LED downlights provide excellent lighting in a range of locations
LED downlights provide excellent lighting in a range of locations, settings and situations. They are a technologically-advanced and energy-efficient alternative to halogen or fluorescent lights.
Switch your lighting to LED and you can enjoy immediate savings, which will start to pay for the installation costs right away.
What is a Downlight?
A downlight is a spotlight that is recessed into a ceiling. It will provide bright, directional light. Because you have it recessed into the ceiling, it is an unobtrusive form of lighting.
This makes downlights highly adaptable for different spaces and rooms, offering a stylish but highly practical lighting solution.
LED downlights use state-of-the art LED lighting technology to provide cutting-edge illumination that is perfect for commercial lighting applications.
Once you install LED downlights, all you see is the lens of the lightbulb, with its circular surrounding. This type of bezel fitting comes in a selection of finishes, including brushed aluminium, and ceramic black or white.
This gives you plenty of options when matching your downlights to your décor and your interior design.
With LED downlights, you get all the benefits of LED lighting in a compact, elegant, functional and efficient design.
What are the Benefits of LED Downlights?
LED lighting technology offers several major benefits:
Low radiated heat
Brightness and intensity
LED bulbs last longer because they don’t burn out the same way that other bulbs do. They can outlast other lightbulbs by many thousands of hours.
An LED bulb has a typical range of 35,000 to 50,000 hours. Compare that to a halogen bulb at 2,000 to 4,000 hours, or even a fluorescent light at 24,000 to 36,000 hours.
The filament in a conventional bulb weakens over time, causing the bulb to burn out. LEDs are different. Instead, their light decreases gradually, in a process known as lumen depreciation.
You measure the lifespan of an LED bulb by how long its illumination takes to decrease to 30%.
The high lumen output per watt of LEDs makes them extremely energy-efficient. They can transform about 70% of their energy into light. This also means they don’t produce the kind of heat that other bulbs do, making them much safer to handle.
This low radiated heat is another benefit of LED downlights, since it makes them ideal for use in sensitive areas, where heat would otherwise be an issue.
LED downlights can emit high levels of brightness. You measure this in lumens, rather than wattage. An LED can output 4,000 lumens, compared to 450 for an incandescent lightbulb.
This intense illumination is instantaneous. CFLs take a few minutes to warm up, but LEDs will run at full brightness as soon as you switch them on.
You can also have a range of colours with LED downlights, without having to use gels or filters. This is because the diode itself, or its phosphorous coating, provides the colour of the LED’s emitted light.
LEDs are directional, rather than emitting light all around. This helps reduce their energy consumption because it neither traps nor wastes light within reflectors or diffusers. Because LEDs are directional, they are ideal for task lighting, and for downlights.
Finally, LED lights are very reliable. They can operate efficiently in colder temperatures, and because they lack filaments or other fragile parts, they are suitable for outdoor use, or in areas where there will be vibrations and movement.
How Much Clearance Do You Need for LED Downlights?
Different types of lighting generate different amounts of heat. This will influence how much ceiling clearance you require for your downlights.
For example, halogen lights generate a considerable amount of heat, so these type of downlights would require more clearance space.
Commonly available low voltage or halogen downlights allow a lot of radiated heat to dissipate through the back of the lamp. This can cause significant heat build-up issues, unless the lights are fully protected.
For non-LED downlights the recommended clearance is a ceiling void of 75mm.
LED downlights are different, because they emit far less heat. However, they do emit some heat, so do require a degree of clearance.
Generally, you should leave sufficient air space from above, between 10mm and 40mm. Different manufacturers will have different recommended clearance distances. An LED downlight should be no closer than 25mm to 30mm from a joist.
It is also important that when installing LED downlights you leave sufficient space around the sides of the lights.
In terms of spacing the lights across a room, you should do this evenly, to create a balanced effect, and to avoid creating any shadows.
Where you are installing downlights for general lighting purposes, you want a uniform level of ambient illumination. This is useful where you require a space to be properly functional, and to make entrance and exit points sufficiently clear.
There are different spacing methods you can use:
The ceiling rule of thumb is where you take the ceiling height and divide by two, for example a three metre high ceiling would have downlights spaced 1.5 metres apart on centre
Alternatively, the manufacture may recommend a spacing criteria (SC) value for LED downlights, which allows for the light’s specific qualities to determine how many fixtures you require for sufficient illumination.
How Safe Are LED Downlights?
Basically, with LEDs, you get more light but less heat.
A normal bulb could start a fire by overheating, but this is highly unlikely with LEDs. They produce light at significantly lower temperatures than other bulbs because they do not use filaments.
Most bulbs emit light from a vacuum, but for LED downlights, illumination comes from a semiconductor.
Traditional lights emit so much radiant heat that they can even be used as heat sources, such as in poultry incubation.
LED lights will not affect the ambient temperature of a room.
Traditional lights can lose up between 60% and 95% of their energy to heat and therefore may pose a fire risk. LEDs emit so little heat that it is unlikely they would cause a fire.
This also means you can leave LEDs on for long periods of time. Their low power usage and heat output make them ideal for locations and applications where your require continuous lighting.
How Do You Install LED Downlights?
The easiest way of installing LED downlights is to use a professional electrician. This way, you know the lights will be safely and properly installed, with the recommended amount of clearance and spacing (see above).
There are several factors you will need to consider when installing LEDs:
The condition of your existing wiring
Access to your ceiling cavity
The size of the room, or rooms
The number of downlights you will require
Locations of these lights
What preparatory work the electrician will need to do
You can install LED downlights yourself, but the complexity of this task will depend largely on your own experience but also on the type of space you wish to install the lights in.
The basics for installing LED lights yourself include:
Marking out where you want the lights to go, including measuring even circles, an ensuring there are no joists or existing wires in the way
Cutting out the circles you have marked carefully, using a plasterboard saw or similar tool, without damaging anything above the ceiling
Feeding the wiring through the holes you have cut out, and using a chocbox to connect the wires to the connector strip, holding them in place with cord grips – each downlight on the circuit will have two wires for wiring, except the final light
Fastening the chocbox, screwing the connection closed, and pushing the chocbox up into the ceiling cavity
Push in the lugs on each LED downlight and push the light into its housing, in the hole you have made.
How to Fix LED Downlights
LEDs are a highly durable and long-lasting form of lighting, but they can still develop faults.
There are various common problems you can encounter with LED downlights, but there are also ways of fixing them.
Fixing LED Lightbulbs that Flicker or make a Buzzing Noise
Flicker and buzzing can happen if the current is not constant. There can be several reasons for this.
You may have the wrong type of dimmer switch. Many dimmers are designed to provide smooth dimming for traditional lightbulbs in a circuit with a 200W to 1,000W range.
LED downlights do not require this level of current in the circuit, so the next thing to do is change your dimmer switch.
Older switches are leading edge dimmers, when what you need is a trailing edge dimmer. But when upgrading your dimmer switch, also check it suits the wattage of all the lights in your dimmer circuit.
A dimmer with too high or low a range will not give you the smooth dimming effect you want with your LED downlights. You should also ensure you buy dimmable LED bulbs.
Do not mix LEDs with traditional bulbs in the same fitting, and for consistency, try and use identical LED bulbs in one fitting.
Another cause of fizzing or buzzing LED downlights can be if you are using a high-powered appliance on the same circuit. This is a less common cause of issues, but it means the LEDs are flickering because their drivers are adjusting the voltage.
If this is the case, have an electrician look at your circuits.
A more common cause of flickering is a loose connection. If you have eliminated the other causes, then seek professional electrical advice to fix this.
Fixing LED Lightbulbs that Fail Early
LEDs should last significantly longer than halogens or other traditional lights, but occasionally some bulbs suffer early burnout.
The main cause of this is putting LED bulbs into fittings that still have some old-style bulbs in them. LEDs are efficient at dissipating their own heat, but if they are in close proximity to bulbs which are emitting more heat, they may struggle.
Therefore, if you are replacing downlights with LEDs, make sure you replace all your downlights at once.
Fixing LED Lights that Keep Glowing When Switched Off
Even when off, some light switches will let through small amounts of electricity. With a traditional bulb, you would not see the effect of this, but LEDs are of such low power that any kind of leak of electricity can be enough to make them glow.
This issue can come from having cheap and poorly manufactured LEDs, or it can indicate problems with your electricity circuit. In which case, seek an electrician’s advice.
We would always recommend using high quality LED downlights, to ensure the best possible performance.
What you spend upfront on your lighting, you will get back easily and rapidly with the energy efficiency savings that LEDs provide.
Contact us today to discover more about the benefits of LED downlights.