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Converting 120V can lights to 12V?

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Lite4, Sep 10, 2007.

  1. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,186

    I looked at a house today that I am going to be lighting soon. The homeowner has about 50-60 soffit mounted recessed 120 volt can lights being used to downlight the architecture of his house. He likes the effect but is not so keen on his electric bill every month as a result of these lights. He asked about converting these cans to a 12 volt system. I have seen the 12 volt cans before, but I don't know if there is another way to do this or if it can even be done. He doesn't want to really do any additional uplighting on the house, but would rather utilize the cans if he can. His builder told him no because of nearby insulation, but I can't imagine the line voltage lights are much cooler. Any body have any thought or solutions I might entertain? Thanks for the help in advance.
  2. Firefly Lighting

    Firefly Lighting LawnSite Member
    Messages: 98

    Tim- Depending on the size can that is already installed (6", 8" ?) you could possibly change them out with and MR-16 can that has an integral transformer. Juno makes good ones and have ones that are rated to be against insulation. The only problem is that most of the MR cans are 3-4". Good luck
  3. pete scalia

    pete scalia LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 960

    what are you gaining by changing them out but a big materials bill. why not use a lower wattage bulb or put them on a dimmer and be done with it.
  4. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,843

    Yes, I don't understand the reasoning either. A 20w low voltage lamp will burn no more or no less energy than a 20w high voltage lamp. There is no energy savings simply because the system is low voltage. Can you not change the lamps to a lower wattage and or different style of lamp? What is currently in use at this time?
  5. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    it is possible as Matt said. As chris said 20w is 20w... does he have monster 75w lights where a 35 halogen would do the trick ?

    It will be rather pricey and will need to be done by an electrican. You need to find out the size of the cans and then go from there to see whats avalible. In actuality he would be cheapest to install a ground mounted system and then only turn on the downlights when entertaining and such.

    Im sure the downlights are really nice.

    I dont think adding a dimmer would be the answer here. If its too bright as is it might be a good start as a dimmer switch is rather inexpensive but i would feel its just a bandaid in this situation as it might drop the level of light to low.

    How acessible are the cans ? can you get to them easily from the attic area ?

    I hope you have a good working relationship with a great electrician on this one :)
  6. JoeyD

    JoeyD LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,933

  7. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Although it is true that a watt is a watt, there is an inherent electrical efficiency in using low voltage lamps over line voltage lamps. Fact is that Low Voltage lighting produces about 33% more light per watt then line voltage lighting does. Don't believe me? Closely check out some lamp photometric charts from GE or Sylvania.

    That being said, I would suggest that Tim look to using a good dimming system on the installed soffit mounted recessed fixtures OR look to some of the new, emerging LED lamp technology that is out there. I am sure you will find some appropriate PAR base LED lamps that will offer you the colour and intensity you require while significantly reducing the electrical bill the client recieving.

    Changing over the fixtures or perhaps the wiring system to a Low Voltage system would be cost prohibitive.

    Have a great day.
  8. Eden Lights

    Eden Lights LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 805

    I agree a watt is a watt, if you are comparing apples to apples there is no difference. There is not inherent electrical efficiency that I know of?? Please explain? Are you studying MR's against MR's or BiPins against BiPins?
  9. Eden Lights

    Eden Lights LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 805

    I was just thinking about this a little more and looking at some lamp charts and I understand what you are saying now,my comment above was wrong. I think it just pertains to the Halogen lamps due to the way that the filament is wound in a low voltage lamp and not the actual voltage? I was thinking about it from the 12 vs 120 debate and not the actual lamp vs. lamp in output lumens. I have not got much sleep since Friday, working in the mountains of Colorado and I am all messed up.
  10. steveparrott

    steveparrott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,276


    I'm a little foggy on some of the electronics, but isn't it true that using a dimmer does not diminish the load on the system. Doesn't it just clip the wave or increase resistance - both having the result that the energy is converted to heat in the dimmer? Could be wrong on this - enlighten me, please.

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