Electrician Chicago IL | 24 Hour Licensed Residential MCC Electric

Low Voltage vs Line Voltage—Why Does the Difference Matter?


The difference between the low and line voltage for the newbies in the electrical field might not be clear. So, to help you understand the two terms and their implementation in electrical settings, here’s the article.

What is voltage, and why is it important?

When it comes to electrical systems, voltage is a known term, and it is also a vital factor that is directly related to the functionality of the application. There are two common voltage categories: line voltage and low voltage. It is important to understand the difference between the two, as it influences the operation of the electrical system. So, before we begin, why does the difference matter? Let’s learn about the two categories.

Low Voltage:

We all know about voltage and how it impacts the functionality of an appliance. The low voltage refers to the electrical system, where the voltage level is lower than the standard. Low voltage systems are cost-effective, and they operate at 50V or less. Below are some common examples of low-voltage systems.

  1. Low voltage lighting: The lighting systems most commonly used in landscaping and outdoor lights are low voltage. They are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and safe to install.
  2. Doorbells: The doorbell transforms into a 120V to a low voltage of about 24V to power the doorbell.
  3. Security Systems: Cameras, control panels, sensors, etc, also operate on low voltage to emulsify the risk of electric shock.

Line Voltage:

Line voltage is the standard voltage level found in most residential and commercial electrical systems. Usually, the voltage level is 120V for residential buildings and 240V for commercial and industrial facilities. Line voltage powers most of the appliances, lighting, and outlets in your home or office.

Difference between Line Voltage and Low Voltage:

Below are the main differences between the two voltage types:


Line voltage is the regular voltage that flows through your home’s electrical cords without any transformation. The voltage for US households is 120V, while for commercial locations, the line voltage is 240 volts. The line voltage can run all the appliances, lamps, and bulbs normally. It can sometimes be referred to as high voltage.

The other voltage type is low voltage. In this type, a transformer is attached, bringing down the original voltage of 120 to 12. Typically 12, 24, or 48 volts are the different voltage levels for this category. Recessed lights are an example of low-voltage lighting. Also, security systems, bells, and HVAC utilize this voltage form.


The line voltage fixtures are the typical fixture types without a transformer, so the cost of such appliances is not high. On the other hand, the low voltage uses the additional transformer, increasing the initial cost of the fixtures.

Also Read: Electricians in Jefferson Park

Size and style

In the line voltage, the fixtures are usually large with a regular enclosure for the normal-size bulbs. Besides, they also need to handle higher currents; thus, they are designed with larger in-built equipment.

However, in low voltage, the fixtures are usually compact, containing smaller light bulbs. Besides, various lighting fixture types are available that make it easier for users to create a narrow lighting beam or a wide flood light.


The lifespan of the low-voltage fixtures is expected to be higher overall. However, there are transformers involved, which might get damaged or destroyed occasionally, creating problems. But overall, the light fixtures working on the line voltage might face technical issues much earlier than the low voltage fixtures.


Low Voltage Systems are considered safer than line voltage systems because they do not carry enough energy to cause electric shock or electrocution in humans. So, if you’re opting for a riskier place for installing electrical equipment, you can consider low-voltage systems; otherwise, the line voltage systems can work perfectly.

Energy Consumption:

The energy consumption in a line voltage is much higher than in a low voltage system. Thus, the low voltage systems are fuel efficient and eco-friendly.

Also Read: How to store the extended electrical cords

Advantages of Line Voltage

With the line voltage running through your electrical systems, you can expect the following advantages:

  • High Power: A line voltage can run high-power appliances and equipment
  • Minimum voltage drops: As the supplied power is at high voltage, the electricity can travel for longer distances without any voltage drops.
  • Widespread Usage: The usage of line voltage is widespread because of its compatibility with most of the appliances and electrical systems running in the country.

Advantages of Low Voltage:

Below are the main advantages of low voltage system:

  • Safe human interaction: Low voltages are considered safe for human interaction because of the reduced risk of shocks involved.
  • Energy Efficient: these systems consume less power, making them more energy efficient and environment friendly.
  • Compatible with Smart Home Technology: As these systems require less power, they can be integrated with the Smart Home technology automation.

Also Read: How to read electrical meter

Why does the difference matter?

Low and line voltage can impact your electricity cost and the initial spending on the light fixtures. They require different wiring, safety considerations, and equipment. Low-voltage systems require less insulation, smaller wires, and smaller components. Line voltage systems, on the other hand, require more robust wiring and insulation to handle the higher levels of energy involved.

So, it would help if you took the decision after analyzing these and the other differences that both voltage-oriented fixtures come with. Contact professional electricians for more details.