How To Change Downlights

Looking to update your homes lighting? Downlights are a great way to achieve a clean modern look, while providing the perfect amount of light and ambience to your home. But there’s often confusion about how to change downlights in the most economical and effective way.

Whether you pair your downlights with decorative pendant lights, or decide to use downlights entirely, there is a spot for a downlight in every room of your house. Use them to provide precision lighting in the kitchen, calming light in the lounge room, mood lighting in the bedroom, and targeted lighting on your hallway art or bathroom basin. The possibilities are endless, which can make your decision on what, where, and how many downlights to install that much harder.  

To make it easier I’ve jotted down some handy tips and ideas! If you notice something we haven’t covered in this article, or you need some more specific advice for your lighting, call us, your local lighting electrician, Electrician To The Rescue.  

Installing Downlights DIY 

Everybody loves to save money where they can. In fact the NSW Government has an offer for those upgrading to LED downlights. Despite the fact that installation by a professional is always better, some prefer to take a DIY approach. But when it comes to electricity, DIY is more often than not, dangerous and illegal. Though you can change a light bulb, and this includes replacing the bulbs in your downlights. Just be mindful of the clips and getting your fingers stuck in them. But, when it comes to installing new downlight fittings and wiring them in, it‘s best to give your expert Electrician To The Rescue a call. Not only are we licensed and fully trained, we can also help map out the best placement for your new downlights. And by having them installed by a licensed electrician, you won’t void your retail warranty. So if you do get a faulty downlight, the company you bought it from will have to honour their refund policy.  

That being said, we have a few quick tips to saving money on your downlight purchases. One is to buy them in bulk, which is a great thing when it comes to downlights. The more the merrier. And tip two is to buy 90mm size downlights. This is the most common size, which means companies mass produce them. So they’re often the cheapest size to buy, and you’ll never have any issues with finding parts or replacing them.   

When it comes to picking out your downlights there are two main types. Recessed and surface mounted. Recessed downlights are placed into your ceiling and pretty much disappear from sight. Resulting in a sleek and modern look. Recessed downlights are amazing! But it‘s important to be aware of fire safety when purchasing these types of downlights. They could come into contact with your roofs insulation, wooden beams and other debris in the roof cavity. Luckily, Australian standard light fittings should all come with an Insulation Contact (IC) Rating. Don’t purchase them if they don’t. The IC rating determines if a downlight can come into contact with insulation and timber fibres without being a fire hazard.  

How To Change Downlights – The Removal Process

The most important thing to consider when trying to answer the question “how to change your downlights” is the removal process. If you make a mess when removing them, you could affect the installation process. When removing your downlights, make sure to watch out for the springs and clips on the sides. You don’t want to get your fingers caught; it hurts! And secondly, you don’t want to have to patch up your ceiling. So remove your downlights slowly to avoid any damage to the paint or gyprock.  

The third thing to consider is why are you removing your downlights? Downlights are the perfect option for creating a modern clean feel in your home. Their ability to make a space look brighter, more homely and overall aesthetically pleasing, can increase the value of your home two-fold. But yes, sometimes your downlights will require replacing or repositioning.  

If your downlight is the built-in version i.e. the bulb is built into the fitting, it’s as simple as wedging your fingers beneath the edges and slowly popping it out. If you have an older version installed where the globe is separate to the fitting it’s a little more complicated, in which case it doesn’t hurt to call an expert to swap out the globe or the entire fitting for you. This is also a great opportunity to have an electrical safety inspection carried out!  

Downlights and Warm Light vs. Cool Light

When it comes to installing or replacing your downlights, it‘s important to take into consideration the colour of the light. Do you want a warm glow or a cool glow? While the light colour of your downlight is different to the brightness (lumens) and energy efficiency (wattage), it’s just as important.  

What does warm light and cool light mean?  

Warm lights are yellow, similar to a candle or flame.  

Cool lights are blue and sharper in colour, similar to a computer screen.  

The colour of a light is measured in Kelvins (K) which is a temperature scale measurement. Though LED’s give off little actual heat. The cooler (blue) the colour is, the higher the temperature. The warmer (yellow) the colour is, the lower the temperature is.  

For example, a cool daylight LED will be around 5000K and a warm LED will be around 2800K.  

When Should You Use Which Colour?  

Warm light is best used when you want to create a relaxed and comfortable feeling. Like the lounge room and the bedrooms, even the dining room. Places where you can wind down for the evening.  

Cool light is great for when you want to see more clearly, or where you need to concentrate. Like in the kitchen while chopping up fruit and veg. Or in the bathroom to apply makeup or floss your teeth.  

Of course some rooms will require both light colours. Especially if your home is open plan. Or say you have a home office in your bedroom. Which is why many new downlights on the market come with colour changing options. Similar to dimming, you can change the colour of your light with a flick of a switch.  

How To Change Downlights – The Installation Process

The below points are very important to consider, as they provide a good outline of how to change downlights in your home.

  • The placement of the downlights 
  • The type of downlight 
  • The light colour 
  • How many you want and will they be paired with any other light fittings, such as lamps or pendant lights 
  • Energy usage
  • Lifespan 
  • Safety standards 
  • Price  
  • Warranty 

There are plenty of downlight models on the market. But your biggest downlight design decision is, recessed or surface mounted downlights. 

Recessed downlights fit into the ceiling creating a flat surface. These types of downlights almost completely disappear from sight when installed. Bonus point is they provide a glare free light. Meaning there is no visible point of light, which can help prevent eye strain and distraction.  

Surface mounted downlights are mounted onto the surface of the ceiling and are great for when you can’t drill large holes into your ceiling. These come in an array of designs and can be the final touch to a room.  

The second element of installing your downlights is choosing fixed or moveable downlights. Fixed downlights stay pointed in one direction. This is the most common downlight. Whereas movable downlights allow you to direct the light to different spots depending on the time of day, or the task at hand.  

Keep in mind downlights are different to spotlights. A spotlight has a much more direct and narrower beam of light, which is great for framing artwork. Whereas a downlight has a wider beam and covers a bigger surface area.  

How to Change Downlights From Halogen to LED 

LED downlights are being used more and more by Sydney residents. Mainly because they’re super energy efficient and great for your electricity bill.  They use way less energy than their halogen globe counterparts as they can produce more light for less wattage. A 10Watt LED globe will produce more light than a halogen light globe that uses 55Watts!  

LED downlights also come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and designs. Which gives you so much more versatility in your light fixture positioning. They are also super easy to install and maintain. And they work great indoors and outdoors. LED downlights will improve any space, by making it look brighter, more spacious, mood adaptable, and great for entertaining. 

Another great thing about LED downlights is their lifespan. Wave goodbye to replacing your light globes every 12-18 months. LED downlights can last up to 50,0000 hrs that’s an 11-year lifespan. More if you only use the lights for a few hours a day!  

Of course, lifespan can be dependent on the brand of light globe. One way to guarantee the quality and longevity of your downlights is to buy from Australian trusted brands. Such as Osram and Philips. The cheapest option is not always the best option and while shopping online is super convenient, a lot of online retailer downlights don’t meet Australian safety standards. This can lead to problems and electrical fires down the line. 

When it comes to picking your LED downlights, it‘s important to understand how they work. As LED’s use such a low amount of wattage, LED brightness is measured in lumens. The higher the lumen, the brighter the bulb.  

Of course, LED’s still come with a wattage. But you only need to know the wattage to understand the energy usage of an LED. For everyday lighting, you want to look for an LED that has a wattage of around 8-12 and a lumen rating of around 800.  

How Many Downlights Will You Need Per Room?

When installing your downlights you need to consider beam angle. A regular light fitting or pendant light have a beam angle of 360°. But because downlights are recessed or closer to the ceiling their beam angle is usually around 45°. Of course this is not a hard and fast rule. You can get wider beams from 60°- 120° and smaller beams around 25°. A wider beam will create a softer light and is great for a space like the loungeroom or bedroom. Whereas a smaller beam is great for the kitchen or workshop, and provides a concentrated light source, for better focusing.  

The beam angle will directly affect the spacing of your downlights. The larger the beam angle, the more spread out you can place your downlights. For beam angles of 60° and wider, aim for spacing them around 1.5 meters apart. Once you know how wide the angle beam is, you can determine how many downlights you’ll need for each particular sized room.  

And don’t worry too much about your electricity bill. As long as you’re using LED downlights, the number of downlights installed won’t have too much of an effect. LED downlights use very little energy and are low voltage, without sacrificing light efficiency and lumens.  

With all that being said, you and your home are now ready to install downlights. Don’t hesitate to call Sydney’s expert Electricians today, for assistance with your downlight decisions and installations.