electrician, home electrical services
Written by Walt Meyer

Comparing Low and High Voltage for Your Home

As a homeowner you may have spotted voltage warnings on wires, fixtures, and electrical panels. The following will compare low and high voltage. Always call a licensed electrician for your family’s safety and to obtain the best results. 

Differences

Voltage is among several measurements for rating devices and power lines. High voltage is classified as having the potential to cause injury or harm. The ratings of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) consider high voltage to be more than 1,500 volts for DC (direct current) circuits and 1,000 volts for AC (alternating current) circuits. In contrast, the IEC rates circuits 120 to 1500 VDC (volts DC power) and 50 to 1,000 VAC (volts AC power) as low voltage.

Home Voltage

As rated by the IEC, home electrical wiring is low voltage. However, housing voltage, which is from 100 to 250 VAC, is considered high voltage for home owners. Consequently, 5 to 24 volt devices are considered low voltage in homes. Due to the large number of USB-powered devices, the 5-volt USB outlet is now common.

Examples

The typical home has wiring in the 100 to 240 VAC standard. An electrical socket is not converting electricity, but supplying 120 volts to a 40 watt halogen bulb that uses only 12 volts.  A home’s electrical wiring will almost be entirely line or high voltage because it is simpler for devices to transform the source voltage than having every device conform to a home’s electrical standard.

Although it is standard having high-voltage circuits, there are instances when low-voltage circuits and devices are better. For example, outdoor electrical fixtures for a home’s landscaping or yard are preferably low voltage to help ensure safety in wet weather. However, a high voltage system may be needed for large areas to supply enough electricity.

Low voltage wiring is adequate for energy-efficient lighting and smart systems. LED lights not made for standard sockets can instead function from low voltage DC lines. Similarly, a smart home using several digital devices would need the installation of low voltage circuits to supply their electrical needs.

Electrical Services You Can Trust

Founded in 1991, Meyer Electrical Services provides home and commercial electrical services in Maryland, Virginia, and D.C., where we are licensed and insured. Based in Bethesda, our team proudly serves all of Montgomery County. Receive a free consultation for custom electrical work today by calling (301) 941-1400.

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