Find out how to fit downlights in your home with our easy to use guide
This very much comes down to personal preference. Personally I prefer to fit more than is required, and then divide them up onto different switches. This will create different lighting effects. For example, if you are putting the downlights into a kitchen you could have the downlights that are placed over the worktops on one switch and the other downlights that are illuminating the rest of the kitchen on another switch - possibly a dimmer. This then means that you have good task lighting where needed and controllable mood lighting elsewhere.
However, there are still some important factors to remember.
Without having any technical information about your particular room, use the following ‘Rule of Thumb’. This best describes a kitchen, but can be adjusted for any room in your house.
Firstly, make sure the Downlights that are going to be closest to your walls are no more than 600mm to 800mm into the room. The reason for this is that 600mm is the standard measurement for the depth of your floor cupboards. This will mean that once the Downlights are fitted, no shadows will be created over the area that you are working.
You should now work out the position of the other lights by spacing them at intervals of between 1200mm and 1500mm. From these figures you should now be able to calculate how many fitting will be in a row and how many rows you will need.
12v downlights are on their way out now with lots of manufacturers discontinuing their 12v ranges. I use to advise 12v downlights in kitchens and bathrooms due to the 12v lamps producing a slightly higher lumen level, with 230v halogens fitted elsewhere in the house which produced a warmer light.
However now LED’s lamps are taking over! Now I will only recommend 230v mains rated downlights as they are a lot easier to fit and LED GU10 lamps are available in different kelvin levels and are either dimmable or non-dimmable.
If you are installing downlights then do not fit 12v downlights as LED lamps generally do not work as well as 230v mains rated LED’s.
I often get asked by our customers that their electrician has told them that they must get LED downlights, so what can we recommend?
Firstly I must clarify a point. You can buy downlights that have the LED's fitted inside them (integrated) or as I prefer a standard downlight that you then fit an LED into. Most of the integrated LED downlights are sealed and the LED's are not replaceable. Price does seriously dictate the quality of the fitting and often these downlights are sold in a term of 'they will last forever!' Sorry to say this but nothing lasts forever. Anything electronic has a chance of failure. The LED market is fast paced with new better models being released all the time.
We have several telephones calls a week into the office where people have had integrated LED downlights supplied and fitted by their electricians only to find a period of time late one or more has failed. They are then in a position that the model they have is no longer available and as the whole unit has to be replaced they cannot find one to match the rest in the ceiling. A customer just recently viewed a house on the market that was very open plan with over 60 fittings, he saw that three were not working but assumed he could replace the lamps when he moved in. When he moved in he discovered they were integrated LED's, the model was no longer available and after a lot of searching came to the realization that all the downlights would have to be changed. If he'd known this before he would have made it a condition of the sale that they were all replaced.
I will always recommend a standard mains rated downlight with a GU10 LED lamp to be fitted inside. Then if the LED fails it is really easy to change the Lamp (bulb) and all issues are averted. The LED lamps that we sell by Eglo all have a five year guarantee on them, so if you do have a failure then you can get a free of charge replacement. Some of the best LED lamps on the market the manufacturers still expect a 2 to 3 percent failure rate!
Ceilings provide an important barrier that helps to prevent the spread of fire and noise between the floors of a building. Installing recessed downlights punctures this barrier and can reduce the effectiveness of this safety barrier.
Installing fire rated downlights helps to protect your premises from the effects of both fire and noise pollution and aids compliance with new building regulations governing the installation of downlights. Made from intumescent materials, fire rated downlights seal the gap between the ceiling and the fitting to offer up to 90 minutes protection against the spread of fire into the void spaces within your ceiling / loft space.
Fire rated downlights are more expensive than non-fire rated downlights. However, the worst decision you can make is to buy cheaper models that look exactly the same only to find out from the electrician fitting them, that building regulations require fire rated downlights for that situation. Then fire hoods will have to be bought and you would now find that you have spent more money in the long run.
Personally I feel it is best to always go for the safest lights on the market. Fires cost lives, surely that is worth a few pence more to fit fire rated downlights.
Having the right IP rated downlights is also a very important factor. Please see ‘What is IP Zoning?’ to see whether you will need an IP rated downlight. Water and electricity do not mix. Again IP rated downlights cost a fraction more but by paying a little extra you could save yourself from being electrocuted, or causing the contacts in the fitting to corrode. This could lead to a short circuit and possibly a fire.
Firstly, you should read ‘Part P – What is it?’ as this will answer whether or not you can legally carry out the work you wish to do. Some people will always have a go, no matter what their level of competence is.
Electricity is dangerous and could kill you. I will always suggest to get an electrician in to do the work required, but if you are determined to do some electrics yourself please remember to be safe at all times and follow some basic safe isolation procedures before proceeding:
1. Locate / positively identify correct isolation point or device
2. Check condition of voltage indication device
3. Confirm that voltage indication device is functioning correctly
4. Switch off installation / circuit to be isolated
5. Verify with voltage indicating device that no voltage is present
6. Re-confirm that voltage indicating device functions correctly on known supply / proving unit
7. Lock-off or otherwise secure device used to isolate installation / circuit
8. Post warning notice(s)
This all depends on what you have in your tool box already! Please see the below list of what tools I have used in the past for fitting downlights. Some of them you might not need but can often prove useful.