View our LED Downlights Guide below which includes Comparison Tables and FAQs
LED (light emitting diode) downlights are the most advanced type of low energy downlight available; they outperform halogen and CFL (compact fluorescent lamps) in every way. The main advantages of using LED downlights (or LED spotlights) are that they are long lasting and energy efficient. Providing energy savings of 80-90% compared to halogen and CFL. Although they are more expensive, they cost less to run and will pay for themselves in terms of the energy saved between 1 and 2 years after installation (depending on usage).
LED downlights use less wattage to power them, ranging from 3.5W to 31W (depending on brand) and can recreate a similar lighting effect as a 50W halogen or even replace commercial grade 2x26W CFLs. Wattage goes into the downlight and lumen comes out. Less power goes in but more light comes out. This means they are much more energy efficient, when used in lighting the term efficacy is used instead as many more factors are taken into consideration. Inefficient fuel guzzling 50W GU10 halogens actually use around 75W and almost 90% of the energy generated is wasted in heat.
When ordering LED lighting products make sure you don't just base your decision on the wattage, the lumen output is more important and make sure the manufacturer or supplier can back up their claims as many mislead customers. Checking the latest photometric data is the best way to be sure but most suppliers of unbranded equipment won't even now what this is!
To make ordering easier and installations faster, many LED downlights are now supplied as complete fittings, the LED is integrated into the fitting and the driver is either attached to it or supplied with it, like a low voltage transformer making it ready for direct mains voltage supply.
Another major advantage of using LED downlights is the life expectancy. They can last from 25,000 to 75,000 hours (depending which type you choose) when compared to halogen which is between 1,000 and 2,000 hours or CFL which is 10,000 to 15,000 hours. With an average use of 6 hours per day, LED downlights will last between 15 and 30 years. For every 40 halogens you purchase over the same time period, just 1 LED would do!
Since you won’t need to replace a lamp (or bulb) for a very long time, true LED downlights now have the LED built into the fitting. This allows for brighter LED chips to be used as they can be fitted with a purpose built heat sink that cools the LED more effectively. The downlight can be designed exclusively around the LED rather than squeezing all the technology into a GU10 or MR16 downlight housing. The disadvantage to this is that if the LED or driver ever fails you have to replace the entire fitting.
Contrary to popular belief, LED downlights do not generate a lot of heat, nowhere near that of a halogen or CFL. Halers H2 LED downlights in particular are cool to touch even when they have been left on for long periods of time. LEDs operate better under cooler conditions; an increase in temperature is likely to reduce the life expectancy as overheating is the number cause for LED failure. The built-in heat sink allows air to pass through the fins (small ventilation groove) and effectively dissipate any heat that is generated. If an LED overheats, it will eventually fail and need replacing, overheating often happens when cheaper retrofit LEDs (LEDs with an MR16 or GU10 cap) are used in basic fire rated downlights that do not provide adequate ventilation. The Icage downlight provides both fire protection and ventilation to the LED.
To comply with Part L of the Buildings Regulations (energy efficiency), a luminaire (light fitting) has to produce at least 400 lumens and have an efficacy of at least 45 lumens per watt (55 lumens for commercial use). All halogen and most CFL downlights don’t come anywhere near this. Check the specification closely because many LED downlights don't either.
The cool white (also known as natural white) 4000K version of the Halers H2 complies with Part L as it produces 425 lumens and has an efficacy of 54 lumens per watt. However, the warm white 3000K version doesn’t meet this standard as it only produces 330 lumens and has an efficacy of 42 lumens per watt. GU10 LEDs didn't used comply with Part L, even the once market leading Philips 7W Master LED only produces 310 lumens, although it does have an efficacy of 45 lumens per watt. The latest version, the Philips 8W GU10 does meet these requirements.
Others downlights that are Part L compliant are the EcoLED which produces 480 lumens and has an efficacy of 80 lumens per watt. The Aurora I9 range is similar to the Halers H2, the 4000K is Part L compliant but the 3000K is not. LEDs below 5W are now ignored from Part L compliance.
Many of the new generation LED downlights can be installed with full peace of mind as they are fire rated and IP65 water resistant as standard. This means that one downlight can be used safely in every room in the home or building. No need to have different ones in the bathroom, they can all match perfectly.
Dimmable options are also available but must be dimmed with specific dimmer switches. Most manufacturers recommend leading edge or trailing edge dimmer switches. Please feel free to contact us for advice as dimming LED is not as simple as dimming halogen, mainly due to the lower loads involved.
In terms of quality and light output, the latest generation of LED downlights now provides a similar if not superior lighting effect to that of a halogen. Beware of cheap unbranded imports that claim to produce 400+ lumens using just 3W or 4W, even the leading brands such as Philips are not as efficient as that yet. There are currently no regulations in place that prevent resellers or manufactures from over exaggerating their data, how do you know it does what it says it does? A leading lighting manufacturer recently tested the most popular branded and unbranded LEDs on the market and some produce 50% less lumens than what they claimed.
We have the largest selection of LED downlights available and can always find the perfect match for your purpose or budget. Please feel to contact us to discuss your requirements. By answering a few simple questions such as; do they need to be fire rated? Do they need to be dimmable? You can often narrow your search down to just a few options. Since they are designed to last for a lifetime it's important to make the right decision. Contact one of our sales team now on: