I spend a lot of my time answering clients' questions about the vast array of downlights out there so I thought would add some clarity by answering the most common questions I'm asked. .
Why should I used LED downlights?
LED downlights are a low energy alternative to halogen which provide energy savings of around 90%. For more details about the benefits of LED lights, (ie the fact that they last much longer and are eco-friendly) please see here
There are two types of LED downlights:
With GU10 downlights, the LED and downlight housing are made up of two separate items. They are usually sold in kits but can be supplied separately and the LED can be replaced
Advantages of GU10s:
The LED can be replaced in the event of a failure or taken with you if you move house
The LED can be easily changed for a different colour temperature, wattage or beam angle
Mains voltage, no LED driver required
They are less expensive
Integrated LED downlights
Integrated LED downlights have the LED built into the fitting. The LED driver is supplied with, and often attached to the downlight and the LED cannot be replaced
Advantages of intergrated LED downlights
Brighter (produces more lumen) than GU10 LEDs
Longer lasting, up to 75,000 hours - designed to last for over 30 years
More energy efficient, less wattage goes in, more lumens come out
Complies with Part L of the Building Regulations (for more information, see here)
Built in heat sink that dissipates excess heat and allows the LED to operate under cooler optimum temperatures
Sole purpose and design is to be an LED downlight (GU10 downlights were originally designed for halogens)
Should I choose fire rated or non fire rated downlights?
Fire-rateded downlights are used to restore the fire integrity of a ceiling. When a recessed downlight is installed, a hole is cut into the ceiling. This hole reduces the ceiling’s natural ability to act as a barrier.
In the event of a fire, the intumescent material in the downlight melts or swells up and seals off the hole. This prevents the fire from spreading through the hole and onto adjoining floors, but more importantly protects the building’s structure.
If the downlights are being installed in houses containing wooden ceiling joists then they should be fire rated. If the ceiling is made from concrete then they may not need to be fire rated. However my advice would be to install fire rated downlights in a They only cost slightly more but are safer and provide peace of mind. Fire rated downlights help prevent the spread of fire and minimise the risk of structural damage/collapse.
For more information refer to Part B of the Building Regulations or consult someone from your local Building Control.
Should I choose dimmable or non-dimmable?
This is really a question of the lighting effect you would like to create in a particular room. If you want full brightness and a ‘big light’ effect all the time then there’s no need to go for dimmable downlights. If you’d prefer to be able to create a more subtle lighting effect then dimmable will allow you to switch between ‘big light’ and ‘candle light’ brightness at the turn of a knob.
LED lamps and downlights are gradually becoming dimmable as standard but some dimmable versions are more expensive. Most of the Philips GU10 range is now dimmable as standard but this doesn’t mean you have to dim them, they will work perfectly well using a normal on/off wall switch.
Some LED downlights are dimmable as standard, some are optional and cost extra. Most LEDs will only dim with selected dimmer switches such as trailing edge or leading edge. LED dimming technology is different to halogen and incandescent as there are lower loads involved. If the wrong dimmer switch is selected flickering will occur at low levels.
Which colour temperature should I choose?
A common misconception about LED lighting is that it produces a cold light effect. This was the case in the past, however, these days LED lights come in different colour temperatures.
Colour temperature is indicated in a unit called Kelvin (K). A low colour temperature creates a warm, cosy light effect, while a high colour temperature creates a cool, more energising effect. There are three main colour temperatures to choose from; warm white, natural white and cool white Not all LED downlights are available in all three colour temperatures, so deciding on your preference from the outset is important as it can help to narrow down your search. Below is an indication of the different lighting effects you can achieve with LED downlights.
Should I choose fixed position or adjustable?
Advantages of adjustable downlights:
Adjustable downlights are good if you want to direct the light on to a particular object e.g. a picture or a feature.
Adjustable downlights can be tilted by around 25 degrees or more depending on the brand.
Adjustable downlights are ideal for use in vaulted or sloped ceilings. They off-set the angle of the ceiling and allow the light to be directed downwards.
Advantages of fixed downlights:
Fixed position fire rated downlights also provide resistance to moisture and air Adjustable downlights generally do not provide this level of protection.
If you’re not concerned about directing the light onto a particular object then opt for fixed downlights to reduce any risk of condensation on the LED.
Fixed downlights are less expensive.
If you would like some advice on downlights please get in touch here