Line Voltage VS. Low Voltage Landscape Lighting: What’s the Difference?

This guide will discuss the difference between line voltage landscape lighting and low voltage landscape lighting. What are they? And how efficient and economical are these lighting systems? Our guide will help you choose the best plan for your landscape project.

Table of Contents

What is Low Voltage Landscape Lighting?

Low Voltage lighting is the lighting system that uses 12/24 Volts to operate. It requires an additional transformer to step down the regular line Voltage of 120/240V to 12/24V. The transformer is usually built in the fixture, and if not, a remote transformer is used; you have to ensure that the wattage rating is equal to or greater than the lighting system’s combined wattage rating.

These are popular choices for Landscape spotlight, LED Post Lights, LED Bollard Lights, etc.  You can find many LED fixtures for low voltages, and they are more versatile than line voltage lights. Low voltage lights are best for landscape lighting, which has restricted access.

The low voltage requirement greatly pleases the energy-conscious people, and rightly so. Due to their efficiency, Low Voltage lights are becoming the preferred choice for outdoors. You can find these in many areas of interest, such as safety, commercial, and decoration of outdoor landscapes.

 Energy efficiency is not the only criteria when it comes to selecting landscape lights. Other factors play a role in the selection of landscape lighting too.

low voltage lighting system
low voltage lighting system

What is Line Voltage Landscape Lighting?

A line voltage lighting is a plug-and-play landscape lighting system that runs on the standard line voltage of 120 Volts. You only have to connect it to the ordinary supply socket, and they start running. So, you do not need a transformer in a circuit, unlike Low Voltage Lights.

The power cables for 120V line voltage lights must be safely buried 2 feet under the ground. It’s better to use plastic conduits and sealed junction boxes at the end. These heavy-duty line voltage lights work best in a large landscape or residential places with lots of greenery. Lights are much brighter, but modern low voltage lights also produce somewhat similar lumens.

It is a popular design choice for outdoor, security, commercial lighting as they require less money to purchase, easy to set up and maintain. Line voltage lighting is more common in landscape lighting, and they can cover a large area, guaranteed proper wiring is done.

Their applications are numerous, and despite their large consumption of electricity, the line voltage lights have their significance.

What’s the Difference Between Low Voltage and Line Voltage Landscape Lighting?

You can choose a lighting system based on the various aspects of both line voltage and low voltage landscape lights.

Both are popular choices for landscape lighting, but the final decision depends upon the following factors in general. By going through these, you can decide which lighting system is best suited for your project.

Investment Cost

Low Voltage lights require a larger initial investment compared to Line Voltage lights. This is due to the additional circuitry (transformer) present in the fixture of low voltage landscape lighting systems.

Line voltage lights are initially cheaper, but the operating cost is larger unless installed in low-use areas. Line voltage landscape system also has lesser installation cost and less expensive dimmers than low voltage lights.

Light Output Quality

The higher voltage bulbs used in line voltage systems tend to produce warmer and more diffused light output. Low voltage lamps, on the other hand, give-off more natural light and directed light beams.

Low voltage LED bulbs’ quality of light is superior as they scatter less light and offer a higher degree of optical control. These are primarily used in applications that need to be enhanced aesthetically. You can have tons of color temperatures and various beam spreads such as floodlights and spotlights, which is not the case with line voltage lights that have limited options.

Energy Efficiency in Both Cases

The low voltage LED light of 50 Watts consumes approximately the same wattage as that of a line voltage lamp of similar power, but the low voltage bulbs produce far more lumens than the standard line voltage one.

The modern LED technology has dramatically enhanced low voltage LEDs’ capabilities, and you can find these to be brighter than before. They are also replacing low voltage halogens-MR16 lamps due to their better efficiency.  

Regular Low voltage lights have a 6000+ hour life compared to line voltage bulbs with only 800 hours (approximately). Low voltage lights also produce less heat which makes them more energy efficient.


Low voltage landscape lighting is safer in terms of safety as they operate on a low voltage of 12/24V. This safety factor makes low voltage LEDs more popular in outdoor projects such as playgrounds and schools where children’s safety is a significant concern and a chance of kids or people coming in contact with a wire. You can quickly and safely install these if professional electricians are not available.

Line voltage can serve best outdoors where safety is not that much of a concern and vast areas needed to be lighted.

Cables and Connections

The wires need to be buried at least 18 inches into the ground for line voltage to maintain the safety standards. You can also place the cables inside a conduit to avoid any hazards. Always use wires and connections that are of high quality and have water and shockproof properties.

Low voltage is safer and does not require the wires to be buried deep under the ground.  If necessary, you can place the low voltage wires only a few inches in the ground, and it would be sufficient for any application.

Relocation Of The Systems

The low voltage lighting system can be easily relocated because it is not permanent like a line voltage system. Moreover, you can easily add another fixture in the low voltage system, provided that the transformer has the capabilities to handle another fixture.

Voltage Drop

Voltage drop is the decrease in the voltage along the circuit consisting of lighting fixtures. It occurs in a low voltage lighting system as electricity is lost in transmission. This is because the voltage decreases with the cable’s length, and the fixtures receive lesser power for the optimum output.

To fix this, you have to place a transformer closer to Low Voltage landscape lights and avoid the daisy line configuration, as in this, the first fixture will receive most of the power compared to the fixtures to follow.

This is not the case in line voltage, as sufficient power is available for the fixtures to run correctly.

It is advisable to split the wire runs for a more evenly distributed power across all the fixtures in low voltage lighting. Moreover, transformers can handle the load of a certain number of fixtures. Decide which transformer is best by first calculating the total wattage for all the fixtures you want to light up.


Low voltage lights require a transformer to step down the regular voltage supply of 120/227V to 12/24V. Some fixtures come with a built-in transformer, while others require a separate transformer near the circuit. It is hazard-free and safer to install.

On the other hand, line voltage lighting does not require a transformer to step-down the voltage, making it easier to install. Line voltage does require the supervision of a professional electrician because you are dealing with a high voltage of 120 volts.

Maintenance Challenges

You may require electricians to figure out where the transformer should be placed for large low voltage landscape projects. This is not the case for Line-voltage lights because no transformer is involved in the system.

In the long run, due to lower electricity consumption, low voltage lights are more economical. Low voltage LED lights are also long-lasting than other lights, saving resources in repair and maintenance costs.


Before choosing the system, you must first understand the requirement of your project. Both line and low voltage systems have their specific applications where they perform best.

  • Low voltage Lighting is popularly used in projects that demand a customized stunning outlook. The user can control these lights. Thus, suitable for designing aesthetics projects using low voltage LED bollards lights, underwater spotlights, LED fountain lights, etc. These lights are primarily used in residential and commercial areas such as pathways, parks and playgrounds, display lighting applications, etc.
low voltage lighting residential application
low voltage lighting residential application
  • Line voltage lighting is mainly used in applications that require long wire runs, such as landscape, architecture, streets, etc. It is used in commercial and public areas that need a large region illuminated by a few bright fixtures. The line voltage is often seen in security applications where high illumination is required for a large area.
line voltage application street lighting
line voltage application street lighting


Both line-voltage and low voltage lighting systems have their pros and cons, which determine the applications. Before opting for a system, learn about each system’s investment cost, installation procedure, output quality, lamp life, long-term operation, and safety concerns. Knowing the differences will help you choose a better landscape lighting system for your project.

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