The 5 Best Downlight Lighting Tips

Lighting is so important to so many different aspects of your home, from the functionality to the ambience and atmosphere. Good lighting not only makes a room more user friendly, but also elevates its visual appeal and improves the wellbeing of the people who live in the house. Poor lighting on the other hand can do the opposite. It can hinder the functionality of a room (cooking in poor lighting, for example,  is never ideal) and make it feel drab and depressing. Long story short, the quality of lighting can make or break your home. 

But how do you settle on what is “good lighting”? 

Many homeowners across Australia are opting for downlights as their preferred lighting choice for the various indoor areas of their home. But with so many variables and factors to consider, including wattage, colour temperature, beam angle, size and design, choosing the best downlight option for your home requires some serious thought. Let’s explore some of the best downlight lighting tips to make your purchase decision that much easier. But first, let’s look at exactly what downlights are, and the benefits you’ll enjoy by installing them. 

What Is The Difference Between Downlights and Ceiling Lights?

It’s understandable if you’ve come to this article thinking that downlights and ceiling lights are one and the same. There are differences between these two light styles though. 

The key difference between the two styles of lighting is the way in which they are installed. Downlights are typically installed into recesses cut in the ceiling and give the impression of light emanating from the ceiling itself. The light coming from a downlight is generally narrowly focused to a concentrated area. 

Ceiling lights on the other hand are installed flushed (i.e. no gap between ceiling and light fixture) or semi-flushed (i.e. there is a small gap) to the ceiling. The light from a ceiling light offers broader illumination than downlights, but are not quite as strong.  

Benefits of Good Downlighting

Many homeowners are gravitating towards installing LED downlights. They offer a wealth of benefits that include:

  • Long lifespan of around 50000 hours
  • Excellent energy efficiency that can significantly reduce your electricity bill
  • Energy efficiency that generates fewer CO2 emissions 
  • A wider range of design options including colour temperature and brightness control
  • Low maintenance needed due to long lifespan of LED globes

Though LED downlights might be more expensive to purchase than other more conventional lighting solutions, the benefits and savings you’ll enjoy certainly outweigh the initial costs. As the South Australian Government’s Energy and Environment website outlines, the hourly running cost for all 20W LED downlights in an average home is $0.34 while for low voltage 70W halogen downlights the cost is $1.11.

Let’s take a look at some of the most important points to consider when choosing the best downlights for your home.

LED or Halogen Downlights?

Downlight globes are typically one of two types – halogen or LED. You will need to choose which one you prefer for your home. Though halogen bulbs offer greater energy efficiency than the phased out incandescent bulbs, and are among the cheapest at the point of purchase, they are no comparison to the lifespan and energy efficiency of LED downlights. 

Find The Most Suitable Colour Temperature For Your Home

Colour temperature describes the appearance of the light coming from an LED light. Temperature is measured in degrees of Kelvin (K). According to the Australian Government’s Energy Rating website, the Kelvin Colour Temperature scale goes as follows:

  • 2700-3300K – Warm White
  • 3300-5300K – Cool White
  • 6500K – Daylight

For many homeowners, their preferred colour temperature largely depends on the colour of the walls of their home. A warm white colour temperature LED bulb often best complements off-white or beige coloured walls, as these colours are typically considered to be warm themselves. If the interior of your home is largely made up of cooler colours, such as blue walls and grey tiles, then an LED light at the cooler end of the Kelvin scale might be the most suitable. 

Many people also look towards warmer white lighting for rooms like the bedroom and living room, and cooler whites for the bathroom and kitchen. 

Choose The Right Size Downlight For Your Home

The size of your downlight is also an important point to consider. Cut-out sizes for downlights are typically 90mm in diameter. There are smaller 70mm options which might offer a more stylish and elegant design, but can often be harder to install. 

However, factors such as the size and shape of the room and the height of the ceiling may determine the better size downlight for your needs. As 90mm downlights generally provide greater brightness than their 70mm counterparts, they may be best suited to larger rooms, or space in the home with higher ceilings. 

It’s All About The Angle

Downlights can be used for ambient lighting just as much as task lighting, so it’s vital to get the angle of the light’s beam just right in the lighting installation process. Position them incorrectly, and you’ll find yourself battling against the forces of unwanted shadows. Some helpful tips to bear in mind when positioning your downlights throughout your house include:

  • In the kitchen, a downlight with a narrow focus beam will provide the necessary illumination for cooking or food preparation tasks. Positioning the downlights in front of you will help to eliminate any shadows. 
  • For bathroom lighting, you’ll avoid unnecessary shadows by installing your downlights over the basin. This will provide you with the ideal lighting for everything from shaving to applying make-up. 
  • For tasks performed at a work desk or dining table, installing the lighting slightly in front of the seating area – not directly above or behind – will help to minimise the likelihood of shadows getting in the way.

Opting for dimmable downlights will also provide you with greater flexibility over the brightness of the lighting in addition to getting the angle right. 

It’s Also About Minimising Glare

You’re always going to get some degree of glare with any source of light, downlights included. Finding LED downlights that minimise that glare may be the best decision you make for enjoying optimal comfort in your home. The deeper that a downlight’s LED source is, the less glare that it will produce and the more comfortable it will be for your eyes.    

Cheaper LED downlights will often have the LED source positioned closer to the front as a way to improve the distribution of light. However it will mean that it will generate more glare. Choosing a baffled downlight, which means it is designed to absorb light and minimise glare, would be the recommended option. 

Get On Up For The Downlight

More and more Australian homeowners are opting for downlights over traditional ceiling homes in their homes, thanks to their slick and stylish design, energy efficiency and versatility. But it’s important to get the right downlights for your home in order to get the most out of them. Hopefully with these tips – and be aware that these merely scratch the surface – they’ll help you to choose and use the right downlights in your home. 

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