Choose the right downlights

Last updated: 6 September 2022

A downlight is a light that has been recessed into a ceiling that throws light downwards in a narrow beam.

Downlights and energy efficiency

Light spreads out 35 degrees

Using downlights rather than pendant or fluorescent fittings will mean you need to install more lights to light the same area, resulting in higher energy use and running costs. In the past, downlights often used halogen lamps which are high energy users. Low-energy downlight fittings are more commonly used now, including LEDs (light emitting diodes) or CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps). Both are more efficient and cheaper to run than halogen downlights.

Downlights become hot when switched on

Because downlights are recessed, the heat they generate goes into the ceiling space. For this reason, electrical and fire safety regulations require an adequate clearance between downlight fittings and insulation, as well as other combustible materials like timber. Always follow manufacturer and safety regulations and consult a professional where necessary.

Downlights can affect your insulation

If you have multiple downlight fittings in your home, the insulation gap around the fittings will decrease the effectiveness of your home's ceiling insulation, increasing your heating, cooling and lighting costs.

LED and CFL downlights

(LED) and compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) downlights don't give off as much heat as halogen downlights and are far more energy efficient.

Light bulb saver app

The Light Bulb Saver App identifies the best light bulbs to replace incandescent and halogen bulbs, and can help you calculate your savings by switching light bulbs. It also provides tips about choosing the right lighting for each room in your house.

Download the free app from iTunes or Google Play.