Line voltage, low voltage—what’s the difference? And more importantly, what’s right for your home?
When the professionals start talking about what kind of lighting you need, it’s easy to get lost. They use words and describe processes you don’t 100% understand, but this is your home and your lighting. So you should know what’s best. In this article, we’ll answer the question “what is low voltage lighting?”, the advantages of low voltage lighting as well as the disadvantages, and the difference between low voltage and line voltage lighting.
What is Low Voltage Lighting?
Low voltage lighting originated in American residential homes back in the 1950s. It was first used as landscape lighting but quickly made its way inside due to its ease of use, versatility, and energy efficiency.
This type of lighting is powered by 30 volts or less of electricity. Low voltage lighting uses something called a transformer to reduce normal line voltages—which are typically 120 to 277 volts—down to 12 to 24 volts. Generally, low voltage lighting is used in recessed, pendant, track, landscape, and other display lighting. It’s often preferred when light is needed in tight, hard-to-reach areas.
Advantages of Low Voltage Lighting
Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings
As mentioned above, one of the benefits of low voltage lighting is its ability to lower volts needed to create sufficient light. It can emit just as much light as an incandescent bulb while using 20 percent of that energy. They work well with dimmer switches, which helps a lot with energy efficiency and allows homeowners to save money on their energy bills and therefore save on the cost of lighting.
Low Heat Contributions
Unlike many other competitive bulbs, such as halogen or incandescent, low voltage lights are cool to the touch and contribute a small amount of heat to their surroundings. When installed indoors, this is a wonderful attribute since low voltage lights don’t contribute to the heat of the house or present any type of heat hazard.
Low voltage lights are typically smaller than your normal incandescent light bulbs which makes them easier to use in a wider variety of ways, which is one the biggest benefits of low voltage lighting. You can install them in small spaces, hard-to-reach spaces, and other nooks and crannies that other lighting styles are too large to fit. With low voltage lighting, you can use a wider variety of light bulbs as well.
Low voltage lights are easy to install and don’t require a professional electrician. You can purchase low voltage lights at your local home improvement store and get a quick installation manual along with them to help guide you through the installation process.
Long Life Span
Low voltage lights such as LEDs can last much longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. So not only can you save on energy bills, but you can save on bulb replacements as well.
Disadvantages of Low Voltage Lighting
Not Quite as Bright
While some users say that low voltage lighting provides pleasant, completely satisfactory light, others claim the lighting is not quite as bright as a lot of other lighting options. If you’re wanting to light up an area very brightly or install a light to be used as a security light, then low voltage lighting might not be your best choice.
Since low voltage lighting has low voltage wiring, some users are caught off guard by the idea of running their own wiring. While you can call in an electrician to handle this job for you, it’s easier to do than standard lighting to install and you can do it yourself.
Low voltage wiring uses a transformer in order to create more energy efficiency. However, that means they also have a transformer that can burn out and might need replacing eventually, unlike line voltage lighting which doesn’t have this issue.
Low Voltage vs. Line Voltage
Line voltage lighting can be used in many of the places that low voltage lighting can be used. They can spread as far and wide as you can run wiring from a power source and are often integral to the structure of your home.
Low voltage lighting is usually preferred for display lighting or anywhere that standard voltage electrical conduit or wire is hard to run. Low voltage lighting is limited on how far it can be run from the transformer box, so proper installation is key.
Is Low Voltage Lighting Best for Your Home?
If you’re still unsure what lighting is best for you and your home or you need more clarification on the benefits of low voltage lighting, then it might be time to ask an expert. If you’re ready to install low voltage lighting in your home or if you have a few clarifying questions, then trust the electrical experts at John C. Flood to handle the job. We charge one flat-rate for more transparent pricing. If you have any questions, give us a call at (703) 214-5611 or schedule electrical service with Flood online.