The Low Voltage LED Lighting Paradigm Shift

September 15, 2018 by Mitch Warren

The trend to switch to LED lighting is rapidly gaining momentum. It’s happening everywhere: offices, homes, churches, etc.
Most people are already accustomed to buying LED bulbs that screw into existing light sockets to replace traditional bulbs. This is a workable and reasonable solution, especially in facilities where “legacy” lighting infrastructure is already in place. However…

What most people don’t realize is that there’s a better way to plan and prepare for LED lighting in new buildings and construction projects. With the recent advent of “low-voltage” LED lighting, we are now able to safely deliver attractive, high-quality LED lighting throughout a facility with significantly lower up-front infrastructure costs.

Traditionally, the high-voltage (120 Volts AC) power in a building is wired to each individual lighting fixture throughout an entire facility. This high-voltage infrastructure requires both thick (expensive) copper cabling as well as conduit to protect technicians from the dangerous high-voltage carried down the line.

LEDs are natively powered by low voltage (5-40 Volts). When LED bulbs are installed in traditional or legacy high-voltage situations, those bulbs have special circuits and components built into each bulb, which converts the high line voltage to a voltage low enough for the lighting element to process it and produce light.

That’s where new low-voltage LED systems come into play. If we know we want to utilize the benefits of LED lighting in a new facility, why not plan and prepare for it accordingly? Rather than delivering traditional high-voltage to each lighting fixture and then stepping it down at each bulb, why don’t we deliver the native low voltage those LEDs use to each fixture to begin with? If we proceed in this manner, it allows us to use thinner and less expensive copper cabling (similar to speaker cable for audio systems) throughout the facility without the need for protective and expensive conduit because there are only low voltages carried down the lines. It also means that each light fixture/bulb can be simplified to focus on its true design intent: to produce great looking, high-quality light!

The circuits and components that process high voltage down to low voltage mentioned above have two primary draw backs: (1) they produce heat as a by-product of the voltage conversion and (2) they are the primary source of failure in these bulbs, not the LED lighting element itself. If the voltage conversion components fail, the lighting element won’t produce light even though the LED itself may have been capable of producing light for years to come.

This new technology is exciting! It’s a paradigm shift from what we’ve known for so long (since the development of Edison’s bulb!) and will become the new standard for how lighting is accomplished in all buildings as we move forward into the future. If your interest is piqued and you’d like to discuss this technology further, please let us know. We have a team of experts ready and willing to meet with you.