Although halogen lights are available in either low voltage (12V) or 240V models, low voltage doesn't necessarily mean low energy use.
The halogen light bulb is a type of incandescent lamp – an electric light with a wire filament heated until it glows – which uses a halogen gas in order to increase both light output and rated life.
If you are renovating or building a home, consider LED and fluorescent lights which are commonly used and are far more energy efficient than halogen lights. Although halogen lights are available in either low voltage (12V) or 240V models, low voltage doesn't necessarily mean low energy use. Energy bill savings of around $161 million per year could be achieved if the approximately 23 million 12 volt halogen downlights currently in Victorian homes were replaced with low energy alternatives.
The table below shows the typical light output of standard 12V halogen downlights, as well as the typical input in comparison with 12V LED lights.
Lighting technology is changing rapidly and constantly evolving. There is now a growing range of LEDs suited to replacing an existing 12V halogen lamp, while either a LED downlight fitting or a 240V compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) could be used to replace your entire existing downlight fitting.
Will the light level of the low energy replacement be similar to the 12 volt halogen?
The light output of a 12 volt halogen downlight lamp is around 650 to 700 lumen. The lamp packaging should state the light output of the new lamp in lumens and/or indicate which standard halogen lamp its light output is equivalent to.
The table above shows the typical light output of standard 12V halogen downlights, as well as the typical input powers of lower energy replacement lamps. Higher light levels are required for bench top areas where fine work is undertaken, in comparison to general circulation areas.
How long does it take the lamp to reach full brightness?
This information may be available in the specification sheet, but operating the lamp in the shop or trialling one at home may be the best way to determine if the start up time is acceptable.
Will the colour appearance of the new light be suitable for the application?
Generally, a 'warm white' colour appearance (or colour temperature in the range of 2,700 to 3,000K) is preferred in most living rooms and bedrooms in the home. Meanwhile, lights with a 'cool white' colour appearance (or colour temperature in the range of 4,000 to 6,000K) may be acceptable in kitchen and bathroom areas.
Will the new lamp be compatible with a dimmer if your existing lighting is on a dimmer?
This information should be stated on the packaging.
Will the lamp be compatible with the existing connectors?
It is important to obtain information on the existing connectors, to know whether or not there is a separate plug for each downlight or whether they are hard wired.
Will the lamp be compatible with the downlight fitting (including the cut-out dimensions)?
It is important to know the size of the fitting and the cut-out when purchasing a new lamp.
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.