Low-Voltage Lighting Options
Low-voltage Lights offer increased energy efficiency and a longer life span than incandescent bulbs
By Sylvia Cochran
Low-voltage lighting options are easy to install and operate, and there are a number of ways to make these light systems work for you. Operate light fixtures that run on reduced voltage by installing a transformer that decreases the standard voltage from an outlet -- generally 110 volts -- to 12 or 24 volts. This makes it possible for homeowners to enjoy attractive property and feature illumination without wasting energy on full-strength lights.
Using Low-Voltage Exterior and Interior Lighting
Low-voltage lighting options are a viable choice for illuminating walkways, retaining walls, landscape features and recreational installations, such as hot tubs. These lights generally require 12 volts to work, and you may attach a transformer to a timer -- unless it features a built-in timer as part of its setup -- which automatically turns the lights on and off at predetermined times of the day. Check the package of lights to make sure that they are indeed rated for outdoor use and thus are waterproof. With respect to interior usage, low-voltage lighting may highlight a painting, the interior of a curio cabinet or an attractive indoor feature, such as a baby grand piano or an alcove. You might also choose this type of lighting for a short hallway. Make sure that you observe the wattage limitations of your transformer. Verify the total watts of the exterior lights you plan to connect to the transformer, and compare it to the watts rating of the unit. Stay at or slightly below this number to ensure proper performance.
Available Low-Voltage Lightbulbs
It is easy to find light bulbs that operate on low voltage. They include fluorescent tubes or lightbulbs, tungsten halogen bulbs and also the more expensive light-emitting diodes. Note that some of these bulbs do contain mercury, and broken bulbs may be dangerous to touch. Learn how to dispose of these light bulbs properly to protect the environment from the mercury.
"Relamping" Versus New Fixture Installation
The American Lighting Association refers to the replacement of lightbulbs in a home as "relamping." This process allows you to think through the use of lighting in your home and makes it possible to adjust the number as well as the kinds of lights used. While task-oriented lighting, such as may be found at a work desk or in the kitchen, still needs to provide a lot of illumination, other lighting needs primarily serve to create an ambiance. Choose light bulbs with a lower light output for these purposes. This concept translates to switching over your lighting to low-voltage options. The wiring used in low-voltage lighting is compatible with a number of currently in-use light fixtures, which makes it possible to avoid the purchase and installation of new fixtures. You still need to switch the standard bulbs to those that have a low-voltage lighting designation.
Outdoor Low Voltage Lighting
Low-voltage options are especially popular for exterior lights, because of their affordable price and simple installation process. While these products don't have the same lighting power as traditional exterior lights, low-voltage systems run on a safe 12-volt current, which are flexible because they can be buried just below the surface of your land. In contrast, traditional 120-volt exterior lighting often requires a permanent, buried conduit and runs on the same power as your home.
About the Author
Sylvia Cochran is a regular contributor to DexKnows, specializing in home and garden.
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