Converting from halogen downlights

Choosing the right energy efficient lighting solution (read LED) for homes with existing downlights - and for new homes where downlights are the chosen solution is the bane of many a home builder and renovators lighting experience.

LED downlight

LED downlight

Here's some very simple advice for making a selection that will salve your energy conscious desires...

Truth: 50W LV Halogen Downlights consume 50W through the lamp, and if they're old, up to 12W through the transformer - new ones are around 4W.

Therefore - when you compare to new technologies, if your lights are more than 10 years old (or you know you have iron core transformers), you should multiply the number of lights by 62, and if they're newer, then you should multiply by 54W.

That will tell you how much energy is currently being used.

Truth: 50W LV Halogen Downlights produce (in simple terms) about 800 - 900 lumens (a lumen is a measure of the amount of light produced by a light fitting).  The most commonly used lamps spread that light in a 60 degree cone shape, with the narrow end starting at the face of the light fitting (The way these lamps are measured for light distribution will read as 60 degrees on the box, but in reality the light visibly spreads approx double that distance)

Truth:  50W LV Halogen Downlights are rated to last about 2000 hours, after which they fail.  This means in reality that after 2000 hours, you should expect half of the lamps to have failed - some will last much longer, and if they are always dimmed, the life is also extended.

Truth: 50W LV Halogen Downlights produce a light which is measured to have a Colour Rendering (CRI) of 95+ (close to the colour of light produced by the sun, so ALL colours are visible) - they tend towards the red end of the spectrum.  The Colour Temperature of the light that is produced (that is - warm, white, daylight) is 3000K - which is a warm, golden light.

So - what do you do with all of those truths?

When reviewing LED downlights, you need to ensure that they meet the following criteria if you expect to end up with light in your home which enhances your lifestyle.. and doesn't leave you reaching for a torch to see...

How much ENERGY is consumed? (in reality, any replacement lamp less than 10W or complete downlight less than 12W is unlikely to create enough light... 16W is currently the standard consumption for effective complete downlights)

How many LUMENS are produced? should be close to 800 - 900 lumens...

How wide is the BEAM?  Should be 120degrees for general lighting which spreads through a room - more than 60degrees at a minimum (if it's narrower, you end up with a shadow/bright spot effect moving through your home which can feel like strobing)

What COLOUR TEMPERATURE is the light?  You want 3000K for similar to halogen  4000K if you like whiter light..  (it's vital to note here that a K rating should be a set figure, not a range eg: 2700 - 3200 - light in a range of colour would definitely produce a very unpleasant lighting effect)

What COLOUR RENDERING (CRI) is the light?  Realistically, 80 is the minimum you should accept (which is approx the same as a fluorescent lamp), if you really care about your colours being right, then aim for 90 - 95

So next time you head out looking for a new LED downlight - ask the questions, check the packaging, check the data sheets - if you're not 100% that the company you're dealing with understands what you want, move on.

For a professional home lighting design service - which includes selection of LED light fittings to meet your budget and expectations, contact Mint Lighting Design for your free quote and advice.