low voltage LED soffit lighting

Tim_KeithApril 27, 2013

I am considering adding low voltage soffit lighting. I'd like to have a single transformer that would be mounted in the garage attic with only wiring and fixtures - no serviceable components in the soffit, other than replaceable bulbs. I have read that most LEDs don't attract insects. I'd like about six fixtures in the soffit with some future expansion potential, in case I want to add some landscape lighting.

I would have a dusk to dawn controller mounted on the north side of the house. I could build the photo cell controller myself as its on-off, no dimmer needed. Mostly I am curious as to what type of LED lighting might be most suitable, something that will be popular in the future and not proprietary to one manufacturer.

Is this a reasonable requirement? I am confused as I read about newer types of lighting. The clerks in the retail stores aren't much help.

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There are 3 broad options
1. Power supply and low voltage lighting as you described.

2. Individual low voltage devices with an integrated power supply connected to 120 V AC.

3. Direct wire lighting.

Landscape lighting should be separate.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 10:08AM
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Which vendors offers the shared power supply option? I don't want to have to go into the soffit again. The only part that I might want to replace is a burned out bulb. If a transformer was defective five years from now, I'd want the design to be an industry commodity rather than proprietary to a single vendor, or an interim solution that will be obsolete.

I realize that I may have to ask this question on a lighting specific forum. I hear terms like constant current vs constant voltage and don't know the advantages of the configurations. I want the most reliable long term system, avoiding solutions that will likely be obsolete in a decade or so. The retail clerks say: Don't worry about it, these LED lights last a long time.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 3:04AM
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You can find the shared power supply solution from vendors like superbrightleds.com, environmentallights.com, ...

The power supply will either be 12V or 24V and are not going away soon.

Constant voltage - the power supply will maintain the output voltage within a margin as the current draw increases.

Constant current - the power supply will maintain the output current regardless of the output voltage drop.

The LED chips will change over time as light emission efficiency improves.

Low voltage lighting will need more planning and typically costs more than direct wire (120V AC) lighting.

Is there a reason why you're not looking at direct wired solutions?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 10:42AM
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>Is there a reason why you're not looking at direct wired solutions?

I'm not yet aware of advantages and tradeoffs of each
design. I don't like the idea of a transformer attached to each fixture or integrated into the bulb. If its easy to service and dependable that might be okay. I don't want to have to tear into the soffit to replace broken parts. I want minimal heat near the LED.

I thought that a larger transformer would better regulate against line spikes and voltage fluctuations - which I think would damage LEDs. I don't want the incandescent style sockets. I prefer LED bulbs that a Wal-Mart would sell. The fixtures should be compact.

My requirement is for a soft light illumination, very low wattage. I don't need dimming.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 2:30PM
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"I thought that a larger transformer would better regulate against line spikes and voltage fluctuations"

Maybe, but not always.

Keep in mind that low voltage often requires higher current (though LEDs are not as bad as incandescent bubs).
Wiring that runs concealed inside walls get smacked by the whole electric code unless the voltage and current are both low (power limited circuits)

Wiring on the underside of cabinets at low voltage gets a lot of breaks.
Even more if the circuit is also low power (power limited circuits, think like your doorbell or thermostat).

Even with LEDs you may not get all tat much light from theses low power circuits though.
LEDs sound great at only 10 mA each, until you need a lot of them for bright task lighting, let alone if you want a 3-color setup for varying light color.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2013 at 12:51PM
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