Down Lights - any suggestions for brand?

Hello community.
I’m building a house and we are required to provide the light fittings. Any suggestions on reliable brands for down lights and # of lumens for average brightness?
It has been suggested that we go with LED as opposed to Halogen and that we buy down lights with transformer included in the one unit.

Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

What sort of downloghts are you considering. There are ones with GU10 fittings which run at 240 volts, low voltage systems which have a transformers on the light circuit, standard bayonet or screw fittings etc.

If you plan to use low voltage option (transformer) and leds, ensure that you get a transformer rated for leds. Not doing so may result in poor or no led performance.

We have GU10 leds (14 in total) in our kitchen and family room. We had cfls installed when they were the latest technology, but are slowly changing the cfls to leds when the cfls reach their end of life.

We have been impressed with the reliability of leds and the quality of light.

If buying leds, be careful what you buy. There have been reports of some cheap internet bought ones being dangerous (fitting/bulbs becoming live) and/or poor performance and reliability. Leds are also sensitive to high temperatures so consideration is needed during a new installation to ensure they stay cool. They generally run cooler than cfls and leds, but can produce some heat through their built in circuitry (transformer).

It is best to ask a few different retilers what they recommend when you know exactly what style and type of lighting suits your needs. Then shop around for something which meets for needs ans budget.

Brightness (lumen output) will be dependent on tge application…e.g. brighter lights and potentially cooler colour (4000k) in kitchen, warmer light (3200k) with lower output (lumen) or dimmable in living and bedrooms.

If you chose halogens, these are exoensive to run and can have overheating/fire risk if not installed correctly.

A PS and not directly applicable to new construction but a range of readers will find this thread. Two years ago I bought 12w MR16 retrofit LEDs ($22 each), sourced from the US by a local company. Loved them and 100% reliable. But as time moved on the products have become brighter so I bought new technology (cheap) MR16 retrofits at $4 each (ebay). The light is good colour and visibly better brightness for the wattage. The “bulb” is not finished to the standard of the $22 ones but you do not see that in the ceiling.

I had some problems with the new ones but discovered by trial and error the modern cheap LEDs are not always as compatible with still-common electronic transformers as higher quality ones, especially if a particular transformer is on the limits of its specification. Eg. Pre-LED transformer(s) and those sold as “LED Friendly” could be behind reliability issues. If you have a problem with failing cheap LEDs, consider replacing the old halogen-era transformer with LED-specific ones and see how you go. YMMV.

Hi @rosie.donovan
We retrofitted 40+ halogen downlights some 4 years ago with 240V LED fittings we bought from Bunnings. The halogens had transformers, whereas the LED fittings didn’t so that make them very easy to install. They have been incredibly reliable, are cool (very low heat output), and obviously use far less electricity than the halogens.

The GU10 LEDs we bought in bulk pack (Phillips maybe?) from Bunnings as well. They too have been ultra reliable and the light output hasn’t changed. In the last three years we have only had maybe four LEDs fail out of 40+.

As a side note, we bought bedside lamps which came with GU10 compact fluorescent globes. They are were pain! They took some time to ramp up full light output, and even that was poor. They have been replaced with LEDs, which are instant on. This is the beauty of GU10. You can put different globes in based on your requirements.

We no longer buy LED globes based on Wattage as watts do not correspond directly with light output. We buy based on Lumen, which is a measure of light output. If you look at different LED globes of the same wattage, they can have startlingly different lumen numbers.

In some situations, such as in the bedroom & bathroom we want it to be brighter, so we opt for the highest lumen output globes available. In the lounge we have more fittings and we are happy with softer lighting, we chose a the more widely available, also cheaper, lower lumen globe.

When choosing globes, you also need to look at the light spread of the globe. Do you want a wide or a narrow beam?

So in summary, LED is preferable to halogen. Chose 240V LED GU10 fittings, and if the fitting doesn’t come with a globe select the right LED globe for the situation.

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LED lights are by far the best, use the least energy and last a very long time. Very cheap ones may be more likely to fail. We had Brightgreen LED downlights installed and they are excellent in every way.

Hi Rosie
If you want to install downlights my frst advice is to avoid any from a “hardware store” no matter which brand. Second, even be careful of downlights from specialist lighting stores! Third, do not get “gimble” type, you loose heat around the gap. And please stay clear of “retrofit” type downlights, they are NOT worth the effort,
The problem is that the wiring rules, known as AS/NZS3000, require insulation to be kept clear of downlights. The 50mm gap around the downlight will reduce the effectiveness of your insulation. If you do not have the gap, you risk creating a fire hazard.
HOWEVER, there are LED downlights that are specifically rated to be “abutted or covered” with insulation or “IC-F”. As the description says, you can but the insulation right up against the downlight, OR cover it - but NOT with loose insulation. The driver MUST be kept above the insulation to make sure they do not overheat.
If you do install these downlights, make sure you instruct your insulation installer that they can cover them.
I will not recommend a particular brand, but a number of major lighting stores do sell them. There are a number of styles available, so it is a personal choice. As a rough guide, a 35W 12V downlight will be replaced by a 12W LED. I bought my downlights online as they are less expesive, just check with the manufacturers website to make sure they have the “IC-F” rating.

Hope this helps?

A 50W traditional halogen globe produces up to 900 lumens. No LED globe can come anywhere near this. Depends how bright you want your various rooms.

And also depends on how much energy you wish to buy/use.

I just put my light meter under a 50w halogen and a 12w retrofit COB LED and the meter was essentially the same brightness. Both have 60 degree spreads. From the spec the halogen is about 2700K while my LED is about 3000K, so the colouration is not 1:1 and that could affect the meter. The perceived brightness is similar.

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Hi Leptobrama: I am not sure where you got your information about the limits of LED downlight output, but you are wrong. Do not rely on the “retrofit” lamps specifications a your guide, and the LED downlights available in lighting stores have a much greater range than the big hardware stores.
In my house I have 12-W LED downlights (NOT retrofit) which are rated at 950-lumen. While this is slightly less than your ‘900-lumen’ LV halogen downlight it is not enough to notice.

There are a lot of misguided responses to this question, I expect due to not understanding the various lighting parameters.

My first comment is that you should not rely on the LED downlights available in big hardware stores, specialist lighting stores have a much greater range.
Halogen downlights tend to be highly focused, producing a (relatively) narrow beam and will appear very bright, particularly 12-V ELV downlights. The narrow beam makes it necessary to install a large number downlights to get an even lighting distribution across an area. The result is very bright lighting with shadows when you work under the downlights on horizontal surfaces because most of the light is from the vertical down. With wide angle lights there is far more illumination from the sides, avoiding shadows.
The general comparison of lamps uses the “lumen” output, this is NOT a good comparison of the effectiveness (efficiency) of lamps. A better way is to divide the lumen output by the rating of the lamp in "Watts’ - the higher the better. So for a 900-lm 50W halogen lamp is 18lm/W; and a 850-lm 12-W LED is almost 71-lm/W - which is four times better.
The other parameter to consider is the illumination level (lux) required where you want the lights. The lux will reduce with the distance the light is from what is being illuminated (which is why narrow beam lights appear better, i.e. because the beam has less spread). Work areas, like kitchens, need far more light than say a lounge room or bedroom (task lighting will help if you want to read).

Finally, I have said this before - be very wary of using retrofit 12-V LEDs unless a correct LED driver is installed. The LED will operate with a 12-V transformer, but it will cause problems. An LED is an electronic device and works best with correct voltage - you would not connect your laptop to a downlight transformer, so connect an LED to the correct driver.

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We installed Lumex Lighting - Classico LED downlights with matching Lumex Gen 2 dimmers (they stop flickering effect). They are not the cheapest but they are an Australian designed product (made in China of course), well built with quality drivers inbuilt (the bit that often fails with cheaper brands) and they provide the longest warranty of all LED light manufacturers of 7 years. Also we ordered 8w 2700k which is the warmest LED you can get. As warm as a traditional halogen light. They were the only LED manufacturer in 2015 who produced them. Things may have changed and you may get 2700k version by other brands now. We installed 103 replacing halogens now using ¼ of the energy halogens one used.

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