What Are Downlights?

What Are Downlights?
What Are Downlights?
May 28, 2024

While there are a number of different lighting options to choose from, downlights are one of the most popular. Great for both home and commercial use, downlights tend to be energy efficient, non-intrusive and stylish.

Their sleek and modern design makes them a good fit for almost any room. When paired with mood lighting designed to create a more relaxed atmosphere you'll have the perfect set up of versatile lighting for all occasions.

Understanding Downlights

So you're interested in downlights but you need a little more information about what they are and how they work.

Downlights are sometimes referred to as recessed lights. This type of lighting fixture is installed to sit inside the cavity on your ceiling and the floor above (or your loft/attic).

Once you've got them properly installed you'll find that all they show in the opening for the light to shine down from. All of the wiring and extra parts of a downlight are hidden away in the cavity mentioned before. Downlights, on the surface, look small and discrete with an unobtrusive style. They usually offer directional light designed to help you highlight certain areas, however, some are designed to cast light far and wide.

Benefits of Downlights

There are many benefits to downlights which have helped this style of lighting become increasingly popular.

1. Sleek and modern design

If, like us, you're into the modern and minimalist design style downlights are the right choice for you. This style shows very little of the light casing or even the bulb/lamp itself which makes it perfect if you're looking for something that isn't invasive.

In short, they blend in seamlessly which is an interior design style that almost everyone loves.

2. Versatility

Downlights are one of the most popular types of lighting around. This is often because of the way they look but moreover, they fit almost anywhere. With different colours and finishes, downlights offer a versatile set-up that can be used in both commercial and residential settings.

Whether you're looking for downlights for your kitchen, bathroom, office, lounge or any other room feel free to browse our range to find a style perfect for you.

3. Energy Efficiency

Most downlights will installed with the use of LED bulbs/lamps in mind. Most will choose to install LEDs because they're more energy efficient and, if you choose smart LEDs, you can set the colour and brightness levels to suit.

The biggest benefit of LED downlights is that they consume less energy which means that you'll be paying less on your electricity bill. The use of LED bulbs/lamps also brings the benefit of a longer life which means long term, they'll save you money in more ways than one.

4. Directional Lighting

Downlights provide focused, directional light, making them ideal for highlighting specific areas or features within a space. This feature is particularly useful in kitchens, bathrooms, galleries, and retail environments.

Types of Downlights

You'll be able to choose from a range of different types of downlights when you start to search for the perfect set. Some types are great for all-round use while others are designed for specific use cases.

Fixed Downlights

Fixed downlights are the most common type and are installed in a fixed position, as the name suggests. They provide a solid and consistent beam of light and are ideal for general lighting. These downlights are often used in living rooms, hallways, and bedrooms.

Adjustable Downlights

Adjustable downlights (also known as gimbal downlights) allow you to tilt and rotate the light source. This flexibility makes them perfect for task lights or accent lighting. This makes it easy for you to create mood lighting and create a soft, relaxed atmosphere.

IP Rated Downlights

IP-rated downlights are designed to be used in areas with high moisture levels. These are usually installed in bathrooms and outdoor spaces. The IP rating indicates the level of protection against water and dust. For example, an IP44-rated downlight is protected against splashing water, while an IP65-rated downlight is protected against jets of water.

Fire-Rated Downlights

Fire-rated downlights are designed to be used in any area you like. They are built to help slow down the rate at which a fire can spread. Fire-rated downlights work by sealing off the hole that they're put into in the installation phase. They are covered in a material that will swell and grow at certain temperatures. It's this that helps to stop the fire from spreading to other flammable materials as fast.

Installation Considerations

downlight installation doesn't need to be too tricky. Some people make it sound overly complicated but if you're ever unsure or don't have the confidence to install them yourself, contact a qualified electrician.

When installing downlights there are a few things that we'd suggest you think about so that you make the right decision.


Careful placement of downlights is important for getting the right lighting effect. Think about how you use the space and the areas that need to be lit. For general lighting, downlights should be evenly spaced across the ceiling. For task lighting, such as in a kitchen, place downlights directly above work areas. For accent lighting, position downlights to highlight specific features like artwork or architectural elements.

Ceiling Height

The height of your ceiling will influence the number of downlights you need as well as where you put them. Higher ceilings may require more downlights or brighter bulbs. Whereas a lower ceiling may need fewer downlights or lower-wattage bulbs as to not overdo it.

Dimming Capability

Consider installing dimmable downlights to provide greater control over the lighting intensity. Dimmable downlights allow you to adjust the brightness to suit different activities and moods.

You can browse our selection of dimmer switches too!


If your ceiling has insulation, make sure that the downlights you buy are safe for insulated ceilings. Some downlights require specific installation methods to prevent overheating and maintain safety. If your downlights are covered with insulation and they're not suitable for that they are likely to overheat.

Choosing the Right Downlights

The features of your new downlights are one of the most important parts. You need to know how much light you'll get from a single unit, the type of bulbs/lamps you can choose from and more. Take a look below to find out a bit more.

Light Output

Some downlights will come with an integrated bulb/lamp while others will require you to purchase them separately. With that in mind, you need to make sure that your downlight will produce enough light for your space.

If the light fitting has an integrated blub make sure that the lumen output is fit for purpose. It's also worth keeping a note for when/if you need to buy any others or any replacements so that you can get the correct setup. But if you aren't getting integrated LED downlights, you're able to pick and choose the right bulb for you (as long as they have the right fitments).

Colour Temperature

Colour temperature is measured in Kelvin (K), and this rating will tell you what the light light looks like. The Kelvin rating will have a big impact on the feel of the room and the kind of ambience you can achieve. The higher the Kelvin rating the more white/blue the light will appear whereas the lower the rating the softer and warmer the lighting will be.

  • 1,000K - 2,000K: Candlelight - Very warm, reddish-yellow light.
  • 2,000K - 3,000K: Warm White - Soft white light with a yellowish tint.
  • 3,000K - 4,000K: Soft White - Warm light with a slight yellow tint.
  • 4,000K - 5,000K: Cool White - Neutral white light, slightly bluish.
  • 5,000K - 6,500K: Daylight - Bright, white light with a blue tint.
  • 6,500K - 8,000K: Bright Daylight - Very bright, bluish-white light.
  • 8,000K and above: Blue Sky - Deep blue light.

Beam Angle

The beam angle of the downlight determines the spread of light and how far it will go. Narrow beam angles (15°-30°) are more focused with directional light. These are better for task and accent lighting. Wider beam angles (60°-120°) give off a broader light coverage, better suited to general lighting.

Energy Efficiency

Choose LED downlights to maximise energy efficiency and reduce running costs. LEDs use less power and have a longer lifespan. They also create less heat compared to other bulbs. For example, Halogen and Incandescent bulbs waste around 90% of energy as heat whereas LEDs waste around 10%.




Downlights are a versatile and stylish lighting solution suitable for a wide range of applications. Their sleek design, energy efficiency, and directional lighting capabilities make them a popular choice for both residential and commercial spaces.

Feel free to browse our range of Downlights and find the best brand, style and finish for your space. If you're unsure about anything give us a call and our team will be more than happy to help.