Drawback to Installing 24v?

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by JimLewis, Oct 1, 2010.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Hey, so what's the drawback to installing a 24v system (e.g. Unique's new line)? I'm trying to figure out; if it's so great then why haven't we been using 24v all along?

    Below is an excerpt from an email I got from Unique recently. It's something I've been considering for a long time. It does seem to make sense what they are saying. I am just trying to look at both sides of the issue before I really consider installing one.

    I'm sure the idea of 24v has been discussed quite a lot here in this forum already. But I just wanted to specifically talk about the drawbacks. What are some reasons someone might not want to use 24v?

    Here's the excerpt;
    Have you discovered the advantages of a 24 volt system; half the voltage drop and half the amperage? This method combines design flexibility with efficiency, reduced material cost, labor reduction and energy savings.

    A fact of low voltage lighting is that when you compensate for voltage drop, your power consumption increases. For instance on a 12 volt system, 100 watts of light bulb wattage at 100' on 12/2 cable will in essence pull 123 watts of electrical power. The same 100 watts on a 24 volt system will pull 106 watts! This is just wasted watts!

  2. indylights

    indylights LawnSite Member
    Messages: 179

    I'm still mostly halogen, but with LED lamp technology, color, and selection getting better on almost a daily basis, I just don't see any reason to use a 24 volt system. If you are worried about consumption and saving watts, I would just go into an LED system.

    Scott Maloney
    Sunflower Landscapes
  3. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    Makes sense. And I like LED. I didn't initially but we did an LED install earlier this year with Kichler fixtures and it turned out very nice! Much better than I thought it would. I was impressed.

    My only problem with LED is it just isn't there yet. Almost there. But not quite yet. A lot of the LED lamps they have out these days I don't feel are really going to last as long as they say they will due to heat. They are warrantying them for a long time. But in reality, from what I've heard and read, they go out much sooner.

    My second (and bigger) problem with LED is that there just isn't very much selection right now. Even in Kichler, there are only a couple of fixtures available. And those fixtures are rather ugly IMHO. I really don't even like Kichler much anyway. I prefer solid brass fixtures like Unique. But they have nothing yet. And I also like FXL but their selection is very limited right now too and very little of it is available locally.

    I'm sure there is stuff online. But I like to be able to just go to a local distributor and buy stuff. I don't like online. Last LED job we did this February, the customer liked it so much they wanted 3 more installed, immediately. I was able to go to the branch I bought them from and get 3 more installed - that day! Online I would have had to wait several days. And I can't actually see and feel stuff online.

    So once companies like Unique and FXL start offering some serious selection in LED I'll probably be all over it. But for now, I'm still liking the old school halogen stuff.

    So in terms of that what are the drawbacks vs. 12 volt?
  4. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    Rather than ask what the drawbacks are for 24V, I would ask if there any real advantages.

    Pay more for lamps? Fewer lamps available? Are those pluses?

    To me, it looks like Unique was just looking for a new arena with fewer competitors.
  5. bcg

    bcg LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Tx
    Messages: 1,865

    Jim, Kichler has a solid brass version of their LED fixtures. I was like you, I thought they were ugly and wanted brass, which I thought they didn't have. Then I learned that almost all of their LED fixtures are available in a BBR (Bronzed Brass body) and remembered that you're not supposed to see the fixtures anyway. I'm doing a pretty large job right now that is almost entirely Kichler LED fixtures and I like them more and more every day. My only real complaint is the 18" lead on them (wish they came with 25') and the TERRIBLE cowl setup. They're supposed to be releasing both a snap on cowl and a new fixture with an integrated cowl very soon though.

    Also, the more I've used them, the less I like LED retrofit lamps. Granted, I haven't used everyone's but what I have used seems to have a very defined cone, which has been problematic when up lighting stucco. It makes it look like someone is sitting in the bushes shining a flashlight up the wall.
  6. NY Landscape Lighting

    NY Landscape Lighting LawnSite Member
    Messages: 121

    We have used 24 volt alot the last 2 years. The main disadvantage we find is the lack of lamp beam spreads available. On occasion we wanted to use 50 watt pars and they weren't available either.
  7. wbaptist

    wbaptist Inactive
    Messages: 54

    I wont go into the sales pitch side of the things I will just share one experience I had with 24V. This week myself the GM and RMA guy went out to a local job that was close to 2.5 years old. The idea was to go out and service the job just like a contractor would. All we had was a basic as-built done by the contractor.

    These are a couple things I noticed about the job.
    5 840 watt transformers on the project and 150 lights.
    Each transformer had no more than 4 homerun's.
    I did not find a single wire over 12 amps. All homerun wire was 12/2.

    We went through each transformer and tightened the lugs again,checked the sequencers and compared the loaded voltage, unloaded voltage and amperage against the original notes. The job was wired using the branch method of wiring. The wiring method made it very easy to check the voltage at each hub. All in all the 24V was very easy to work with.

    This is a quick sketch I made using the a image from Google Earth and my tablet pc to create a quick sketch of the front yard.

  8. lightsinchicago

    lightsinchicago LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

  9. Elegant Outdoor Lighting

    Elegant Outdoor Lighting LawnSite Member
    Messages: 60

    Like some others have said, some beamspreads are not available in 24v, like a MR16 20watt wide-flood... and the additional cost of lamps and fixtures and transformer.

    On the up side, if I have to run lights far from the transformer, 24v saves money because I can use 12 gauge, OR if I have limited conduit for the home run wire, I can run twice the number of lights on one home-run before over-amping my wire. Remember Ohm's Law.

    And another benefit of 24v, I have twice the range of acceptable voltages at the lamp. 21.6-24v vs. 10.8-12v. Again, if I have lights far away or in large groups, this really helps.

    If I have one these special situations I use 24v. Otherwise I use 12v.

    LEDs deserve a whole other post...
  10. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,645

    If you are out of a particular 12 volt bulb, it is likely you will find an acceptable substitute locally. not so with 24v. also, you pretty much have to buy from a limited number of players a trans or bulbs. we looked at 24v a few years back, and I really did not want to have to stock both sets of bulbs. also, the LED thing could very well make you now have to have 3 sets of bulbs if you do or have done a number of systems.

    we have stuck to halogen 12v thus far, tested LED randomly for the past few years, and not regretted it all.

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