Low Voltage Outdoor Landscape LED Lighting

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  #1  
Old 05-11-09, 01:58 PM
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Low Voltage Outdoor Landscape LED Lighting

Hello,

My question is in regards to a current outdoor landscape lighting system. I will first provide you specfics on my system and then pose my questions. I currently have Kichler landscape fixtures, each with 20 watt halogen bulbs. They are all the same fixture that basically spikes into the ground and can be point to the appropriate area. The bulbs are all MR16 5.3 base bulbs. Pretty standard bulb. the total wattage of my system is 240 watts. So I have 20 watts of capacity left over.

1) I want to convert the lightbulbs to LED to save electricity. Can I replace all the bulbs to LED without any issues? Can you provide me any recommendations of LED bulbs to buy that are suitable for outdoor usage? I have looked on-line and it can be confusing. Is the standard light spectrum for outdoor usage 3000K (e.g., warm light) versus the higher ~6000K?
2) There are three types of bulbs in general at least in terms of the flood of light. Narrow (10 deg), mid (25-40 deg flood), and large (60 deg flood) at least for the MR16 bulbs. In what situations would I want to use different types of bulbs. I think for the most part all the ones i have are 38 degree. are some better for shrubs, others better for tree lighting etc. Is there some guide or tutorial that can help be think about the pros and cons of the different types?
3) I would like to add more fixtures and if I change the bulbs out to LED, I will use much less power, so I am assuming I will be able to add more lights with out changing my transformer which will be costly. Is that true? Any concerns about doing that? If I want to add more fixtures, should I add exactly the same fixtures or can I mix and match brands. Kichler is pretty expensive and it appears that other brands like Malibu are ALOT cheaper. Any guidance on this would be great and any recommendations of brands of product would be helpful.

Thanks!!
 
  #2  
Old 05-13-09, 11:02 AM
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tlaughton, I'm sorry that so far no one here has been able to help you. Apparently you have us stumped. That doesn't happen very often. LED technology is changing fast, and I guess we're not keeping up. A good lighting store might be able to help you. Good luck.
 
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Old 05-13-09, 08:49 PM
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Or some of us have been busy.

Originally Posted by tlaughton View Post
1) I want to convert the lightbulbs to LED to save electricity. Can I replace all the bulbs to LED without any issues? Can you provide me any recommendations of LED bulbs to buy that are suitable for outdoor usage? I have looked on-line and it can be confusing. Is the standard light spectrum for outdoor usage 3000K (e.g., warm light) versus the higher ~6000K?
A standard incandescent light bulb is somewhere around 2700K. The higher you go up the spectrum the cooler/bluer the light will appear. 5000K they say is comparable to the sun at noon. The choice is really yours. I like a warmer light myself.


Originally Posted by tlaughton View Post
2) There are three types of bulbs in general at least in terms of the flood of light. Narrow (10 deg), mid (25-40 deg flood), and large (60 deg flood) at least for the MR16 bulbs. In what situations would I want to use different types of bulbs. I think for the most part all the ones i have are 38 degree. are some better for shrubs, others better for tree lighting etc. Is there some guide or tutorial that can help be think about the pros and cons of the different types?
Search Google for any tutorials. Also youtube.com is a good source of videos. For general lighting you want more of a flood. Use spots to high light specific things like house numbers, etc.

Originally Posted by tlaughton View Post
3) I would like to add more fixtures and if I change the bulbs out to LED, I will use much less power, so I am assuming I will be able to add more lights with out changing my transformer which will be costly. Is that true? Any concerns about doing that? If I want to add more fixtures, should I add exactly the same fixtures or can I mix and match brands. Kichler is pretty expensive and it appears that other brands like Malibu are ALOT cheaper. Any guidance on this would be great and any recommendations of brands of product would be helpful.
Yes. If you change to the lower wattage LED lamps you will be able to add more lights with out changing the transformer. I don't see any concerns doing so.
Depending how the tap on to the main line you may be able to mix and match.

It seams that you get what you pay for on the low voltage lights. The Malibu's I have seen are plastic and seam only to last a few years before they start cracking and breaking. If you can, look, feel, fondle them out of the box to see if you like the quality
 
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Old 05-14-09, 11:52 AM
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Just be wary if you do buy LED bulbs. I recently bought 3 LED bulbs from Lights Of America, that were advertised as "replacing standard 40 W bulbs". Well, the output appeared to be that of a 10W bulb, and 1 of the 3 died within a few weeks of use.

I think LED technology is not quite there yet in terms of replacing standard bulbs at a reasonable price.

Do they make CFL outdoor floods? If so, that's what I would use.
 
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Old 05-14-09, 02:46 PM
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Ironhand & Mark_W,

Thanks for your help.

Mark W. - I actually found and purchased a CFL MR-16 bulb and installed it. It works just fine, but its light intensity is not as good as the halogens and more importantly it does not direct the light nearly as well. It is much more of a "wash" lighting than directional. I would say a 60deg flood versus a 30-40 deg flood like the halogens i have in my system. I was going to be a LED to try it out and see if it works ok before i bought more of them.

I did find on a website that you need to be careful using LEDs for light fixtures because they don't draw as much power and thus the voltage can get to high. For example a 200 watt 12 volt transformer will not work as well if it is only have 20 watts pulled on it and the voltage may creep up to 14 volts which can be out of the operating range of an LED and also cause them to fail prematurely. This may have been your problem. In my situation with outdoor lighting, if i do have a problem, it said you can just install one or two regular bulbs to draw more power and you should be fine. if it is an indoor light fixture, you really want all the bulbs the same since you see them, so probably not desirable.

thanks
 
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Old 05-14-09, 03:27 PM
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Ah, I didn't realize you were using a 12V supply system. The LED's I bought screw into standard 120V sockets.
 
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Old 05-15-09, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by tlaughton View Post
I actually found and purchased a CFL MR-16 bulb and installed it. It works just fine, but its light intensity is not as good as the halogens and more importantly it does not direct the light nearly as well.
You may find that to be the same for the LED's. I have bought quite a few LED flashlights and though the light is bright it doesn't seam to go very far.

@ Mark_W - Thanks for the feedback of the LED bulb. I just bought one of the same type to try a few weeks ago. I see how long it lasts.
 
 

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