Low Voltage Lighting

Will my LED landscape lighting melt snow?

It seems that winter is finally coming to central PA, and if you are anything like me, you are probably thinking "I wonder if my new LED landscape lights will melt the snow?"  OK, so maybe you weren't thinking it before, but you are now, right? Well, the answer is yes.  And no.  Most professional grade LED fixtures generate enough heat to melt any snow that falls when they are on.  Many less-expensive LEDs on the market do not produce very much light since they are under-powered.  Because of this, there is not a lot of heat generated, limiting their ability to melt snow and ice as it hits the fixtures.  So the answer is "Yes" if you buy high quality LED fixtures, but "Maybe" or "No" if you buy low-quality LED fixtures.

Quality LEDs (the ones that quality landscape contractors install) will radiate more heat.  Why is this?  These fixtures are designed with internal heat sinks that pull the heat away from the LEDs and out into the housing.  This is done to increase the longevity of the LEDs, with the added benefit of heating up the housing. While they won't get hot enough to burn you (unlike incandescent light fixtures), they will heat up enough to melt the kind of snow and ice events that we typically receive here.

Now if we get completely buried in snow or ice, particularly during the daytime when the lights are off, it might take some time (hours or possibly even days) for the melt to occur after the lights come on.  This kind of snow event is rare enough around here that most people are not going to worry about what their landscape lighting looks like for that short period of time.  The benefits of LED lighting far outweigh this concern in most peoples' minds.

So the bottom line is this... Have a quality designer install quality LEDs, and you can enjoy the benefits of LED landscape lighting all year long, including during all but the very worst of snowstorms that come along.

2013 Pennsylvania Garden Expo Pictures

Here are some pictures from the 2013 Pennsylvania Garden Expo.  We were the host of the "Ask the Experts" Area of the show, in the Featured Gardens Area.  Many green industry experts presented topics ranging from permeable pavers to LEDs in landscape lighting to how to stretch fresh mozzarella cheese!  Special thanks to Rynn Caputo of Caputo Brothers Creamery for the great demonstrations, and the great cheese!  We also had the opportunity to serve up pizza next to the front entrance to the show.  The pizza was cooked on our Wood Fired brick ovens by none other than Joe Mishler, Executive Chef at Devon Seafood Grill in Hershey, PA.

Many of our contractor customer were exhibiting at the show, building dream gardens that included outdoor kitchens, firepits, Chicago Brick Ovens, ponds, pondless waterfalls, landscape lighting, and so much more.  Essentially, if you could dream it for in your Outdoor Living Area, it was shown at the show!  We will be posting more galleries showing the work of the landscapers soon.

If you made it to this year's show, leave a comment below and let us know what you thought!  If not, come see us next year!

Low Voltage or Line Voltage Lighting?

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.