is likely linked to a GFCI inside the house somewhere. Check around inside your home for a GFCI that needs to be reset. If you find one, reset it and check the exterior out let for power again.

Test the GFCI before you call a service professional 

Ninety percent of the time when a landscape lighting system stops working, its because the transformer isn't getting power.

If you're transformer does have power, but the system doesn't seem to be working. 

It may be time to get a professional landscape lighting company involved. With their expertise in all things landscape lighting, professional landscape lighting companies can troubleshoot most systems and get them back in working order. 

Its our hope that this quick guide to troubleshooting your lighting system's power issues will help you get your lights up and running again. 

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Still aren't sure why your lighting system has stopped working? If you're located in Utah, we can help!

Call us at (801)440-7647 for more information on scheduling a free lighting system evaluation. 

Located in Midvale, Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah installs, maintains, and repairs lighting systems throughout Utah's residential areas, including Salt Lake City, Park City, Draper, Davis & Utah Counties.

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