Low-Voltage LED Lighting: What You Need to Know

Low-Voltage LED Lighting

This trending technology is transforming backyards everywhere

Lighting for residential landscapes has come a long way since the use of incandescent bulbs and manual timers.

Modern options include energy efficient LED lighting, app-controlled systems, the ability to create different mood settings with zoning, dimming and color, flexible programming and retrofit products for existing installations. Each of these allow homeowners to enjoy entertaining in their backyard spaces during the evening, and can highlight patios, trees, water features, and save money – all while allowing them to control their lights from wherever they are.

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LEDs Are the Prevalent Choice

LED bulbs and fixtures have become popular for many systems.  They conserve energy, last longer than other types of bulbs and are available in a wide variety of colors for specific needs.  LEDs can be more of an investment than incandescent and halogen bulbs, but savings are gained over the long run because of energy efficiency and longer bulb life.

A recent landscape trends survey by Houzz revealed that 45% of homeowners who are planning some type of outdoor renovation in 2017 want to update or add lighting — with most of them choosing LEDs (73%), rather than solar or smart lights. That may be because of LEDs’ multifaceted versatility. They can be used in the landscape, under stairs and pergolas, on patios and deck posts, in fountains and along walkways.

2017 U.S. Houzz Landscape Trends Study
2017 U.S. Houzz Landscape Trends Study

Easy Automation

Homeowners are increasingly interested in technology that automates the functions of homes.  Just as they can control their heating and cooling system, sprinklers, security system, and garage door, a homeowner now has the capability to control their lighting system through their smartphone. Having control of their home’s operating systems whenever and wherever they are is appealing to many homeowners.

By 2017, the major lighting manufacturers have introduced Bluetooth and WiFi capable products.  Some features of app-based systems include setting the time for turning the lights on and off, changing the light color, dimming or brightening the lights, and controlling different areas of lights such as for a gate out front or parts of the backyard. The Houzz study indicates one in five homeowners are interested in a lighting system they can control on a mobile device or computer. That interest is sure to rise.

Gray Whitney, a manufacturer representative for Kichler Lighting, has seen the use of lighting systems grow at such a rate that they have almost become the norm in many households. “For the most part, if a home doesn’t have one now, they will in the next five years,” he said.  “Predictions are for a 150% increase in homes with some type of lighting system. Landscape lighting is no exception. Various systems are now offered by most lighting manufacturers.” Kichler has a DC controller which allows up to six different zones of landscape lighting and can also control water features and holiday lights.


Improved Control & Retrofit Options

Transformers are the heart of landscape lighting systems as they distribute the voltage and provide directions to the lights. They are becoming more sophisticated as some feature the ability to program specific instructions and activate different settings in a single touch. For example, the system can be instructed to turn on all lights at the beginning of a large backyard party on Saturday night and change to a softer, different color light a couple of hours later. Then for a small barbeque gathering the next Sunday, it can be pre-programmed to just illuminate the patio cooking and dining area at 65% intensity of another color and turn off at 10 p.m.

For homeowners who want to upgrade their old lighting systems, LED retrofit lamps are now available. These are used to replace old, incandescent and halogen bulbs. They help reduce the electric bill, offer more color options and provide more consistent light output.

While LED lighting started inside homes, it has now migrated to the outdoors into the backyards of homeowners across the country. As homeowners are spending more time entertaining in their yards, the ability to customize a landscape lighting system is now readily available, and highly customizable.

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