Low Voltage Landscape Lighting vs Solar Lighting

How to Decide on Low Voltage Landscape Lighting vs Solar Lights

It can be very challenging to choose how to light up your landscape. As soon as you begin your search into options, you'll find that solar powered landscape lighting and low voltage landscape lighting are in competition for the most popular landscape lighting options. Here's what you need to know about low voltage landscape lighting vs solar and how to make a good choice for your home.

What is Solar Power Landscape Lighting?

Solar lights utilize solar cells to collect energy from the sun. They're available in a huge variety of sizes and appearances, from extremely affordable plastic versions available at most garden centers to advanced solar lighting that can be professionally installed.

American National Sprinkler & Lighting - low voltage landscape lighting vs solar - lighting fixture.

Some solar lights have the solar panel built directly into the light frame, while more advanced options are attached to an external solar panel with wiring. Solar lights are very attractive because they do not require energy from your home’s energy mainframe to run.

Furthermore, solar cells generally last a very long time. On the other hand, you won't have as much control over your landscape lighting when using solar-powered lights.

What is Low Voltage Landscape Lighting?

Low voltage landscape lighting requires very little energy to run. They are wired from your property’s transformer to whatever light fixtures you want to install. The wire is generally buried underground to hide it and keep it out of the way between lights. Your low voltage landscape lighting can be controlled using dimmers, automatic sensors, timers, and other controls.

Low Voltage Landscape vs Solar Lighting

Low voltage landscape lighting and solar landscape lighting are both very good options when you are trying to determine a low cost and attractive landscape lighting design. There are some key differences between these options that can help you decide which is the best choice for your home.

Cost

As a rule, solar lights will cost a little bit more than wire landscape lights because they consist of all the same mechanisms as a standard light fixture but also need to include a solar panel. Over time, solar panels save you money on your electric bill compared to lights that draw power from your home’s energy. However, since low voltage landscape lighting requires such a small amount of energy to run, many homeowners may not notice a significant difference.

Installation

At first glance, solar installation seems very straightforward. Unlike low voltage landscape lighting, which requires wires to be installed under the surface of the soil in most instances, solar lights only need to be installed somewhere that the sun can reach them.

However, it is important to note that the installation process for solar lights may not be as straightforward as it appears. Any light that is blocked will result in solar lights that are dim or turn off early. Any light that receives light from a street light, spotlight, or even another solar light may not be triggered to turn on because the sensor is located in the light itself.

Maintenance

Both solar-powered landscape lighting and low voltage landscape lighting will require a certain amount of maintenance. After all, they have some delicate mechanisms and are kept outside where they are subject to damage from the weather, animals, etc.

Solar panels have a panel, a light fixture, and wiring which can be damaged, while low-voltage lights only have a light fixture and wiring to be concerned about. On the other hand, low voltage landscape lighting has wiring that runs underground in most cases, which may lead to more extensive maintenance being needed if the problem is with the wires underground.

Consistency

With low-voltage lights, you get the same performance every night. These lights, when wired properly, offer consistent light from the first light on the wire to the very last one. Solar lights, on the other hand, may vary in brightness depending on how much sun they have received during the day. They also may not turn on if another light is on their sensor.

Brightness & Color

Most solar lights rely on LED, and while it is not inherently the case that they have a bluish tint, it does seem that many solar lights have a cool, blue tone that not everyone desires.

Even the best solar lights generally do not compete with low voltage landscape lights when it comes to brightness. Low voltage landscape lights tend to be very adjustable and consistent in their brightness, and generally, they can get brighter than solar lights can.

Low Voltage Landscape Lighting vs Solar Lighting

Pros & Cons

Pros

Cons

Can be placed anywhere, not restricted by wires or access to a transformer

Need to be placed where they receive a significant amount of sunshine every day

Automatically self charge from the sun and do not require batteries or to draw from your home's energy

Become dimmer over time and require maintenance when parts break

Generally easier to install yourself as long as there's plenty of access to the sun

Do not connect to your transformer, so they cannot be automatically turned on or off or put on a timer, etc.

Available at most garden centers or can be professionally installed

Options available in garden centers may be cheap plastic that tends to break easily

Low Voltage Landscape Lighting

Pros & Cons

Pros

Cons

Easy to put on a timer, connect to light sensors, or turn on and off

Must be wired, and wire should generally be buried between lights

Consistent light that can be found in your choice of warmth and color

Draws from your home's energy so costs something to run every month

Light as bright as you choose consistently regardless of the weather

Requires maintenance like occasionally having wires fixed and replacing light fixtures or bulbs

Generally come at a very affordable price for beautiful professional fixtures and installation

A transformer is also required for installation

Do It Yourself or Hire a Professional?

Along with the decision about whether to choose low voltage landscape lighting vs solar is the decision as to whether you should install the lights yourself or hire a professional to install them for you.

It is possible to install either low voltage landscape lights or solar lights yourself but unless you understand the basics of wiring, it may not be wise to install low voltage landscape lights yourself. Installing solar lights yourself can result in a fair amount of frustration as you work to provide the solar cells with sufficient sunlight and achieve a consistent brightness in your lights.

Here are some things to consider about doing it yourself or hiring a professional for either type of light.

 

Solar landscape lighting

  • Simplicity = inconsistency. When it comes to solar landscape lighting, the simplest systems also tend to be the least consistent. This is because the simplest systems have the solar cells directly in their fixture so you have little flexibility about where to place the light if you expect to get enough sun. On the other hand, more complex systems will require nearly as much wiring as a low voltage landscape lighting system
  • Maintenance can be a challenge. You may feel up to installing your own simple solar landscape lights, but maintaining them is another problem altogether. You may find that your savings in energy and installation are rapidly depleted when you frequently have to replace the solar landscape lighting. On the other hand, solar lights that have been professionally installed can be maintained by the company that installed them.
  • It can be challenging to achieve professional results on your own. In order for your solar landscape lighting to have the sort of professional appearance that you are hoping for, it helps to buy high-quality units and have them professionally installed.

 

Low Voltage Landscape Lighting

  • Are you experienced in basic electrician skills? Low voltage landscape lighting does not have as many risks attached to it as higher voltage lighting, but it is certainly not without dangers. It is essential that you understand how to use electrical wiring outside safely before endeavoring installation or maintenance of low voltage landscape lighting.
  • You want worry-free landscape lighting. In order for your landscape lighting to have the best chance of working well without you having to do much to maintain it, it is best to have somebody who is experienced in the installation of landscape lighting to make the important decisions about your lights.
  • Low voltage landscape lighting cost money to run. You want as few lights as possible with as low as voltage as is effective in order to keep your costs for running landscape lighting as low as possible. A professional is best able to do this.

Call American National Sprinkler & Lighting Today

American National Sprinkler & Lighting prides itself on installing lights that are durable and
effective enough to last for a lifetime. Since 1984 they have been making outdoor spaces beautiful and functional.

Not only do they know how to install extremely high-quality fixtures and maintain them, but they know how to make the best decisions to light your home in a highly attractive way while saving you money by keeping the number of lights and the overall voltage as low as possible to achieve your lighting goals.