High Voltage vs. Low Voltage?

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Mr. Vern, Feb 18, 2007.

  1. Mr. Vern

    Mr. Vern LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 632

    I get referred a lot of work from some general contractors that I know, and from time to time the people want landscape lighting. It hasn't really caught on big in our area yet, but I think there is great future potential for business. My question is what is the advantage of low voltage over high voltage. I understand the difference (I am actually an electrical engineer by education), but what I don't completely grasp is why a customer would choose low voltage. These contractors that I get referrals from have been around a long time and they all insist that high voltage is the way to go(I think it is just what they are used to). I know that our industry has moved away from this, but I don't know enough about why to make a good argument.
    Anyone care to educate me?
     
  2. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,209

    I guess the first thing is that a 35 watt MR16 lamp will give the same lumens as a 100 watt incandescent 120v lamp, so it takes less wattage to do the job which means that it costs a third as much to operate.
    Safety, the home owner does not have to worry about any type of electrical mishap because 15 volts or less can not shock you or cause any medical problems.
    Easy and less expensive installation as you don't have to trench the lines in at 18". Since the lines are shallow you can also adjust the system as the landscape grows and changes. All you have to do is pull up the fixture and move it. You can't do that at all with line voltage.
    Those are just a few things right now. I'll let others chime in as well.
     
  3. Mr. Vern

    Mr. Vern LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 632

    Thanks for the info. I have a couple of follow up questions.
    What is the basis for the claim that low voltage produces more lumens per watt? How accurate are the claims that low voltage requires more maintenance? I can reason this claim in that any additional resistance caused by dirt or corrosion will increase the resistance which will certainly affect the low voltage more, but in the real world how big of a factor is this? What about the cost difference for fixtures and transformers. I understand the safety and the expandability issues.
     
  4. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,209

    The filament in a 12v lamp is much thicker than in a 120v lamp. This causes a much more intense light. The next time you are in a store, look at the lumen output of regular 120v incandescent lamps vs 12v halogen. You will find a very large difference.

    I don't believe that low voltage requires more maintenance. The lamps might not last as long as HID type lamps, but all systems, low and high voltage require regular maintenance. I tell my clients that they wouldn't buy a new
    BMW and then not wash it or change the oil. Any kind of equipment needs to be maintained in order to last. I have never had a problem with dirt or corrosion on my systems. Whether the product is line voltage or low voltage, their made out of the same materials.
     

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