Downlights in the bedroom

17 Nov 2011
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United Kingdom
Hi, I am in the process of redoing my main bedroom, after fitting a new wardrobe (fitted) I have decided to fit 6 downlights in the room and plaster over the main light fitting.

I have several questions, I have read about the difference between 12v and 240v - futureproofing by going 240volt for when filament lamps disappear - lower operating temps for 12v - cheaper bulbs for 12v - more expensive set up for 12v..... then theres LED's? im totally confused as to which to go for, im swinging towards 240v for the futureproofing but i think you can now buy none filament 12volts cant you?

Then if I go 12v, what bulb sizes do I need, do i go for a 6 point transformer, or split between 2?

And finally, which ever set up i go for, how do i wire them, 240v in series or parallel? or if i go for two transformers, series or parallel?

I have settled on these box's too seeing as the loft insulation will be in the way Steel Downlight Insulation Guard Accessory anyone see any problem with this? lying the insulation over the top.....

Any help welcomed :)

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Or perhaps i'll be best just fitting 3 in front of the wardrobe..... just read a lot of the negatives and in front of the wardrobe, they will be more accepted perhaps

same questions still stand :)
RF lighting will give you a proper design, dont do it until you get advice.

I will not advise other than for the 25 years that i have owned my own house, i have had no difficulty in getting my own clothes out of my own wardrobe with a 60W bc lamp in a conventional pendant in the middle of my bedroom ceiling. If you have a large bedroom or a nice L cove, put another pendant in. Ambient... "in the surounding"
If you are meaning the typical 50mm diameter downlights then:

The primary difference between 12v and 230v lamps is that the 12v ones have a higher light output for the same wattage.
They both get ridiculously hot, the lamps are available in the same physical size, they are all inefficient when compared to other types of lighting.

The 12v ones require transformers, one per light fitting.
No one installs a single transformer any more as even with modest distances between fittings, the cables between light and transformer have to be rather substantial to ensure the voltage is actually the required 12v. You then find that the cable is too large to fit into the terminals on the light and/or transformer.

LEDs can be obtained in both 230v and 12v versions. Neither is suitable for illuminating a room as the light output is generally focused into a tiny little spot, and all of the manufacturers who claim 'equivalent light output to 50w halogen' are blatant liars.
CFL / fluorescent lamps are 230v only. They are also useless as by the time they have reached a suitable brightness, you have already fallen over 6 objects in the room and broken your leg.

The metal covers you have identified are the correct way to install this type of lighting, insulation being placed over the top of the metal cover.

Multiple lights are always wired in parallel, otherwise they would be extremely dim and would all stop working when a single lamp failed - just like those old Christmas tree lights.

If you must fit 50mm downlights, and put halogen lamps in them, note you will require anything from 5 - 10 times as much energy to illuminate the room to the same level as your existing pendant light does.
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thanks flame, thats pretty much made my mind up.... im sensing a massive hatred of these lights on here :D

currently my rose light has three of the 240v halogens, having just removed two wardrobes with lights above each, the room looks distinctly darker, hence why I am considering extras.... I'll probably stick to the three in front of the new wardrobe and go for lower wattage.

thanks again :)
Agree with much of FP's post.

I personally like the efffect and ambience of downlighters in certain rooms. They can err on the side of creating a torch beam but this can depend on ceiling; higher ceilings = bigger flood of light. That is not to encourage butchering lovely old Victorian ceilings willy nilly!

I would opt for 12V (with individual trannys) over 230V every day as they give off a 'nicer' tone of light and the lamps generally last much much longer than 230V lamps, rendering the initial cost of materials immaterial.

There are a lot of posters on this forum who seemingly detest recessed lighting in domestic situations. If you like them fit them! You can offset your disgraceful energy useage due to downlights by ironing less and having more cold drinks which negate a kettle!! You will still probably go to heaven*.

*heaven does not exist

As one might say 'Tea is for mugs' !!!!

Thanks GA....very much appreciated to have another opinion.....

I think i'll stick to the three additionals, that way im only adding one when compared to my old set up, not like the bedroom lights are on 24/7 and my bills are well below the average (no idea why!) :D

any suggestions on brands of transformer? i hear stay away from cheapies....
I like Osram Halotronic.

IBL are good too. I fitted some for my Ma in 1991 & they're still going strong.
Final question, assuming 3 50w lights in parallel...should i go 1.0 or 1.5mm twin and earth?

I think I may have to rethink my bathroom too after this thread, the previous owner fitted 4 downlights, 2 over the bath, one of which has a shower below it..... all running off a single transformer :/ the light look like standard cheap cheap fitments with two pin bulbs.....
12V halogen is approx twice as powerful as 240V halogen for the same power consumption, so this is the best option. The light is also a cooler light at full brightness, approximately 3000K compared with 2700K. Cool light is good when it is bright, and it gets warmer when you dim down.

IBL transformers are fantastic, and they offer a very long garantee. after 7 years of using them I haven't had any issues with them. Cheaper transformers just use cheaper components in them, which will fail earlier. individual transformers always. It is actually cheaper this way as well. Parallel wiring.

Remember you can get different beam angles on halogen lamps, ranging from 14degrees to 60degrees. I suggest 40 degrees for ceilings up to 2.5m, and 25 degrees over this. You can also pick up IRC lamps which use less power. Life varies vastly. A GE constant colour lamp is 5000 hours, but one from the supermarket will last 1500 hours; look at the life!

Be careful with fire rated fittings. A lot of them require lower wattage lamps and heat forward lamps (most halogen lamps put the heat out the back to avoid hotspots on your heads). If you really want fire protection for the ceiling then fit fireboxes or firehoods, though these MUST be properly expanded in the ceiling. Fire rating has nothing to do with the lights, but is there to stop fire in the room going through the hole of the downlight and on to the next floor.

LED lamps vary hugely. If you are seeing anything from £5-15 then it is not going to do the job. You really need to get details on the lumen output rather than the wattage. 240V halogen is appoximately 400lm, 12V is about 800lm. no one has lamps equivalent to 12V, but they do for 240V halogen (this is what people mean when they say equivalent to 50W halogen, it is very misleading).

With LED lamps you need to also check the colour temperature, you want something that is around 3000K. You must remember that when you dim them (if they are dimmable), they stay the same colour. this will mean it will look colder when dimmed because we are all used to incandecent and halogen getting warmer.

1mm will be absolutely fine for 3 lights, but everyone uses 1.5mm as standard
thanks MArcus, thats very useful...i think im gonna write off LED's for the silly cost involved....

Incidentely, what size transformer would you suggest - these lights will be sat a few inch in front of mirrored wardrobe doors, so I would think a wide beam would be useful here....
most transformers come in 60W versions, which is what you want to use. They will run 50W lamps absolutely fine.

If it is for lighting wardrobes then I suggest very wide beams, 40 or 60 degree ones. my suggestion for a lamp type would be a GE constant colour lamp.

LEDs are very expensive. The ones I have seen which give a good amount of light come in at around £20-30. You would make your money back in about 3-4 years, but you could probably save money running halogens for 2 years and then installing LEDs. In the future they will make LED lamps to replace 12V halogen lamps. They have them now, and it is just good business sense. I know philips have some already
ahh be honest i found a pack of three 240volts in my shed unopened so thought i'd use those as theres no expense at all...ive just bought new facias..... I'll plice up these transformers and see what the damage is.....

Good info on the LED's as most have pointed me away from them...

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