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Modern Low Voltage Lighting

The “New” Low Voltage Lighting

When a home inspector hears the words “low voltage lighting”, we cringe a bit. We inform our clients about the problems with the transformer boxes, buzzing relays, and those troublesome switches. Most inspectors recommend that the old low voltage system is either updated or completely replaced. You can still get parts for the older systems installed in the 50’s, there are a couple manufacturers still producing components. We are glad that most home inspector standards of practice do not require us to inspect theses systems. However, low voltage lighting is making a comeback, and you might not even know it is in the house you are inspecting. Currently there are two low voltage systems being installed. One system incorporates the transformer directly in the lighting fixture which operates on 12 volts instead of 120 volts. This system uses conventional wiring methods. The other system MORE

actually use Cat 5 cables instead of 14 AWG or 12 AWG conductors. You can see the connection, fixture, and switch in the photo at the beginning of this article. It is a LED lighting system that runs almost entirely through CAT 5. High tech transformers are used. Remember, LED lights draw 1/16 the power, so it is not necessary to supply them with 15-20 amps of current. The homeowner will not only save money on wiring (just snap the connection in like a phone jack), they will also see savings on their electric bill. Another benefit from these new low voltage systems is that they can be controlled from your smart phone remotely. So if you see a digital style switch coupled with an LED light fixture in a new house, there is a good chance that it is a modern low voltage lighting system. Manufactures are starting to transition away from Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFL) and replace with LED. Many of the new builds I am inspecting are using LED bulbs and low voltage lighting.


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