Whilst you may not be familiar with the term ‘downlights’, it’s likely that you have seen them before – you may even have them in your home and have no idea that this is what they’re called. You know those little circular fixtures that sit flush with the ceiling? Those are downlights. The usefulness of these fixtures has meant that a number of areas in our homes can benefit from their installation, so it is unlikely that they will drop out of popularity any time soon.
Downlights have, however, come a long way since their original inception. They were once standard screw in fixtures that were fitted with floodlight globes, which caused them to be highly inefficient due to exorbitant electricity and replacement globe costs. This eventually led to the creation of new, more energy efficient downlights.
There are currently two types of downlights in existence that are suitable for most applications around the home:
Mains fixtures are used when more light is required in the space and, as such, they operate at a higher voltage (which causes them to generate a considerable amount of heat). Whilst they are less expensive to initially install, it does cost a little bit more to replace the globes.
Low voltage (LV) fixtures are often paired with a transformer to help disperse some of the heat created. They are also commonly fitted with dimmer switches to allow further control of the illumination.
There are a number of conventional and unusual applications for downlights in our homes, including:
Showers: these fixtures are installed a few inches above the ceiling with a mirrored glass or die cast surface that sits flush with the ceiling to protect the wiring from steam and water spray.
Accent: these fixtures are used to illuminate paintings and other artistic pieces that look best when displayed in direct light. The use of downlights separates these pieces from the rest of the room.
The bulbs used in downlights have also changed dramatically over time. The original halogen globes are known to create considerable carbon emissions and to need replacing quite frequently, which led to a lot of homeowners calling out for another solution. As a result, there are now a number of other downlight globes on the market, including: energy efficient 12V halogen globes, LED globes and CFL fluorescent globes. These all last much longer than the original type and use considerably less energy.