By Maria Bargellini
LED landscape lights are becoming more and more popular these days. In my business I have seen a push toward LED landscape lights and away from line or 120 volt lights, mercury vapor fixtures and even standardB low voltage landscape lighting. Technically LED and low voltage landscape lights are bothB low voltageB outdoor lighting because they both require a transformer to step down the voltage from 120 volts to 12 volts. I consider LED lights to be “low wattage”B landscape lights.
Here’s the technical info to explain why. Transformers and bulbs are rated in watts. So if you have a 300 watt transformer you should be able to operate (6) 50 watt lights…. right? Wrong. You can only use 80% of the wattage so that’s 240 watts that can be used. You can use either (4) 50 watt lights, (6) 35 watt lights, or (12) 20 watt lights, or any combination totaling 240 watts. LED lights use fewer watts to provide the same amount of illumination, allowing you to use more of them. So for a 300 watt transformer you can use over (20) 9 watt LED fixtures and get the same or similar B light output as you would if B you used 50 watt bulbs in a standard low voltage light fixture. Confused yet?
You can use a 9 watt LED light where you would use a 35-50 watt standard low voltage fixture. Although LED’s cost more per fixture they will cost less in the long run when you consider energy savings and more. Below is a quick list of Pros and Cons to help you decide if LED is the right choice for you.
LED Fixture Pros
- Uses less energy, in some cases 75%
- Last 40-50,000 hours
- Ability to add more lights
- Needs a smaller transformer
- You can use smaller gauge wire
- More precise lighting
- 15 year warranty
LED Fixtures Cons
- LED fixtures cost more
- Not a huge variety available
- Not many finishes available
- Hoods are often sold separately
- Fixture may need to be replaced when the bulb is out