Proper outdoor lighting is part and parcel of
good home garden design. Without it, all
the effort that you’ve put in to make your house and garden stand out will be
obscured when the sun sets.
With landscape lighting, you not only highlight and add depth to some of
the best parts of your home but also ensure your safety and security.
Additionally, appropriate outdoor lighting adds to your home’s curb appeal and
allows you to use your outdoor area productively, even at night.
There are a ton of ways that you can light up your backyard, deck, or
patio. Some outdoor lighting systems operate on line voltage – the 120-volt
current that runs from your home – though, nowadays, most outdoor lighting is
What is Low Voltage Lighting?
This kind of lighting system is hardwired and makes use of cables and
wires. Its main difference from the usual line voltage system is that it uses a
step-down transformer to convert the standard outlet voltage of 110/120 volts
to 12 volts. This allows you to use a lower voltage while still getting bright
Components of a Low Voltage Landscape
A low voltage lighting system consists of three main components: the
transformer, light fixtures, and electrical cable.
This is the most important element in the low
voltage lighting system since it supplies power. A transformer is an electrical
device that plugs into a GFCI-protected
outdoor electrical outlet and reduces the household
current from 120 volts to 12 volts. It controls when the lights go on or off
using a timer or a photocell.
Transformer models range from 44 watts to 900 watts and are rated
according to the maximum wattage output. You can determine which size
transformer you need by adding up the wattage of all the lights in your system.
The wattage rating of your transformer should be the same or higher than the
combined wattage of your lighting system.
Light fixtures consist of the socket assembly, light bulb, and covers.
They come in a variety of styles and price ranges. It is vital to select the
right light fixtures, as these will determine the overall aesthetic of your
No matter which style you choose, you should ensure that all light
fixtures are water-resistant and UL-approved for outdoor use. Most lights
typically draw 4 to 7 watts of power.
Some light fixtures you can install in your backyard, garden, deck, or
Specifically made to be buried underground, the cable used for landscape
lighting connects all the lights to one or more transformers and the electrical
outlet. Which cable you should use will depend on the size of your transformer
and the length of cable required for the job.
Pros and Cons of a Low Voltage
Pros of a Low Voltage Lighting System
The biggest advantage of a low voltage lighting system is the safety it
affords. Having a low voltage lighting system with just 12-volts of power
ensures that you, your family, and your guests will be protected from
electrical shocks, should anyone mistakenly touch something.
Low voltage lighting is also easy to install; so easy, you can even set
it up on your own. Since the system is low voltage, you can add wires and
lights without worry. The system is also less permanent than a line voltage
system. You can easily add or move a light, provided that your transformer can
handle the extra power.
Additionally, it is cost-effective and environmentally friendly. Though
you will have to buy a transformer, cables, and LED light fixtures, what you
pay upfront will result in energy savings, in the long run. LED light fixtures
consume less power and last longer than incandescent lights.
Since the voltage is so low, you won’t be using that much power to keep
these lights going. And, less electricity consumed means fewer harmful greenhouse
gasses released into the atmosphere.
Cons of a Low Voltage Lighting System
There aren’t a lot of cons with low voltage lighting, aside from the
lights not being as bright as the lights in a line voltage system. This isn’t
that much of a setback, though.
One other disadvantage of a low voltage lighting system is the potential
for voltage drop, which is when the system lacks full power by the time the
voltage arrives at the fixtures. This causes a loss of efficiency.
Low Voltage Lighting Versus Solar
Low voltage lighting can be compared with solar lighting, as both are
low-power ways to light up your landscape. There are a few main differences
between the two.
Unlike low voltage lighting, which gets its energy from your home’s
electricity supply, solar-powered lighting gets its energy from the sun. In a
solar-powered lighting system, each light fixture is a self-contained unit with
its own tiny solar panel. Solar lighting won’t increase your energy bills.
These light fixtures will gather solar energy no matter the weather – though it
will absorb significantly less sunlight on cloudy days. Since they don’t have
as much power stored in them, you may notice that solar-powered lights dim a
little during the rainy season.
The light fixtures in solar-powered lighting are standalone and not
connected to each other, so you can move them around as you please. Meanwhile,
low voltage lighting is hardwired, so you can’t move them around as easily as
you’d be able to with solar-powered lighting.
Low Voltage Lighting in Landscape
Proper outdoor lighting, whether low voltage or
solar-powered, can add drama and flair to your landscape. If you want a good
lighting system on your property, get in touch with
Landscapes Unlimited today. We will transform your landscape and make it look