Low Voltage vs. High Voltage: Navigating Uses and Differences in Commercial Industry

Aug 18, 2023

The commercial industry in Perth operates within a dynamic landscape where cutting-edge technologies and safety standards play a pivotal role. One of the fundamental considerations electricians grapple with is choosing between low and high voltage systems. These choices have profound implications for safety, efficiency, and functionality in the various projects undertaken by experienced commercial electricians like WACOMM. 

Understanding the Basics: Low Voltage and High Voltage 

Voltage measures the electrical potential difference between two points in an electrical circuit. Low voltage systems are characterised by a voltage rating generally up to 1000 volts, while high voltage systems typically exceed this threshold, reaching up to tens of thousands of volts or even more. The experienced commercial electricians at WACOMM must comprehend the nuances of these two voltage categories to ensure optimal system design, installation, and maintenance. 

Safety is paramount in the commercial industry. Low voltage systems are inherently safer for human interaction due to the reduced risk of electrical shock. This makes them ideal for applications where occupants are in close proximity to the electrical equipment. On the other hand, high voltage systems necessitate robust safety measures, as the potential for electrical hazards and injuries is significantly amplified. WACOMM electricians dealing with high-voltage systems must undergo specialised training and adhere to stringent safety protocols to prevent accidents. 

Now let’s break down the uses and differences between these two voltage systems in greater detail.  


In the commercial industry, as well as anywhere else, both low voltage and high voltage electrical systems serve various purposes and have distinct advantages based on their applications. Here’s a breakdown of how each voltage level is used in the commercial sector: 

Low Voltage: 

  • Lighting: Most lighting fixtures, including LED lights and fluorescent lamps, operate on low voltage systems. These systems are used extensively in offices, retail stores, restaurants, and other commercial spaces. 
  • Power Outlets: Low voltage systems are suitable for powering devices like computers, printers, cash registers, and other small appliances commonly found in commercial establishments. 
  • Data and Communication: Many data and communication devices, such as routers, switches, and phone systems, run on low-voltage power. 
  • HVAC Control: Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems often rely on low voltage controls for adjusting temperature and air circulation in commercial buildings. 

High Voltage: 

  • Power Distribution: High voltage systems are used for transmitting and distributing large amounts of electrical power from power plants to substations and then to commercial buildings. This is crucial to ensure efficient energy delivery across a city. 
  • Industrial Equipment: Many industrial machines and equipment require high voltage power due to their energy-intensive nature. Industries such as manufacturing, mining, and heavy machinery rely on high voltage to operate efficiently. 
  • Large-scale HVAC: High voltage is needed for powering large HVAC systems that regulate temperature and air quality in sizable commercial spaces like shopping malls, theatres, and convention centres. 
  • Elevators and Escalators: These systems often require higher voltage levels to operate smoothly and efficiently, especially in tall commercial buildings. 
  • Data Centers: Data centres, which are essential for modern business operations, use high-voltage systems to power servers and cooling equipment 
  • Electric Vehicle Charging Stations: As electric vehicles become more popular, high-voltage charging stations are needed to quickly charge EVs. 


The synergy between high voltage and low voltage systems contributes to the efficient functioning and development of commercial activities. Here we delve a little deeper into their differences: 

  1. Voltage Levels:
  • Low Voltage: Typically defined as systems operating at 1000 volts (1 kV) or below. This level is used for most day-to-day electrical needs in commercial spaces. 
  • High Voltage: Refers to systems operating above 1000 volts (1 kV). These systems are responsible for transmitting electricity over longer distances and powering heavy machinery. 
  1. Applications:
  • Low Voltage: Used for lighting, small appliances, power outlets, and electronics in commercial spaces like offices, shops, cafes, and small businesses. 
  • High Voltage: Primarily used for power distribution, heavy industrial equipment, data centres, and large-scale facilities such as shopping malls, manufacturing plants, and high-rise buildings. 
  1. Energy Transmission:
  • Low Voltage: Designed for short-distance energy transmission within a building or a localised area, serving immediate energy needs. 
  • High Voltage: Designed for efficient long-distance energy transmission from power generation stations to substations and then to various areas of a city, ensuring a consistent power supply. 
  1. Safety Considerations:
  • Low Voltage: Generally considered safer for humans due to reduced risk of electric shock. Wiring and components can be more accessible without posing a significant danger. 
  • High Voltage: Poses a higher risk of electric shock and requires more careful insulation and protective measures. Specialised training is needed for working with high-voltage systems. 
  1. Equipment Requirements:
  • Low Voltage: Devices that operate on low voltage systems are generally less complex and less expensive. Standard electrical components are used. 
  • High Voltage: Equipment and components for high voltage systems need to be designed to handle higher stress and insulation requirements, making them more specialised and often costlier. 
  1. Energy Efficiency:
  • Low Voltage: While suitable for many applications, transmitting power over longer distances at low voltage can lead to energy losses due to higher resistance. 
  • High Voltage: Power is transmitted at high voltage to minimise energy losses over long distances, making it more efficient for electricity distribution across an expansive cityscape. 
  1. Urban Planning and Infrastructure:
  • Low Voltage: Used to cater to the day-to-day energy needs of individual buildings and establishments, fitting into the urban fabric of a city. 
  • High Voltage: The backbone of power infrastructure, high-voltage systems ensure that electricity generated from power plants reaches every corner of the city, contributing to its growth and development. 

It’s important to note that the choice between low voltage and high voltage systems depends on factors such as energy efficiency, safety considerations, equipment requirements, and the specific needs of the commercial facility. Additionally, compliance with local electrical codes and regulations in Perth is crucial when designing, installing, and maintaining both low and high voltage systems to ensure the safety and reliability of electrical infrastructure. 

Low Voltage Systems: Safety and Versatility 

Low voltage systems, characterised by their voltage rating of typically below 1000 volts, have become the go-to choice for a multitude of commercial applications. Notably, these systems excel in their safety profile, making them particularly well-suited for environments where human interaction is prevalent. Commercial buildings such as offices, shopping centres, and educational institutions benefit from the enhanced safety that low-voltage systems provide. 

Lighting solutions are a prime example of low-voltage applications. LED lighting, which has gained immense popularity due to its energy efficiency and longevity, operates on low voltage systems. This aligns with Perth’s push for sustainability and reduced energy consumption. Moreover, low voltage systems seamlessly integrate with modern smart building technologies, enabling efficient control over lighting, heating, cooling, and security systems. 

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, integral to providing comfort in Perth’s varying climate conditions, rely on low voltage controls for precise regulation. This allows for optimal energy usage, maintaining a balance between occupant comfort and operational efficiency. Similarly, data networks and small appliances in commercial settings leverage low voltage systems, fostering seamless connectivity and efficient equipment operation. 

High Voltage Systems: Powering Industry and Infrastructure 

On the other end of the voltage spectrum, high voltage systems play a foundational role in industries that demand extensive power transmission capabilities. Given Australia’s expansive geography and the need to transport electricity across vast distances, high voltage systems are integral to power generation plants and substations. These systems ensure that electricity generated in remote regions reaches urban centres and industrial hubs without significant losses. 

Heavy industries, a cornerstone of Australia’s economy, rely heavily on high voltage systems to power machinery and equipment with elevated power demands. Large motors, essential in mining and manufacturing operations, benefit from the high power levels delivered by these systems. Industrial ovens and arc furnaces, vital in metal processing and manufacturing, also operate effectively on high voltage platforms. 

Market Trends and Considerations 

In the bustling commercial landscape of Perth, the demand for energy-efficient solutions has prompted an increased focus on low voltage systems. The push for sustainability and reduced energy consumption aligns well with the advantages offered by low voltage systems. Businesses and organisations across various sectors are actively seeking commercial electricians like WACOMM who can design and implement energy-efficient lighting, smart building controls, and advanced data networks, all of which are facilitated by low voltage systems. 

However, in the realm of infrastructure development and heavy industries, high voltage systems remain indispensable. The commercial industry thrives on the careful consideration of low voltage and high voltage systems. While low voltage systems excel in safety, energy efficiency, and adaptability to modern technologies, high voltage systems power the backbone of industries that require massive power transmission. 

The Role of Electricians 

As the commercial industry continues to evolve and embrace innovative technologies, electricians must remain adept at navigating the complexities of voltage selection, ensuring that safety and efficiency remain at the forefront of their endeavours. The choice between low voltage and high voltage will continue to shape the landscape of commercial electrical projects in the region. 

As businesses, institutions, and industries seek the optimal balance between safety, efficiency, and power transmission, electricians stand as the linchpin in orchestrating this intricate dance. The astute selection and management of voltage systems remain at the heart of Perth’s industry’s success. So whether you need to illuminate a bustling office complex with energy-efficient lighting or energise a factory operation, contact WACOMM today! 

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Since 1997, WACOMM has been providing Commercial and Industrial Electrical services in Perth, Western Australia. Experienced and efficient, David and the team at WACOMM have the skilled knowledge to complete medium and large scale projects to the highest possible standard in Perth.

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