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Landscape Lighting: Differences Between Line And Low Voltage Lights

Posted on July 01 2018

So, you have put in your best effort to make your house and outdoors look first-rate!

Then why let that gleam fail when you can roll-back the darkness with the flick of switches and some beautiful landscape lights?

Landscape lighting highlights the best architectural details of a home thereby grabbing attention toward the prized trees and beautiful planting.

Further, it enhances the beauty of a house after the sun goes down, and adds hours to your outdoor time. It has also become an integral part of our homes thereby adding safety to the dark garden, flair to the façade and highlighting the focal area of the house.  

While there are a multitude of options for landscape lighting, people nowadays are looking for energy-efficient, durable line or low voltage lightings.

But do you know the difference between the two?

 

Line Voltage Lightings:

 

Line voltage, also known as the residential voltage utilizes bulbs ranging from 60-75 Watts to 250 Watts. Also, it is one of the most common types of lightings to illuminate tracks or pathways. Bulbs like fluorescent, sodium, mercury, metal halide, ceramic metal halide and incandescent are used for this type of lighting.

 

Lighting

 

Further, line voltage is a labor-intensive light and is usually installed in security, commercial and other public-use applications. The lighting system of these lights uses 120-277 Volts to provide power to the fixtures.

For installing them, line voltage cables and fixtures of 120 volts are buried approximately 18” under the ground, along with the sealed junction boxes at the connection ends.

 

Low Voltage Landscape Lighting:

 

Low voltage landscape lighting is one of the most popular and common types of lightings used in residential outdoors. Besides, it is used for illuminating tracks, pendants, landscapes, recessed and more. These lights also come handy for providing brightness to remote areas that are difficult to access. Since these lights lower the risk of shock and are easy to install they can be used in wet locations as well.

 

Outdoor Lighting

 

Where Can You Use Line And Low Voltage Lights?

 

Since the line voltage requires cables and transformers, it can be spread as far as the cable runs from the power source. This also means that lightings that reside in the architecture of the buildings may use line voltage lights.

However, low voltage lights are often used to illuminate paths where it is difficult to run a standard electrical conduit. This type of lightings equates to energy efficiency, low fixture cost and lower bulb wattage.

Further, low voltage lightings offer easy installation and removal of fixtures as there are no dangers of electrical transformers shock. These lights are also used to illuminate land vehicles like cars, buses and trains to offer continence and light on the paths.

Due to mobility and portability, these vehicles use a 12-v battery system to power-up its electricity.  You can also use low voltage lights in mobile houses to offer separate lights in the bedroom, kitchen, living room and more.

 

Exterior Lighting

 

Pros and cons of line voltage lights:

 

Pros:

 

  • Cost: Line voltage is cheaper than the low voltage as it requires the installation of only two or three transformers than having a full capacity of power batteries.
  • Flexibility: You can increase the capacity of it by simply installing another transformer, bulbs and rewiring the connections.

Cons:

 

  • High risk: Sine the line voltage is connected to one another, if one of the higher voltage gets damaged, the risk of damaging all light fixtures will increase.
  • Unstable: The open data voltage or line voltage will become unstable if the single phase loads increase.

 

Lighting


Low voltage lightings pros and cons:

Pros:

 

  • Increased safety: The voltage which runs first to the transformer and then to the fixture is less powerful than the direct line voltage.  This safety feature makes low voltage lighting appropriate for the landscapes eliminating the need for burring wires underground.
  • Energy –efficient: Although low voltage lights are pre-assumed to be energy efficient, you can save more energy by using low voltage lighting system.  Simply maximize the voltage that is being reduced from the transformer and power the multiple fixtures with ease.
  • Mobility: Since low voltage lightings are less permanent than the standard line voltage lighting, it becomes easy to install additional fixtures to it. Also, you would need no junction boxes, conduits or deep wire installations; you can easily increase the number of lights or can relocate fixtures with ease.
  • No labour-source is required: Since these are 12volt lighting systems, you can easily plug them into outdoor receptacles.
  • Quality of light: The light illuminated by the low-voltage bulbs is sharp and give natural effects that the line voltage bulbs. They also offer high-degree of optical control because of the small filament.

 

Cons:

 

  • Gradual voltage drop: There can be potential voltage drops as you will be connecting the lighting fixtures from one end to another. However, in line voltage, the fixtures are connected to the transformers providing complete power to each bulb.

  • The need for Transformers: Since the average power coming to the house will be too high, you would need a transformer to reduce the current.
  • Increased complexity for inspection: As the low voltage system is more intricate than the standard line system, the complexity during the inspection will gradually increase.
  • Installation and maintenance difficulties: Although you can easily install on your own, electrical contractors are usually less familiar with its installs. Also, maintaining these fixtures is difficult as it requires skills to identify where a fixture is getting power.

 

Conclusion

 

Although both line and low voltage lighting systems have advantages and disadvantages, choosing one over another depends on the ease of installation, the operation and cost associated with it.

Furthermore, line voltage can illuminate large areas, for homeowners who want additional light fixtures, better aesthetics designs and safe operations, low voltage lights are preferable.  However, keep in mind the operating cost, your landscape and then hands on the lightings.

 

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