How To Pick The Right LED Downlights

How To Pick The Right LED Downlights

In modern homes, downlights are fundamental. They’re sleek and understated compared to pendants and other light fixtures, creating an atmosphere of minimalism and elegance. The fact is that there are many considerations when shopping for the perfect LED downlights, such as wattage, colour temperature and longevity, so we’ve put together a guide to steer you in the right direction. Whether it’s your first plunge into the world of downlights or you’re simply looking to upgrade your setup, here’s how to pick the best lights for you.

What Is An LED Downlight?

LED downlights are energy-efficient lights either surface-mounted or installed recessed into the ceiling. Compared to incandescent or halogen bulbs, they save a significant amount of power, which lowers energy bills. LED lights are environmentally friendly for more reasons than energy efficiency — they also produce very little light or heat pollution, and they’re recyclable.

Unlike older styles of lights, LED downlights are durable and have a lengthy lifespan. They’re versatile enough to be used both indoors and outdoors. LED downlights also come in a wide range of colours and shades, with directional control, allowing you to set your preferred ambience. 

LED Downlights Efficiency

Since replacing downlights isn’t always as easy as changing a lightbulb, it’s essential that they’re low maintenance and energy efficient. It’s no secret that LED downlights are energy efficient, but how do they compare to other lights? Well, when compared to traditional incandescent lightbulbs, LED downlights utilise 85% less energy and last up to 50 times longer. Compared to CFLs (compact fluorescent lights), they’re 30% more energy efficient. LED downlights are the best choice on the market when it comes to saving on energy and electricity bills and saving the environment. 

LED Downlight Colour Temperature

Choosing the most suitable colour temperature for lighting will help create the perfect atmosphere in every room in your home. The most common colour temperatures for downlights are warm white (2,700K - 3,300K), neutral white (3,300K - 4,300K), cool white (4,300K - 5,300K) and daylight (5,300K - 6,500K). 

For living spaces, warm or neutral white downlights are thought to be the best choices, as they create a comfortable and relaxing environment. Cool white and daylight temperatures are best used in laundries, kitchens and bathrooms, where visibility is most important. 

How Many Watts For A LED Downlight?

Watts describes the power or energy efficiency of a downlight. While it was once common for watts to be used as a measure of light output, this method has become redundant due to the different varieties of lights on the market. However, when looking directly at LED downlights, it’s safe to assume that the higher the wattage, the stronger the light output.

The power usage of LED downlights can range from less than 2W to 60W, but most lights on the market will use between 9W and 12W. For a more accurate indication of brightness, 

LED Downlights vs Halogen


LED is the most energy-efficient lighting style, and there’s no exception for downlights. An LED downlight may use anything from five to 14 watts an hour, whereas a standard halogen downlight uses 55. This means that halogen downlights can use up to ten times as much electricity as an equivalent LED light.


When considering longevity, LED downlights are once again more effective than their halogen counterparts. A halogen downlight has a lifespan of around 2,000 hours, whereas LED downlights can last up to 50,000 hours. LED downlights may be more expensive up front, but they’re still more cost-effective long term when you consider their longer lifespan.


As halogen downlights emit heat, they’re less desirable in warmer climates or in the kitchen. On the other hand, LED lights generally stay cool or slightly warm to the touch, and their heat doesn’t impact the external environment. 

LED Downlight FAQs

How Many LED Downlights Should You Have Per Room?

How many downlights you have in each room is determined by the wattage of the lights and the purpose of the room. As a general guide, measure the area of the space and divide it by two to determine the number of increments required. If you’ve got an alternative light source such as a lamp nearby, you may prefer to install fewer downlights. More downlights may be a better option where you require stronger lighting, such as the bathroom.

What Size LED Downlights Do I Need?

The cut-out size most common in Australia is 90mm. This simply refers to the size of the hole in the ceiling where the downlights will live. You may opt for a smaller size cut-out, but you may find it harder to replace your downlights down the track. 

How Long Do LED Downlights Last?

As mentioned, LED downlights may last as long as 50,000 hours — but what does this look like? In the scenario that your lights are on about 8 hours a day, your lights would last 17 years. If they’re on for 12 hours a day, this equates to 11 years. 

How Hot Do LED Downlights Get?

Much like anything else that produces electricity, LED downlights generate heat. Although, compared to halogen or incandescent lights, the amount of heat produced by LED lights is negligible. That being said, it’s not recommended that you touch any light that’s on or has recently been on.

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