Ideas & Advice > Low Voltage Landscape Lighting vs Line Voltage

Difference Between Low Voltage & Line Voltage Landscape Lighting

Landscape lighting is a great opportunity to highlight the home’s architecture, shrubs, plants, pathways, or other areas for an aesthetically pleasing, safe environment. Two types of lighting energy sources are common options with powering landscape lighting, but one is often considered to be a more suitable fit for residential settings. In order to choose the best lighting type for your home, it is best to be informed of each lighting power source and how it is typically used.

What is Low Voltage Landscape Lighting?

Low voltage landscape lighting is powered through a transformer. Perhaps the largest benefit of low voltage landscape lighting is that these lights only use between 12 and 24 volts of power lighting as opposed to 120 volts from line voltage. Because of that lower energy usage, the bulbs and fixtures are cheaper to replace. However, there are some downsides to using low voltage landscape lighting: the bulbs tend to have shorter lifespans, and the number of lights is limited due to the transformer’s power capacity and power distribution.

Even with these drawbacks, low voltage landscape lighting is appealing to many because of its lower energy usage and how these lights reduce the risk of shock. They are most commonly used in both residential and business properties as they illuminate pathways, flowers, fences, trees, driveways, building architecture, and other outdoor landscaping. Four types of popular low voltage landscape lights include spotlights, deck/step lights, pool lights, and other types of landscape lighting.

What is Line Voltage Landscape Lighting?

Line voltage landscaping, also known as standard or high voltage lighting, is an older form of landscape lighting that is not commonly used in residential spaces. Instead, the lights are often used for outdoor security lighting, parking lots, or large spotlights for businesses. This form of power is more expensive to run, as lights often take 120v or up to 277v to run.

The bulbs are also large and pricy, and it can be hard to find replacements since this method of lighting is not as common as other types. Line voltage landscape lighting is not nearly as common with residential spaces. Even so, line voltage is still used because it does not always require transformers to power lighting fixtures. They are often used in large flood lights, spotlights, and security lights in commercial and public-use areas.

Pros of Low Voltage Lighting

  • Safety - Because there is a lower current flow, there is less risk of an electrical shock. With that, any shocks that do occur are less likely to cause serious damage.
  • Mobility - Since low voltage lights are not large, permanent fixtures, they can be placed more easily and change position based on changes in landscaping or pathways.
  • Energy Efficient - In comparison to line voltage lighting, low voltage uses far less energy. 12v and 14v are two common options within this category, which is a far cry from the line voltage standard of 120v or 277v.
  • Cost - In general, low voltage lighting is easier to maintain and repair. The bulbs may need to be replaced more often, but they are more affordable than line voltage bulbs. The cost of energy is also far more appealing with these types of fixtures.
  • More Lighting Fixture Options - Lighting designs can be more diverse and artistic since the bulbs do not need to stand up to a high electrical current. That means the lights come in a variety of aesthetics and sizes fitting for many personal landscapes.
  • Ease of Installation - Low voltage lights are easier to install, since they do not require a specialized electrician to install them.

Cons of Low Voltage Lighting

  • Need a Transformer - These lights are powered by a transformer, which means you need to have a box in your yard or near your home. The transformer may create buzzing noises that can be irritating or loud.
  • Potential of Voltage Drop - Lost energy may be a problem with the transformer, since the transformer must transform the standard line voltage of 120v to either 12v or 24v. This process may create lost energy and make your lights less bright. Multi-tap landscape lighting is one form of low-voltage lighting that can help manage voltage drops and energy loss.
  • Limited Load Capacity - The transformer can be overwhelmed by high demand, so you may need to limit your fixture choices to match the transformer’s wattage capabilities.

Low voltage and line voltage landscape lighting each have their own benefits and drawbacks to make them well suited for different contexts. Because of their ease of installation, low costs, and low energy, low voltage landscape lighting is often more appealing for residential spaces while large line voltage lights are better suited for larger commercial settings. With these facets in mind, you may now choose the optimal lighting type for landscaping.


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