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The Pros and Cons of Low Voltage Lighting Fixtures

Low voltage lighting fixtures are becoming increasingly popular these days, but how exactly does low voltage lighting work?

Normal lighting is powered by the standard electricity in your house, 110/120 volts. Low voltage lighting is running a lower voltage and current than your standard home outlet.

The low voltage fixture uses a step-down transformer to convert the standard outlet voltage of 110/120 volts to 12 volts. This means you will be using lower voltage and yet be getting very bright lights.

Pros of Low Voltage Lighting

Low voltage disk lights for your deckLow voltage lighting is easy to install in terms of landscaping of your garden or backyard. The wiring does not weigh much, and it is possible to bury it under the ground when being used outside. It also means that you do not need to pay someone to install it for you, saving even more money.

As well, it is a lot safer. Think about it: the only thing to be running on 120 volts is the transformer. The transformer is sealed and one end plugs into your outlet and then you run the low voltage 12 volt wires to your lights. You don't need an electrician and you don't need to worry about wiring up to your 110/120 volt supply.

The light will always have the same brightness. Unlike solar lighting which may not be as bright, depending on how much natural light it received during the day to charge the battery and later in the night once the battery starts to drain.

Another benefit is that low voltage lighting is less permanent. Whereas a 120-volt system is usually a permanent arrangement, a low voltage system can be changed without too much hassle. So if you decide you want to move a light or add another one it is easy to do. Just make sure the transformer can handle the extra power.

If you do need more power, you can swap out the transformer for one that provides more power.

Besides the savings made in cash, think about the savings made in terms of the planet. Less electricity means less harmful greenhouse gasses being released, so you can be confident that every time you turn your lights on you are doing something good for the environment.

Cons of Low Voltage Lighting

There are not many cons involved with low voltage lighting fixtures, but you may notice the lights are not as bright. This will be okay in most cases unless you are using them for security lights or if you want to light up an area particularly brightly, this is not going to be as easy to do as with standard bulbs.

Since the system does have low voltage wiring, it is not as easy to move as solar powered lights, that have no wiring.

You need to run wiring, but it is easier to do than a standard lighting system and you don't need an electrician to run the wiring.

You may need an electrician to install a standard outlet outside or close to where you want to power your lights.

Types of Low Voltage Lighting Fixtures

Common uses for low voltage lighting is to light up your backyard, patio or decks. When lighting up your backyard or deck, you can really use your creativity because of all of the different fixtures available.

They also don't just come in one style or color. You can find fixtures made in many colors, styles and materials. Look around and you will find the one that is perfect you. One very cool application is recessed lighting fixtures. The lights are flushed mounted on almost any surface.

Here's a list of lighting fixtures available for your yard and garden:

  Spot lights   Light a certain spot or feature in your yard or garden
  Flood lights   Light a larger area outdoor area
  Path lights   Light shines on the walkway and not in your eyes
  Post lights   Light is attached to posts on your fence

Here's a list of lighting fixtures available for your deck and patio

  Wall lights   Mounted to your wall and shine done
  Railing lights   Attaches to your deck or stair railing
  Step lights   Attaches to the vertical part of the step
  Recessed lights   Can mount on the deck itself
  Post lights   Attaches on the posts on your deck

You can also use low voltage lighting to light paths or walkways. This provides a nice affect at night and it provides safety especially for guest who may not be familiar with your walkway.

Landscape lighting techniques provides a good overview on most of the different styles of outdoor lighting applications used today.

These kinds of lights are also used living rooms and restaurants. They are especially popular with track lighting which is great for highlighting certain features.

More Information

For more information outdoor low voltage lighting, please read these articles:

How to install a low voltage lighting system

Adding deck lights

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