TABLE OF CONTENTS
How to shop for an LED Downlight
Lumens & Wattage
Colour Temperature & Kelvins
01 LUMENS & WATTAGE
Determining how many downlights you need and how bright they shouldn’t be can be confusing and it is easy to get lost amongst all the terminology available online.
When considering how bright your downlight needs to be, we used to talk wattage but now with LED we need to consider lumens instead
Lumens measures the brightness of an LED downlight.
The higher the lumens = the brighter the light.
The wattage traditionally used to tell you how bright the globe would be, so a 40W halogen would produce 40watts of light. However, this is old school! Nowadays you look at the wattage to let you know how much energy consumption your bulb is inputting versus the amount of light you get.
This will now tell us how many lumens per watt you are getting! You can work this out by taking the total lumen output and dividing by the wattage. Lumen / Wattage = Lumens per watt.
Let’s look at an example together:
The Ecolite produces 800 Lumens (in Cool White) and is 8W. Therefore, we know that we are getting 850 lumens of light whilst using 9W's. This means that 800/8= 100 Lumens/Watt.
But how does that compare to a traditional downlight? You can check out the comparison chart below to learn more about lumens and downlights.
What does this all mean? That LEDs are not only energy efficient, as they are using less energy consumption to power, they are brighter! This means you're getting a more powerful downlight that uses less electricity which means that you spend less on your electricity bills!
OUR TIP: You want higher lumens at a lower wattage.
It is not necessary to just pick the downlight with the highest lumens! When you are buying your downlights, you need to think about the room size and ceiling height.
02 COLOUR TEMPERATURES & KELVINS
The great thing about LED downlights is you have the choice of what light output colours you want! The two most popular choices are Warm White (3000K) and Cool White (4000K) for residential purposes. This is referred to as the colour temperature of the light (AKA Kelvin).
The more traditional light colour is Warm White (2700K-3500K), think halogen light! It is softer and more ambient with a yellow tone. This colour temperature will create a more relaxed and ambient atmosphere and has been used in homes more commonly. Warm white is great for anyone interested in creating a warm and inviting ambience.
Cool White (4000K-4600K) is more of a white light and can have hues of blue/green in the light, depending on the chip type. This type of light can be referred to as more balanced colour temperature, however has grown in popularity in recent years. Cool White light is great for task lighting or if you want to increase the light in a room as this light generally reflects easier on white and natural tones which means it will help your space feel larger.
Daylight (5000K+) is the third option and is generally used for more commercial purposes. With the highest amounts of blue hues in this spectrum, its traditionally used within working spaces, such as commercial offices, gyms, warehouses and hospitals
Terminology associated with colour temperature is defined as kelvins.
Kelvins is the numerical value of colour temperature, it is a unit of measure for temperature based on the Kelvin scale, it is represented using the symbol K.
See the graphic below for a better understanding.
03 BEAM ANGLE (NARROW OR WIDE)
Keywords: Beam Angle, Narrow & Wide
Another factor to consider is the beam angle of the downlight.
The beam angle refers to the spread of light from the downlight itself. The narrower the beam the more concentrated the light source is, think of a halogen downlight. A narrow beam creates what's known as a 'hot spot' where the light shines directly onto a surface whiteout too much light spilling over the circumference.
The wider the beam angle the larger the spread of light, this creates a softer light in the room and is better for a more general light source. This means that more light is spread around the room creating an overlap of light between downlights which makes the light appear flat and dispersed.
The use of wide down-lights is the most typical choice, albeit safest decision, although not the best in all circumstances.
Narrow beams of light are essential for adding visual complexity to the space. which to the human eye creates more visual interests, as there are gradients from light to dark. A similar natural occurrence is during afternoon periods, where the sun is partially out of sight. This is the most ideal choice for creating a relaxed and inviting environment.
04 IP RATING
Keywords: IP Rating and Waterproof
When picking the perfect downlight, you need to consider the areas that the downlight will be placed in. Anywhere where the downlight may be exposed to water, for example; a bathroom or alfresco area, the downlight needs to have an IP Rating.
An IP Rating (Ingress Protection Rating) is an electrical standard. It represents a fittings durability against solids and liquids. The higher the IP Rating, the higher its protection against elements including dust and water. A standard IP Rating for a bathroom should start at IP44.
Keywords: Dimmable and Non Dimmable
Dimming refers to lowering the amount of light that shines out of a downlight. The ability to dim a downlight is a bonus to controlling the lighting in your home.
The ability to dim gives you control over the downlights level of light output. Although, not useful for everyone, having dimmable downlights, lets you create either an ambient mood for watching a movie or bright task lighting when reading.
The most important note on dimming downlights is firstly, you need to purchase dimmable downlights - not all downlights dim. Secondly, make sure you are using a compatible dimming switch on the wall. If your unsure about this, please contact one of the customer service agents for more information
06 DO I NEED MY DOWNLIGHTS TO GIMBAL?
Keywords: Gimbal, Fixed & Adjustable
One of your last considerations is whether you want the downlight to be adjustable (gimble) or be fixed. To gimble, simply means to have the ability to move the downlight in different directions, the frame is adjustable to allow you to tilt the downlight in a direction you need.
A fixed downlight is a downlight that only faces down, and you can't adjust it.
Having a gimble downlight is an added luxury, however like dimmable it is not a necessity for all. For sloped ceilings or situations where the downlight is not over a task area, the gimble downlight will allow you to tilt the downlight towards the specific area.
It can also be used to highlight specific architectural elements, bring the eye upwards and showcase feature artwork or family photos.
07 DO I NEED TO CONSIDER ANYTHING ELSE?
Some final points to take away when going through the process of purchasing downlights. Think about your warranty, some suppliers will offer you a longer warranty period than others and you should take the warranty period into consideration when making your decision. Most LED downlights nowadays come with a standard 2-3 year warranty, if anything is to go wrong a replacement will be organised. Please keep in mind to read the T&Cs carefully, each brand is different.
Commonly, most LED downlights come with flex and plug attached to the unit. This is great because you can get your licensed electrician to install sockets (GPO) at the location, which makes life easier for future replacements or upgrades
Please note we advise a licensed electrician to make any installations, warranty may be voided otherwise.
What is a heat sink, and do I need it? Heat sinks and used to protect downlight fittings from insulation. LED downlights generally have integrated heats sinks which cool the downlight so that it doesn't product any heat, which is great for homes with insulation. It also helps prolong the life of the LED downlight, by making the unit work more efficiently.
IC-F Rated downlights - some downlights come equip with an IC-F Rating.
IC insulation Contact means that a downlight can be directly covered with insulation. if a downlight is not IC Rated it cannot come in direct contact with insulation.
IC-F Abutted and Covered means that the recessed downlight where fixed insulation material can abut and cover the fixture. Please note the LED driver should sit above the insulation.
This means that insulation can sit on top of the downlight fixture. This is not to be confused with fire ratings, an IC-F rating doesn't mean the fitting is fire proof.
Does the material matter in downlights? The material that a downlights is made from may be a key consideration for some customers especially if you live near the coast! Customers that live near the sea will need to consider sea salt in the area (especially if the downlight is being used outdoors). In this scenario you will need to purchase a downlight that is marine grade (316 Stainless Steel) or polycarbonate.
You will also note that some styles of downlights have a flushed face and others are slightly recessed. Recessed downlights, also known as (low glare) tend to hide the light source from the direct line of sight, which promotes a more relaxed and modern environment. We prefer the look and feel of low glare downlights compared to there flush mount counterparts.
The SI base unit of thermodynamic temperatures, equal in magnitude to the degree Celcius.
The lumen (symbol: lm) is the SI derived unit of luminous flux, a measure of the total quantity of visible light emitted by a source.
The amount of power required to operate an electrical appliance or device. Measured in Watts
Different light sources produce different coloured light. These colours are expressed using a number, and this number is known as the colour temperature.
The angle of which light is emitted from a given light source. Specifies it as the angle between those points on either side of the beam axis where intensity decreases to approximately half of its maximum illumination.
To make or become less bright or distinct.
IP refers to the protection against contact and foreign bodies and protection against water, The first digit of the rating refers to the protection against contact and foreign bodies, 0.x meaning no protection through to 6.x meaning full protection against ingress of dust.
a written guarantee, issued to the purchaser of an article by its manufacturer, promising to repair or replace it if necessary, within a specified period of time.
A device or surface fit for absorbing excessive or unwanted heat.
Building insulation that can be continuosly exposed to 90 degree celcius can safetly abut and cover the luminaire with a 1mm diametre which provides a barrier so no insulation or material can enter the fitting
Mostly know as molybdenum-alloyed steel. Its is the preferred stell for use in marine environments because of its greater resistance to pitting corrosion than other grades of steel.
FLUSH VS. RECESSED
A flushed face refers to the surface sitting as close as possible to the ceiling to make a seamless surface. A recessed face refers to the 'setting it back ‘of the face in the wall or surface to which it is fixed.
Thankyou for taking the time to read through our comprehensive downlight guide. If you are interested in speaking with a specialist, you can reach us Monday to Friday 10am-4pm (02) 7202 8239 or shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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