Downlights are a great way to add extra light and ambience to a room. It is, however, vital that they are installed correctly – if not, you could not only end up with a room that does not look right but also a potentially hazardous one. Here are some tips for installing downlights.
Choose the right type of downlight for your needs
Downlights come in different styles and shapes depending on how you want them to look and what they will be used for. You can get spotlights, which are great for highlighting a specific area, or downlights that spread light evenly across a room.
Check the height of the ceiling before purchasing downlights
Downlights are measured according to their length, not width or diameter, so you need to know where they will be on your ceiling. A general rule of thumb is that the bottom of the light should be around 30cm above eye level. However, this really depends on what effect you want it to create in your room – perhaps you don’t want them too high so they act as more of a mood light? Remember that longer lights tend to stand out more than shorter ones, but they also cast more light onto your ceiling and walls.
Use the ‘wall washing’ technique
If you want to light the wall behind your downlights, you need to angle them downwards. However, if you switch on all of them at once, it will create too much brightness and detract from the ambience. Instead, use one or two lights (depending on how dark your room is) and adjust their angle until they are pointing towards the wall. This will create a softer light and make your room look more sophisticated.
Use accent lighting to highlight key features
Downlights can also be used to create accent lighting. This is a great way to draw attention to a specific item in your room, such as artwork or furniture. All you need to do is place the downlight so that it shines on the object you want to highlight, and then adjust the brightness until it looks just right
Space them out evenly
Don’t put all of your downlights in one area. Instead, spread them evenly around the room (or throughout the entire house) to create consistent light. This not only looks more aesthetically pleasing, but it also helps to prevent shadows and dark patches from appearing on your walls.
If your downlights are too close together, they can cause glare and reflections. This reduces the amount of light that actually reaches your walls and ceiling, which will make your room look darker. Give them a little space to create an even spread of light across your room.
The brightness of LED lights decreases with time, so they are perfect for rooms where you want the light to be soft and subtle. This is also a good option if you’re conscious of your energy use.
Position your downlights horizontally and not vertically
If you want to create a spotlight effect, make sure you position your downlights horizontally and not vertically. This will focus their beam directly onto one particular area, rather than dispersing the light across the entire ceiling. If your room is particularly dark, install two or three lights to achieve an interesting shape of light on the wall.
Make sure the electrical wiring can handle the load
Install a dimmer switch to control the brightness of your downlights
This is a great way to customize the amount of light in your room, and it also helps to save energy. Only install a dimmer switch if you know how to wire it up safely. You should always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on this, and never attempt the wiring yourself unless you are fully qualified to do.
Make sure the cables are properly insulated
If they are not, it could lead to a fire hazard. Always install a thermal switch. This is very important as it prevents overheating problems in your home, and if it does activate it will stop the light from working until the problem is resolved. You should install at least one near each downlight to ensure that every single unit is protected.
Do not overload the circuit
Downlights require more power than traditional light bulbs, so you need to make sure your wiring can handle the extra load. If it can’t, you may need to upgrade your electrical system.
Consult an electrical professional
As we have discovered, there are a lot of potential pitfalls when installing downlights, which is why it is a good idea to consult with a professional electrical contractor. The team at olympicelectrical.com.au are here to help, contact them today to arrange a consultation.