What Is Low Voltage Landscape Lighting?

You can accentuate your garden, flower beds, or trees and illuminate your footpaths at night without the eternal threat of injury and shock. Between incandescent and LED lights, there are many lighting terminologies nowadays and it can be difficult to differentiate them.

Low voltage is one of the vital landscaping lights you should be up-to-date with. Utilizing just a few components, a low-volt landscape lighting system can be installed quickly and efficiently

Let's Define Low Voltage Landscape Lighting

As the name denotes, this type of outdoor lighting system operates in a lower voltage instead of line voltage.

Low voltage (12V) lighting, as we have known it today, started with the introduction of 12V halogen bulbs which typically worked sufficiently and produced the same levels of brightness as regular voltage halogen lamps. Halogen lighting is currently being phased out, and these days, the low-volt lighting industry is overwhelmed by the more energy-efficient LED technology. This type of lighting system is connected to a transformer that plugs into a household outlet and reduces normal line voltage, usually from 120 or 277V to 12 or 24V. The majority of low voltage systems can effortlessly be upgraded or retrofitted to the latest LED lighting technology, bringing the functionality and longevity of your outdoor lighting system to the next level.

Why Low Voltage System Is Beneficial

Low voltage is the most common choice for residential outdoor lighting use and has many advantages listed below:

Ease of Installation

This type of lighting is a wonderful DIY program since it's easy to install and causes minimal threat of electric shock. Installing a line voltage landscape lighting system requires a few extra precautions such as setting up the wires no less than 18 feet deep in the ground and assuring that the wire connections can be accessed via junction boxes.


Low-volt lighting is far safer to use.The lower voltage lessens the danger of severe electric shock while delivering a safer alternative for outdoor lighting installations that won’t present a risk when exposed to moisture and rain.

Energy-Saving Potential

12V light fixtures offer energy savings. You can end up having several fixtures powered if you can maximize the voltage being decreased from the transformer and illuminated from the same voltage that will generally power one.

Lesser Heat Contribution

These low voltage LED lights will not burn up or overheat compared with halogen and incandescent light fixtures and will maintain their coolness outside despite long hours of running because they also generate less heat to surroundings.


A lower voltage indicates that you can have small fixtures, suggesting that lighting designs can also be more diverse and imaginative. These smaller fittings make allowances for the illumination of smaller, narrower areas that would otherwise be hard to light safely or conveniently.

Long Lifespan

Another advantage of 12V lighting is that it lasts much longer. These days, LED is emerging as the most favored type of low voltage lighting; the combination of the LED technology and lower wattage produces perfect conditions for long-lasting bulbs as opposed to halogen and incandescent lights.


Regarding the electrical bills and periodic operational expenses to operate outdoor fixtures, you will earn plenty of additional saving benefits by adapting low-volt bulbs because they use far less energy and have a longer lifespan while cooperatively giving excellent brightness both around the building architecture and exterior landscapes.

A garden with a lot of plants in it, illuminated by voltage landscape lighting.

Low Voltage Lighting Drawbacks

Need A Transformer

You will have to install a transformer to lower the voltage. This lighting system needs to run through a transformer to be converted, but you’ll need to make sure it doesn’t become overcrowded as you could end up limiting your light fixture wattages.

Not As Bright

Although some users express that 12V lighting offers blissful, utterly decent light, others argue the light output is not completely as bright as many other lighting selections. If you need to brighten up space or install a fixture to be utilized as a security light, then low voltage lighting might not be the right option for you.

Maintenance Can Be Demanding

It may be pricier as more time and effort are needed to resolve the concern(s) compared to a regular lighting system.

Components Of A Low Voltage Lighting System

Using a few key components, low-voltage landscape lighting is a very straightforward layout for a first-time homeowner or those new to these types of fixtures.

Low Voltage Transformer

The transformer is the primary component for dispersing safe voltage to your entire landscape lighting. All transformers comprise multiple electronic components that act as one to lower your 120V system down to the 12V required to run your outdoor lighting fixtures.

But, not all transformers are assembled the same – every manufacturer builds their transformers with various descriptions. You have to pick a larger transformer with more watts or power than the total wattage your landscape lighting fixtures will consume.

When you opt for landscape lights that need 300 watts, you will want a transformer that’s rated for 400 or 500 watts to provide your system room for addition and guarantee the load is not maximized around the clock.

Low Voltage Electrical Cable

A direct burial cable is the most common wiring for landscape lighting. Low-voltage wire runs from the transformer and stretches out along the ground to connect to every light fixture. Normally, the 12-gauge, 14-gauge, and 16-gauge cables are used for residential landscape lighting.

The lower the number, the thicker the wire and the greater its capacity. Thus, the wiring’s thickness defines the intensity of your entire landscape lights. Thinner gauge wires can be used for low-power lighting projects while thicker gauge wire is usually used for higher power installations. Ask the lighting manufacturer to find out the appropriate size wire to use for your specific system.

Light Fixtures

There are many light fixtures on the market in different price brackets, therefore, you have to initially devise a precise plan and create a list of the types of light fixtures you need.

Basic Light Fixtures

Remember to calculate each light’s wattage on one line to guarantee the power rating does not surmount the transformer’s capacity.
A voltage-lit landscape hill at night.

Timers & Photocells

To save on electricity bills, use a timer or attach a photocell, allowing your system to automatically turn off at sunrise or turn on at sunset. Photocells make use of the ambient light and turn the system on at sunsets. These two attachments utilize a switching system to stop and supply power when wanted to the transformer. They also have a battery backup to keep the timer programmed during brownouts or blackouts so you don’t have to be stressed about resetting your timer after every power outage.

When Would You Use Low-voltage Lighting?

A low-voltage setup lets you take advantage of smaller light bulbs that usually would overheat with the higher voltages of the 120V lighting.

12V lighting is usually utilized in display lighting or in any operation where it is arduous to drive full standard-voltage electrical conduit and wire. It’s used to bring light to narrow areas, like alley-ways and corners. It’s occasionally used in special pendants and recessed applications. Its major hurdle has to do with reach – you can only receive low voltage so far from a transformer box.

Is Low Voltage Right For You?

Whether you need to brighten up your flower beds or the pathway to your front door, you may learn that low-voltage lights fit your needs. This landscape lighting presents a choice of beam sizes and its small sizes allow for easy setup in tight spaces. Use low-voltage lights for effective highlights around your property.

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