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Low Voltage Lighting

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Title: Low Voltage Lighting


1
Low Voltage Lighting
  • Exterior low voltage light fixtures come in a
    wide range of designs to suit different areas and
    create different lighting effects. Most fixture
    types are available in either 12-volt or 120-volt
    versions. For the homeowner, 12-volt, or
    low-voltage landscape lighting systems have
    several advantages.

2
  • Most important, low-voltage landscape lighting
    equipment is easier to install. Except for the
    transformer that's connected to a 120-volt
    circuit, the entire system runs on harmless
    12-volt current. Low-voltage wiring is
    lightweight and can be laid on the ground or
    buried just below the surface. We even have
    outdoor rock lights that look like boulders in
    your garden.

3
  • In contrast, a 120-volt system runs on the same
    power that supplies your home and requires the
    same precautions and expertise that normal house
    wiring does. Outdoor 120-volt lighting will need
    to be installed according to code and may require
    buried conduit. Once installed, 120-volt systems
    are relatively permanent, while outdoor landscape
    low-voltage lighting fixtures can easily be
    relocated if you wish to change your lighting
    scheme. One disadvantage with low voltage wiring
    is that that the wires are not buried deeply and
    are more prone to being damaged.

4
  • Another advantage of low-voltage lighting
    equipment is that it can be relatively
    inexpensive. And, when you do the job yourself,
    the bottom line for outdoor low-voltage lighting
    looks even better. Not only can the capital
    outlay for a standard high-voltage system be
    greater, but you may need to hire a professional
    for part or all of the installation.

5
  • One shortcoming of low-voltage lighting generally
    means less lighting power. For example, if you
    want a brightly lit parking lot area for security
    purposes, you may require the muscle of 120
    volts. Most grounds and garden situations,
    however, don't need this much light and can
    actually look better with tastefully placed
    low-powered lamps. For extra beef, bright 12-volt
    halogen lamps can be very effective when used to
    flood an area with light.

6
  • The low-voltage lighting transformer that powers
    your system must be sized to match the combined
    wattage of your lamps. If you buy a system that
    comes with six fixtures, for example, adding new
    lamps may mean upgrading the low-voltage lighting
    transformer or adding a second one. And, because
    voltage drop over long distances is more
    pronounced in a low-voltage lighting system,
    using wire that's too light can affect the output
    at the lamps.

7
  • In addition to 12 volt and 120 volt systems, some
    light fixtures use the energy in sunlight to
    provide electric light in the evening. These
    solar lamps have a photoelectric panel that
    charges a battery while the sun shines. When the
    sun goes down, a light sensor or
    photocell activates the lamp.

8
  • Low Voltage Equipment Types
  • Outdoor low-voltage lighting fixture designs vary
    to suit a range of lighting situations. For
    example, path lighting usually sheds light on the
    ground or shrubs while in-ground fixtures throw
    light up and out to highlight a garden structure
    or wall. Other examples include mercury vapor
    moonlighting tree-hung fixtures, spotlights, and
    deck lighting that's built into posts or steps to
    create a visual effect and add an extra measure
    of safety.

9
  • For automatic control, some low-voltage lighting
    transformers have a light-sensor or motion sensor
    mechanisms that turns the lights on at dusk and
    off at dawn, while others have a timer that
    controls on and off cycles. You can also buy a
    motion sensor to switch on the lights when a
    moving heat source is detected.
  • Low-voltage lighting is available in kits or as
    individual fixtures. The advantage of a kit is
    that you get the proper transformer, wire and one
    or two fixture styles all in one box. Individual
    components, on the other hand, let you customize
    your lighting system, although you'll have to
    determine wire gauge size and transformer
    capacity to match your plan.
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