How to create a lighting plan for downlights

Downlights are a great way to create that modern, minimalist lighting effect. Having multiple downlights recessed into the ceiling creates a sleek, contemporary feel and gives you the ultimate control over the brightness of your space. Darren from Mercator explains the many benefits of downlights and gives us a few tips on creating a lighting plan.

Warm light versus cool light

Warm and cool refer to the colour temperature of light, which is different from brightness (lumens) and energy usage (watts).

Darren says it’s easy to remember the difference between warm and cool through colour. “Warm light is yellow and cool light is blue. So, if you think of the light from candles, that’s yellow and soft. If you think of a really sunny day with an open blue sky, that light is blue and a bit sharper.”

Colour temperature explained

Colour temperature is described more accurately through the measurement of kelvins, which has the symbol K. 

A decorative globe with a vintage-look has a warm colour temperature of around 2400K and gives off a soft yellow light. Whereas a daylight white LED light has a cool colour temperature of 5700K. 

“With colour temperature, the higher the temperature, the cooler the light. That is the opposite to what we’re used to,” Darren explains.

Colour temperature has no relation to the heat given off by the light globe. In fact, there is very little heat produced by most LED light globes.

Where to use warm light

Warm light is best in an environment where we’d like to be comfortable and relaxed. Darren recommends that, “warm lights are better for residential applications such as the lounge room, in the kitchen, at the dining table and in bedrooms.”

Cool light colour temperature is closer to daylight and can have an impact on our sleep patterns. That’s why many electronic devices, such as smartphones have a warm light setting for use in the evening. 

For that reason, many people prefer warm light in bedrooms and living rooms, particularly when it’s close to bedtime.

Where to use cool light

Cool light is used in shops and workplaces, where you want to be able to see clearly and particularly if you are concentrating. Darren says the same principle applies in our homes. “Cool lights are better for security, in the garage, bathroom, kitchen and in task lamps. Anywhere that you’re working, rather than relaxing.”

In multi-function rooms it’s possible to have both warm and cool lights, depending on how the room is being used. For example, in a bedroom with a warm ceiling light, you can also have a cool light lamp on a desk for reading and studying.

Choosing the right light

All energy efficient LED lights are available in a range of colour temperatures from warm to cool. In fact, many LED lights give you the option to adjust the colour temperature in the same way you adjust brightness.

Get your lighting

Discover the full lighting and electrical range available at your local Bunnings Warehouse.

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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