What's the advantage of low voltage recessed lighting?

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Old 04-10-05, 03:23 PM
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What's the advantage of low voltage recessed lighting?

I went to buy a couple recessed lights last night and found myself thouroughly confused as to which one to get. There are so many to choose from, and I haven't even began looking at the trim rings yet.

What's the advantage of using low voltage vs. line voltage?

All I need is a couple lights for a small closet in a bedroom. The closet measures about 24x60x89 high. There's plenty of room above..at least 10 inches, with no insulation. I don't have complete access so a remodel fixture would be required.

I was looking at the Halo H5RT, but I'm not sure if I need that or would a low voltage fixture suit my needs better?

Anybody care to give me some advice here, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks.

Randy
 
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Old 04-10-05, 04:30 PM
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Depending on codes in your area, you may be limited to the type of lighting that can be placed in the closet as well as required clearances.
 
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Old 04-10-05, 06:34 PM
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Maybe I need to rephrase my question.

Under what circumstances would one want to use low voltage lighting, or is it just a matter of preference?
 
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Old 04-10-05, 06:36 PM
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Low voltage lighting operates off of house power, reduced via a xformer to 12V. Most commonly installed as halogen or zenon. Halogen is very hot, zenon operates at a lower temp.
Were I you, I would install an enclosed circle-line flouresent fixture with a output rating of 100watts or higher.
Flourecent reveals the total color spectrum, cool operation and energy efficient.
 
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Old 04-10-05, 08:14 PM
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Bulbs for low voltage recessed lighting (supposedly) are capable of much tighter focus (narrower beams) than line voltage bulbs. Purely a visual effect.
 
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Old 04-10-05, 11:41 PM
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OK, thanks guys, that's what I needed to know.

Snoonyb, I know how low voltage works, with the transformer and all. I've actually installed some in my office. It just seems like lately there is a craze to install low vlotage lighting...like everyone is doing it, and I really didn't see the big advantage of it. I didn't think they were any cheaper to operate, but I wanted to be sure before I purcahsed. Actually, in terms of economics I think the regular lights are more econoical...no transformer to buy.

I guess it's like you said, mikewu99, it's the visual effect, but I don't care about that in my closet.

Thanks guys, I appreciate your responses.
 
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Old 04-11-05, 12:28 AM
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Originally Posted by rcash54
Actually, in terms of economics I think the regular lights are more econoical...no transformer to buy.
I guess all thats left for you to do is to do the math and pay the bill. Approximatly 3 x the cost of flourescent, to operate, and 1/6th the life expectancy, for just the lamps. the transformers last for years.

Its why they are so widely used in commercial applications for general lighting, and while in some applications, low voltage as well as focused, dimmable flourescents are a design preference.

The next generation will be metal halide, its already in the works.
 
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Old 04-11-05, 12:56 PM
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Thumbs up

Well, I went out last night and bought a couple 4 inch kits. They even came with a chrome reflector trim ring. The guy at Home Depot was very helpful and instrumental in pointing these out to me. Then I found a couple flourescent lamps that look a lot like the halogen spot lamps. They're 14 watts but give the equivalent of a 50 watt bulb, and they're guarenteed to last 8 years.

I think these will do just fine.

Thanks again for your input.

Randy
 
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Old 04-11-05, 07:19 PM
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In order for an incandescent filament to handle a higher voltage (at the same wattage), it needs to have a higher resistance. There are two tradeoffs to accomplish this. One is to make the filament thinner, which means it will have a shorter life. The other is to make the filament longer, which means the dissipated power is distributed over a greater filament surface area, which means the temperature will be lower, which means you get more infrared and less light for the actual power utilized.

The lower voltage means you can either have a thicker filament for longer life, or a shorter filament for a higher temperature that is more efficient and focuses better ... or some combination between these. For a given filament thickness, there would be a specific current that would dissipate a specific amount of power per length. Ideally, to cut the wattage output in half, you need to cut the filament length in half, utilize half the voltage, and maintain the same current.

Since learning this about filaments, I've been wondering if Mr. Edison was trying a wide range of voltages as part of his effort to make the light bulb more practical, or if he was focused on the 110 volts he supplied to part of downtown New York City. BTW, the light bulb had been around for about 40 years before he supposedly "invented" it. Too bad his poor choice of DC disallowed readily changing the voltage for different wattage bulbs. Go Tesla. AC rulez!

There's also the advantage of not getting whacked when you stick your finger in the light socket. Low voltage light circuits are also ungrounded (see NEC 411.5(A)), which further reduces any shock risk relative to ground since ground is not a good return path in this case.
 
 

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