Downlights – 5 Reasons to Think Again

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

A but harsh? . . . . here are my reasons why.

  1. The dramatic effect means that the light from each fitting is fairly limited in area so you need lots of them.
  2. The cost of each individual unit, including installation is high. With four – six in small rooms and ten or more in large rooms the cost really starts to add up.
  3. 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, not what you need for reading or general household tasks.
  4. Because the down lights run hot its dangerous to cover them in insulation which means that the effectiveness of your insulation is reduced. .
  5. Changing bulbs can be really fiddly and exasperating, especially with some of the cheaper fittings. Not good when you are working off a ladder.

Now LED downlights are common these are better than the old incandescent so if you love your existing downlights It could be worth upgrading to LEDs.

Here is a comparison of costs; A typical room will need at least 6 down lights at $100 each including installation, Total $600 and using around 50W. Compare this against a single $50 LED bulb on an oyster fitting costing $50 and using 15W.


For similar posts see Electrical


Post inspired by comments from ‘Johnson’ on the Homeone forum website.

Light is one of the most important thing in a house.

During the day its nice to get as much natural light into the house as possible while avoiding glare.

When the sun goes down its a different matter. An overall light level for the whole room is pretty boring.

There’s two keys to successful lighting:


This involves various lights in the room that illuminate areas for their specific use for example.

    • A lamp on a side table.
    • A standard lamp that provides light over your shoulder when you are reading.
    • Spotlights to illuminate a picture.
    • Wall or floor uplights to brighten the room without any harsh glare (if you can ever see a bare bulb or filament with the naked eye, you’ve done something wrong).

Having multiple light sources allows you to change the mood as you see fit.


Shadowing is a forgotten element of a good lighting plan. While the multiple downlight brigade likes to light every single corner of the room, they forget that the human eye is drawn to bright areas — and you can only get those with contrasting shadowed areas.

There’s nothing wrong with a dim backwall that can only be illuminated by a single lamp, or a comfy chair secreted in a shadowed alcove. Shadows can provide drama, texture, or even comfort.

It’s possible to create wonderful spaces with the simplest lighting setups. Very few situations call for bright, overhead downlights – but that doesn’t stop people from using rows of the things across their lounge room ceiling, like some sort of inverted airport runway!

So forget the downlights. There’s plenty of shops with beautiful lights. Get creative! You might even save some money.

Photograph comes from

See Why I Won’t have Downlights Again


More about selecting finishes including 24 pages of Check Lists in the‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’