Controlling your Landscape Lighting

Landscape Lighting can greatly enhance the appearance, safety, and security of your home, but every outdoor lighting system has to have a way to turn on and off. Here are some of the options available, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each.


A simple switch inside the home that turns the landscape lighting on and off.


  • Control from inside the home.


  • If the switch to the outside outlet where the transformer is mounted was not prewired during construction, it can be expensive to add later.
  • You have to be home to turn them on and off.  There is no way for the system to operate automatically.


A Photocell is installed on the transformer that senses whether it is day or night.


  • Least expensive installation.
  • Automatic control.  Lights come on every night when it gets dark enough, and go out when it is light outside.


  • No control from inside the home.
  • Increased energy use when the lights are on all night.
  • No ability to set a specific time for lights to come on or off.  The only  option is sunset to sunrise.

Clock or Digital Timer

A simple timer with either pins or a digital readout goes inside the transformer to control the timing.


  • Inexpensive.
  • Specific control over when the lights turn on and off.  Can be adjusted to operate differently for different days of the week.
  • Automatic, meaning you don’t have to be home for the lights to come on and off, enhancing security.


  • No ability to control the lights from inside the home.
  • Most timers do not give you the ability to adjust the time for daylights savings or for the changing of the seasons.  If set to come on at 6 p.m., they will do so both in summer (still light out) and in winter (dark).  There is no way to integrate the system with daylight and night.

Timer and Photocell Combination

An installation that uses both a timer and a photocell, either as two pieces or combined into one unit.


  • Allows lights to come on at dusk and turn off at a selected time.
  • Automatic operation.


  • No control from inside the home.

Lighting Control Automation

Lighting Control Automation (LCA) is the unique system that OLP installs to allow your landscape lighting or even your entire home to be automated.  An indoor timer is programmed with your latitude/longitude along with the day and time so that it knows sunrise and sunset for every day of the year, turning on and off the lights automatically every night.   Adjusting for daylight savings is automatic.  Having an indoor controller gives the homeowner the additional benefit toward increased home security by providing a “panic button”.  If the homeowner hears something outside at three in the morning, one push of a button and everything outside is illuminated.  With additional LCA modules or switches, the homeowner can even have porch lights and garage coach lights come on in a dimmed state to blend seamlessly with the landscape lights.  Modules can also be used to control lights inside the home, and the LCA system can be tied into pool lighting controllers or existing Home Automation systems.


  • Control from inside the home.
  • Allow porch lights and Coach lights to be used along with the landscape lighting system
  • Automation of unlimited features inside and outside the home.
  • Programmable features for vacation, or random settings.


  • More expensive than a simple photocell time system.

As you can see, there are many options when it comes to controlling your landscape lighting.  At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives however, we think the LCA system is so advanced that we recommend it for every landscape lighting installation we perform.  Call or email us today with any questions.

Scott Bellamy

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives of San Antonio