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  • Barry Lenson

What Kind of Outdoor Lighting Is Best for Your Pergola?

Outdoor lights create atmosphere, extend the hours when you can enjoy your pergola, enhance safety, and offer other advantages.

But what different kinds of outdoor lights are there? And which are best for your needs?

Let’s take a closer look at your options.

Low Voltage (12 Volt) Lights

There are many reasons to opt for 12V lights. They are safe to install and use - 12V current will not shock or burn you. Twelve-volt systems are also easy to set up because they are powered from a single outdoor electrical outlet.

These are the most popular outdoor lights – they are readily available at Home Depot and other stores. A variety of different outdoor fixtures are available, ranging from spotlights to path lights to small fixtures that can be installed on deck posts.

Low voltage lighting operates at 12 volts. It uses a step-down converter/transformer to convert your home’s standard 120V electrical supply into 12V. These transformers generally use two different ways to turn your outdoor lights off and on:

  • Built-in timers on many transformers let you turn lights on and off at the times you prefer.

  • A light-sensitive function on some transformers automatically turns your lights on when it becomes dark outside and turns them off at dawn.


  • Safety: Low voltage systems are safer to install and handle.

  • Energy efficiency: They consume less power compared to line voltage systems.

  • Flexibility: You can easily adjust and customize the lighting layout.

  • Ease of installation: No need for a certified electrician; homeowners can set up low voltage systems themselves.

  • Options: Many different outdoor fixtures are available.

  • Fixture options: High quality metal fixtures are available at a cost.

Common Applications:

  • Path Lights: Illuminate walkways and garden paths.

  • Spotlights: Accentuate specific features like trees or sculptures.

  • Deck lights: Enhance safety on decks and stairs.

  • Well lights: Good for highlighting trees and shrubs.

  • Bullet lights: Precisely aim light at focal points.

Line Voltage (120 Volt) Lights

Line voltage systems use the standard 120V electrical supply that most households receive directly. Supply boxes for outdoor installations are available that have built-in timers that can be set to turn lights on and off at preset times. And if you prefer, you can omit a timer and simply turn your lights on and off with a standard switch located inside your home.

These systems have both advantages and disadvantages.


LED lighting along the beams of a pergola

  • Brightness: Line voltage systems provide brighter illumination.

  • Longer runs: Suitable for larger areas due to less voltage drop over distance.

  • No transformers: No need for step-down converters.

  • Fixture options: High quality metal fixtures are available at a cost.


  • Professional installation: They must be installed by a professional electrician.

  • Complication and cost: In general, they require the installation of outdoor electrical outlets, cables, and other equipment.

  • Safety concerns: Unlike 12V systems, 120V systems can shock you. And the wiring they use must be weatherproof and safely installed.

  • Heavier cables: Bigger cables are required than those that are needed for 12V systems.

Common Applications:

  • Floodlights: Illuminate large sections of yards or walls.

  • Security lighting: Motion-activated lights for safety and deterrence.

  • Commercial spaces: Often used in commercial properties.

  • High-intensity areas: Bright, secure lighting can be created in areas where it is needed.

What About Solar Lights?

Outdoor solar lights are becoming more popular because they are easy to set up. There are no cables or wires to run to the fixtures – you only need to place them in a sunny spot so they can recharge.

Those are the advantages. However, these disadvantages make them a less-than-optimal choice for use in and around pergolas:

  • Light output: Comparatively low brightness, which makes them less desirable than either 12V or 120V systems.

  • Limited options for placement: Lack of suitability for use inside pergolas because of the lack of direct sunlight in those locations.

  • Comparative flimsiness and lack of durability: If you are creating a high-quality pergola, you will probably prefer the extra elegance of high-quality 12V or 120V systems.

Privlux Can Help You Plan the Pergola of Your Dreams

Be sure to review our site for the highest-quality pergolas. While you are visiting, fill out the online form and get a free quote on designing the elegant outdoor oasis you have always wanted.

Remember that choosing the right outdoor lights depends on your specific needs, safety considerations, and the desired effect for your outdoor space. Whether you opt for low voltage or line voltage, both can create b

eautiful and functional lighting for your pergola.

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