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What Are LED Downlights?

By Marisa O'Connor
Updated May 16, 2024
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LED downlights are light bulb alternatives for indoor or outdoor lighting. These light fixtures shine LED light from a hole in the ceiling. These lights are popular because they use less energy, produce less heat, and emit more light than fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs.

The term downlight describes a light fixture that is installed into a hole in the ceiling. It is called a downlight because the light shines down from the ceiling. When the light is produced from an LED, as opposed to another light source, it is called an LED downlight. These downlights are sometimes called recessed lights, pot lights, or can lights. The light can shine down broadly to light up a whole area or narrowly like a spotlight.

The LED qualifier in LED downlights describes the light source. LED is an acronym for light-emitting diode. It is the source of the light. It is similar to a fluorescent or incandescent light, but it is lit electronically. LED lights originally emitted only red light, but they can now be found in a variety of colors. The most common color selections for the downlights are warm white, which is similar to incandescent light, or neutral white, which is closer to fluorescent light.

LED downlights and LED lighting are chosen, among other reasons, because they are a cost-effective alternative to light bulbs. These lights have a longer life span than traditional light bulbs. They also use less energy while producing more light. Every 6-inch (15-cm) LED downlight can save an average of $265 US Dollars (USD) in energy cost each year.

Traditional lights use about 90 percent more energy and produce much more heat than LED downlights. Too much heat is one of the main reasons regular light bulbs burn out as quickly as they do. LED lights produce almost no heat because the light is generated electronically.

Energy savings are not the only benefit that LED downlights have over compact fluorescents. Fluorescent downlights are hazardous to the environment due to their toxic mercury content. LED lights are mercury free.

LED downlights are built to last 50,000 hours, an estimate of 23 years of light. They are more expensive upfront than other types of downlights, but in the long run are very cost effective. These lights are more likely to dim than ever burn out. The end of their life is met when they only produce 70 percent of the light they originally emitted.

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