This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

February 24, 2017

Replacing halogen garden spotlights with LED

I've had spotlights here in the Tropical Paradise for many years. There are two transformers, both 100 watts, connected to two lines that go around the backyard and meet in the middle (although they don't actually connect there). The spotlights that I use aret 20 watt halogens, and yesterday I added an LED spotlight, which is the equivalent in brightness of 20 watts, and uses just a fraction of the electricity. I installed it yesterday on my northern line, and I'm happy with the effect. My plan now is to replace the old halogen units with LED ones as the bulbs burn out (which they're doing a lot of nowadays).

I'm no expert on how electricity works, but I noticed that the halogen spotlights get dimmer as I add more to the line. Apparently it has to do with something called "resistance", and that's why I'm using two lines, and two transformers. When I had only one line, trying to do as many 20 watt spotlights as I wanted was creating too much resistance, and the lights were very dim, especially towards the end of the line.

LED, by the way, means "Light Emitting Diode", in case anyone asks (and I doubt that they will). I learned about them for the first time a couple of years ago while hanging around with a friend of mine who likes to look at RVs. The latest RVs use LED lighting, which is wonderful, and uses much less electricity than incandescent, fluorescent, or halogen. In fact, it's kind of amazing. And a nice bonus is that they don't throw off the kind of heat that halogens do.

If you're like me, you have always purchased bulbs based on wattage. I know how bright a 75-watt light bulb is, or a 40-watt light bulb. But wattage doesn't tell you really how bright something is, it just tells you how much electricity it consumes. Nowadays the number that you're supposed to look at is "Lumens" (Light Output). But I really have no idea what lumens are.

So I walked over to Home Depot yesterday and I looked for an equivalent of my 20-watt spotlights, and sure enough, it was labelled that way. The LED equivalent uses 4.5 watts and has 205 Lumens.

I added the spotlight yesterday and last night I watched it throw its light, which is awesome. I'm definitely going to get more LED spotlights. According to the box, which I'm looking at right now, it's warrantied for five years, and since the bulb can't be replaced, after that time you gotta buy another unit. Of course, that's just the warranty, so I expect it to last much longer than that. I only use the lights for a couple of hours every night, so the LED spotlights may last for a very long time.

I didn't buy any replacement bulbs yesterday for my old halogens, so I'll just go get a couple more LED spotlights and have them handy when the next halogen bulb burns out. I've always wanted to add more spotlights to the system, and it looks like I will be able to now, with LEDs. There are even the equivalent of 50 watts, which I'd like to try in the far end of the yard, where even the 20 watt halogens seem dim.

So, how about that? New technology!
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