With the rise in popularity of LEDs, so too emerge a seemingly endless sea of options when it comes to lighting up our homes. New homes are trending towards downlights, but what exactly is the difference between a fully integrated LED downlight, and a downlight canister with an LED bulb inside? Some homes have existing recessed light canisters with lamp holders situated inside the canister. In this case, should you simply change the old halogen bulbs to LED bulbs, or change the entire fitting to a fully integrated LED downlight? In this blog, we will explore the pros and cons of both options.
Comparing the two, R80s (typically ~11W) and LED downlights (typically ~12W) are similar in power usage. So in terms of power saving, they both fair quite equally.
When comparing the cost of an 11W LED R80 bulb (~$14+) to an integrated downlight (~$20+), the initial costs of the downlight option can seem quite high. You will also need to factor in electrician installation costs (~$60+/hr) when installing integrated downlights. In terms of upfront costs, LED bulbs are the cheaper option.
The most common reason for premature failure in LED lamps is overheating. Specific LED bulbs are engineered by one company, and fitted inside a canister designed by another. The two products would not have been tested together for heat compatibility. In the case of integrated downlights, the entire kit (LED chips, housing, and driver) have undergone testing together. The heat sink has been designed specifically for each light fitting to ensure the perfect compatibility. This makes integrated LED downlights far more reliable than LED bulbs.
Downlights are more flexible than LED bulbs in terms of brightness, beam angles and tiltable abilities.
Fully integrated downlights are brighter. They come in wattages higher than 13W e.g 15W, 20W etc, whereas LED bulbs have a maximum wattage of 11W-13W. The reason LED bulbs cannot be made in higher wattages is because with an increase in wattage of a light, so too does its heat. As bulbs have a restricted/specified size, they do not have adequate space to allow for larger heat sinks to dissipate the extra heat. LED downlights however can be made in larger sizes with larger heat sinks - they are not restricted to conform to certain sizing. This is why you will find that 20W LED downlights are typically physically larger than that of 10W LED downlights.
Downlights can come with a tiltable option. This ability allows you to direct the light towards wall hanging art, shelving, and other hard-to-light areas.
Different beam angles also suit different purposes. For example low beam angles can be used in areas with higher ceilings or to create specific moods.
Generally speaking, LED integrated downlights come out on top in terms of reliability and flexibility, and LED bulbs are the way to go if you wish to keep your initial costs low. Depending on the situation, there is an LED light for everyone.
- August 11, 2017
- Sanna Li