While the standard voltage used in most homes has traditionally been 120 volts, more and more people are turning to low voltage solutions due to their many advantages. Learn why the difference between low voltage and line voltage matters when making electrical decisions for your home or business.
At M.R. Electricians, we have a team of experienced professionals who understand the importance of using the right voltage. We know that the difference between low voltage and line voltage can mean the difference between success and failure when it comes to your project.
What is Line Voltage Lighting?
Line voltage is a term used for describing power at 120 volts or higher. This is the standard voltage used in most homes and businesses. Most outlets, light switches, and lighting fixtures are connected to line voltage electrical systems. Are you confused because you’ve seen line voltage referred to as voltage at 277v? The explanation is that there is no set standard for line voltage, with some areas using 120v and others using 277v. What matters is that line voltage represents the standard voltage all over your home.
What is Low Voltage Lighting?
Low voltage power systems typically use between 12 and 24 volts as opposed to the 120-240 volts used in most homes. Low voltage lighting can be a great choice for outdoor lighting such as garden or landscape lights, and for indoor lightings such as track or accent lighting. Because low voltage systems use less power, they are often much safer than line voltage systems.
You need to have a special transformer in order to use low voltage lighting. The transformer is needed to reduce the line voltage from 120 volts to the lower voltage needed for the lights. You can also achieve the same results with built in transformers that your electrician can connect to a line voltage circuit.
What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages of Low Voltage Lighting?
Before we talk about the advantages and disadvantages of low voltage lighting, it’s important to note the factors that will make one better than the other. They include the location of the fixture, the expected function of the lights, load requirements, and several others.
Advantages of Low Voltage Lighting
Generally, low voltage lighting uses less electricity than line voltage lighting. But this comes at a cost of lest light output. If you will be using the lighting for accent lighting this can save you money on your power bills. Low voltage also has several other advantages as well. Let’s take a look at them.
Almost everyone is thrilled to hear the news that they can save money by using less energy. This is one of the main reasons why low voltage accent lighting systems are becoming more popular. You can reduce your power bills when switching to a low voltage system.
Low voltage lighting systems also offer increased safety over line voltage systems. This is because there is less risk of fire or electrocution due to the lower voltage. This is why they are great for places like your garden where an accidental shock could occur due to line cuts. Additionally, it can be easier for homeowners to install and maintain low voltage lighting fixtures themselves as opposed to line voltage fixtures.
It is easier to move low voltage lighting systems around as opposed to line voltage. Low voltage fixtures are lightweight and can be plugged in wherever you need them. This is great for renters or people who like to switch up their decor often. Also, electrical codes do not insist that lower voltage wires go through conduits (tubing that cover wires) and be placed below the ground as is expected of line voltage lines.
Lower Shelf Cost
Low voltage lighting systems are typically cheaper than line voltage. The fixtures and transformers used in the system cost less, so you can save on installation costs. This makes it a great choice for budget-conscious homeowners who want to get creative with their lighting design without breaking the bank.
Disadvantages of Low Voltage Lighting
Although low voltage lighting systems are great, especially for outdoor lighting, they have some disadvantages as well.
Limited Load Capacities
Low voltage lighting is usually connected to a transformer, which can only support a certain amount of wattage. Depending on the type and size of your lights, you may not be able to add more lighting fixtures when your system has reached its load capacity. Planning out your lighting setup properly is important when working with a low voltage system.
When dealing with long runs of low voltage wiring, the voltage can drop from the source. This is because there will be some resistance in the wires due to their length and connection points. Voltage drop can cause your lights to be dimmer than you may have intended them to be. Again, you will need to plan out your wiring carefully if you anticipate needing longer runs.
Inspection And Maintenance Issues
Lastly, low voltage lighting systems need to be inspected and maintained regularly. This is because they require a transformer and wiring that may need to be replaced over time. It’s important to have an electrician that is proficient in low voltage systems come in and check everything periodically to ensure that your system is functioning properly. This can be a problem since low voltage systems are not as common as line voltage systems.
Why Are My Low Voltage Outdoor Lights Blinking?
Limited load capacity as well as a drop in voltage can cause low voltage outdoor lights to blink or strobe. If this happens, you should check the wattage of your lighting system and make sure it is not too close to its maximum load capacity. Additionally, if you have any long runs of wire connected to the transformer, it’s possible that the voltage is dropping due to resistance in the wires.
If the transformer has a problem, there won’t be enough voltage to power the lights. It is important to inspect and maintain your low voltage system regularly in order to avoid any issues with your outdoor lighting. You should also avoid overloading your circuit as this will cause your low voltage outdoor lights to flicker. Luckily, this does not damage your LEDs. It only prevents them from giving you the light output you desire.
In conclusion, while there are some drawbacks associated with low voltage lighting systems, they offer many benefits that make them a great choice for home lighting projects. Their easy installation and mobility as well as their cost and energy efficiency make them a popular choice among homeowners. Additionally, they are often preferred for outdoor lighting applications due to their durability and low maintenance requirements. Keep all of these factors in mind when deciding if low voltage lighting is right for you.
M.R. Electricians Can Handle Your Low Voltage Circuits
If you’re considering installing a low voltage lighting system, make sure to always hire a certified electrician. At M.R. Electricians, we have years of experience working with both low and line voltage circuits. We can help you plan out your lighting setup properly so that everything works correctly when it’s all said and done. Get in touch with us today at (301) 871-0477 and let us help you find the perfect solution to your low voltage lighting needs.
With M.R. Electricians, you can rest assured that your low voltage lighting system will be installed correctly and safely. Contact us now for more information about our services. We look forward to hearing from you!