Help With LED Downlights For My Home

I'm planning on replacing all the conventional halogen light fittings in my home with LED downlights (approximately 50). However, with the current Sydney Covid lockdowns, it really isn't possible yet to have an electrician come to my home and install them. So as not to waste time, while I am home I am planning to make all the gyprock ceiling cutouts and purchase the downlights I want so that when the electrician comes, he only has to run out the electrical wiring, complete with quick connect sockets, and plug in the downlights.

I've done a fair bit of research on downlights but would appreciate input/experiences from people having gone through a similar exercise.

I have a 2 storey brick veneer home and pretty well know every square inch of the house structure as I am a civil engineer and owner built it. Therefore, I have a very good idea where all the roof rafters and lower deep floor joists are located. The house has 2.4 metre high ceilings and I am led to believe that 10W downlights would be sufficient for such a height. Obviously, though, it is the lumens generated by the downlights that determines the number of downlights and their locations in each room. For even light distribution in each room, I am planning to use mainly wide angle 110 degree dimmable downlights which will be evenly and symmetrically located. I am, though, proposing to have about 4 narrow angle feature downlights in a downstairs bulkhead, only for effect, really. The main downlights would have a 90 mm cutout, have a low profile, aluminium low heat body and separate transformers. Advice regarding the feature downlights would really be appreciated, including size, wattage, light angle and spacing. All the lights will have dimmers installed.

I have sourced lighting estimating tools online which help estimate how many lights I need in each room, and their approximate locations. Of course, this may need to be varied according to joist/rafter locations. I have been advised that the lights nearest to a wall should be located at least 900 mm from a wall and that light spacing should be approximately 1.5 to 2 metres, again, depending on joist/rafter locations. Because I am using low profile IC 4 downlights (maximum 40 mm height) there should be no problems with having air conditioning ducts running on top of the 90mm roof rafters, however, any advice regarding this would be appreciated.

I would greatly appreciate getting advice on all of the above, but especially distance from walls and recommended spacing between downlights. Also, any recommendations on specific downlights (brands, flush/recessed) meeting the above criteria would be welcomed.


  • Also consider if you have insulation bats above the downlights. Look for ic rated lights where you can lay the bats over the light fittings so you have less breakages in the thermal envelope. Otherwise sounds like you have everything else covered.

    • +1

      I don't have insulation bats but will be getting IC-4 lights regardless as most can be butted up to structural members which is really beneficial when a rafter or joist isn't exactly where you'd like it to be.

  • +1

    When the sparky comes in to swap out the downlights, get him to install a 10Amp surface socket for each light, then if/when the led light fails you can swap out the light yourself.
    I used these from Sparky Direct

    • Most definitely. Plus I'm going to get an extra 5 of the same downlights as spares in case of any failures.

  • We had downlights fitted to our place many years ago. Then replaced halogen with retrofitted led bulbs by Martec. Beam angle 60% about 600 lumens. Four in the bedroom about 50cm from the walls. Three above the dining table about a metre apart. We're happy with them. I guess distance from wall depends on beam angle and whether you want to light up certain aspects of the room, eg, a few above the dining table. High CRI (>80%) is also recommended as well as appropriate colour for particular rooms. If you have already bought the lights and they have flex and plug, you could plug them in and have someone stand on a ladder with the light pressed against the ceiling to give you an idea of the light spread from different distances from the wall.

    Regarding the feature lights for bulkhead, really depends on what you are trying to highlight under the bulkhead, eg, display case, plants, fish tank, etc, and what effect you are trying to achieve.

  • I haven't bought the light syet. Have narrowed it down to about 3, all dimmable with aluminium bodies, bean angle > 100 degrees, IC-4 rating, CRI >80, low profile (maximum 40 mm high) and separate transformers. Am leaning towards recessed ones that give less glare than flat ones, but most of the recessed ones have a deeper recess than I like. Mercator have ones with only a slight recess but only have a 90 degree beam angle.

    With the kids now gone,I'm proposing to downsize and sell within the next year so I'm not going to go overboard and plan to only spend between $18 and $25 for each light which should still give me a quality product. Any suggestions on particular brand/types?

    The under bulkhead lights will only be effect only - essentially to look good when dimmed - and will not be highlight anything. Obviously, though 10W lights with 750 - 850 lumens and a wide beam angle wouldn't work in this situation so, again, I am asking for any suggestions/recommendations for this application.

    With your bedroom, what size is it? Mine is 5.4 m x 3.9 m so it would be good to do a comparison. At this stage I'm proposing to have 6 lights.

    • About 4m x 4m. 1 in each corner. 6 lights sounds about right then. Also, if you have wardrobes, that might block some of the light if you have the downlights less than 1m from the walls.

      When you say bulkheads, do you mean something like this? Probably led strip lighting works best for these.

      Or you can go for downlights:

      Whichever you prefer.

      • The bulkhead is like that in the 2nd of the above photos. It is exactly the effect I want to achieve. The bulkhead is just a lowered boxed in part of the downstairs ceiling that hides the upstairs plumbing. From the photos, it appears that the beam angle on these lights is about 60 degrees.

        • They should come in 30, 45 and 60 degrees. But does look like 60 or 45. If you are close to the light shop, see if you can buy one of each and ask if you can swap them once you decide on the beam angle that you like best.

  • Perhaps worth seeing if your sparky can get whatever brand you decide on from a wholesaler, they might end up similar pricing even after adding their margin.

    I've got haneco downlights(happy with them and the quality) through my house and they were around $10ish Inc gst each from a wholesaler with trade pricing

    • Thanks for the recommendation.

  • +1

    Go with the NSW Government's halogen replacement scheme - Apply for a household lighting upgrade

    It cost us ~$300 for the electrician to come an replace 16 halogen downlights with LEDs. I thought that was pretty good value considering at each location it involved fitting a female socket to the existing wiring, cutting a new slightly larger hole to accommodate the larger size new light, and supply/install of the new light. Ours aren't dimmable but I think it's just a small extra to upgrade.