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Green Impressions Outdoor Living

By Corey Rosso • October 26, 2012

Low Voltage Landscape Lighting, Incandescent Bulbs Versus LED Bulbs

Landscape Lighting PhotoLandscape lighting expands your hours of enjoyment and the security of your outdoors. Low voltage systems provided better versatility in lighting, as compared to 120 volt systems and solar lights. If you have decided to install a low voltage system, you will need to choose whether you want to install incandescent fixtures or LED fixtures. While LED bulbs are available to retro fit most low voltage fixtures, the real value in LED comes with the installation of the system. If you have ever looked into replacing light bulbs inside your home with LED bulbs you'll find it's more expensive they are and difficult to justify the cost. The same is true for existing landscape lighting systems. However, on new installs it's easier to justify some of the cost because it decreases the cost in other areas for a quicker return-on-investment.  Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of installing LED fixtures as compared to incandescent fixtures.

 

LED:

 

Disadvantages:

  1. Upfront lighting cost. An LED fixture is going to cost roughly 1.5 to 2 times as much as an incandescent fixture.
  2. There is very little flexibility in the fixture. While you can move them around easily, the way the fixtures are built don’t allow you to just switch to a bulb with a different beam spread or a dimmer or brighter shine. This means the correct design and install is vital to making the lighting system work the way you want it to. 
  3. The smaller the system is, the longer it will take to make it as cost effective. 
  4. LED landscape lighting hasn’t made strides until recently and, it may be difficult to find contractors with much experience working on these fixtures.

 

Advantages:

  1. An LED bulb has an average life span of up to 50,000 hours compared to 2,000 to 5,000 hours for incandescent bulbs.  For a system running an average of 8 hours a night the LED bulbs will last on average 17.1 years while incandescent  bulbs will last on the high end 1.7 years. 
  2. The LED bulbs use much less wattage which effects many different factors in the install that will save you cost on the other installation materials. 
  3. Less wattage means less energy used and less money spent on electricity. 
  4. It also means you can put many more lights on a wire run without having to worry about voltage drop in the wire. You will not only use less wire to install them but also smaller wire, which both effect wire installation cost. Also you will use smaller transformers and, or, less transformers to install the system.
  5. You will save on labor by installing less wires and transformers.

Incandescent bulbs need to burn between 10.5 and 12 volts to maximize the bulb life.  Therefore changing the wattage on a run by either putting a different size bulb in or bulbs burning out can cause issues with other lights. LED runs between 10 and 15 volts eliminating this issue.

With the increased life expectancy  you will spend much less on service calls or time in replacing bulbs.

Download our Landscape Lighting Guide