Should I do Low Voltage or a Smart System for Landscape Lights?

I just moved into a house with no streetlights, so it is really dark at night. I want to add some spotlights to make the house look warm and welcoming, but not too bright.

I am considering a few options:

  1. Go to Lowe’s and get a low voltage setup. I would use 4 spotlights and 4 pathway lights to light up the steps to the front and side doors. I would also get a transformer with a timer or the Ring Transformer (with a bridge), and all the necessary wiring. This setup offers flexibility and the option for colored spotlights.

  2. Get the Atomi spotlights and pathway lights from Costco. They are easy to set up, have an app, and offer different colored lights.

  3. Other low voltage setups, like Volt, which could work, especially if I want to add colored spotlights.

  4. Other smart low voltage setups, like Philips Hue lights, which are low voltage but use proprietary wiring. They run from a low voltage transformer at the outlet.

I have an outdoor GFCI outlet, and most of the lights would be in a bush/dirt area where no one walks. A few lights would be across a brick walkway, and I could either cover the walkway with conduit or bury the wire underneath.

I prefer the Atomi spotlights (option 2) for simplicity, but I’m worried about the wiring being line voltage transformed to low voltage at each light.

Many people use these lights, but I am not sure if they all use underground conduit. Should I be concerned about this? Can I bury the Atomi lines without conduit?

Is there a big risk with line voltage in this situation? Safety is my main concern, not cost.

For simplicity and safety, is Hue the best option? It costs more, but they’re all low voltage and easy to plug in and set up. Can these wires be slightly exposed?

Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

Unless you need or want color, low-voltage landscaping is probably your best bet. I would advise against buying those inexpensive kits you see at hardware stores and instead piece together any parts you require from a reputable business like Volt Lighting.

Regular low-voltage lighting has the benefit of easily adding more lights if something breaks or you want to add more. They are also easily replaceable or reusable because they are standard two conductor wiring, which is readily available.

With most automation systems these days, you can simply turn them on or off with a smart plug. Although conduit is not necessary, it would be preferable in the long term. It’s acceptable to use direct burial wire without conduit.