Choosing the Right Downlights

LED downlights come in various forms; although most are circular in design, they’re also available square-shaped or in twin and triple rectangular forms. You can buy them with assorted colors of bezel and, for extra discretion, some are recessed into the ceiling. Some have compact housings so you can fit them into shallow ceiling voids.

In a commercial or public building, you’ll need emergency lights, of course, which are designed to stay on in case of a power cut and help people evacuate a building. Fire-rated downlights are useful in many situation for compliance with building regulations. Below are brief descriptions of some of the choices you’ll have to make.

Bezel Color

You’ll want to choose a downlight that matches or compliments the color of your ceiling. Naturally, most downlights are designed with white or silver bezels to blend with most ceilings. Some downlights have swappable bezels, enabling you to match them to a new decor.

Emergency Lights

Most workplaces and public buildings must have a system of emergency lights, which run off their own battery pack for a period of three hours during a power loss. When choosing LED downlights, you’ll often find emergency lights available in the same range with the same design, the only difference being that they become self-powered in a crisis.

There are two types of emergency lights: maintained and non-maintained. The former is used continually like a normal light and stays switched on if there’s a power outage. Conversely, a non-maintained light is kept switched off and turns on automatically when mains power is cut. Both types of light are meant to illuminate escape routes when all other light sources have failed.

Fire-rated Downlights

Fire-rated downlights are necessary when installed below occupied floors. These downlights prevent the easy spread of fire by sealing installation holes with intumescent materials when heated. Domestic or commercial ceilings have their own fire rating (i.e. the amount of time they can structurally withstand a fire), so the idea is to install downlights that maintain this fire rating, which is usually 30, 60, 90 or 120 minutes.