Never Install LED Downlights in Halogen Fittings
To understand why fitting LED bulbs in halogen fittings is not recommended, you need to know how halogen and LED applications work.
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How LED Downlights Work
LED downlights produce light when electrons move on a semiconductor, a process known as electroluminescence.
Unlike the halogen lamp which has a filament, LEDs have a cathode and anode enclosed in a plastic envelope through which voltage is applied.
The electrons are pumped up to high energy.
In their effort to go back to their original state, they produce packets of energy called photons which present different colours depending on the temperature level at the time of combustion.
Even after they age, (usually 25,000 hours of use) LEDs will still maintain 70% of the initial brightness.
Electroluminescence is landfill-friendly since no hazardous materials are used in LEDs, it utilises low wattage and results in a longer lifespan than incandescence.
How Halogen Downlights Work
Halogen downlights emit light through incandescence.
Halogens have a tungsten filament in a high-pressure gas-filled bulb. Its contents are then enclosed in fused quartz aluminosilicate which is stronger than the glass in standard incandescent bulbs.
The halogen cycle begins when an electrical current flows through the filament and heats it up to white-hot to produce light.
The halogen redeposits the particles burning off the tungsten onto the filament which are then reused in the next cycle.
Incandescence results in high lumen output and a much higher colour rendering index with the disadvantage of infrared heat.
If you install LED downlights in your existing halogen fittings, you could be about to make a mistake that will take time and money to undo.
Common Problems With LED Downlights and Halogen Fittings
Installing LEDs in halogen fittings can cause a few problems with your new lights. To get the maximum benefit from your new LED downlights, have a licensed electrician in Brisbane like Allyn White Electrical to check your circuits and fittings to ensure they are compatible with the lower-wattage LEDs. If you don’t take this preventative measure, you could have problems like:
• Halogen Heat Issues: You probably have a heat guard and enclosed fixtures for your halogen downlights. This is because they give off too much heat when emitting light.
Though LED bulbs produce a small amount of heat, they’re very sensitive to high temperatures, so you’ll find them installed in open fixtures.
This allows for heat dissipation which in turn will lower the risk of fires, luminous flux and colour shift.
• LED Downlights Need a Heat Sink: The heat from halogen downlights goes outward, warming up the room while that of LEDs is discharged from behind the light source and into the fitting.
This heat goes into the heat sink (an aluminium surface attached to the LED) and is transferred into the air.
A heat sink requires 30cm2 per Watt consumed so a 10W bulb would need a heat sink that’s 300cm2.
Can your halogen fitting accommodate a heat sink with these dimensions? You’ll certainly have to replace all your fittings to go LED.
• Transformer Issues: Halogen transformers provide much, much more power than LED downlights to require. In some situations, you’ll need to replace this transformer with an LED driver to regulate the voltage. Otherwise, you risk the excess power blowing the LED. This is especially true if you live in an area with frequent voltage spikes.
A good way to tell if you need to change the transformer is to check if the halogens have pins or pegs to connect them to the circuit. Pins require a new transformer, pegs don’t, but it wouldn’t hurt to install an LED driver anyway.
• Lower Light Output: It sounds counterintuitive, but the higher voltage from a halogen transformer can actually damage the LED and lead to lower light output. LEDs draw such little power that they never pull the minimum wattage that the transformer is rated for. The end result is a transformer that can’t do its job and lights that are dim or don’t turn on at all.
• Buzzing, Dimming, or Flickering Lights: This is a common problem when LED downlights are used without an LED driver. LEDs run on DC power, not AC. Using them in an AC circuit will lead to voltage fluctuations that will cause the bulbs to flicker, buzz, or dim erratically.
• Shorter Lifespan: LEDs need a constant DC current to maintain optimum efficiency. Fluctuations in power from an AC outlet will shorten the lifespan of LEDs.
Have a Licensed Electrician Assesing Your Halogen Fittings
If you use LED downlights in incompatible fixtures, it may void any warranties they have. Avoid sabotaging your LED upgrade. Licensed electricians are knowledgeable in identifying potential dangers and determine if you can replace your halogen globes with LEDs straight away or if you need to add an LED driver.
Also, typically, electricians detect small, seemingly insignificant wiring issues that could become major problems and electrical safety hazards over time.
For a free quote by a licenced electrician call 0416 235 641 or simply complete the online enquiry form and we will call and arrange to quote your switchboard and electrical requirements. Our charge out rate remains the same during the week, weekends and after hours, so don't hesitate to contact us today!
sources: ledified.com.au, serviceseeking.com.au
Allyn White is a licensed electrical contractor and electrician in Brisbane QLD. Allyn is ...