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How to Select
How to Shop for Low Voltage Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor lighting is one of the most efficient ways to highlight the most attractive features of your landscape and house, hide the less appealing ones, illuminate paths and entryways and create a sense of security and warmth. Low-voltage lights are quite a popular choice for outdoor illumination since they are easy to install, adaptable, safe to use and employ little power. It is also nice to know that cables of low-voltage fixtures do not pose the danger of electric shock and you do not need a permit to install them.
The first thing you need to do is to determine the purpose served by the low voltage outdoor lighting fixture. Do you need it to illuminate a path, steps or entryway, accent a statue or trees or light a pond or fountain? Underwater fixtures need to be lightweight, compact, rugged, and resistant to high pressures, while step lights should be bright enough to illuminate the top and bottom of stairs.
The next thing to decide on is the output wattage of the device. The brightness of low-voltage outdoor lights varies from 4 to 50 watts, with common choices ranging from 18 to 24 watts. The brightness of a bulb will be rather defined by its intended use: illuminating the steps may require a brighter fixture than artfully lighting a group of trees. The choice of the transformer to step down the voltage also depends on the wattage of bulbs: to determine its size, you need to multiply the wattage by the number of bulb sockets.
Once you have made up your mind about the functional qualities of your outdoor low-voltage lighting, consider its decorative possibilities. Landscape lights come in aluminum, cast metal, brass and wood. A verde or black finish will blend well with the surrounding garden. You can also choose the finish to suit the coloring of your house. Styles may vary from minimalist to aesthetically rich. Path lights can be visible or hidden, ranging from brass lanterns to tulip-shaped units, while outdoor directional spotlights pointed to individual trees or art works may include only bulbs.
The bulbs used for low voltage outdoor lighting are typically halogen lamps with a precision reflector and compact filament, but low-voltage LED and incandescent lamps rated for 12V operation are also employed. Halogen and LED units are more efficient, but incandescent bulbs provide more traditional illumination with a warm orange cast.
After selecting the outdoor light and an appropriate transformer, you can immediately proceed to installing the system because, unlike with other outdoor projects, the low-voltage installation does not require having expertise in electrical work.