Tuesday, October 25, 2011

FAQ Answered: Low Voltage Lighting

Photo from google images

There was a little debate going on here at the store about Low Voltage lighting and weather a low voltage systems use less energy or not. I am talking specifically about the Low Voltage track systems, recessed lighting and display lights.

Here is the thing, this is a BIG question that needs to be answered correctly, we have electricians who say that low voltage is saving consumers’ money, and it’s a good debate because you would think your transforming voltage from 120 volts down to 12 volts you would be using less energy, right?

I have always been told in the industry that power consumption is measured in wattage's not voltage. So whether or not your systems are low voltage or line voltage you only save energy by using less wattage.

A Watt is a unit of Power, and a Volt is electrical potential, these are the definitions VERY simplified according to the dictionary. We can get really technical if we want, but the most applicable information I can find that will really answer this question is from my Rocky Mountain Power Representative.
We are only charged for the wattage we consume, in kWh(kilowatts), not the voltage!

With that said if we use a 50 watt low voltage (12 volt) halogen bulb and a 50 watt line voltage halogen bulb (120 volt) you are using 50 watts of power and you are charged for the 50 watts of power you consume! The only way to save money on your energy bill is to use less wattage.

Now here is the part that may validate what some electricians are saying about low voltage light systems; most often Low Voltage fixtures use halogen or LED bulbs. Both halogen and LED are more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, the industry standard.

Blow is the breakdown of energy efficiency for different types of bulbs compared to the industry standard incandescent light bulb:
-If you use 75watts of incandescent light you consume 75 watts of energy.

-If you use a 50 watt halogen bulb you are getting a light output equivalent to 75 watts of incandescent light.

-If you use a 20 watt CFL bulb you are getting the light output equivalent to a 75 watt incandescent bulb.

-A 9 watt LED bulb gives off light equivalent to a 75 watt incandescent light bulb.

I hope this helps answer some questions about Low vs. Line voltage lighting. I have found a few helpful articles and links about the differences in the light systems here and here. This article talks about halogen lighting, and this is a chart that show different bulbs and their efficiency.

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