Getting Started - Power Sources
- Lighting Guide
- Getting Started
- Lighting FAQs
Low Voltage (12 Volt)
Low voltage deck lighting uses a transformer plugged into a standard wall outlet to convert ordinary household power from 110 volts down to 12 volts. It’s so easy and safe to install that in most areas of the U.S., installation does not require an electrician unless you choose a transformer that hard wires into your electrical system. Nonetheless, always contact your local building department before starting any construction project.
- AC transformers: Used to convert AC current to the voltage required by incandescent bulbs.
- Single / Simple Tap configurations: Single or simple-tap transformers have just one terminal which delivers current reduced to a pre-set amount, usually to 10% of the incoming voltage.
- Multi Tap configuration: The multi-tap transformer has several terminals available (usually from 11-15 volts). This flexible voltage system ensures better current stability that prevents dimming and early bulb burnout.
- DC transformers: DC transformers are not as commonly used in household applications, but required for applications like LED lights. They convert AC voltage to lower-voltage DC power. DC transformers are available in single tap configuration as explained above.
Line Voltage (110 Volt)
Compared to low voltage lighting, line voltage products create a larger amount of light but also use more electricity. This isn't a typical do-it-yourself project, as the installation of higher energy voltage generally requires a licensed electrician and/or permit. This guide doesn't address line voltage lighting.
Using a solar panel to convert sunlight into electricity, solar lighting is preferred in situations where wiring is not practical or an option. It doesn’t produce as much light as low voltage and line voltage power, so it’s most often used to create accent lights.
The LED bulbs are fueled by rechargeable NiCad (Nickel Cadmium) batteries which require sunlight, with charging and run times based on the season and location. For example, solar lights in northern climates will run 8-12 hours in the summer and 3-6 hours in the winter. In southern climates with greater sun exposure, the same lights will run even longer.
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