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Using Low Voltage Lighting Power Supplies To Light Your Great Outdoors!

Light fixtures come in a wide range of designs to create different lighting effects in different areas. Most fixtures are available in 12-volt or 120-volt types. A 12-volt or low voltage lighting system is ideal for most houses.

Low voltage systems are easier to install, lightweight, and can be laid on the ground or buried below surfaces. The entire system runs on low voltage lighting power supplies. They are also relatively inexpensive and designed to be used outdoors.

All low voltage lamps have relatively low efficacy. They are energy savers since light is concentrated where it’s needed, and less light spills out into the unfocused area of the beam. Also, low voltage lamps are generally more resistant to shock and vibration.

Low voltage lighting systems use a transformer to decrease the 120-volt line voltage to 12-volts. Transformers can either be integral or remote. The integral type is part of the light fixture itself. The remote type is located in a service area away from the fixture. A lot of them can be plugged into an outside outlet.

Picture of exterior-rated and photocell 12 volt low voltage transormersTransformers can also control when the lights turn on or off. Some low voltage transformers have light-sensing mechanisms that turn the lights on at dusk and off at dawn. Others have a timer that controls on and off cycles.

Light fixtures consist of socket assembly, bulb, and covers. To suit a wide range of lighting situations, low voltage lighting fixture designs vary. For example, path lighting usually illuminates the ground or shrubs while in-ground or recessed fixtures spreads light upward and illuminate a wall or a tree. The selection of a lamp type will depend on specific requirements of the area to be lighted and its function. Whichever style you choose, make sure that all fixtures are water resistant and approved for outdoor use.

There are some points to consider when deciding to install low voltage lighting. Lining each side of a path with lights will make it look like an airport runway. Alternate fixtures on either side will spread light out evenly. Landscapes with lights dotting through it will look like a birthday cake. Use floodlights or spotlights that direct light upwards for hedges and trees. Lights can be positioned to mark entrances to paths and stairways. Design both lighted and dark spaces to create a beautiful contrast.

To create a low voltage lighting design on your property, there are important steps to be considered:

  • First, select the appropriate light fixtures for your application.

  • Second, calculate how much cable you’ll need and the size of your transformer.

  • Third, make sure your power supply is adequate and be prepared to install additional power supplies if necessary. 

  • Fourth, when creating your layout, properly map out how each fixture will connect to the power supply.

Because they are so safe and easy to install, low voltage lights are indeed a homeowner’s dream.

For more information, please read this article on lighting your stairs with low voltage lighting.

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