FlexibilityLine-Voltage vs Low-Voltage Retrofits


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The lighting effects differ immensely between low voltage (transformer driven) and line voltage (120 volt). Low voltage lighting is sometimes described as "spotty", as the lamps have a limited output range and usually have to be placed in relatively close proximity to the target that is to be illuminated. This results in “hot spots” on the target, creating an overall “spotty” look throughout the landscape. Line voltage fixtures are generally larger in size, and thus house a larger lamp, providing greater output and more of a “flood” effect. Fixtures can be set back from the target eliminating the hot spots, and more coverage can be obtained by using less fixtures. We occasionally use low-voltage lighting for highlighting specific plants or features, but never as an overall lighting source. The sheer number of low-voltage fixtures that are required to produce the same level of illumination as that achieved with line-voltage fixtures make it, in our opinion, impractical for this use.

Our experience has shown that the effect of low-voltage lighting can be easily lost on large-scale projects, or quickly diminished in a maturing landscape. Furthermore, the maintenance of the lighting system needs to also be considered – the more fixtures, the more lamps to change. The operating life of low-voltage lamps can vary significantly, and is greatly affected by a number of factors.

Comparing a low voltage landscape lighting system quote to a line voltage quote strictly on a cost-per-fixture basis is an unfair comparison. The overall effect of the lighting system, now and as the landscape matures, should always be the defining objective of any lighting project. This is the foundation behind every Illuminations by Curtis design.



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