If you are thinking about installing outdoor lighting, one of the first questions you will face will be whether you should install a 120 Volt system (“Line Voltage”), or go with a 12 Volt system (“Low Voltage”) Here are some things to consider when making your choice…
·Safety Working with a 12V system is much safer than working with 120V. In most municipalities, a licensed electrician is required to make all 120V connections. With 12V, it is safe to make the connections yourself. ·Installation 120V systems require that the wires be installed deeper in the ground and enclosed in conduit. Fixtures are commonly mounted in electrical boxes. Most municipalities require permits for installation, and inspections by local building officials. Low voltage systems can be self-installed, require fewer specialized tools, and require less effort to install. Fixtures are typically mounted without electrical boxes and wire does not need to be enclosed in conduit.
·Flexibility When plants grow in the landscape, or they get rearranged, it is easier to move 12V fixtures than 120V fixtures. Normally, fixtures can simply be pulled out of the ground and repositioned without compromising the electrical connection. With 120V system, conduits and electrical mounting boxes need to be dug up and reworked to move a fixture.
·Cost Savings Low voltage systems typically do not require permits, electricians, and inspections. Wires are not buried as deeply or enclosed in conduit. Low voltage systems are more energy efficient than line voltage systems. Typically, low voltage systems use 20-40% less electricity than 120V, or up to 90% less electricity if using 12V LEDs. Low voltage systems do require the addition of a transformer, but this cost is offset by the additional saving in materials and electricity. So, which to use? There are applications where 120V might be a better choice than 12V. One example of this is a commercial application where fixtures will likely never move. Another would be on an installation with extremely long wire runs where voltage drop will become a factor. If you are thinking about installing landscape lighting at your home, however, chances are that low voltage will be a better choice. If you are still unsure if low voltage would be right for your application, please feel free to contact me at Chris@WatsonSupplyInc.com I’d be glad to review your project with you.