A guide to replacing halogen downlights with LED downlights

LED downlighting has become an increasingly popular alternative to more traditionally used halogen downlighting. If you have halogen downlights within your home and you’re looking to make the shift to LED, it’s important to understand the benefits and how and what you need to change before making the switch.

In this article, we will explain why you may want to change to LED and what you should take into consideration when making the change from halogen to LED downlights.

Why change to LED?

Changing from halogen lighting to LED lighting may seem like a big task but there are a huge number of benefits.

More modern lighting solution

Compared to halogen lighting, LED downlighting is a far more modern lighting solution. Much like their halogen predecessor, LED downlights are still created with housing for the bulb, the bulb itself and potentially a transformer will be needed.

Until recently, halogen lighting was the most popular and widely used type of downlight available.


One of the biggest benefits of making the switch from halogen to LED downlights is that it is proven to be far more energy efficient than its halogen counterpart.

If you’re concerned about the size of your energy bill, as well as taking eco-friendliness into consideration, you’re probably already thinking about how to reduce your energy output.

With a third of the average energy bill being down to lighting, LED lighting is a small change you can make to save money. With the cost being linked to the number of watts used to run a bulb, LED bulbs come out on top, using only 7-20 watts each hour. On the other hand, halogen bulbs can use between 35 to 500 watts while giving off a similar amount of lighting. This could mean a significant energy saving if you were to change all of your halogen downlights for LEDs.

Longer lifespan

Another great benefit to switching to LED downlighting is that they have a longer lifespan than halogen light bulbs.

Halogen lighting can last for 1000 to 2000 hours but an LED downlight can have a lifespan of up to 50,000 hours. While LED bulbs can be more expensive, the length of their lifespan makes them a more cost-effective option over the long-term.

Considerations to make when changing from halogen to LED

When making the change from halogen downlighting to LED downlighting, there are certain factors to consider. It’s not quite as straightforward as just switching out a halogen bulb for an LED bulb.

Select correct bulb

Firstly, you need to make sure that you select the correct sized bulb for your existing fittings and check the wattage to ensure you are getting the correct amount of light for the space. For example, you may require less bright lighting in your bathroom than in your kitchen.

The way in which lighting is measured for LED bulbs is slightly different from halogen bulbs, so it is vital that you match lumens with the power of halogen bulbs.

The good news is that most LED light bulbs are now designed to be retrofitted to existing light fittings. Usually, all you’ll need to do is remove the old bulb from the fitting and install the new one.

Colour temperature

Another important factor to consider is colour temperature. With LED downlights, there are three main options for colour temperatures:

  • Warm white - generally the norm for spaces around the home, creating a bright and cosy environment.
  • Cool white - widely used in commercial settings as it is much brighter.
  • Daylight- the closest LED lighting colour to daylight and perfect for task lighting.


The final consideration to take into account is whether or not you would like your downlights to be dimmable. This is much easier when it comes to halogen lighting over LED lighting so you should make sure the LED downlighting you choose is dimmable. Not all LED lighting can be dimmed so you will need to double check when you buy your bulbs that they can be dimmed.


Do LED downlights need a transformer?

If you’re switching your halogen downlights for LED downlights, LED bulbs which are powered from your mains electricity will require a transformer. This may be inbuilt into the bulb casing and it reduces the overall mains voltage to the best level for each lamp to be powered. A low voltage is best for LED downlights to function properly.

If you already have low voltage halogen bulbs installed with an existing transformer, you will need to find the transformer’s maximum load. This will tell you the maximum wattage they can carry and will give you an indication of the wattage you should choose for your new LED lighting.

Can you put LED bulbs in halogen downlight fittings?

If you attempt to install LED bulbs into halogen downlight fittings, this may create issues with your new lighting due to the difference in wattage. You should not do this blindly and can check with an electrician to be sure that the halogen fittings are compatible with the LED bulbs so that fewer issues occur. It might be better to do a full replacement to ensure safety and compatibility.

Can you mix LED and halogen downlights?

You can replace your halogen downlights with LED downlights slowly over time, replacing each bulb separately if you wish. However, this will not give you the same benefits as changing all your halogen bulbs for LEDs overall.

Why should you replace halogen downlights with LEDs?

You should replace halogen downlights with LEDs in order to enjoy a more flexible lighting solution that consumes less energy, is more modern, and has a longer overall lifespan.

How do you know if your downlights are halogen or LED?

The best way you can tell whether you have halogen or LED downlights is to see if the bulb glows yellow or orange when you turn them off; this indicates that they LED rather than halogen. LEDs also tend to have more lighting elements in the centre of the bulb’s globe, whereas halogen downlights only have one.

What wattage is best for LED downlights?

In most homes, LED downlights only need to be between 9 and 15 watts to get the best lighting for the area.

To find out more about making the switch from halogen to LED downlights, you can contact our team of experts.

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