LED Downlight Buying Guide

LED Lighting is the number one choice when replacing your old halogen downlights – but with so many options and brands on the market, how do you decide what’s best for you? The following article aims to help you choose the option best suited for your home, budget and requirements.

The Types of LED Downlights:

MR16 Retrofit (GU5.3 Base): - Example – Philips Master LED MR16 7W 60D 3000K Dimmable

MR16 LED light bulbs are compatible with 50W halogen downlight transformers, and many, such as the Phillips Master MR16, are fully dimmable. This means you can retrofit your MR16 globe to your old transformer – no replacement needed.

The GU5.3 base can directly replace standard MR16 halogen lamps with a do-it-yourself bi-pin push-fit design.

This makes the MR16 a convenient, direct replacement for your old Halogen MR16s. They are cheaper to replace if any fail (which is rare) and are in long term more reliable.

However, issues begin if the transformer isn’t compatible. Meaning either new transformers are needed, or we move onto our next option – the GU10.


GU10 Retro Fit: - Example - Verbatim PAR16 GU10 6.5W Dimmable 3000K

Like the MR16, the GU10 is another retrofit solution to the old Halogen downlights. Unlike the MR16, the GU10 comes with its own transformer built in, meaning it’s a good solution if your previous halogen transformer isn’t compatible with MR16s.

Unlike the MR16, this means that if the light fails, it must be replaced completely. GU10s also run much hotter – and run a risk of failing earlier than an MR16.

This leaves the final, and most comprehensive option – a Downlight Kit.


Downlight Kit: - Example - Osram Superstar Downlight 8W 850LM 4000K

Downlight kits are a full replacement for old halogen lights. Rather than retrofitting to the old transformer, these have their own dedicated driver, and can plug directly into a power socket.

While this will require an electrician to install, they have the highest lumen output, work with dimmers, and are the best solution for anyone concerned about the misgivings of a retrofit solution – such as the replacement bulb not completely fitting the ceiling hole.  


Keep in mind, the LED kits are often more expensive than their retrofit counterparts.


Brightness and Lumens:

Once you’ve decided on which option is best for you, it’s time to consider the brightness you require. Brightness is measure in LUMENS (Not Watts) and even a lower wattage LED light can have a higher lumen than a higher watt counterpart.

A lumen rating of 400 or higher is recommended for downlights.

Here’s some comparisons for your consideration –

Philips Master LED MR16 7W 60D 3000K Dimmable: 440 Lm

Verbatim LED MR16 5.5W 3000K 35D 430lm: 430 Lm

Verbatim LED MR16 8W 3000K 35D 570lm: 570 Lm

Osram Superstar Downlight 8W: 850 Lm 


Beam Angle

Beam angle describes the range of light, and how far the light from the downlight reaches. The higher your ceiling, the narrower your beam angle should be in order to compensate for the distance the light needs to travel. A beam angle of 60°is recommended for most household applications.


Colour Temperature and CRI

LED Lighting comes in a range of colour temperatures. The most common of these is 3000K, or Warm White, which aims to mimic halogen globe colours.

CRI is another, extremely important consideration, and we’ve written another blog explaining it for you HERE .



Which such a wide range of considerations, it may be hard to decide on a solution right away. Price is also a consideration, as is brand. If you have any doubts or queries, our talented team here at Lightonline are always ready to help you.

Call us on 03 9819 1777, or browse our wide range of LED downlights HERE.