If you’re setting up new outdoor lighting and are in the market for a transformer, you’re in the right place.
It’s not always easy to figure out which is the best low voltage transformer but there are some things you should know to help you choose the right one.
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What is a Low Voltage Transformer?
A lot of people choose low voltage lighting for their outdoor landscapes, pools, and gardens because it’s safer and generally easier to install. Not to mention, it drastically lowers your electric bill and is much more energy-efficient.
To use low voltage lighting, you need a low voltage transformer. They convert the standard electric current from your home – typically 120 volts – to a much lower voltage. Most often, this is 12 volts but there are other options available.
Some low voltage transformers are single tap which means they put out one voltage, usually 12 or 24 volts. Others are multi-tap transformers that allow you to choose from the amount of voltage, usually from 12 to 15 volts but sometimes more.
How to Choose a Low Voltage Transformer?
1. Output Voltage
The first thing you have to do when choosing a voltage transformer is to figure out how many volts you need, 12V or 24V (AC or DC). The best way to do this is to look at the lighting you’re planning to use and go with whatever voltage it requires.
2. Electronic vs Magnetic
Next, decide whether you want an electronic or magnetic transformer. There are a few things to think about when making this decision.
Electronic transformers are much smaller than magnetic ones so, if space is an issue, electronic is the way to go. It’s also a better choice if you’re looking for something that is more discreet and will be easier to hide among your landscaping.
Another plus to electronic transformers is that they’re usually connected to a light switch which makes it easy to quickly cut power if necessary. The best thing about magnetic transformers are larger and more durable and tend to last a little longer.
The next thing to consider is wattage. Each transformer has a maximum load. This is usually the same as what the product is labeled but this is not always the case. The total wattage of the lights you’re connecting to the transformer has to be under this maximum load.
Finally, consider the enclosure. This is particularly important for outdoor transformers where they will be exposed to dirt, UV light, and harsh weather. Enclosures for outdoor transformers are usually made of durable plastic or metal and most are water and weatherproof.
The Best Low Voltage Transformers For Outdoor Landscape Lighting
As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when it comes to choosing the best low voltage transformer. Here are some of the best products out there.
|Pictures||Low Voltage Transformers||Outputs||Links|
|Malibu Low Voltage Landscape Lighting Spotlight Outdoor Transformer||12V AC|
45, 120, 200, 300, 600, 900W
|DEWENWILS Outdoor Low Voltage Transformer||12V-14V AC|
|LightingWill LED Power Supply Driver Transformer||12V DC|
30, 40, 60, 100, 120, 150, 200, 300W
|Sterno Home GL33120 Low Voltage Landscape Lighting Transformer||12V AC|
50, 120, 200, 300, 600W
|Lightkiwi W9715 Multi-Tap Low Voltage Transformer||12V-13V-14V-15V AC|
|VOLT LED Low Voltage Transformer||12V-15V AC|
100, 150, 300W
|Moonrays 95432 Solar Electric Low Voltage Outdoor Use||12V AC|
|Intermatic PX100 Pool Light Safety Transformer||12V-13V-14V AC|
50, 100, 300, 600W
|John Timberland Landscape Transformer||12V AC|
|Moonrays Electric Low Voltage Lighting Transformer||12V AC|
120, 300, 600W
Low Voltage Transformer Reviewed
1. Malibu Low Voltage Landscape Lighting Spotlight Outdoor Transformer
This low voltage transformer from Malibu is ideal for low-voltage landscape lights. Their compact size doesn’t distract from your landscaping and installation is quick and easy. It converts a standard 110 volts current to a safer 12 volts.
One of the best things about this product is how many options you have for turning it off and on. You can choose dusk to dawn and have it control the lights using the built-in light sensor. Alternatively, you can set it to come on at a certain time of day or stay on for two, four, six, eight, or ten hours after dusk.
This transformer is made of durable plastic that protects it from severe weather conditions. You can safely use it outdoors. Keep in mind that it’s best not to exceed more than 75 percent of the overall power capacity.
You get a one-year warranty but rest assured that this transformer was made to last. Even the light sensor is located on a cord so you can place it out of direct sunlight to extend its lifespan.
2. DEWENWILS Outdoor Low Voltage Transformer
This DEWENWILS low-voltage transformer features a high-performance metal exterior that’s corrosion-resistant and weatherproof, built tough to last for years. (Just note that the maximum power of your landscape lighting shouldn’t exceed 80 percent of the pack’s capacity).
Installation is simple, just use the built-in mounting holes to attach it to any outside wall with an outlet. The 3.3-foot power cord gives you a bit of wiggle room, too. Other features include an automatic circuit breaker and memory function.
The automatic dusk to dawn sensor means you don’t have to worry about setting a timer or manually turning the lights off and on yourself. If you come home late at night, you know that your outdoor lights will be on when you get back, no matter what time it is.
There’s also a countdown timer mode that turns on automatically at dusk and off after a preset number of hours between one and nine. This is a great way to adjust your lighting for the seasons and the changing sunrises and sunsets.
3. LightingWill LED Power Supply Driver Transformer
Another great option if you’re looking for a low-voltage transformer is this one from LightingWill. It features an aluminum alloy housing that not only looks great but is also ideal for dissipating heat and ensuring stability to extend the life of the product.
Not only is this transformer 100 percent waterproof but it also includes a few other safety checks, including automatic protection against short circuits, overloads, over-voltage, over-current, and high temperatures.
This is a great product for landscaping but because it’s waterproof and exceptionally adorable, it’s great for lights around to pool, dock, hot tub, or pond. Installation is easy and, although the transformer is a decent size, it’s not bulky so its reasonably easy to keep out of sight.
Something great about this company is that they not only offer a one-year warranty but they are also willing to issue a replacement product if you have any quality issues. This company is well-known for its customer service.
4. Sterno Home GL33120 Low Voltage Landscape Lighting Transformer
The Sterno Home transformer is perfect for any low-voltage outdoor lighting systems and works with both LED lights and incandescent bulbs. The LCD screen is easy to use and it can be installed indoors or outdoors to suit your needs.
One of the coolest things about this product is that it uses the brand’s Sunwise technology which uses your geographic location and the sun exposure to determine the best times to turn lights off and on so they’re as energy-efficient as possible.
In addition to this Sunwise feature, you can also turn the lights off and on manually, turn on the automatic dusk-to-dawn mode, or use the timer so the lights go off and on precisely when you want them to.
Don’t worry if you’re planning to use this transformer outside. It’s made of durable plastic that’s rustproof and appropriate for use in any kind of weather plus it’s covered by a one-year warranty.
5. Lightkiwi W9715 Multi-Tap Low Voltage Transformer
Lightkiwi gets a lot of credit for their excellent customer service and it’s well worth taking a look at their multi-tap low voltage transformer. It has a 120-volt input and an output ranging from 12 to 15 volts.
This product is efficient, reliable, and operates quietly. It features a heavy-duty stainless steel case as well as dual protection in the form of an auto-reset circuit breaker and a magnetic circuit breaker.
While this product does not include a timer or photocell for automatic settings, there are ports available so that you can add them as necessary. Installation is easy and the 70-inch power cord gives you a lot of options. Plus, it’s safe for use both indoors and out.
It’s worth noting that this product uses an AC circuit which means it’s better suited for long-term outdoor use. AC doesn’t use the same chemical processes as DC which works to its advantage in this case. It makes this one more economical and reliable.
6. VOLT LED Low Voltage Transformer
If you’re looking for a transformer with a slim profile, take a look at this one from VOLT. It’s long and slim design is lightweight and easy to install. Plus, thanks to the 12 and 15-volt taps, you can use it to power both small and medium-sized LED lights without worrying about losing voltage.
This transformer takes seconds to set up – just insert a stripped wire into the terminals and close the clamp! It’s compatible with wires as thick as 10-gauge and is easy to mount and conceal. It also has a lockable hinged lid to keep it protected while still allowing for easy access.
The integrated timer and photocell allow you to choose between the dusk-to-dawn setting or set the timer to stay on for a certain number of hours. This transformer uses a modular setup so you can actually remove the timer and photocell if you want to.
The toroidal core is reliable, runs cooler and quieter, and is exceptionally reliable. In fact, it’s so reliable, this transformer comes with a lifetime warranty. This covers the core itself as well as the stainless steel enclosure and all the electrical components.
7. Moonrays 95432 Solar Electric Low Voltage Outdoor Use
This outdoor low voltage transformer from Moonrays working with a wide range of outdoor lighting. The black metal weatherproof case protects against dust, dirt, abrasion, chemicals, and the weather. Plus, you can also use it indoors if you want to.
The case is a nice size that’s easy to mount and the 18-gauge power cord is ideal for outdoor placement. Mount it to the side of the house, a wooden post, or on your deck. It comes with a satisfaction guarantee as well as a one-year warranty in case anything goes wrong.
You can choose from multiple power settings. The photosensor allows it to turn off and on automatically at dawn and dusk or you can set it to come on at dusk and stay on for anywhere from one to nine hours. There are always on and always off settings, too.
One of the great things about this product is that it’s so easy to use. There are simple buttons to adjust the settings and a nice bright display so you know exactly what you’re working with when you’re getting everything set up.
8. Intermatic PX100 Pool Light Safety Transformer
Anyone looking for a low voltage transformer for submersible pool and spa lights should take a look at this one from Intermatic. It features a grounded shield between the windings as well as built-in circuit protection that disconnects the power in the event of an overload.
The metal enclosure is available in beige or brown so you can choose which color best matches your outdoor decor. Installation brackets on the top and bottom make positioning easy, just keep in mind that it should be placed one foot above the ground and five feet away from the inside wall of a pool or spa.
There are also multiple knockouts for various-sized conduits so you have a lot of flexibility with your setup. There are ten knockouts in all between ½ and ¾ inches: two on the right side, two on the left, two on the back, and four on the bottom.
This transformer is compliant with requirements for underwater luminaires and is great for submersible light fixtures, pool, and spa lights, or any lights in an outdoor area. That’s not all, it’s also covered by a one-year warranty.
9. John Timberland Landscape Transformer
This low voltage transmitter from John Timberland features 150-watt voltage with a minimum load of 15 watts. Unlike most low voltage transformers, this one was designed to sit on a flat surface, though some people did opt to mount it on the wall. It’s a decent size but is by no means bulky or difficult to work with.
If you’re looking for something that gives you a lot of control over when your outdoor lights turn off and on, this product has multiple options. You can manually turn it on and off or choose one of the automatic settings and have it turn on at dusk and off after two, four, six, or eight hours.
Something we like about this product is its safety features. It has an automatic resetting thermal fuse, potted core and coil to keep it operating cool, and a low voltage circuit breaker. The black housing, cord, and plug are easy to hide and an ABS panel protects the photocell.
10. Moonrays Electric Low Voltage Lighting Transformer
Moonrays offers this weatherproof low voltage transformer that’s ideal for all of your outdoor lighting needs. It features a weatherproof body that protects electrical elements from rain, dust, dirt, and abrasions and is easy to tuck away somewhere that won’t interfere with the look you’re creating.
The photocell sensor senses the surrounding light and automatically turns the lights on at dusk and off again at dawn. Or, you can program it to turn the lights on at a certain time and off after four, six, or eight hours to prevent the lights from staying on all night. Manual controls are also available if you want to be in complete control.
Installation is simple. The four-foot-long power cord gives you a lot of play when it comes to where you want to position the transformer and all of the mounting hardware is included. The unit runs cool and is durable plus it’s covered with a one-year warranty.
How to Install Low Voltage Transformer?
Before you get started, it’s important to assess whether this is a job you feel comfortable doing on your own. Some people are fine tackling DIY projects but get uneasy with electrical projects. Remember, it’s okay to consult an electrician before you get started or hiring one to do the work for you.
That said, installation is pretty simple. Every model is going to be a little different so make sure you read the instructions for whichever one you chose before you get started.
First, find a ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet to use as the connection point between the outdoor lights and your home. These outlets can detect the flow of the current and will shut it down if any problems are detected.
Using one of these outlets for your low voltage transformer gives you a bit of extra protection if and when electrical issues come up. Mount the transformer close to one of these outlets. Even if it claims to be weather-proof, it’s still a good idea to cover the outlet to protect it from moisture.
Use the proper cables (as per the instruction manual) and install the light fixtures and wires. Once everything is hooked up, turn on the transformer to check if everything is working properly. If it is, go ahead and bury the wires and you’re done.
How to Check Low Voltage Transformer?
To make sure your low voltage transformer continues to work correctly, regular checks are a good idea. Here is one method to go about this.
First, switch off the power supply to the transformer itself. Then, consult the manual. Most come with a testing method and it’s always best to follow the instructions included with your product.
Depending on the model you have, the next step is to locate the test wires. There should be a red wire and a black wire. Insert the red one into the spot marked “ohms” and the black one into a recess.
Next, check the reading. You’re looking for a closed circuit that gives you a reading of zero ohms. If this is the result you get, it means everything is still working as it should and you can resume use as normal. If you get any result other than zero, the circuit is no longer closed and the transformer needs to be replaced.
Troubleshooting Low Voltage Lighting Transformer
Every so often, problems will arise and you’ll need to know how to troubleshoot your transformer to figure out what’s wrong or get things working normally again.
One problem that could happen is that the entire lighting system can stop working. If this occurs, make sure the transformer is still plugged into the power source. If it is, check the breakers and make sure nothing is turned off.
If everything appears to be normal, use a voltmeter to check to see if the circuit is receiving power. If it isn’t, it’s likely something is wrong with the transformer and it needs to be replaced.
Another thing that can come up is a blown fuse. This is common if the transformer is overloaded. In this case, replace the fuse and assess how many bulbs the transformer is powering. Remember, each has a maximum wattage, and going over that amount causes problems.
If this is the case, your choices are to use fewer bulbs to lower the wattage or get a second transformer or one with more capacity to give you the power you need to cover your whole yard.
If only one bulb is not working, it’s likely the problem is not with the transformer itself. Check the bulb to make sure it is not burned out and that it is properly connected to the socket. If the bulb seems fine, the problem may be with the wiring. Check to make sure everything is intact.
The best way to do this is by using an ohmmeter. Cut the power to the broken light and check the reading. If it is high, it means the wire is broken and needs replacing.
Dim lights are also a pretty common problem. In this case, it’s likely you’re pushing the transformer close to its power limit. Your best bet is to buy a second transformer or get one with a higher capacity.
Using a low voltage transformer is one of the best ways to make sure your garden, pool, or yard looks awesome at night while using less energy. They’re not only good for the earth but, over time, they’re also good for your budget.