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Thread: Are 12v lights safer than 120v?

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    Are 12v lights safer than 120v?

    I am trying to decide between a Pentair Intellibrites 12v pool light with transformer vs. the 120v pool light. Code for my area requires 12v only for commercial pools. Are 12v lights safer?
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    stev32k's Avatar
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    Re: Are 12v lights safer than 120v?

    Quote Originally Posted by samantha
    I am trying to decide between a Pentair Intellibrites 12v pool light with transformer vs. the 120v pool light. Code for my area requires 12v only for commercial pools. Are 12v lights safer?
    Yes, 12 VDC will be much safer.
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    Re: Are 12v lights safer than 120v?

    I think that 120 volts pool lights are every bit as safe as 12 volt pool lights. This assumes that both kind of lights are installed properly and to National Electrical Code standards. With an improper installation, even 12 volt pool lights could be fatal.
    24,000 gallon inground freeform pool/spa circa 1983 (113 ft perimeter, 625 sq ft) with 350 gallon attached spill-over spa
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    stev32k's Avatar
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    Re: Are 12v lights safer than 120v?

    Exposure to 120 VAC can kill a person. Exposure to 12VDC will barely give a tingle.
    20' x 40' IG with vinyl liner volume approx. 35,000 gal.1.5 H.P. main pump, Polaris 280 cleaner W/ 3/4 H.P. booster pump
    Hayward sand filter, 3.14 sq ft, 62 gpm. Stenner 45 MPH10 chlorine feed pump. 1 micron final filter bags (home made and very effective)

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Are 12v lights safer than 120v?

    Quote Originally Posted by stev32k
    Exposure to 120 VAC can kill a person. Exposure to 12VDC will barely give a tingle.
    But there is 120VAC in the transformer that connects to the lamp. Properly installed, I don't think it makes a bit of difference in safety.
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    Re: Are 12v lights safer than 120v?

    They're both perfectly safe when installed properly.

    The only difference between low and high voltage is how fast it kills you. Technically it's the current that'll do you in, but you can't have one without the other. Besides who would pay attention to a sign that said, "HIGH CURRENT!"

    Both 12v and 120v are considered low voltage. It's all relative. --I'm going edit this a bit-- In my field both of these are considered low voltage. In the housing industry, I do believe only the 12volts is low voltage. Like I said, it's all relative. ---Done with my editing---

    As an example, at work, I sometimes have to replace these tiny inverters that are used to light up these small fluorescent bulbs used to illuminate a panel. The output of these inverters is on the order of 10,000 volts, but the current is so low it doesn't do anything but 'gitchya' if ya bump into it, which I quite frequently do. I'll also tape a wire coming from it to my lab's doorknob. Teaches people real quick that I really don't want to be disturbed.

    I also use two GPU's for testing the electronic controls of such, on a daily basis. The first one outputs 28.5 volts DC. There's no 'gitchya' on this thing, no "barely a tingle". Touch it, you're dead. It's output can go to over 2000 amps before the overload circuit shuts it down.

    The other test stand is a 90 KVA unit which ouputs 115 volts AC at 400 hz. I usually get a blank look when I tell people it's 400 hz, so I tell 'em it's so it will kill you 7 times faster than a wall outlet. Anyway... This thing can put out over 200 amps. Again, touch it you're dead.

    Well... Maybe the touch it you're dead scenerio is a little harsh. More like "touch it you're dead, or if you're lucky, you'll wish you were dead." I also don't frequently bump into the output of these units, and don't hook those up to doorknobs. I also have a cool red smash button that'll shut down the machinery I use when people walk too close to me while I'm running them. Then I get to yell at em!

    While doing a klystron adjustment on a radar, back in the day, my friend got hit with 15000 volts at *-=classified=-* amps. I hit him in the head with the 10 pound tech manual I had in my hand to get him off, as his hand muscles clamped down tight and he couldn't move. It was quicker than running around to the otherside and killing the power... He lived, only because the current went in his right hand, and out the bottom of his right foot, missing his heart. He had a 2 inch crater in the bottom of his foot. (and a welt on his head) After much paperwork, and much investigation, it was found there was a microscopic crack in the insulation of the wiring causing a world-wide recall... ya think?

    Wow, I am so far off topic now.

    Ummm... ya, 12v light, 120v light, they're both safe when installed properly.
    Rob B
    My $100 pool finally died after 6 years.
    Totally got our monies worth!
    Butterfly made me do it...

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    Re: Are 12v lights safer than 120v?

    You don't specifically say if it's 12v AC or DC, and I don't know the specs on that light. But typically a light running on DC will last longer than one on AC, as you don't have the constant voltage fluctuation wearing and tearing on the filiment. Remember "typically"... This isn't a hard fast rule.
    Rob B
    My $100 pool finally died after 6 years.
    Totally got our monies worth!
    Butterfly made me do it...

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    Re: Are 12v lights safer than 120v?

    Thanks for the responses. I still wonder why the lights come in both 12v and 120v. Why make both? I am assuming code requires 12v on commercial pools because they are safer. Why else would code care? And if they are both equal in safety, are there any other reasons to choose one over the other?
    27 ft round 52" wall
    Cartridge filter
    Above Ground
    2 hp Hayward pump
    Using 2 2x20 solar panels

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    Re: Are 12v lights safer than 120v?

    Remember that the 'code' is the minimum quality that is accepted. When we were getting some work done on our house, we had several contractors come out for quotes. Two of them kept spouting off, over and over I may add, how they build to code, like it was their main selling point.

    Those two were immediately dismissed. I don't want something done to code, I want it done above and beyond the code.

    A twelve volt light will typically, but again not always, save you on your electric bill, but it needs a transformer, and if DC, a rectifier somewhere. The 115vac light doesn't need a transformer.
    Rob B
    My $100 pool finally died after 6 years.
    Totally got our monies worth!
    Butterfly made me do it...

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Are 12v lights safer than 120v?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kias
    A twelve volt light will typically, but again not always, save you on your electric bill, but it needs a transformer, and if DC, a rectifier somewhere. The 115vac light doesn't need a transformer.
    The only reason a 12V light might use less electricity is because it uses a lower output bulb. Equal light would consume equal power, and the 12V would use more than the 120V with the losses in the transformer and in the wiring due to the higher current.

    As to bulb life, DC is usually very slightly shorter due to filament migration being unidirectional, however it is not practically different.
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    Re: Are 12v lights safer than 120v?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnT
    The only reason a 12V light might use less electricity is because it uses a lower output bulb. Equal light would consume equal power, and the 12V would use more than the 120V with the losses in the transformer and in the wiring due to the higher current.
    Sorry, that was the assumption used (in my little world) that the 12v light was a lower ouput bulb, cause in my little world that is usually always the case.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnT
    As to bulb life, DC is usually very slightly shorter due to filament migration being unidirectional, however it is not practically different.
    ...and I stand corrected! Thanks John for making me look this up. It appears that the $250,000 that you spent on me to get trained was wrong on this subject. Or maybe I was half asleep in class, or if it was Tuesday, only half awake. I could've sworn the prof said DC lights last longer. Then again he may have been talking about some type of light other than your tungsten standard. Who knows... It was 20 some years ago!

    I did find through the research that you made me do, that tungten ions are positively charged and of course are attracted toward the negative side of the filament, thus shortening the life of the filament when ran on DC, and I do believe this is what you meant by 'filament migration being unidrectional' makes sense now. I guess in my world of where nanoseconds rule, that could be a considerable difference. But in the real world, it's pretty much a moot point. Because you just change the light bulb!
    Rob B
    My $100 pool finally died after 6 years.
    Totally got our monies worth!
    Butterfly made me do it...

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