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Discussion Starter #1
I have installed both 110 Volt and low voltage outdoor lighting over the years in my houses and I fail to see the advantage of low voltage lighting. Other than the fact that most people are afraid and totally ignorant when it comes to electicity or lights around pools and hot tubs why would I want to use low voltage. I'm not trying to be a smart a$$ I just don't get it. I have a new house now that I plan to die in, and want to install some Landscape lighting. I don't mind running conduit under the ground or installing water proof electrical boxes. Should I consider low volage? What would be the advantage?

Rob
 

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robertc65 said:
I have a new house now that I plan to die in, and want to install some Landscape lighting.
:blink: :blink: :blink:

robertc65 said:
I don't mind running conduit under the ground or installing water proof electrical boxes. What would be the advantage?
easier installation, less work, less $$$
 

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I guess that maybe my opinion of Low voltage lighting has been derived from the Home Center type products (Malibu and such). I have always had connection issues after a while either the light bulb socket or where the wire connects to the light base. Nothing is protected with these lights. The connections are basically exposed such that mud and water will eventually detroy them. Do the better quality lights have water proof connections and such to protect them?
 

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Robert, there is such a huge difference between the Malibu fixtures at the home improvement stores and professional equipment that is available today. Here are a couple of things to consider about low voltage. You have far better control of the light. With line voltage lamps you have flood lights. That's it. No control. Low voltage, you have a variety of lamp beams to choose from, from 12 degree pin spots to 60 degree very wide flood lights. The lamps that I use are usually 35 watts or less, saving energy. I can light a 125' tall pecan tree with a 50 watt MR16 lamp. It would take a 75 watt, or more line voltage lamp to do the same thing. Of course you have the safety issues as well. You can't be electrocuted with 12v lighting. I have been an electrician for over 15 years and came into low voltage with a lot of skepticism. I have found that this really is the only way to go. These are just a couple of the reasons, though there are many more that I can and would be happy to get into if you would like me to delve a little deeper.
 

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Rob,
The question you should be asking yourself is why would you want to install anything but low voltage in your yard. With todays technology, high voltage for landscape lighting is useless. As mentioned above, you have far greater control with LV. Believe it or not, because the filaments are smaller, and wound tighter, a LV halogen lamp will burn brighter than a HV lamp of the same wattage. The cost of these materials will also be a major factor, and LV will save you big bucks. Just make sure you don't buy the "off the shelf" crap at the Home Cheepo. Get the good stuff from a major manufacturer of professional quality outdoor lighting. As far as your connections go, some manufacturers will supply some type of pierce point connector with their products. I suggest you do not use these, as I have experienced a great failure rate with this type of connector. There are an abundance of different varieties of connectors, but you can simply use a silicone filled, underground wire nut to make solid waterproof connections. There is also something called an Ace connector that is very good. It is a brass barrell with set screws on each end. Heat shrink tubing waterproofs the final connection.
Just my 2 cents, but I hope this helps.

Chris J
 

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Professional Quality Components are the Key

One of the major problems with larger low-voltage lighting projects is the voltage drop that occurs in proportion to the wire length and load. Unique Lighting Products have come up with a very "unique" solution. It consists of a stainless encased transformer with several different volt:gunsmilie: :gunsmilie: age taps. The correct tap is selected based on the voltage drop for that particular circuit. Also because the wiring is distributed from a central hub the load is more evenly balanced and lengthy runs are minimized. Their equipment is offered in a great variety of styles and light patterns. It is however pricey, if some lower cost but quality made fixtures were used with their transformers the result would be a tremendous value.
 

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I have played with this as well. High volts around my home only and that was years ago. Big old 150W floods going up into trees and such.

There is simply no need for that any more. The new LED's can blind you for fractions of the power and liability. Why would someone insist on installing ancient architecture?
 

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I'd like to comment on Colonel Hogans post. As you mentioned, voltage drop is one of the biggest concerns and issues with L.V. lighting and yes you can utilize a multi-tap transformer that can adjust the voltage up to 22-Volts output on the secondary side, but anything above 15-Volts is not compliant with UL 1838 (if that's a concern). I too, use the hub method, but I work within the guidelines of UL 1838. In order to do this, you must have good wiring design (load-wise) and ensure power sources are situated around the property to allow all wire runs to be within 200' of the transformer.

Mark C.
 

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I have been working on a project for some time now, where we are replacing a line voltage lighting system made up of mercury vapor lights. This system is located at a country club housing development. We replaced the lighting at their information center and they liked it so much that they decided to use our lighting for their new country club that is currently being built. This club had already been spec'd with MV lighting. They are paying extra to do away with the original plan and install low voltage instead. I have also noticed an increase in the number of development entry ways that I am doing. Maybe the word is getting around that low voltage might be the way to go for these applications.
 

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I usually use a timer/photo control combination. The timer energizes the system at about 5:30 pm. The photo control keeps the system turned off until it gets dark. When the sun sets, it turns the lights on. When midnight comes around the timer turns everything back off. The advantage of controlling it in this way is that, the system only operates for an average of 5.5 hrs per day. It does not operate at all during the daylight hours, saving lamp life and energy. It also doesn't operate from dusk to dawn. Most people are in bed by midnight and can't see the lights anyway. By turning off the system at midnight, we are once again extending the number of days that the lamps will work and we are saving energy.
 

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I would go low voltage for safety and ease of installation. As mentioned, the key to success is quality materials. Go to a supply house and buy large transformers and quality metal fixtures, not the plastic junk normally asociated with low voltage. That said, you can actually get a limited selection of metal fixtures at the big box stores, just watch for the cheap transformers that may be displayed.

Also like the combination of photo cell/timer. Once again the secret here is quality. There is nothing that gives more grief than a cheap, junk photocell.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I never knew low voltage had come so far. It is true that my experience has been limited to Home Depot/ Lowes stuff. I did not know about the different types of bulbs to properly project the light. I will reconsider using low voltage for my home after reading the posts here. I like the idea of LED lights. Are these becomming more available now?

Thanks

Rob
 

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Low Voltage LED

LEDs for outdoor lighting are becoming more available- but be aware that there are significant quality and color temperature differences. Those available to consumers - 10 in a box for $99 are worth exactly what you pay.

Get a professional, contractor or specification grade fixture. Many of my customers have preferred the "warm white" over the cooler temperatures for areas they use to sit and entertain, or for their gardens. When I replace a line voltage mercury vapor system with LED, we use the cool white. take note also, an LED driver is required. Some fixtures have an integrated driver, others don't.
 

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Low voltage lights have numerous advantages and benefits over the traditional incandescent bulb. Below you will find a few of these advantages.

Compared to incandescent bulbs, low voltage indoor lights are extremely energy efficient. For example, a 20w compact fluorescent light bulb can produce as much light as a 100w incandescent bulb, whilst using up to 80% less energy!

I hope this information will help you..
 
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