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The Pros & Cons of Low Voltage Outdoor Deck Lighting

Updated: 08/03/2022

It doesn’t matter what the weather, if you have a deck, then you know how good it is to sit and enjoy it. Outdoor deck lighting makes that experience so much better, and it extends the time you can relax and enjoy or have fun with friends and family into the evenings and nights. 

In fact, I think that autumn is almost as good a time to sit and enjoy my garden as summer is. The changes that come over the tree, plants, and animals are fascinating to watch, especially late in the day.

Outdoor Deck Lighting Step by Step

But I have already got my outdoor deck lighting all sorted out. But what about if you are still considering where you should go with yours? I know it took me a while to get things figured in my mind. The choices of power, style, and placement were just too much information at the time. So my advice when you want to design your deck lighting ideas into reality is to take it one step at a time.

That’s what this article is about. I’m just going to throw some simple outdoor deck lighting ideas out there for you. Chew them over and see what really runs up your flap pole. 

Low Voltage Outdoor Deck Lighting Fixtures

This is the traditional fail-safe route followed by many. Outdoor low voltage deck lighting has been around a long time and probably will still be around in 20 years or more. It is generally reliable unless you have a power cut. It has also evolved to incorporate new LED technology so it doesn’t get left behind.

So what do low voltage lighting users like about this deck lighting method? Well, there is reliability. There is still a lack of trust in solar power. Will it run out of charge, for instance, at a vital moment? No lighting on steps or your security lights could be a bit of a problem. 

Now to my mind, if you have the panels set up in the right spaces and you are aware of solar deck lighting limitations, then there should be no problems. 

However, there is something in the makeup of humans that we like to be 200% sure about things we don’t understand, fear, or don’t trust. It’s a bit like the problem the electric car had in the public eyes years ago. My solution is to have the old 12v deck lighting in critical areas such as steps and outdoor grill areas and then cheap outdoor deck lighting in other spaces.

Advantages of Outdoor Low Voltage Deck Lighting

Control

Low voltage outdoor deck lighting is very controllable. You can hook it up to the transformer and then set it on a timer or even dim it as necessary to change the mood.

Safety

Low voltage outdoor deck lighting does lose out on its charge and fade away. It will have problems only if you blow a fuse or get a power outage. From my experience, I can only remember about once or twice when I have experienced a full-blown outage or power cut. So your decking area is going to be well-lit and safe for your kids and visitors alike.

Reliability

This is old-school technology fitted and updated with modern twists. It is proven to work reliably in a lot of different conditions and circumstances. Flick a switch and it works, simple as that.

With the advent of LED outdoor deck lighting fittings, any issues with normal bulbs have disappeared as well.

Disadvantages of Outdoor Low Voltage Lighting

Inflexibility

Low voltage outdoor lighting for decks has to be well planned. Once it is in and the deck area finished, it is hard and problematic to expand. Yes, there are some peripheral items that can be added, but it all involves a lot of cutting and routing. Plus, you have to wire the new ones in and connect them up. If you are a great DIY person, then you will be rolling around in hog heaven. Otherwise, it is the cost of a contractor.

Installation Costs

Even if you are going to do it yourself, you will still have to invest in the low voltage transformers, wiring, fittings, possibly tools, crimps, and so on. If not, then you will have to assess some contractors for the job and hope they are valued for money. If you are no electrician, then calculating voltage drops and safe wiring is beyond you.

Add to that the hassle of actually getting it certified as a safe installation. You might need those certs. For building inspectors, or more importantly, your house insurance company.

Running Costs

Ok, so low voltage lighting does not suck up electricity like an oven or an air con unit. But over a year, it does add up. Now you have to balance that up against how much power costs in your area, of course. Another point is that it is not very green. Not everyone’s scene I know, but it is important to some, and you should be looking at ways you can avoid being destructive environmentally.

Is Low Voltage Deck Lighting Worth It

Well, I would say yes and no. Now before I get my fanny full of splinters from this fence I’m sitting on, let me explain. I still think they are a valid, and in some areas, necessary part of your whole deck lighting design plans.

But, it’s better to mix them with other outdoor deck lighting to balance off their downsides. Pre-plan them in critical areas or for your core deck lighting needs.

Save some money in the long term by using solar outdoor deck lighting in less critical areas if you expand the system you have on your deck.

So no, low voltage deck lighting fixtures are not dead by any stretch of the imagination. They have adapted well and offer a necessary addition to your outdoor deck lighting design and requirements.

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