For many years, incandescent and xenon fixtures have ruled the cove and accent lighting markets, but 24V LED festoon lamps are ready to step up and take charge. Diode strip fixtures are easy to integrate into an existing installation because they operate using the same amount of voltage. This is the only similarity, though. Diode fixtures are superior in nearly every other way, and while they are a little more expensive than incandescent and xenon fixtures, they make up for this cost with improved efficiency and durability.
Like other low voltage fixtures, 24V LED festoon lamps are compact and versatile. They are easy to keep out of sight and can do pretty much anything an incandescent or xenon fixture can do. The difference between a line voltage and a low voltage installation is enormous. Line voltage fixtures tap into the current supplied to the home directly, while low voltage fixtures are connected to a transformer that alters the current for use. Incandescent, xenon and diode strips all require an altered current, but the transformer they require is easy to conceal and safe to use. Other than their slightly higher initial cost, low voltage diode fixtures are the superior option for decorative illumination.
Diode strip fixtures aren’t just compact and easy to conceal, though. Their low voltage current means they are safer to install and pose less of an electrocution hazard. This is why professional installers use low voltage fixtures for outside setups. When exposed to rain or snow, they are much less likely to remain stable. Also, low voltage fixtures in general offer many more beam pattern options. Line voltage installations can usually only provide one or two options, typically a general flood or spot pattern. Low voltage fixtures, however, can create many more beam spreads, including the soft illumination that people look for in accent lighting.
What sets 24V LED festoon lamps apart from xenon and incandescent fixtures, though, is their much greater efficiency and durability. Incandescent bulbs are notoriously wasteful, producing a huge amount of radiant heat that can represent a fire hazard and cause discomfort. In fact, some areas are attempting to place bans on tungsten filament incandescent bulbs because they require too much power for the light they generate. Xenon fixtures are a bit more efficient, but neither come close to matching the sophisticated semiconductor technology found in diodes. Using a semiconductor die, a light-producing chemical reaction can be finely controlled, ensuring little power goes to waste.
This tight control also improves the lifespan of the fixtures. While most low voltage bulbs have a 2,000 to 3,000 hour lifespan, diode fixtures can last for at least 10,000 hours, and may even function for 100,000 hours before they need to be replaced. This helps offset the additional cost of diode fixtures and greatly reduces maintenance. In all, diode strip fixtures represent a smart investment that can easily replace less efficient, less reliable fixtures.