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12v Garden Lighting

Updated on January 25, 2012

12 Volt DC Lighting for the Garden

Why would you need to run your garden lighting at a low voltage 12v 'DC'

Well, there are TWO main reasons I will discuss here as follows:

Number One point is Safety.

Running any outside lights using a reliable and safe 12v dc power supply reduces the risk of injury from high voltages substantially. In the event, damage to cables could mean the escape of dangerously high AC voltages into damp soil (which could of course electrocute not only the owner but anyone or anything else unfortunate enough to venture there). Of course a properly installed outdoor AC power circuit should be protected by a residual current device to chop power off if or when problems occur.

The second point here is efficiency.

12v Low voltage garden lighting is always a tad more efficient than AC equivalents. BUT, the game is improved hugely when one decides to treat their outdoor lighting circuit to a simple solar PV / regulator and Battery power source. This can normally be set to work as a dusk till dawn scenario but often one will rather bypass this sort of circuitry and simply turn the lighting on and off as desired using a suitably mounted lighting switch.

a 3w GX53 LED Unit from
a 3w GX53 LED Unit from

How To Fit A 12V Lamp in your Garden Shed

It's amazing what a simple 3 Watt or even a 1 Watt LED can do for your Garden Shed

The following is a short article which describes how one can install a simple 12V DC lighting circuit in a garden outbuilding, stable or shed.

For this project you will need:

Your chosen lamp fitting (from a lighting or DIY, electrical store) or convert an existing lamp and a 12V OnSolar CFL, CCFL or LED Light bulb.

Quality 2 core cables as required to wire inside your outbuilding.

A 12v battery*

A switch**

A suitable Fuse unit*** (a single blade fuse recommended for each circuit you install)

Small pack of wood screws

15 amp connector block (cut off and use what you need as applicable)

An IP65 connector box and two glands. To connect your supply and bring the power into your outbuilding.

Exterior grade cable to run from your power source to your outbuilding (if applicable).

* Your circuit can be powered by a DC low voltage transformer or 'wall wart'. Check that it is powerful enough to deliver the power you require (A 12V DC 1 amp unit can cover up to 12 watts).

** You may wish to control your lighting circuit remotely from within the home for example. You could simply plug in or turn on the circuit when needed. Alternatively, you may wish to have a remote (home based light switch or maybe install a regular light pull style switch or even a door operated switch. Remember that a Transformer or 'Wall Wart' type AC power unit may continue to consume power if left pluged in even if your lamp is 'off'.

Remember, a fuse is there to keep things safe for you so be sure to select the correct fuse rating for your circuit. Normally a single 3 amp automotive style blade fuse will be fine to cover a simple 12V lighting circuit with perhaps 10 or 15 watts combined load.

Tip: 1 amp at 12V DC is equal to 12 watts.

Door Operated Shed Light Switch
Door Operated Shed Light Switch

Why Not Fit A Door Operated Light Switch!

Open the shed door and BOOM!, you have light!!

The example here shows a small micro switch attached to the inside edge of a shed door frame. This could also be used and incorporated with your solar controllers' Dusk till dawn facility to stop the light from operating needlessly during the daytime (assuming your shed has windows and receives good light).

A 1W LED Can Provide A Great Light Source!
A 1W LED Can Provide A Great Light Source!

Modern 12V Lighting can provide Impressive Light Levels

New Breed 12V lamps from use very low energy

The illustration here shows a cute little 1W BA15D 1 Watt LED fitted into a simple socket (BA15D of course). The image clearly shows the level of light provided by this tiny little lamp. Virtually a dozen could be fitted before the circuit would consume even 1 full amp!

It May be Small But The OnSolar 3W 12V LED GX53 Is POWERFUL!

a 3w GX53 LED Unit from
a 3w GX53 LED Unit from
12v Garden lightin
12v Garden lightin

12v Garden Light fitings?

A three fitting lamp using just 3w fluorescent bulbs

Effective lighting provided over a wide area, ideal for evening / nigh time security equivalent to at least 60 or 70 watts of regular AC incandescent lighting by converting with (as in this case) three equivalent base fitting 12V DC OnSolar light bulbs.

The garden lighting unit as in the image here is actually an AC unit which has been refitted with 12V 3W compact fluorescent bulbs and connected into a solar PV powered.

What is the difference between a 240V / 120V AC garden lighting unit and a 12V one then? There is no difference apart from the fact that the bulbs used will either be 12V DC for use with a solar PV system or 12V DC double insulated transformer. A confident DIY'er can fit or convert an outdoor rated lighting unit to 12V provided the lamp holder / fittings are either B22 / Bayonet or E27 / Edison Screw.

See the same light in action below.

Is The Lamp More For Decoration Than for Powerful Lighting?

Maybe swap out the Large bayonet or E27 fitting for a smaller BA15D socket

Fitting Smaller 1 Watt Lamps Saves Power and can Look Brilliant

Even a small 1 Watt lamp can provide reasonable illumination when using some of the more modern LED Lamps

With a little DIY skills it is possible to fit and or replace the original sockets with small BA15D sockets to enable the use of some of the super frugal 1W high brightness LED lamps now available. Whilst you are doing this work it will be worthwhile checking or replacing the cabling and giving the lamp a fresh coat of special one coat metal paint.

See what fabulous garden lamps are available right now - Convert to 12V by fitting an Onsolar long life low energy 12v DC lamp

Large, high quality often cast iron lighting units can be obtained, installed and kitted with 12V DC low energy OnSolar bulbs to provide spectacular lighting as good as anything available. Best of all, you can install yourself and even run for FREE using Solar PV or even Wind energy! Tempted?

Garden lighting at night
Garden lighting at night

Powerful illumination form a total of just 9 watts at 12V DC

A triple lamp unit using just three small golf ball size low energy lamps of just 3 watts!

Illumination a-plenty to protect and secure a large area including garage, outbuildings and vehicles during night fall.

The unit consumes less than 1 amp with all three lamps illuminated at 12.5 to 13.5V DC average. At time of print, this particular lamp unit had been in use for over 7,000 hours and going strong although the actual lamp post could do with a re-paint. During the Summer the lamp consumes around 63 watt hours a night or 126 watt hours during a typical (long) Winter night which can be suplied via a modest solar PV panel install.

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