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3 Alternatives To Halogen Downlights To Save on Your Electricity Bills

Planning your lighting in each room plays a big part in designing your new house. It’s even more critical in rooms such as your kitchen where you might spend a lot of time.

I find halogen downlights installed in the ceiling make the interior of the house look modern. They contribute to creating the clean lines for the interior design of your house and liberate your view from cluttered pendants all over the place.

Halogen luminaires also provide warm and pleasant illumination. They are versatile, can be used as task lighting to illuminate a kitchen bench as well as dimmable spotlights positioned above your wall decorating features to create that cozy ambiance.

Last but not least, they are economical and easy to install.

The downsides though of halogen downlights are multiple:

  • They produce a lot of heat. In summer when you try to cool the room down the fact that these lamps generate high levels of heat seems counter productive.
  • Because of the heat created the lamp holders installed in the ceiling are required to have a gap with the surrounding insulation batt. The reason is that prolonged direct contact between a halogen lamp in operation and the fiberglass batts can cause a fire to start. To ensure there is enough gap between halogen light fittings and the surrounding insulating material to allow proper heat dissipation the installer would have to make holes in your ceiling insulation batt. It’s like making holes in your winter blanket. From an insulation perspective that’s not a very satisfying as the heat provided by your heating system can escape through those many holes.
  • Energy wise halogen lamps that are usually installed consume 50W each but only produce narrow beams of light. As a result you need to install quite a few of these to provide enough lighting for a typical sized room such as family, kitchen or lounge. If your installation also has transformers for low voltage lamps then it adds up. Even when the lamps are not switched on the transformers still use electricity. Not only energy efficiency is relatively low with halogen downlights but there is also wasted energy in the case of low voltage halogen installations.

If you want to design and build a more environmental friendly but still modern looking house I would suggest 3 alternative approaches to halogen downlights.

1. Limit downlights and use only compact fluorescent downlights

These days you can find a much larger range of ceiling light fittings that use compact fluorescent bulbs or tubes. Compact fluorescent downlights also exist that are smaller than before and are manufactured with a modern design in mind.

CFL downlight with silver trim
This energy saving downlight comes with a silver trim which makes it look modern. Use 11W CFL bulb

Technically these energy saving bulbs generate much less heat than halogen lamps and they don’t require heat sinks or holes in your ceiling insulation batts. Downlights that take dimmable CFL bulbs also exist if you like the feature.

To equip your kitchen or library with undershelf or under cabinet lighting you can go with energy saving recessed downlight luminares. For more kitchen lighting ideas using under cabinet lamps click here.

energy saving under shelf luminaire
These energy saving under cabinet luminaire can be fitted with 9W or 13W CFL bulbs

2. Energy saving spotlights

To illuminate your pictures or wall decorating items why not go with aluminium energy saving spotlights.

11W Energy saving spotlights
These 11W energy saving spotlights are for sale at Bunnings

Although these lights are not installed in a recessed fashion in the ceiling I find they still contribute to a modern interior design. They are also more economical than traditional picture lamps.

3. Use pendants for task lighting

By combining energy saving under cabinet luminaire and pendants above the kitchen island bench you shouldn’t need downlights at all in your kitchen.

Kitchen pendant lamps
Make sure the pendants you select can take energy saving lamps. Three is usually sufficient to illuminate a kitchen island bench

What strategy did you use to limit halogen downlights?

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Post image credit: maureendidde

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One comment

  1. “Use pendants for task lighting”- I implement this to my house.

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