Tips for Installing Downlights

If you're thinking about installing downlights in your home, you've come to the right place and made the right decision. Downlights make a beautiful addition to any home, allowing you to control the mood and ambience of your living spaces.

Downlights are a modern lighting option that direct light downwards, illuminating the space beneath. You can use downlights to light up an entire room or to highlight specific areas.

Let's discuss the different kinds of downlights available and drop a few tips about how best to install them in your home.

LED vs. Halogen downlights

If you're trying to decide between LED and Halogen downlights, there's really only one answer--LEDs!

In recent years, halogen has become less and less popular and is quickly being replaced by modern LED lighting. When compared with halogen, LED lighting is much more energy-efficient. It is also a superior technology in every regard, offering increased durability and a much lower chance of causing a fire. Since halogen bulbs produce light by creating heat, they are a severe fire hazard and not the best option for spaces like kitchens where excess heat is undesirable. Because LED bulbs don't have a filament that could burn out, they stay relatively cool.

You can also cover LED downlights with insulation, making them a more versatile choice, and they'll last for years to come.

In Australia, you can convert your existing halogen downlights to energy-efficient LED lights for costs as low as $15 per light. We suggest contacted a qualified domestic electrician to learn more about replacing old halogen bulbs.

How to space your LED downlights

The next factor to consider when installing downlights is how to space them. You'll want to plan the perfect layout to meet all of your aesthetic desires and functional needs.

First, think about the room you'll be installing the new lights in. You may want brighter lighting for kitchens, while you may prefer a more ambient look for your bedroom or lounge space.

When placed strategically, LED downlights can highlight an important area within a space or illuminate wall objects, like photo frames or artwork. However, in most cases, having evenly spaced lighting throughout your home will suit your functional needs while still looking fantastic.

To calculate how far apart you should install your LED downlights, you'll need to know their beam angle and luminous flux. Beam angle refers to the angle at which the light spreads, while luminous flux measures the amount of total light emitted by a lamp. Luminous flux is measured in lumens.

How to choose your layout

Let's dive into luminous flux and beam angle and how to use these measurements to figure out your light layout.

Most downlights will have a luminous flux of 800 lumens. Any lower measurement is considered mood lighting, while lighter measurements may be too bright for everyday domestic use. Keep in mind most LED lights can be dimmed, so you can lower and raise the lumen measurement to suit your needs and tastes.

In terms of beam angle, about 100 degrees is perfect for most rooms, offering even light coverage. A lower beam angle may be too narrow, resulting in lighting "gaps" that can cause some areas of your home to be too bright and others to be too dark. Try not to install lights too close to a wall, as much of the lighting will be wasted, or strange-looking shadows could form.

When arranging your lights, start from a corner. If you're choosing standard downlights with a beam angle of 100 degrees and a luminous flux of 800 lumens, space your lights approximately one metre from the wall and 1.2 to 1.5 metres apart across the ceiling. You may need to change up the spacing slightly for unconventional room layouts.

For bedrooms, you might choose to space your lights 1.5m apart or more to create a moody, relaxing atmosphere.

Selecting your LED downlights

There are a few different options to choose from when selecting LED downlights. The choice you make will depend on your needs, budget, the style and layout of your home, and your individual preferences.

The main types of LED downlights are:

Recessed downlights are the most common type. You'll find them in hotels, office buildings, and residential homes. With recessed downlights, you only see the front of the light (parallel to the ceiling), so it can easily blend in with the design of your ceiling.

Surface downlights are often used in homes or commercial spaces where it's not possible to install recessed lighting. This could be the case if your home has a concrete ceiling. After installation, the body of the downlight will be clearly visible.

Pendant downlights are an attractive option if your main driving factor is the aesthetic appeal. These lights feature a prominent body that hangs from the ceiling. They can be modern, contemporary, or traditional in style and are often used for decorative effects.

With semi-recessed downlights, the light's main body is embedded in the ceiling, with the bezel protruding slightly. These are a great choice for homes with feature ceilings you'd like to show off.

For advice on how to install your new downlights, get in touch with a licensed electrician.

Choosing the colour temperature

The final factor to consider when choosing LED downlights is the colour temperature. Downlights come in a range of tones, from cool to warm white. Cooler lighting has a more clinical feel--ideal for office spaces or kitchens--while warmer lighting is perfect for bedrooms and living spaces.

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