The Fall season means you will be preparing for a number of coming holidays. With the holidays come visitors and you may want to decorate the exterior of your home to make it more inviting or you may just want to provide some extra light outside of your home so guests that arrive after dark won’t be tripping on the way to your door.
The benefit of low voltage lighting is that you normally can install it without the help of an electrician. Additionally external low voltage lighting is highly insulated so there should be no problem with electric shock due to shorts and grounds caused by wet conditions. Even if there was a problem the fixture should only transmit a portion of its low voltage to the surrounding area so again electric shock is less of a concern then incandescent or even florescent lighting that is run off of a standard 110volt 15amp circuit.
The biggest problem with low voltage lighting is that most of it is designed for supplementary or decorative lighting. This means you will need to use more lights to illuminate a pathway then you would a large spotlight that is mounted to your home.
In addition to pathway lighting there are decorative lights made specifically for the Holidays. Seasonal lighting that uses LEDs for output can be placed in areas where people may come into contact with them but only if they run on low voltage.
You should never string lights to any railing or post that may be needed for support while climbing a set of stairs. This is just asking for problems. You should also place your lights in a way to minimize effects of weather such as rain or ice buildup.
Low voltage pathway lights that are used as the primary light source should not be frosted. Bulbs that are frosted emit less light and if placed in a decorative housing the glass or plastic should be transparent.
You can have temporary or fixed installs that remain year round. In either case you want to over plan the number of lights you install and not go by the string length of wire between fixtures. I have never seen a customer that thinks enough light is being placed so if you expect to use 3 strings of lights plan on getting a fourth and placing the lights closer together to provide the output you desire.
Low voltage lights are run off of a transformer. You may want to plugin the transformer on an external electric outlet if you have one. In this case I recommend that you invest in a outlet remote control. They work just like your TV remote but allow you to cut the power to the outlet while still inside. This means you won’t need to go out in the cold to turn your lights off.
Remember that Low Voltage lighting normally requires more fixtures then you would expect to get enough light to the area that needs it.
Don’t short change yourself by purchasing a set of lights that are frosted because all you are doing is reducing the output. If you want purely decorative lights then frosted lights and housings are fine but only if you have a spotlight that can provide light for safety reasons.
And Spend that extra $20 and get an outlet remote control.. they look like a power strip you may use for your computer but they can be turned on and off without the need to leave your warm home.