Low Voltage Halogen vs Mains Voltage Halogen - The Debate
are often asked to advise on which type of recessed downlighters are
better - Low Voltage (12 volt), or Mains Voltage (220-240 volt). The
simple answer is that they are both great ways to light a room, however,
there are some important differences to consider when deciding which
to choose and some circumstances that demand you make the right choice.
With the rapid advance of LED lighting this debate is now perhaps obsolete
however if you still need to make this decision please read on.
Apart from the voltage, there are some important differences between
the two types of light which may help you decide on which is the best
for you. You may have noticed from the website that in the majority
of cases we can offer our downlighters in both Mains Voltage (240v GU10
Halogen)*, and Low Voltage (12v Dichroic Halogen) versions. When installed
the fittings look identical as the same castings are used for both.
It is the type & quality of light given out that is the most noticeable
difference. Low Voltage Dichroic Halogen will make the colours in fabric
stand out more, and give better definition to paintings, pictures and
artifacts. Mains Voltage Halogen gives a good overall spread of a quality
functional light for general purpose lighting.
* Important Note: Mains lamps are most commonly supplied with a GU10
cap. Quite rare nowadays is the Dichroic version of the same lamp which
has a GZ10 cap. The main difference is that the GZ10 projects the majority
of its heat backwards, just like an LV lamp. Most of our Mains fittings
will accept both GU10 and GZ10 lamps, however we recommend, and will
only supply the GU10 type. Most in our industry expect that the GZ10
lamp will soon be phased out (remember the VHS & Betamax situation?
Well it's the same with GU10 and GZ10).
Special Circumstances to Consider
There are some applications where you should not use Mains Voltage downlighters.
Do not use them in a bathroom or wet area (except in the case of a dedicated
waterproof version such as our Mains Voltage GU10 shower-light). To
go to Bathroom Lighting
Regulations go down the page or click this link.
Likewise, there are some applications where you should not use Low Voltage
downlighters. The heat from an LV lamp is mainly projected backwards,
so in areas where the transformer would not have adequate 'breathing'
space, i.e. where roofing insulation or 'Rock Wool' would cover the
unit, the lamp and fitting would overheat. Transformers will overheat
and may fail if laid under, or on top of ceiling insulation. The heat
from a MV lamp is projected forward, thus making it most suitable for
installation where insulation is present. If the insulation is in an
accessible loft space, you could consider using Low Voltage lighting
if you remove 3-4" of the insulation all the way around the fitting
and place the transformer on a beam, or piece of Plywood placed no less
than 12" from the fitting.
To go to Fire Risks associated with Recessed
Lighting go down the page or click this link.
Some Simple Facts:
Replacement Mains Voltage Halogen lamps can cost nearly twice that of
their Low Voltage brothers, yet can have half the expected lamp life!
Mains last 2000 to 2500 hours, Low Voltage 3000 to 5000 hours.
consume approximately the same amount of electricity, however the 50w
Low Voltage Halogen lamp gives out approximately 20% more light than
the 50w Mains lamp.
lamps are available in 35 and 50watt versions, Low Voltage in 20, 35
lamps are available in 25 and 40 degree beam spreads, Low Voltage in
12, 24, 38 and 60 degree.
transformer, like all electronic products, can occasionally fail (our
IBL transformers carry a full 10 year no quibble guarantee). Mains lamps
do not require a transformer, this reduces initial purchase costs a
little and cuts one item out of the
Low Voltage and Mains downlighters are dimmable, however, with Mains
you need to allow an extra 25% capacity in your dimmer unit. A 400w
dimmer can run only 6 x 50w Mains lamps. Although you also need to leave
some extra capacity in your
dimmer with Low Voltage, 10% would normally suffice. Note: Always check
your dimmer unit is capable of running Low Voltage transformers.
Voltage requires room to breath (air flow) above the ceiling, so may
not be suitable if space is limited, access is difficult or roofing
insulation is present. Remember - the heat from an Low Volatge lamp
is mainly projected backward, Mains mainly forward.
So, Which is best? Points to consider...
Initial purchase cost - Mains is cheaper.
Replacement lamp cost - Low Voltage is about half the cost, yet has
approximately twice the lamp life.
Mains does not require a transformer, so there is less to install and
less that can go wrong in the future.
Low Voltage gives approximately 20% more light output.
Mains lamps can be a little less awkward to change.
Ultimately, you must decide based on the given facts. However, if pushed,
we always give the same reply. If possible use Mains Voltage downlighters
only when it is not possible to use Low Voltage. Either way, please
always employ a qualified electrician to do the work. If you are still
in any doubt about which way to go then call or email us for help or
Mains Compact Fluorescent!
Compact Fluorescent GU10 fittings. A relatively new concept in Mains
Voltage downlighters. They look exactly the same as Low Voltage or Mains
downlighters but have been specially manufactured to take the new Low
Energy Compact Fluorescent lamps. These are available at 7watt, 9watts,
11watts and newly added an 11watt dimmerable lamp. Soon also available
in 13watt. Although cheaper to but than LEDs spend the extra as the
LED source will have much greater longevity.
Low Voltage IRC (Infra Red Coat) lamps are also new on the market and
run 30% more efficiently than a standard low voltage lamp. A 20watt
IRC lamp can replace a 50watt mains lamp and give virtually the same
light output - this is an energy saving of 60%!
Copyright © 2007 Rowan Almond Limited