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Downlight Lighting Tips

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

Before you decide on your LED downlight spacing while planning the perfect layout, the first thing to consider is the function you want the lighting to perform. Is it for a living space that doesn’t call for clinical lighting or a kitchen that needs proper illumination?

Some strategically placed downlights can be just for highlighting a specific area or angled to light objects on the wall such as pictures. Your lighting scheme should reflect the room’s purpose and sometimes that can be purely decorative. That said, having the light directly overhead and evenly spaced is generally the best lighting scheme. To calculate the spacing you need to know the luminous flux of the downlights and their beam angle. Beam angle refers to the spread of the light.

So what’s luminous flux? It’s a technical term for the amount of light emitted, which is measured in lumens. The more lumens the more light. 800 lumens is the standard brightness for downlights. Any less is mood lighting and any more is a bit too bright for domestic applications. Also keep in mind that most LED downlights are dimmable. The next thing to consider is the beam angle. For general room lighting a 100 degree beam angle gives a good even spread. Any less than that is too narrow and creates spaces that are very bright and others that are less bright. You want to eliminate shadows and not waste light too close to the wall.

When you are looking for LEDs you will see various figures on the box to do with ‘colour temperature’. Lights are described as being ‘warm white’ or ‘cool white’ with figures like 4000K or 6000K. The higher the figure, the ‘whiter’ the light appears. 6000K, which is usually called cool white has quite a clinical appearance and you wouldn’t use it for living rooms. The colour temperature most people are comfortable with in living spaces is warm white, which is 4000K and below.

Replacing Old Downlights

It really is time to replace old halogen downlights. You’ll save money on power bills and won’t have to replace the bulbs all the time. But what if the hole left in the ceiling is too large to fit the new LEDs that you’ve chosen? Not to worry, there are adaptor plates available to fix that problem. And there isn’t any need to change the spacing of the downlights because you would replace like for like in terms of brightness and colour temperature.

So if you want the uncluttered look of downlights in your home without the ongoing expense and no hassles about insulation, take a good long hard look at LEDs.

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