Upgrading your Downlights
Downlights, also referred to as ‘recessed lights’, are a common feature in homes and commercial spaces, and have been around for years. This style of lighting continues to be a popular option, however, with new advancements in technology there are improved offerings on the market which may make you consider upgrading.
Downlights installed before 2012 have a direct impact on the effectiveness of your ceiling insulation. Safety regulations require that a 150mm gap is left between older technology downlights and the insulation to reduce the risk of fire. But this creates holes in your insulation and reduces its ability to hold heat. In fact, studies have shown that having older technology downlights every five square metres reduces insulation effectiveness by up to 10%. Switching to modern LED downlight fittings eliminates the need for this safety gap because they don’t generate as much heat as halogen lamps.
If you decide to make the switch from halogen to LED, you can either make adjustments to your existing downlights or install new ones. Weigh up the options to see which is most suitable for your application.
Option 1: Keep the existing downlights
You can use your existing fixtures exactly as they are by replacing the MR16 50W halogens with retrofit MR16 LEDs. They should operate from the existing transformers, however, there are instances when they may not be compatible. In this case, you’ll need to replace your transformers too. In addition, check if the transformers in place are dimmable or not. If they’re not dimmable and you would like this function, you’ll need to replace them and you’ll also have to invest in an LED compatible dimmer switch. Should you choose to forgo your retro fittings and convert your existing downlights into mains voltage GU10, then you’ll need to install GU10 lamp holders. This requires the transformer to be disconnected and some rewiring, all to be done by a qualified electrician.
Option 2: Install new downlights
If you decide to go this route, you can either install new GU10 downlights or integrated LED downlights. While GU10 are more affordable and can be replaced, they do have a shorter life expectancy. Integrated downlights have built-in, non-replaceable LEDs. They’re also generally brighter and are arguably more aesthetically pleasing than their GU10 counterparts.