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How do i know if i should chose mains or low voltage downlights?

4 Answers from MyBuilder Electricians

Best Answer

Low voltage down lights give a better/ cleaner light than mains voltage lighting. I personally would choose low votage every time. However with mains voltage down lights you have several options of lamps that you can use. The standard GU10 lamp, similar to the low valtage lamp, an energy saving fluorecent lamp (these take time to warm up to full brightness) and led lamps. LED lighting has improved greatly over recent years and if you choose a decent quality lamp, costing around £12+, will give out a very good light. The only problem that I can see with LED lights is the narrow beam that many seem to produce, in some applications is an advantage.

2011-08-07T11:35:02+01:00

Answered 7th Aug 2011

Hi,

The choice is yours. The main difference is lamp life and quality. Low Voltage tend not to pop as much and as such can be cheaper to maintain. If I personally get a choice in advising what to install for my customers I would opt for mains voltage, mainly because it works out cheaper to alter the lamp if you decide to go down the LED route later on. We do however install quite high quality lamps and fittings so we tend not to suffer from lamps blowing frequently.
One good tip is that whichever you choose has its benefits but whatever you do steer away from buying budget fittings ( ikea, b and q ect ) - you will get what you pay for and as a rule the quality and general materials ar enot too good - regardless of what you pay. Even if they are the same make as you get on the high street because they buy in bulk ( example 100,000+ ) they demand a cheaper price so the manufacturers trim down on the general quality.

Long winded but I hope that helps

Nigel
NJM Electrical

2011-08-07T11:35:02+01:00

Answered 7th Aug 2011

You can choose either, technicaly everthing in your house is low voltage (anything below 1000V AC), below 50V AC is considered to be extra low voltage or touch voltage. Which is as discribed harmless. I always fit mains voltage as they are cheaper (no transformer) and in normal operation you are never going to touch them are you? Even if you change a bulb you would switch the Mcb (breaker) off wouldn't you?? Just be careful when fitting downlights to create plenty of space around them, they become very hot and pose a fire risk if instructions are not followed. Hope this has been helpful.
Regards Ed.

2011-08-07T11:35:02+01:00

Answered 7th Aug 2011

Hi,

It depends on location and quantity. Mains units are fine and usually a bit cheaper as you don't need a transformer. LV are preferrable in bathrooms and the like or if there are a large number.

With downlights it is critical to use the appropriate fitting to ensure fire integrity, and moisture ingress are addressed and that they are not stuck straight into insulation (but insulation integrity is maintained) or against flamible materials (lath ceilings & joists). This style of fitting is by far the most misused and dangerous style of light as you are sticking little points of 200 deg C in your ceiling so ensure that you get a qualified electrician who addresses these issues.

I would also advise that you consider LED lamps as these will replace slightly brighter halogen lamps in the future and even if you don't fit LED lamps now get your electrician to address this by fitting 10-20% more lights as the LED are 10-20% less bright. Mains type are inter-changable, with LV the transformer must be able to run LED lamps.

2011-08-07T11:35:02+01:00

Answered 7th Aug 2011

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