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Downlight Ridiculous

Do you have those energy guzzling halogen downlights in your ceiling?

Do you really know why they are so bad?

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Cross-Small  MYTH:  'Low Voltage' Halogen Downlights ARE NOT Energy Efficient?
In fact, 12 Volt (Low voltage) Halogen downlights are less efficient than 240 Volt Halogen Downlights. It's nothing to do with Volts - it's all to do with Watts and even though they may both contain 50 Watt Globes, the 12 Volt lights require a transformer which adds to the total wattage consumed by the light. Depending on the transformer this can be in the range of 55-62 Watts.

Cross-Small  Halogen Downlights can produce very high temperatures - 300C is not uncommon

fire-icon Halogen Downlights ARE a fire risk
Factors such as dust and/or dry leaf debris in the roof can ignite a fire. Insulation laying over the top of downlights and downlight fittings placed too close to timber battens or ceiling joists are other factors.

 Cross-Small  Recessed Lighting Compromise Insulation
Halogen downlights require a minimum clearance of 200mm diameter from insulation, timber or other obstacles. This means that a 0.16m2 area is uninsulated around each light. This however is not the case in the majority of homes with clearances being much larger than 200mm. Downlights create a Swiss Cheese effect so your downlights are also wasting energy whether they are turned on or off - heating escapes through the plaster during cooler months, and enters the room during summer months due to no insulation.

Cross-Small  Halogens Downlights DO NOT produce a uniform light
Halogen downlights are a highlighting light from a retail environment. In a home situation, you need multiple downlights to make a room bright enough to be practicle. Light is directed down with angles between 32 and 60 degrees creating bright spots underneath and shadows. A standard surface mount light will project light more evenly off the ceilings and walls than Halogens, and a room with 8 Halogen Downlights can easily be outmatched by a 14 Watt compact fluro light fitting.

Cross-Small  90% of electricity used in Halogens Downlights is lost as heat

Cross-Small  Gimble downlights (swivel fittings) are mini chimneys
Swivel downlights (gimbles) are vented so these types of downlights are mini chimneys creating heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. Draughting is the quickest way to lose energy in a home.

SOLUTIONS

Here are some solutions to the Halogen Downlight (in order). The payback of the solution is all dependent on how long you use downlights for in your home. In business, paybacks are very short as downlights are usually left on for very long periods every day.

1. REMOVE THEM ALL - GET RID OF THEM
Plug up the holes and add surface mount lights with a Compact Fluro (CFL) globe or an LED. Ok this will require an electrician, a plasterer, some painting, and the cost of a new light fitting but it will save the most energy (and money) and provide the best light.

2. REPLACE THEM WITH LED Downlights and cap them
Replace the existing globes with an LED globe. This will reduce the energy consumption dramatically and you need to make sure a suitable cover such as a Loft Mitt is placed over them in the roof to insulate them and to allow insulation to be placed very close to help prevent the Swiss Cheese effect. Leds are getting cheaper and the light and angle of light is getting better. This solution will cost you an electrician plus the light globes (and maybe transformers)

3. REPLACE THE 50Watt globes with a lower wattage globe
A temporary solution is to replace the 50 Watt Halogen with a 35 Watt or 20 Watt Halogen Downlight. If you get the right ones, then 20 Watts are more than sufficient for all areas of the home. If you need to be a little brighter then use a 35 Watt such as over a kitchen bench or bathroom vanity.