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Low Voltage Landscape Lighting vs Line Voltage

There are two voltage choices for outdoor lighting: 12v and 120v.

Low voltage, 12v landscape lighting, is the most common option for outdoor lighting.  12v landscape lighting is easier to install, less expensive, safer, and you do not need to be a liscenced electrician.  Low voltage landscape lighting lowers the risk of shock and is easy to install since the cable does not need to be buried. Additionally there are far more choices of low voltage landscape lighting fixtures, bulbs, wattages and designs.  For most residential applications, 12v landscape lighting is superior, preferred and more common than 120v outdoor lighting.
  • Operates safely in wet locations
  • Safe and less disruptive to install  
  • Cable does not need to be in conduit
  • Gives more variety in lighting fixtures and bulbs
  • More elegant designs and options available
  • Less expensive

Line voltage 120v outdoor lighting is most often used in commercial,  security and public use applications.  Line voltage outdoor lighting is labor-intensive and requires an electrician for installation. 120v outdoor lighting cable must be buried 18" underground and placed in conduit and have sealed junction boxes at connection points. 120v outdoor lighting is mainly used for lighting large areas, using fewer but brighter fixtures, or in residential applications where there is extensive up lighting on a large canopy of big trees.  Line voltage outdoor lighting fixtures tend to be very big and output a lot of light.  Most 120v outdoor lighting applications will have fewer, but much larger and brighter line voltage outdoor lighting fixtures.

  • Requires an electrician for installation
  • Connections must be waterproof - shock hazard
  • Cable must be buried 18" deep or inside conduit - requires trenching
  • Line voltage fixtures are large.  There are fewer fixture and lighting options
  • More expensive
  • Brighter fixtures--good for commercial, security and public use applications.

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