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How To Choose The Right LED Downlight

Last updated on June 20, 2022

What are LED downlights?

LED Downlights are a type of energy saving light fixture that is commonly used in residential and commercial settings.

They are designed for general and task lighting but can also be used to highlight specific areas or features in a room. Downlights can either be surface-mounted or recessed into the ceiling.

Compared to traditional lighting fixtures, most LED downlights produce warm lighting and greatly save energy over their operation. That’s why LED lights are energy efficient and last longer than incandescent lights or halogen bulbs.

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Why Use LED Downlights?

LED Downlights offer two main benefits: energy efficiency and aesthetic appeal.

When it comes to energy efficiency, LED downlights are a great choice because they use less electricity than traditional light bulbs. They also last longer, which translates in longer operation and less frequent replacement.

Aesthetically, downlights can brighten up and improve the ambiance of any space. They create a warm, inviting overall atmosphere and can also be fitted to highlight specific areas of a room.

Downlights are a key ingredient of lighting systems as they are the foundation for good lighting plans, serving as an effective and efficient source of light for your house.

The compact appearance, its versatility and its ability to interface with other types of lighting fixtures such as pendant lights or spotlights make it a highly dynamic lighting fixture.

Choosing a good downlight option means not only effective operation, but also reliability and long lasting use. 

Also Read: 10 benefits of LED lights over traditional lightings

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Why is an LED downlight better than a halogen downlight?

LEDs are the top energy savers and they are up to 90% more energy efficient than their halogen counterparts.

They also produce less heat, which makes them a safer choice for use indoors and in areas with small children or pets. Halogen downlights can become a fire hazard if they are not installed properly.

What is the best type of LED downlight for my home?

The right LED downlight for your home should combine state of the art functionality and good aesthetics.

how to choose downlights

A powerful spotlight may be ideal for illuminating a large painting or sculpture, however, it could beat its purpose for a smaller item in a hallway or entryway, where a lower-wattage option like a downlight kit may be more appropriate. Not only will it save you energy, but it will also create a softer, more inviting appeal to the space.

That’s why it is important to plan the location and function of your downlights before making a purchase, in order to determine and locate the most appropriate solution based on your setting. 

With so many options on the market, it can be complicated to determine and choose the right downlight, so keep in mind the below pointers to guide you towards the right choice. 

Understand in detail how to choose the right LED downlight

➡ What is the purpose of the light? Is it for task lighting, accent lighting or general lighting?

➡ What is the size of the area that needs to be lit?

➡ What is the power consumption of the light? How energy efficient is it?

➡ What is the color temperature of the light? Is it warm white, cool white or daylight?

➡ What is the beam angle of the light? Is it a wide beam or a narrow beam?

Once you have answered these questions, you will be able to narrow down your options and choose an LED light that meets your needs.

Below we’ve compiled a guide to help answer your questions. If you’re considering installing an LED downlight, here’s what to consider when making a choice.

Wattage

The wattage of a light bulb is a measure of how much energy it consumes. The higher the wattage, the more electricity it will use.

However, wattage does not directly translate to the brightness of a light bulb. For example, an LED light with a low wattage can be just as bright as an incandescent light with a higher wattage.

When it comes to LED lights, it is more important to look at the lumens rating. This is a measure of how much light the bulb emits.

Beam Angle

how to choose downlight

The beam angle is the angle of the light beam emitted by the light bulb. A wide beam angle means the light will spread out over a wide area.

beam angle chart

Credit: aisledlight.com

A narrow beam angle means the light will be focused on a small area. When choosing an LED downlight, it is important to consider the beam angle.

As a general rule, lights with narrow beam angles are more appropriate for small spaces, while those with wider beam angles are used for large spaces, in order to disseminate the light throughout the area. 

The beam angle measures the extent of dissemination of the light emitted, defining the degree of the light. A 45° beam angle is typically used because the opening is low, while a standard bulb has an angle of 180°. 

Since downlights are shallow, it is advisable to choose options with wider beam angles, up to 60 degrees, to allow for soft and uniform diffusion of lighting within spaces such as dining areas.

For other spaces that require a concentrated light output and light that is concentrated on details, such as kitchen areas, it is recommended to use downlights with narrow beams, at angles 25 degrees for example.

Color Temperature

color temperature chart

The colour temperature of a light bulb is measured in Kelvin (K). A warm white light has a colour temperature of 3000K, cool white light has a colour temperature of 4500K and daylight light has a colour temperature of 6000K.

When choosing an LED downlight, it is important to consider the colour temperature. A warm white light is very appropriate for creating inviting and relaxing atmospheres.

Cool white light helps create a more modern and energetic atmosphere, while light fixtures with daylight colours create a bright and cheerful atmosphere.

When selecting LED lights for rooms where the temperature is likely to increase, such as kitchens or washrooms, a warm white would be ideal.

In general, warmer downlights are an appropriate alternative for rooms, and natural white 4000K is an excellent overall product.

Dimmability

Many LED downlights are dimmable, which means their light output can be modified and decreased from the maximum rating. This can be a great feature if you wish to create different lighting effects within the same space.

Using LED driver for dimmer

For example, dimmable LED downlights installed in the living room can be illuminated at full power in the morning to create an energetic and lively atmosphere, and the same lights can be dimmed in the evening to create a relaxing atmosphere.

Also Read: LED dimmer- Everything You Need to Know

Installation

Installing LED downlights is a relatively simple process. However, it is important to follow the instructions carefully to avoid damaging the lights.

If you are not comfortable installing the lights yourself, you can hire a professional to complete the installation.

Warm White or Cool White?

cool white light vs warm white light illustration

Warm white LED lights have a colour temperature of 3000K. This creates a soft, inviting light that is perfect for living rooms and bedrooms.

Cool white LED lights, on the other hand, have a colour temperature of around 4500K. This creates a bright, energizing light that is perfect for kitchens and bathrooms.

As a general rule, it is recommended to use warm white lights for living areas and cool white LEDs for work areas.

CRI

The Colour Rendering Index (CRI) is a measure of how well a light bulb renders colours. A higher CRI means that colours will appear more accurate and more realistic under the light.

For example, if you are looking at a painting under an LED light with a high CRI, the colours in the painting will appear closer to their real colours.

CRI comparison diagram

However, if you are looking at the same painting under an LED light with a low CRI, the colours will appear distorted or even faded.

When choosing an LED downlight, we recommend looking for a light with a CRI of 80 or higher.

Energy Efficiency – Lumens Per Watts

Lument per watt chart diagram

An important feature to consider is the lumens per watt rating. This is a measure of how energy efficient the light is.

For example, an LED light with a rating of 100 lumens per watt is more energy efficient than an LED light with a rating of 50 lumens per watt.

When choosing an LED downlight, it is recommended to select light options that have a high lumens per watt rating.

What is the best distance between LED downlights?

As a rule of thumb, we recommend spacing LED downlights about 3 feet apart. This will ensure that the light is evenly distributed throughout the room.

This will ultimately need adjustment based on the size, layout and function of the room. 

Before you proceed with the installation, consider the beam angle of the light, as it will affect the spacing. Larger beam angle downlights should be spaced between 1.2 m and 1.5 meters apart.

For concentrated beam angle lights, a spacing of 1 meter apart is more appropriate. Once the distances are set, the downlights should be typically placed and distributed evenly across the room.

What is the best height to install LED downlights?

chart showing height of ceiling lights

The best height for installing LED downlights will depend upon the type of light you are using.

For example, if you are using a recessed downlight, we recommend installing it about 8 to 10 inches from the ceiling. However, if you are using a track light, we recommend installing it about 2 to 3 feet from the ceiling.

How many downlight are enough for a bedroom?

The quantity of downlights will depend upon the size of the room and the amount of light desired.

As a rule of thumb, it is recommended to use one downlight for every 50 square feet. For example, if you have a 200 square foot room, we recommend using four downlights.

How do I choose a downlight colour?

The color of the walls of a room is important to take into account, as the temperature of the paint will emphasize the color and ambiance of the room.

A yellow/orange room might appear better under a warm white while a blue/white room might work well with a cool white colour scheme.

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Is 40 watt LED bright?

A 40 watt LED light bulb is equivalent to a 400 watt incandescent light bulb and produces the same amount of light.

However, it uses far less energy than a traditional incandescent light bulb.

In fact, a 40 watt LED light bulb uses about 80% less energy than a traditional incandescent light bulb, which makes it a much more energy efficient option.

Are there any disadvantages of LED downlights?

One of the main disadvantages of LED lights is that they are slightly more expensive than traditional incandescent light bulbs.

Are LED lights better than fluorescent lights?

CFL vs downlight

Yes, LED lights are better than fluorescent lights. They are up to 80% more efficient and convert up to 95% of the total energy consumed to light. Only 5% of this energy is lost in the form of heat.

Also Read: 10 benefits of LED lights over traditional lightings

What are fixed downlights?

Fixed downlights are lights that illuminate in a specific direction, whereas track lights can be shifted to different areas. Fixed downlights generally have smaller diameters and are cheaper.

Is 3000 lumens too bright for home?

3000 lumens is far too bright for indoor use, and can in fact be annoying, or even painful to look at. 

If you’re looking for an LED light bulb that is suitable for indoor use, we recommend choosing one with a lower lumen rating.

How many Watts are good for home?

The best option in terms of energy saving can range from as low as 4.5 watts and up to 14 watts in LED.

How do I lower the brightness level on my LED downlight?

Using aa LED dimmer is the best way to lower the brightness level of a dimmable downlight.

Are LED downlights good for your eyes?

Yes, LED downlights are good for your eyes since they produce little to no heat and very little UV radiation.

downlight affect on eyes

This makes them a much safer option than traditional incandescent light bulbs.

Do not hesitate to contact our lighting experts before installing downlights. We Provide FREE LED CONSULTATION and also help you claim government rebates so you can save big money on your lighting upgrades.

Gaurav Sharma

At E-Green Electrical , Gaurav writes about Electrical energy, Solar energy, Energy conservation and electrical product reviews. He is most interested in how we can utilize technology and renewable resources to reduce energy consumption , prevent pollution and save money at the same time.

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