Why Use Low Voltae Spotlights Over Line Voltage - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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Old 04-21-2010, 01:32 AM   #1
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why use Low Voltae Spotlights over line voltage

I'm in the process of ordering track lighting to be used to display artwork. I have been told to go for the MR16 and Low Voltage heads on the track but I can't get a proper explanation of why these would be better than line volotage heads. To me the low votage lamps will produce less light or will use more power from the track. Do the line voltage heads use less or more power? Is the light better on an MR16 than a GU10? Is it all just a matter of personal choice? To me the benefit of low voltage is where the track may come into contact with someone 0 this is certainly not the case for me. Am I missing something - what's everyone's opinion and why?


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Old 04-21-2010, 06:27 AM   #2
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First, I would say that power is power. Whether 12V or 110V or something else, 20 watts is 20 watts. I don't expect MR-16s to be any less efficient that something on 110V. Having said that, there may be some lost power in the conversion from 110V to 12V, and there may be some transmission losses due to higher current, but I would not expect this to be a major consideration. Based on my experience, power supplies for the 12V systems can fail.

I don't see a big functional benefit to 12V, but I don't see much drawback from a functional standpoint, either. Perhaps the lamps are cheaper? I say: pick the fixture style you like, the lamp intensity, pattern, and color that meets your needs, and go with it. All other things being equal, I would probably choose 110V due to reliability concerns.
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Old 04-21-2010, 07:54 AM   #3
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I have 12v MR16 LEDs that use less then 2w each
In some cases low power uses slightly more as some is lost to heat in the conversion to 12v

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Old 04-21-2010, 08:15 AM   #4
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Pros: Low voltage incandescent lamps are less likely to have filament breakage due to vibration such as if kicked, or hit by the lawn mower. Low voltage circuits might not need permitting and inspecting in some cities.

Cons: Thicker wires are needed to carry the same number of watts using low voltage. Voltage drop due to the resistance of wires is the same number of volts, not the same percentage of the voltage, and losing two volts out of 12 is a lot more of a loss compared with losing two volts out of 110.
Stick to your lawn watering schedule until it really starts to pour. After the storm you have only the same number of rest days you always had and then you need to start watering again.

Last edited by AllanJ; 04-21-2010 at 08:17 AM.
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Old 04-21-2010, 08:17 AM   #5
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The higher current with the low voltage lights means maintaining a low contact resistance is important, which IMO ends up giving less reliability.
If the 12v transformer is electronic, troubleshooting is a bear.
The glass used in the hot, small lamps gets etched by oils in the skin which leads to failure.

The trend seems to be from a reasonably bright bulb as large as a peach to an infinitely bright point-sized lamp that gives off UV [so a filter is needed]. I wouldn't call this progress.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 04-21-2010 at 08:19 AM.
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Old 04-21-2010, 11:40 PM   #6
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I have about 15 low voltage can lights (magnetic transformers) and three line voltage MR-16 cans as well. I haven't changed a single bulb or had any problems with any of them in about four years.

I agree with above. Find a lamp style you like a go with it. I will say that MR-16's come in a tremendous variety, so you can really get cute with your lighting. On one job, I installed MR-16 lamps with a 7 degree beam spread. Looked like laser beams.
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