Why do so many older garden lighting systems no longer work. Martin Bennett explains.
The simple answer is usually “water ingress”. Until recently most garden lights used halogen bulbs rated at 30 watts or more. These generate a lot of heat and if the fixture is not 100% airtight then a lot of condensation can occur which can easily trip mains voltage systems.
These days LED bulbs are far more efficient with a 3 watt bulb typically generating as much light as a 25 watt Halogen with much less heat. Even so with mains systems only a small amount of moisture in a fitting will cause the power to trip out.
The answer is to use 12v systems. Trips occur when electricity is leaked to earth. The power or pressure of 240 volt mains is 20 times that of 12v so it is obvious that the chances of a trip-out on 12v systems is negligible. Lumena Lights have tested  12v MR16 bulb holders in very wet conditions and still they did not trip out. In fact 99% of all problems are on mains systems.
Electricians appear to favour them perhaps because they consider 12v to be more of a DIY method or maybe they remember the large and expensive transformers that are required when using Halogen bulbs. For example a 200 watt transformer would be required to power six Spike lights using 30 watt halogen whereas if LED bulbs are used then a 20 watt transformer would be adequate.
Other problems occur mainly in “in ground” or decking lights where there is a lot of surface water or jet washers are used. Most of these lights are rated at IP65 which is not enough to prevent some water ingress in these conditions. Change to a 12v light and you will not be calling out the electrician.
Martin Bennett is the Founder of Lumena Lights

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