Downlights – 7 Reasons to Think Again

DownlightDownlights are very popular and can give dramatic light effects so you seem them a lot in show houses, and shops ……but I won’t be having them again.

So here are my reasons why not.

  1. The dramatic effect means that the light from each fitting is fairly limited in area so you need lots of them.
  2. Because the light is directed down you don’t get much reflected light of the walls and none on the ceiling resulting in a very uneven light, which is what you really need for reading or general household tasks.
  3. The cost of each individual unit, including installation, can be high. With four or five in small rooms and ten or more in large rooms the cost really starts to add up.
  4. Low voltage doesn’t mean low power consumption. The smallest one are usually 20 watts so 5 small down lights will use 100watts, plus transformer losses. These probably give the same amount of useful light as one 60watt equivalent low energy fitting using 15watts of power.
  5. Because the down lights run very hot its dangerous to cover them in insulation which means that the effectiveness of your insulation is reduced. See what this ‘Building Expert‘ has found.
  6. Bulb life is relatively short. Being in an environment of cold on the top and hot on the other doesn’t seem to help.
  7. Changing bulbs can be really fiddly and exasperating, especially with some of the cheaper fittings. Not good when you are working off a ladder.

I see that LED downlights are now starting to be available. These are better with regards to power consumption and reduced heat, but at a much increased cost per unit.

For example a typical room will need at least 5 down lights at $100 each including installation, Total $500 and using 50W. Compare this against a single $50 Compact fluorescent on an oyster fitting costing $50 and using 15W.

Even with LED units there are still plenty of reasons left for me to stay with well designed ceiling fittings supplemented by an occasional standard lamp or table lamp.


For similar posts see Electrical