Low Voltage vs Line Voltage Lighting: Which Is Better for Your Outdoor Space?

Providing your house or workplace with energy-efficient lighting options has become a new vogue. People are turning towards low voltage or 12V lighting due to their viability in emergencies and the proliferation of long life.

The LED lights are available in two versions: low voltage and line voltage. Because of this, it is essential to understand the difference between the two. Each type has its benefits and drawback which we will discuss later in this article.

Let’s first learn about low voltage lighting and see what benefits it holds for you.

Low Voltage Lighting

low voltage landscape lighting

In low voltage lighting systems, a transformer is used to minimize normal line voltage from 120v or 277v to 12v or 24v.

It is often used for lighting applications like pendant, tracking, landscape, recessed, and displays. It is quite handy if you are looking to provide light in a confined, tough region.


1. Movability:

Low voltage lighting, which is harder to rearrange, is more versatile than regular line voltage lighting.

It’s quite easy to add an extra fixture to a low voltage system, as long as the transformer provides the light with sufficient power.

2. Protection:

The voltage from the transformer to the device is considerably lower than the voltage from the line.

In landscape applications where you may bury wiring underground, this characteristic makes low voltage lighting very useful.

3. Energy Efficient:

Although low voltage lighting is sometimes mistaken for automatically conserving energy, it is absolutely feasible to save energy by using a low voltage lighting system.

You might end up with numerous lights powered and lighted from the same voltage as conventional power one if the voltage is decreased by the transformer.


1. Requires Transformer:

An effective LED transformer is mandatory for functioning with any low voltage LED lights.

It’s not necessarily a negative thing, but it is only meaningful for several LED or lighting setups.

The transformer must conform to the performance of the light system, or otherwise, the individual LEDs would waste their high efficiency in the transformer.

2. Difficulty in Installation and Maintenance:

A major con of low voltage lighting is that electrical contractors are less likely to be familiar with its install. As a result, the possibility of miscure and increased labor charges arise.

Besides, when it comes to maintenance, it can be difficult for labor to understand the system and identify the fault lines and find an optimal solution. However, this can be avoided if you employ skilled labor.

When and Where to Use

Low voltage lighting is suitable as display lighting and is to be used in a tough region where it is difficult to run full standard-voltage electrical wire.

Primarily, low voltage lighting is ideal for facilitating landscape.

Moreover, it has made its way indoors and is commonly used for lighting recessed, cabinet, track, strip, and strap applications.

Line Voltage Lighting

line voltage lighting system

Line voltage is standard in lighting and most lighting systems work on it.

Generally, line voltage lighting use 120v to 277v for supplying power to lighting units.

Interestingly, in line voltage lighting, you do not need a transformer to power the lighting systems.


1. Requires No Transformers:

 This is the major advantage of line voltage lighting. They have their own integrated power supply unit and you can use mains supply to operate them directly.

2. Easily Convertible to LED:

Line voltage lighting allows you to easily convert to retrofit LEDs from old lamps when you switch to LEDs.


 1. Waste More Power:

Because of the integrated power supply unit, LED line voltage lights have a greater power dissipation than the low voltage version.

This leads to higher waste heat which, depending on the installation circumstances, might be an issue.

2. Higher Safety Requirements:

Heat development limits the lifespan of the LED in tiny lamp glasses or recessed spotlights. All safety standards during connection and operation must comply with the 120V power voltage.

When and Where to Use

Line voltage lighting provides you with so many options when it comes to its usage. It can be used almost anywhere you can low voltage lighting. Moreover, you can spread the line voltage lighting as far as you can connect the wire to the power source. The ideal example of line voltage lighting is in the architecture of a building.

Low Voltage vs Line Voltage Lighting – Which Is Better for Your Space?

In this section, we will compare both low voltage and line voltage lighting in various aspects and find out who beats who.

–   Efficiency

Although a low-voltage bulb such as a 50-watt MR16 is no less powerful than a regular line-voltage bulb with the same wattage, the former will produce lighting of over 100 watts for the same power consumption.

Therefore, light is better distributed to minimize the number of units required for a given lighting system.

Low-voltage bulbs are also capable of surviving longer. A standard MR16 bulb lasts 6,000 hours compared to only 750 hours for a standard household bun.

In fact, low-voltage lamps are vibration and shock resistant which makes them less likely to face a frequent breakdown.

–   Cost

Line voltage lighting’s initial cost is much less than low-voltage lighting. Moreover, line voltage lighting dimmers are also more budget-friendly than low voltage lighting.

However, the operating cost of line voltage is quite higher than low voltage lights.

On the other hand, low-voltage lighting units, dimmers, and bulbs are expensive due to the addition of a transformer. Fortunately, in long-term use, low-voltage lights will cost you much less than the line voltage.

In simple words, the cost is depending on the usage, if both types of lighting are installed in the low-use area, then the cost difference will be negligible.

–   Light Quality and Safety

The low-voltage fixture produces brighter and more natural-looking light than line voltage fixtures, producing more diffused and warm light.

Besides, a high voltage fixture makes it difficult for you to focus due to the dispersion of light. In contrast, low voltage fixtures include reflectors that provide you with a high level of optical control.

This is because the low-voltage fixtures incorporate more compact filament than conventional fixtures and we get beam-focuses lumens. Consequently, we get a more focused and not dispersed light.

When it comes to safety, low-voltage lighting is definitely better than line voltage lighting. It reduces the risk of shock due to lower current flow.

However, several other safety risks are involved with both types of lighting, you need to be diligent when dealing with any of them.

–   Capacity

If a great deal of light fixtures is connected with a single circuit or if you cover a vast distance or region with light, line voltage systems are helpful. Capacity and distance are limited with low voltage systems.

The “voltage drop” is a problem to be aware of. The voltage in the system is decreased to this point from beginning to end given the size and length of the conductors in the lighting system.

The other concern is the wattage of the low voltage system-powered transformer or driver. These two factors suggest that low-voltage systems may often use light electric loads to serve only smaller regions.

–   Installation

There is a tie when it comes to installation. For both low voltage and line voltage lighting, you need skilled labor for installation. However, the installation of low-voltage lighting is safer than line voltage lighting.

–   Add-ons

For situations requiring more diffuse ambient light, line-voltage lights are ideal. Above all, it offers ease for us. Low voltage lightings are more convenient, secure, and less costly to operate for present lighting systems.

Secondly, when you talk about the variety then low voltage lighting is better than line voltage.

It comes in a variety of styles which include, track lighting, pendant lighting, recessed lighting, rail lighting, and display lighting.

Due to this, low-voltage lighting is more suitable for lighting workplaces, creating desired ambiance, etc.


1. Are LED lights low voltage?

Yes LED lights are low voltage.

2. Is 12V considered low voltage?

Anything less than 50v is considered low voltage, so Yes, 12v is considered low voltage. Moreover, when it comes to white LED lights, 12v is the lowest voltage.

3. Does low voltage use less electricity?

Yes, low voltage uses less electricity and you can save a lot of money on the electricity bill.


As you can see both Low Voltage and Line Voltage Lighting have their advantages and drawbacks.

To help you understand the difference between the two, we compared them in various aspects and now it comes down to your personal preference as to what you need.