Safe, Inexpensive Ways to do Landscape Lighting for Your Business
You’ve put so much time and effort into beautifying your landscape - but what good is it if you can’t see it at night?
Exterior lighting cannot be overlooked, as it provides you the opportunity to add texture, depth, and uniqueness to your property. The right lighting can bring your landscape to life and can really elevate your home or business to the next level, allowing you to enjoy it at any time of the day.
Types of Landscape Lighting
There are a number of setups and styles in today’s landscape of lighting technology, with the two main types being Line-Voltage and Low-Voltage.
Line-Voltage Landscape Lighting takes 120-volts of electricity, much like the standard outlets found in your home, and is most often used in commercial settings for security purposes and to improve nighttime visibility. Most lighting systems run off of line-voltage, which does not require transformers.
PROS: Line-voltage lighting fixtures are more cost-effective than low-voltage bulbs and fixtures, while dimmers are also less expensive. Line-voltage lighting systems can be used just about anywhere low-voltage lighting can be used, but the inverse is not true. They can spread as far as you can run a wire from a power source. Usually, lighting that’s ingrained into the architecture of a building runs on line-voltage.
The brighter fixtures mean line-voltage lighting is a solid option for commercial and public use applications.
CONS: While cheaper at face value, this style of landscape lighting comes with higher operating costs, unless line-voltage lines are installed in relatively low-use areas. Line-voltage lighting must be professionally installed with wires trenched 18” beneath the ground.
Line-voltage lighting is difficult to re-arrange while adding additional fixtures can be taxing.
Low-Voltage Landscape Lighting typically uses 12 or 24 volts and requires the use of a transformer to lower the line-voltage from 120-volts so as not to immediately burn out the low-voltage bulb.
Transformers, which are either built into the fixture or located remotely, often come with connections for lights of different wattage for versatility, while many include motion detectors and programmable timers. The transformer’s wattage rating should be either the same or higher than the combined wattage of the lighting system. Transformers usually require a minimum combined wattage so as to operate the lighting system smoothly and effectively with no humming or flickering.
This type of lighting is often used in display lighting - or in any application where it’s difficult to run full standard-voltage electrical conduit and wire.
PROS: Because the voltage that runs from the transformer to the fixtures is significantly less powerful than line-voltage, low-voltage is safer to operate, especially in wet or moist conditions. Thus, these lines require only minimal submersion in the ground so as not to trip over them or mow them down, and are especially common in applications where burying wire underground is necessary.
Operating costs are significantly lower than line-voltage lighting, especially when a dimmer is involved, while low-voltage lighting is more mobile and less permanent. Adding additional fixtures is easy as long as there is enough power coming from the transformer. This type of lighting also includes an easier installation.
Low-voltage bulbs have a longer standard run time (6,000 hours on MR16 bulbs) with a better shock/vibration resistance. Their light is bright, warm, and crisp with a natural tone and provides a sharper focus in tight, difficult-to-access areas with more optical control. This can mean using fewer fixtures for a particular lighting scheme.
CONS: Low-voltage lighting systems are at risk for lacking full power by the time the voltage arrives at the fixtures. In addition, transformers can only handle so much load, which could lead you to be limited in your fixture choices and their respective wattages. Electrical contractors may also be less familiar with low-voltage installations, which could potentially add to the labor cost for a project as well as the risk for errancy.
Additionally, low-voltage systems simply aren’t as bright as line-voltage landscape lighting. Shallow burial may also leave wires susceptible to damage from garden tools and pests. Bulbs and dimmers are also slightly more expensive, due to the need of a transformer.
What Type of Landscape Lighting is Right for Me?
Low-voltage landscape lighting is the most common option for residential outdoor lighting due to being incredibly DIY-friendly, easy to install, less expensive, safer in wet conditions, and you do not need a licensed electrician for installation. In addition, there’s a much wider range of styles of low-voltage landscape lighting fixtures, bulbs, beams, lenses, wattages, and designs, including:
Track and rail lighting
Suspended cable lighting options
While many claim low-voltage lighting is the way to go for energy consciousness and efficiency, truthfully it is more of a tactical application than one that is a sure-fire way to save you energy. However, you very well may find energy savings from a low-voltage lighting system, especially if you maximize the voltage being reduced from the transformer. This way you could end up with getting multiple fixtures powered from the same voltage rather than powering just one.
Ready to get started on your own lighting project? Schedule a landscape lighting consultation with Pacman Electric today! Our team is excited to help you get started on creating the landscape you've always dreamed of.
Contact us today or give us a ring at (954) 577-7923!