Low Voltage Vs. High Voltage

Choosing The BEST LED DEORATIVE LIGHTS

Written by
Mary Reid
Published on
February 20, 2024 at 2:52:01 PM PST February 20, 2024 at 2:52:01 PM PSTth, February 20, 2024 at 2:52:01 PM PST

In the world of decorative lighting, understanding the concept of voltage is crucial. Voltage represents the force or pressure of electricity flowing through a circuit. In this article, we'll explore the differences between low voltage and high voltage lighting options, helping you make an informed choice for your projects.


Understanding Voltage


  • Definition of Voltage: High voltage, often referred to as 'line voltage,' is the standard voltage supplied by most wall outlets - typically 120V. On the other hand, low voltage ranges from 1.5V to 48V and is produced by batteries or transformers that step down the standard 120V.


  • High Voltage Lights: High voltage lights are commonly used in light strings with standard 2-prong plugs that operate on 120V power.


  • Low Voltage Lights: Low voltage lighting can be found in landscape applications within the 12V-15V range, while battery-powered products typically operate within the 1.5V-16V range.


Comparing Low Voltage and High Voltage LED Decorative Lights

When choosing between low voltage and high voltage LED decorative lights, consider the following factors:

  • Voltage Drop: Voltage drop measures how far electricity can travel through wires. High voltage products are better suited for extensive installations, such as large wrapped trees or fields filled with lights, where multiple light strings need to be powered without additional sources.


  • GFCI Tripping and Safety: High voltages and water don't mix well, making low voltage systems a safer choice for installations subjected to continuously wet conditions. Low voltage systems operate on Class 2 power sources, reducing the risk of shocks and adhering to more lenient electric safety code requirements.


  • Available Power: Low voltage battery-powered products are ideal for areas without convenient power outlets. Additionally, tapping into low voltage landscape lines can provide the necessary power without the hassle of long extension cords.


  • Selection: Low voltage lights offer a wide range of choices for your lighting needs, with various infrastructure and control components to support your vision. Many light forms are available in both high voltage and low voltage options, so explore your options freely.


  • Installation: While low voltage products may require more planning and power supplies during installation, the safety and reduced maintenance for resetting GFCIs can outweigh the additional effort.


  • Price: Generally, low voltage products may have a slightly higher upfront cost compared to high voltage lights, mainly due to the required power supplies.


Quick Guide: Pros and Cons Chart

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Conclusion

In conclusion, understanding the differences between low voltage and high voltage LED decorative lights is essential for making the right choice for your specific project. Consider your installation requirements, safety concerns, power availability, and the variety of products available to determine the best option for your needs.


Which Voltage is best for holiday light installations? 

There are advantages and disadvantages to both voltage option. Consider the points below to evaluate your needs then choose the best LED Decorative Light product to satisfy your needs based on each project. It’s important to note that all recommendations are based on products that run on DC current by either rectification or the use of a switching power supply.  


Voltage Drop – Voltage is the measurement of the pressure that the electricity is being forced through the wires much like water through a hose. The greater the pressure, the further the electricity can travel and power your lights. If your installation calls for large, wrapped trees or fields filled with lights, being able to connect and power multiple light strings without having to introduce another power source is a major consideration. A high voltage product would serve your needs the best.

GFCI Tripping – What good is having thousands of lights installed if they are constantly going dark due to GFCIs (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) tripping? High voltages and water do not mix well. If your installation will be subjected to continuously wet conditions, choose a low voltage product that knows how to keep those GFCIs happy and the lights shining even when rain falls on your parade. Learn more about GFCI tripping here


Safety - Low Voltage systems win the battle in this arena because of the greatly reduced risk for shock. Low voltage systems run on Class 2 power sources which make installation, maintenance and use much safer. Consequently, these systems carry different, far more lenient electric safety code requirements. If your installation draws onlookers who are the curious sort, this should be the first place you begin your search. Learn about GFCI here

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Available Power – Admit it, we can’t get enough lights in our lives and often want them in areas that do not have a power outlet convenient. Low voltage battery powered products are an obvious choice here but tapping into low voltage landscape lines is an option that will supply the power you need to wrap those trees without laying out miles of extension cords.

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Selection - Low voltage lights have been installed in large venues for over a decade and therefore now have the same amount of choice if not more for your inner stylist to go wild! Just as important is the range of infrastructure and control components to support your grand plan. Many light forms are available in both high voltage and low voltage options, so don’t limit your search options. 


Installation – Low voltage products take more installation planning and power supplies than high voltage products. However, the safer voltage and fewer maintenance calls to reset GFCIs often balances out the scales. 


Price - Generally, low voltage products cost a small percentage more than high voltage light products, plus the added cost of the required power supplies. 


Quick Guide 

For those who like to cut to the bottom line quickly, use this Pros and Cons Chart to determine which voltage type you should be shopping: 

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  Note: All products and discussions listed above run on DC current via rectification or switching power supply.  


Still not sure? We’ve summarized a few scenarios of key criteria shoppers often consider first with recommendations: 

  • Expansive installation requiring long runs of lights that are not in curious onlookers reach. Benchmark & Ext RGB 
  • Expansive installation near water elements with large crowd of mixed age ranges Versaline & LVRGB 
  • Installation that requires tree wrapping and will stay installed for more than 3-seasons Everlastrings 
  • Installation near existing buried low voltage landscape lines. TapNGo 
  • Installation requiring battery operated lights. NeverDim 
  • Installation requires lining buildings or pathways Decorative BulbsExt RGB