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Low Voltage Landscape Lighting Installation Guides

2015-08-15 17:32:40   Views:

Theere are several issues to consider when planning the installation of low voltage landscape lighting. A summary of the points is outlined below.


1. Consider which type of low voltage light to install (see below) and where and how to locate the light. It usually needs to be closer to the area to be lit than traditional outdoor lights, because low voltage and solar lights are not as bright.

2. Evaluate the color of the walls and other structures close by to the location of the low voltage light. Points to note: light, shiny colors reflect light, but dull or dark colors absorb it.

3. Consider the use of diffusers and shades over the light and the use of reflectors to direct the light where it is wanted.

It is worth purchasing a few different low voltage lights, so you can decide which ones best suit your requirements in different locations.

Generally low voltage lighting [] is used for outdoor and landscape lighting, but some people do use it indoors to light their house.

For this reason you may use a selection of different lights for a low voltage lighting and/or solar system, so you can have a low and a high wattage light for the same area. This approach means you can use a lower powered light when you don’t need a bright light.


Indoor Low Voltage Lighting

You may want to consider “task lighting”, which is the approach where you only light up the area you need. For example you don’t need to use a 100W to light a whole room when a 20W desk lamp will do the job.

Also, it is good practice to bring your lights close to where you need them. So if your ceiling is high, suspend your light lower down, close to where you require it and use a reflector type shade to direct the light downwards.

Diffusers over fluoro lights make the light more atractive, but they restrict the light output and they can often collect bugs inside, which means more cleaning. Also in warm climates they can decrease light output by up to 20% by causing the tube to overheat.

Outdoor Low Voltage Lighting

For outdoor lighting, it is certainly worth assessing whether to use motion detectors to turn the light on and off automatically. The timer on a motion detector is usually adjustable for between 1 – 10 minutes.

Also delay switches can turn off lights, in say corridors, several minutes after being switched on so they don’t get left on unnecessarily.

Types of Low Voltage Lights

There are four main types of low voltage lights. In order of decreasing efficiency, the lights are:

- Fluoro


- Halogen

- Incandescent

Fluoro Lights

These are approx. 3 times more efficient than an incandescent bulb, meaning a 20W fluoro is roughly 3 times brighter then a 20W bulb.

Most modern fluoros come in a variety of warm colors and do not emit the rather cold blue light that was the norm 10 – 20 years ago.

Fluoros are the best choice for most of your lighting requirements due to their high efficiency. Their light output decreases after several thousand hours of use when they should be replaced.

LED Lights

LEDs emit a bright light in a variety of colors and becoming popular becuase of their efficiency, small size and robustness.

Halogen Lights

These lights run at higher temperatures than a standard incandescent bulb and they are about 30% more efficient and produce a whiter light similar to daylight that brings out ‘natural colours’.

They have a normal life of about 2000 hours for a 12V 20W bulb, double that for a lower powered 5W bulb, half of that for a 24V bulb. Stop’ to filter out most harmful UV rays and they are dimmable.

Warning: Halogen bulbs are made to operate in 12.0 or 24.0 Volts and not on typical battery voltage (about 12.6 Volts for a fully charged 12V battery). Life expectancy may be decreased by as much as 50% by 5% over voltage (eg: 0.6V on 12V) and by about 75% by 10% over voltage.

So if you turn on these lights during the day when solar panels are charging, or use them with a generator back up at night, without proper voltage regulation, you could be subjecting the bulbs to over-voltage – up to say 15.0 Volts – which will greatly reduce their life.

Also, if you run your halogens off a old, unregulated, transformer type converter from mains supply, you can get over voltage if one bulb burns out or if you use less wattage bulbs than specified by the transformer, so remember to replace failed bulbs promptly.

12V Incandescent Light Bulbs

These are the traditional, cheapest and least efficient type of bulb. They produce a yellow light and are usually rated for 1000 hour life span.

The advantages are they are cheap and readily available, the disadvantage is their power consumption.


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