Halogen downlights vs LED downlights: Why replace halogen with LED?

Downlights are a popular and effective choice for attractively lighting spaces, whether it’s for a room in your home or a commercial office space or shop. Using downlights means you can control how your light falls in a room, focusing on certain features or particular spaces. It’s a practical, good-looking and discreet form of interior lighting.

Traditionally, many people have used halogen downlights but they are increasingly being replaced by LED downlights due to the range of benefits they can offer.

What are downlights?

A downlight is a light fitting that directs a relatively narrow beam of light downwards. Usually, these lights are recessed into ceilings, so the visual effect is one of spotlights that appear to shine directly out of the ceiling of a room.

Traditionally, the bulbs used for downlighting have been halogen models but these are now often being replaced with LED units that are cheaper to run, have a longer life and present reduced risk of fire.

Compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs are also used in downlights but these are also phased out in favour of LED downlights.

The benefits of halogen downlights

Whilst halogen downlights are being phased out, they do offer a few key benefits, including:

  • Offer warm light
  • Dimmable
  • Offer different beam angles

The cons of using halogen downlights

Halogen downlights have a number of downsides which has led them to be replaced with LED lighting.

Energy consumption

One of the main issues with installing a halogen light bulb in your home or office is the amount of energy they consume. Halogen bulbs can consume up to 500 watts of power per area. This compares with between 7 and 20 watts for an LED downlight, meaning that your halogen bulbs could be using up to nine times as much energy as an equivalent LED version.


Halogen bulbs have a short lifespan. The average lifespan for a 50w halogen bulb is between 1,000-2,000 hours which compares to up to 50,000 hour for an LED, so even though halogen bulbs are cheaper to buy initially, they can cost more to replace over the long-term.

Ultraviolet radiation

Halogen lights also give off significant amounts of ultraviolet radiation, so can potentially cause damage to artwork or other colour-sensitive fabrics that are exposed to too much light from them, in the same way that pictures can become sun-damaged.

Replacing halogen downlights with LED downlights

LED lighting is much more thermally efficient than halogen or traditional a incandescent light bulb, as 80% of the energy generated is light and 20% is heat. With traditional lighting, this is reversed, making the thermal performance very poor.

In terms of brightness and energy efficiency, LED downlights are the clear winners. They use much less energy than traditional bulbs so will help to save on energy bills.

The advantages of replacing halogen downlights LED downlights

Many homeowners and businesses are now purchasing LED downlights in favour of halogen lighting. They offer a range of benefits and a more modern and improved lighting solution in comparison to traditional halogen lighting.

The benefits of replacing halogen lighting with LED lighting include:

Energy saving and lifespan

As we have already mentioned, LED downlights offer impressive improvements in energy efficiency compared to halogen downlights. Combine this with a lifespan that is dramatically longer and, even when you factor in the extra costs per bulb of LED spotlights, they can be four or five times more expensive than halogen bulbs per unit, which can equate to hundreds of pounds worth of savings.

Reduced fire risk

In addition, there’s a reduced fire risk with LED lighting. The heat generated by halogen lamps can be a particular problem in downlights as they are often recessed into ceilings. This type of installation can make it difficult to efficiently dissipate the excess heat generated by the lights.

Halogen lights produce light through heat which can not only be dangerous but, in environments such as the kitchen where downlights are commonly used, more heat can make the temperature of the kitchen uncomfortable.

No UV rays

Halogen light bulbs emit a huge amount of UV radiation which is one of the reasons they are being slowly phased out in favour of LED. On the other hand, LED lighting emits a cool light in comparison to halogen lighting which means they will not cause damage to fabrics or artwork in the same way as halogen bulbs.

Halogen downlights vs LED downlights: A comparison

We have compiled a table to quickly show you the key differences between halogen and LED downlights. As you can see, LED downlights offer a much more energy efficient and cost effective lighting solution.


Lifespan Safety Colour options Energy usage/efficiency
Halogen downlights 1,000-2,000 hours Generates heat so pose a fire risk Limited colour temperature palette 35-500 watts per hour
LED downlights Up to 50,000 hours No filament so do not get as hot Large range of colour temperatures 7-20 watts per hour

Top picks: LED downlights

Product Wattage Warranty Lifespan Colur Temp Cost

Bright Source Eco LED Downlight

5w 3 years 50,000 hours 3000k £8.99 (ex VAT)

Buy Now

SOLO All In One LED Dimmable Downlight

10w 5 years 50,000 hours 3000k, 4000k, 6000k £18.55 (ex VAT)

Buy Now

Britesource LED Downlight

6w 3 years 50,000 hours 4000k £9 (ex VAT)

Buy Now

To find out more about the differences between halogen and LED downlights, please get in touch with our expert team who are always on hand to offer advice and guidance.

© 2023 LampShopOnline. All Rights Reserved. Company No. 07754783 - VAT No. GB 991 4552 91