What Is the Difference Between Low Voltage and Line Voltage?


Landscaping lighting systems are often classified into low voltage, which is 12 volt DC and line voltage which is 120 volt AC. Low voltage is popular because it is the most used electrical system for domestic applications, while line voltage is also used for commercial systems. But the question is the difference between low voltage and line voltage which will be discussed in this article. So, what is the difference?

The difference is, Low voltage has an output voltage of 12 volts, while line voltage has an output range of 110–120 volts. Even though low voltage fixtures may function in the 8–15 volt range, this primarily depends on the LED landscape light and the manufacturer.

Main difference between low voltage vs line voltage

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One other difference between line voltage over low voltage is that when you come into contact with an open electrified low voltage wire with an open circuit, the low voltage system will not usually shock you. Low voltage is widely used for various reasons, but most importantly, it is cost-effective.

Another difference is that the line voltage is the power the electric provider gives you, which powers the majority of the light fixtures in your home. Because of the current that flows through line voltage (120v) can shock you and cause you serious harm if care is not taken.  

Another significant disparity between line vs low voltage is the types of current; low voltage is a more direct current. This is why a transformer is required for a low voltage, to reduce the and main the flow of electric current. It is important to understand how transformers function when installing LED lights. 

How does a transformer work?

A transfer receives a higher voltage input and then transforms it to the required voltage output so it can power connected devices like LED lighting. In other words, a transformer increases and decreases the flow of current to maintain required voltage levels.

A good example of an LED transformer is the LEDupdates Ac to Dc TransformerOpens in a new tab.. It can handle an input of 110v – 277v Ac (line voltage), then converts it to up to 24v Dc (low voltage) and 12v LED lights. This is the ideal low voltage LED transformer for any outdoor and indoor lighting. It is also available on Amazon for the fastest delivery. You can also check out our hand-picked top 10 best electric transformers.

There are different types of transformers available and with various configurations, just like you would have different lighting options. 

Which is better, low voltage or line voltage?

When is comes to choice, Low voltage outdoor lighting is preferable to line voltage outdoor lighting. Low voltage outdoor lighting is more energy-efficient than line voltage lighting because it uses a transformer to decrease power usage. Low voltage lighting, instead of 120v lighting, requires 12-24v of electricity.

What is the best voltage for outdoor lighting?

The best voltage for outdoor lighting is 12 and 120 volts, which is all you really. When it comes to lighting your home, 12v is widely regarded as the most appropriate for illuminating residential settings. But 120-volt lights are the best choice for commercial and industrial settings where illumination is mostly required for security reasons.

What voltage is best for landscape lighting?

When it comes to landscape lighting, 12V landscape lighting is preferable and more common for residential settings than 120V for most applications. This is because you can use low-voltage landscape lighting in most areas, including damp areas, without causing any harm. Also, installing it is both safe and easy.

What are the disadvantages of low-voltage lighting?

We have explained low and line voltage and concluded that low voltage is the best outdoor lighting option for residential homes. Now let us check out some of the disadvantages of low voltage. These include:

1. You need a transformer

No matter the type and size of LED lighting you want to use, you need a transformer installed in your home or yard. It is not just having an electric transformer, but the buzzing sound it makes. This is unlike the line voltage, which does not make noise. Also, any LED lights you choose to use must be installed not too far from the transformer. 

2. Less light or energy. 

One of the disadvantages of low voltage is that it is not as powerful as line voltage when it comes to power. Remember that the line voltage passes through a transformer (input) and then converts it by reducing the energy or voltage (output). This is also referred to as “wasted energy,” which is the energy that is not used. A good example of wasted energy is the difference between 120v vs 12v. This is why you get less light or energy compared to line voltage from 120v to 12 or 24v. This brings us to another explanation of line and low voltage: full power vs low power. 

3. Limited choice of illumination. 

Because low-voltage illumination must be transformed through a transformer, the demand for transformers rapidly exceeds the supply. As a result, your fixture options may be limited due to the wattage restriction. Electrical components for low-voltage lighting are substantially more complex than those used in standard line voltages.

4. Maintainance. 

Most electricians are unfamiliar with low-voltage lighting, and this is because the low voltage is usually not required; instead, they get replaced. Also, they work mostly with line-voltage lighting. As a result, if you need electrical repair or maintenance, the cost may be higher because it takes more time and effort to remedy the issue. In addition, if the fault is with the transformer, a different degree of expertise is required, which might result in even more costs being levied against you.

How many lines can I connect to a low voltage transformer?

How many lines you can connect to a low voltage transformer depends on how many watts the transformer can handle. Some transformers can handle up to 300 to 1200 wattage. This brings us to the two different types of transformers, electric transformers, and magnetic transformers. Electronic transformers can handle up to 300 watts and are quieter, while magnetic transformers can handle up to 1,200 watts and not more than 80% of maximum wattage.

So to answer the question of how many lines are required for a low voltage transformer? You should check your transformer’s minimum and maximum wattage rating. If you connect to a 300 watts transformer, then the total number of watts per line should not exceed 300. Let’s do some maths below. (I’m not a mathematician)

For electronic transformer – If you want to connect 10 lights to a 120 watts transformer.

10 lights × 12 watts = 120 watts

This means that 10 landscapes lights of 12 watts each will equal 120 watts.

For magnetic transformer – If you want to connect 10 lights to 375 watts transformer.

10 lights × 30 watts =300 watts.

This means that 10 landscape lights of 30 watts each will equal 300 watts, up to 80% of the 375 watts (required maximum for magnetic transformer).

Remember, the wires can only be 12v.

So, for the number of lines for a low voltage transformer, you need to divide the total number of lines watts by the maximum wattage rating of the transformer. 

Conclusion

The main difference between low voltage and line voltage is the amount of current each can handle. The line voltage can handle an electric current between 110v to 300v, while low voltage can handle a current between 12v to 24v. The two types of transformers are electronic and magnetic transformers. The electronic transformer maximum is 300 watts, while the magnetic transformer maximum is 1,200 watts.

Low voltage is ideal voltage for indoor and outdoor lighting, while line voltage is ideal for larger business buildings. LED lighting requires low voltage power. Low voltage advantages include less energy production, required transformers, high maintenance cost, and limited choice for varied transformers.

Charles

Charles is a freelance writer whose areas of expertise include home renovation, gardening, and design. A graduate with a degree in Digital Marketing and Business Management. Charles is currently a freelance writer. Charles is always typing away on his laptop or tackling his newest home improvement project. He likes to spend quality time with his family, riding, and working out at the gym.

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