Choosing Tools of the Trade - Landscape Lighting
When you add landscape lighting to your repertoire of services offered, the right tools will make you more successful.
Multi Piece Screwdriver Sets
A six to ten-piece screwdriver set with nonslip handles is a great start to a landscape lighting contractor’s tool kit. Fixtures, screw terminal lamps, and low voltage power supplies all have different screw head styles. A six to ten-piece set works for most brands of product.
Digital Amp Clamp Volt Meter
A digital amp clamp volt meter helps you collect a lighting system’s voltage, amperage, and continuity information. Using this meter, along with Ohm’s law equations, will help a technician in the field. Once you obtain your digital amp clamp volt meter, seek out a lighting or electrical professional to get an understanding of the tool’s full operation and capabilities.
Side Cutting Lineman's Pliers with Crimp
These pliers give a technician some extra leverage when pulling cable through a sleeve. The side cutter is very sharp—it will easily cut lighting cable off the roll. By using the tip of the pliers, a contractor can split the paired lighting cable so it can be stripped and attached to fixture cables (or inserted into a transformer terminal block). The crimping tool on these pliers can be used on appropriate cable splices.
Cable Cutters and Stripper Combinations
There are many different styles of cable cutter/stripper combinations on the market. Most are made to strip the ends of solid cable, not stranded landscape lighting cable. However, these can be used effectively on landscape lighting cable if careful. NOTE: Care for this combination tool is very important. Never cut anything but copper cable with them. Cutting bailing wire or fence wire can damage the edge.
PVC Conduit Cutters/Hacksaw
When installing a low-voltage lighting system, it may be necessary to place a PVC conduit chase under a sidewalk or driveway. Use a PVC conduit cutter or hacksaw to cut the right size chase for the job.
Measuring Wheel and Tape Measure
A measuring wheel and retractable tape measure are needed to estimate cable lengths in order to calculate voltage drop to the fixtures.
When conduit chases are long, the landscape lighting cable may not easily pass through. This is due to the cable’s non-ridged flexibility. A fish tape is a roll of thin ridged steel tape with an eyelet on the end. A lighting technician can pass the fish tape from one side of the conduit to the other. The lighting cable can be tied off to the eyelet. The cable can then be pulled through the conduit from the other end. In some cases, it may be necessary to lubricate the cable with a soap-based lubricant.
Allen Wrench Sets
These tools can also be a great part of a landscape lighting tool set.
These tools are a great asset and a great investment for a lighting contractor. Many manufacturers have designed specific tools to work with their fixtures. If you are using a specific manufacturer’s products, contact the local representative for proper instruction in the use of these tools. Always remember: “We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.” — Marshall McLuhan