Downlight Types Explained
Recessed downlights are available in various shapes, sizes, finishes and brightness's. They're also available in different types such as fixed, adjustable and bathroom (IP65). It is important to choose the right type of downlight to meet the demands of your project or application. Before integrated LEDs came along, GU10 downlights were available in fixed, adjustable and bathroom versions. Fixed had no resistance to dust or water and had an IP rating of IP20. Adjustable also had an IP20. Bathroom versions are IP65 rated which means they're water and dust resistant. Integrated LED downlights are available in other variations. They're usually IP65 rated as standard, manufacturers don't bother producing a fixed IP20 version as their is no saving by having 2 different types. An IP65 rated downlight has an additional seal making it a more universal specification.
If you can't install a recessed downlight due to height restrictions you could fit a surface mounted one or a spotlight.
The IP code in brackets stands for International Protection, although the more popular definition is ingress protection, International Protection is correct, details here. The IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) standard 60529 or EN 60529 for Europe is a measurement of a products resistant to water and dust.
The first digit is for it's resistant to dust and the second digit shows its resistant to water, we have more information about IP ratings and bathroom zones. In short IP20 means it's touch proof and IP44 means it's resistant to water and dust. Anything above IP44 can be used in bathroom zones 1 and 2 which includes mounting them directly above a shower.
The Main Downlight Types
Fixed IP20 Downlights
The most basic and by far the most popular of GU10 downlight types. Fixed downlights point the light directly down. They are the cheapest and have the smallest diameter. Designed to meet the demands of the majority of room types such as lounges, bedrooms and kitchens. Kitchen downlights don't have to be IP rated as they pose no threat to water ingress. They can technically be used in certain areas of bathrooms but we recommend using downlights with an minimum rating of IP44 throughout mainly so they all match.
IP65 Bathroom Downlights
Mainly used in bathrooms IP65 downlights can also be used anywhere. Many lighting manufacturers only offer their integrated LED downlights in IP65. They are fitted with a water and dust resistant seal. This means they don't need to offer as many different types of downlights when just one will do.
Adjustable downlights allow you to direct the light into a different direction other than directly down. You may want to direct the light onto a cupboard or illuminate a specific object or painting. Adjustable downlights cost more, considerably more with integrated downlights and they usually have a larger cut out size.
This is a combination of a bathroom downlight and an adjustable downlight all in one. There aren't too many of these available but we offer a few including a non fire rated GU10 version. We also offer an integrated version called the H4 Lite from Collingwood Lighting which is both fully adjustable and IP65 rated meaning it's suitable for use in bathroom installations.
Our outdoor downlights with a GU10 socket are rated at IP44 which is water resistant enough to be used in fascia's and soffits etc. As long as you don't plan to power wash them they will be perfectly fine for years to come. Your main concern when choosing outdoor downlights should be the material or finish. If you install a normal downlight outside where its exposed to the elements, the finish will deteriorate and rust.
If you're looking for something a little bit different and want to create a different feel for the room. Square downlights offer something a little bit extra. We have non fire rated square downlights and a new square fire rated version from the Integral EvoFire series.
Twin downlights are rectangular in shape and contain two square downlights. They can offer a more modern design especially if you're creating a square or rectangular theme. Our best selling twin downlight is the Ansell Lyric which is also available in a matching single and triple version.
Similar to twin downlights, triples contain a row of three lights in a rectangular in shape. The lights are usually adjustable which allows you to direct each of the lights onto an area of your choosing. As well as the unique shape, you're also getting 3 lights in 1 fitting which is going to produce more light.
Available in either square in a two by two formation or rectangular in one row of four. We don't currently have any quad downlights available on the site but we can get them on request.
Trim Less (plaster-in)
Trim-less downlights also known as plaster-in offer a more minimal, seamless lighting effect. They are fitted into a ceiling and then plastered in. Lamps can be easily replaced using the twist-lock lamp holders so if the LED ever needs replacing it can without having to do any major renovations to the ceiling. Plaster-in downlights are trimless and don't have a clunky bezel like traditional recessed downlights. This style is available as integrated, GU10 or MR16.
The term spotlight is often used to describe recessed downlights or GU10 bulbs . However, a spotlight is a surface mounted light fixture that has one or more lights on it. The correct term for a GU10 bulb is a lamp. Like downlights you can get spotlights in different variations from singles to quads. They can either have low voltage GU5.3 caps or mains voltage GU10 caps. Low voltage versions are quite rare these days, they may have a transformer built in or you may need to order one separately. GU10 spotlights operate on mains voltage and don't require a transformer or LED driver.
Spotlights are available with fully integrated LEDs which are also mains voltage. If any of the LEDs fail you would need to replace the entire fitting which isn't as easy as replacing a downlight. We recommend you choose an LED spotlight with a GU10 cap that takes GU10 LED bulbs. If one of these fails, you can easily replace it.