Is It Possible to Get Shocked by Low Voltage Landscape Lighting? A Comprehensive Guide for Canadians

As Canadians, we take pride in our beautifully landscaped yards, and the right lighting can make them even more inviting. But a common question that arises when installing these systems is, “Can you get shocked by low voltage landscape lighting?” This comprehensive guide will delve into this topic, providing a clear understanding of low voltage landscape lighting and its safety implications.

Understanding Low Voltage Landscape Lighting

Low voltage landscape lighting typically operates at 12 volts, a significant step down from the standard 120 volts in most Canadian homes. This reduction in voltage is achieved through a transformer that converts high voltage into low voltage. The primary advantage of low voltage lighting is safety. With such a low voltage, the risk of serious electrical shock is significantly reduced, even if you were to directly touch the bare wires.

Moreover, low voltage lighting offers more choices in terms of fixtures, bulbs, wattages, and designs, making it a versatile option for your landscaping needs. This flexibility allows homeowners to create a unique and personalized ambiance in their outdoor spaces, enhancing the beauty of their landscapes while ensuring safety.

The Shock Factor

While the term “low voltage” might suggest that these systems are completely safe from any electrical shock, that’s not entirely accurate. Although the risk is significantly lower, a shock from a 12-volt system is still possible. However, it’s important to note that such a shock is usually more surprising than harmful.

For comparison, exposure to 120V can be fatal, but exposure to the much lower 12V will give just a slight shock if you or a family member comes into contact with it. This is because the current, which is the actual cause of electrical shock, is quite low in a 12V system.

a man is working on installing an outdoor light

Preventing Shocks

Even though shocks from low voltage landscape lighting are typically mild, it’s best to avoid them. Here are a few safety tips:

Proper Installation Ensure that your lighting system is installed correctly. Hiring a professional is a good idea if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself. Professionals have the necessary training and experience to install these systems safely and efficiently. They can also provide valuable advice on the best lighting design for your landscape.

Regular Maintenance Check your lighting system regularly for any signs of damage to the wires or lights, which could potentially lead to a shock. Regular maintenance also ensures that your lighting system continues to function optimally, providing the desired lighting effects in your landscape.

Use of GFCI Connect your transformer to a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlet. This device will cut off the power if it detects a change in electrical current, preventing shocks. GFCIs are a standard safety feature in Canadian homes, providing an additional layer of protection against electrical shocks.

Water Safety Keep the lighting fixtures and wires away from water sources to prevent any risk of electrical shock. When enhancing your outdoor space with light, you’ll want to go for low voltage 12v fixtures that are water-proof rated. This is particularly important in Canada, where we often have to deal with rain and snow.

a pathway lit up at night with outdoor lights

Additional Safety Measures

While we’ve already discussed some basic safety measures, there are additional precautions you can take to ensure the safety of your low voltage landscape lighting:

Use GFCI Outlets As mentioned earlier, Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets are a must. They will cut off the power if they detect a change in electrical current, preventing shocks.

Choose Appropriate Lightbulbs Not all lightbulbs are created equal. Some are more suited for outdoor use than others. Ensure you’re using lightbulbs that are designed for outdoor use and can withstand the elements.

Switch Off Lighting When Not in Use This not only saves energy but also reduces the risk of electrical issues. Consider using timers or smart systems to automatically turn off your lights at a certain time.

Do Not Overload the Circuit Overloading your circuit can lead to electrical problems. Make sure your system is properly balanced and not drawing more power than it should.

General Precautions Keep the lighting fixtures and wires away from flammable materials. Also, be mindful of where you place your lights. Avoid placing them in high traffic areas where they could be easily damaged.

Contact Garden Lighting Experts If you’re unsure about any aspect of your low voltage landscape lighting, don’t hesitate to reach out to professionals. They can provide expert advice and ensure your system is safe and effective.


In conclusion, while it is technically possible to get a shock from low voltage landscape lighting, the risk is minimal and the shock is typically harmless. With the right safety measures in place, such as proper installation, regular maintenance, use of GFCI outlets, and appropriate choice of lightbulbs, you can safely enjoy the beauty of a well-lit landscape. As Canadians, we understand the importance of safety in all aspects of our lives, and landscape lighting is no exception. So, let’s continue to light up our yards, but let’s do it safely. Remember, when in doubt, it’s always best to consult with a professional. Stay safe, Canada!

Curb Wise