LED downlights vs. LED panel lights: what are the differences and benefits?

With so many lighting solutions to choose from, buying the right one can be challenging. Both LED downlights and LED panels are both popular lighting solutions so, when choosing between them, it’s important to know the differences. This guide will discuss the pros and cons of each solution to help you decide which is best for your application.

What are LED downlights?

LED downlights are luminaries that are installed in the ceiling. These downlights are usually a standard size and are commonly used to replace PL-C and CFL downlight fixtures. If your ceiling does not support recessed downlights, you can consider surface mounted downlights.

Many people choose LED downlights because they can be easily installed in offices, schools, staircases and hallways. Unlike traditional LED downlights, these downlights have a long life and use less energy than other alternatives.

Pros of LED downlights

One of the biggest benefits of LED downlights is their energy savings but there are a number of other benefits associated with the used of LED downlights that should be considered.

Cost saving

Unlike traditional lighting solutions, LED downlights save a noticeable amount of energy. Generally, incandescent bulb is estimated to have a lifespan of around 1,000 hours, while an LED downlight can last for up to 50,000 hours. Halogen downlights are much less energy efficient then their LED equivalents. Although LED downlights can be more expensive to buy initially, they will not have to be replaced as often and can save on energy consumption by 90%.

This also makes LED downlights more environmentally friendly because they produce less energy.

High quality light

LED downlights are an excellent source of light for most applications. They provide a highly versatile source of lighting that can be adjusted to suit any situation. LED downlights are often used in living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms to offer task and functional lighting. They offer an effective lighting solution that can be used to blend in with any existing décor whilst still providing the best lighting.

Stylish solution

LED downlights offer a sleek and stylish lighting solution. If you prefer not to have light fixtures, LED downlights can provide lighting without imposing on the room. With so many designs available, there’s something for every purpose.

What are LED panels?

LED panels are made of a lightweight aluminium frame with three layers inside. The frame is designed to prevent light leakage. LED panels are commonly used in office or commercial settings because the light they produce is known to prevent eye fatigue and glare.

Benefits of LED panels

Installing an LED panel light within a home or commercial setting offers a wide range of benefits:

  • LED panel lighting is known for its low power consumption
  • Longer lifespan than traditional fluorescent lighting
  • Excellent light dissipation
  • Can be recessed or surface mounted 

Differences between LED downlight and LED panels

Although both LED downlights and LED panels provide excellent lighting, there are some differences that will help to choose between them. Here are some of the key differences.


An LED panel light consists of a diffuser which helps the light to collect and spread out. On the other hand, LED downlights have backlighting which makes the lighting brighter and more focused than an LED panel light.

So, if you’re looking for functional lighting that will illuminate a large space, LED panels are the best option. They will provide high quality lighting that can prevent eyestrain and eye fatigue which is perfect for commercial settings.

In contrast, LED downlights are well suited for domestic purposes where more focused or ambient lighting is required such as over a food preparation area in a kitchen or a bathroom.

Lighting angles

LED panel lights provide even, consistent light so only one beam angle is available. However, LED downlights can be adjusted or pointed to offer beam angles of both 20 degrees and 60 degrees to provide more focused lighting or to highlight particular elements within the room.

This makes LED downlights perfect for focusing on one area such as a corner of a living room where they can be dimmed for relaxing or drawing attention to a particular object.

LED panel lights are more suitable for areas which require a huge amount of light, for example, in an office space where lighting must cover a larger area and allow employees to focus on tasks without suffering from eye strain.

Lighting purposes

LED downlights are used to offer focused lighting, while LED panels provide essential lighting. As a result, LED downlights are perfect for domestic lighting, while LED panels are ideal for commercial lighting.

As result of a wider distribution of light, LED panel lights are best used as key lighting and to illuminate a large space. Whereas LED downlights can be used for a range of purposes including task lighting, essential lighting or accent lighting where required. The light from LED downlights is much more focused, making them perfect for this range of applications.

Top picks: LED downlights


Product Wattage Colour Temp Warranty Lifespan Price

SOLO All In One LED Dimmable Downlight

10w 3000k, 4000k, 6000k 5 years 50,000 hours £15.46 (ex VAT)

Buy Now

Bright Source Eco LED Dimmable Downlight

5w 3000k 3 years 50,000 hours £7.49 (ex VAT)

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BrightSource LED Downlight

6w 6000k 3 years 50,000 hours £6.20 (ex VAT)

Buy Now

Top picks: LED panels

Product Wattage Colour Temp Warranty Lifespan Price

Round LED Panel 174mm PL Replacement

12w 3000k, 4000k 3 years 50,000 hours £6.63 (ex VAT)

Buy Now

SOLO All In One LED Dimmable Downlight

10w 3000k, 4000k, 6000k 5 years 50,000 hours £15.46 (ex VAT)

Buy Now

Bright Source Round LED Panel 194mm PL Replacement

26w 3000k,4000k 3 years 50,000 hours £7.76 (ex VAT)

Buy Now

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