The Pros and Cons of Low Voltage Lighting Fixtures
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 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:
Here's a list of lighting fixtures available for your deck and patio
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.
For more information outdoor low voltage lighting, please read these articles: