Halogen lights were a major breakthrough in their time, but unfortunately they waste energy. So if you have some in your kitchen, bathroom or bedroom you’re burning money. The latest light bulb technology – LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) – saves up to 90% energy so it makes sense to swap out your halogen spotlights and replace them with these energy efficient and cost saving alternatives.
LED light bulbs have now ‘caught up’ and are now able to provide a like-for-like replacement for incandescent and halogen light bulbs. So, if you haven’t considered this yet or maybe did a few years ago but thought that it wouldn’t work – look again. And if you don’t know where to start with the replacement, follow our simple guide below.
Halogen Spotlights Types
The first thing to identify, is the type of halogen spotlight you have. You’re most likely to be using halogens in any downlights you have, usually in kitchens and bathrooms.
The most common halogen lights used in the UK are either the GU10 or the MR16, although there are also some push fit ones (GU4 or GU5.3). Both the MR16 and push fit GUs are low voltage running on 12v. This means that originally they will have been fitted with a transformer to enable them to work with the UK mains voltage of 240v. You will need to know your transformer rating (VA) which gives you the minimum and maximum loading (Watts) that the transformer can handle. This will then tell you how many bulbs and at what wattage you’ll be able to install. The thing to bear in mind is that when doing the sums you should use the Halogen Equivalent Wattage for the LEDs (not the Rated Wattage – which only tells you the amount of power the bulb needs). This rating appears on the LED packaging.
The difference between the two main different types of halogen bulb is below. The GU10 has rounded ends on it’s fitting pins:
Whilst the MR16 has straight pins:
Replacing MR16s Halogens with LEDs
The easiest way to convert these to LED is to use a bulb such as the Philips 10W MR16 LEDs which give the equivalent lighting of a 50W halogen. If you want these to be dimmable, then you need to make sure that the transformers can handle this, otherwise you will need to replace them with something from one of our dimmable ranges.
You can also convert MR16 light fittings to GU10 mains version with a GU10 lamp holder. The lamp holder fits into your current fitting and converts it into a GU10 style fitting running off the mains voltage.
Replacing GU10 Halogens with LEDs
Traditional halogen GU10s run off mains voltage and LEDs require nothing near that type of voltage – typically running on between 3v and 10v. However, modern GU10 LED bulbs come with a built-in converter which handles this for you. So it’s a straight replacement ‘plug and play’. A bulb such as the Philips 4.3W Master Dimmable LED GU10, has a standard size and shape and is a direct replacement for the older 50W halogen. You should be able to fit this straight into your current GU10 light fittings. This particular bulb has a predicted lifespan of 35,000 hours, so you can see that it lasts from 30-50 times longer than a standard incandescent or halogen light bulb.
Colour of White LEDs
When replacing a halogen light, you need to be aware that LED’s come with different ‘colours’ of white light. These are explained in more detail here. However, just we aware that if you’ve grown fond of the current yellow-ish glow of your current halogen, then you need to replace it with a ‘very warm white’ or ‘warm white’ LED. This will be clearly marked on the box.
Beware the Flicker
The issue most people are wary of is flicker. The chief cause of this is a mismatch between the bulb and the transformer, e.g. if you are overloading the transformer. In some cases they bulbs may not even light at all. Check the transformer rating and make sure you’ve done the sums with the equivalent wattage of the LED before changing bulbs, or reporting faults. If you work on replacing like-for-like wattage from the old system to the new, there shouldn’t be any issues i.e. replace a 35W halogen with a ‘Halogent Equivalent Wattage’ of 35W in the new LED. So, replace a M16 halogen with something like a Philips 5.5W-35W MR16 CorePro LV LEDspot which is a 35W equivalent.
Beware Low Quality Bulbs
Given the initial outlay on LED bulbs is higher than for the older types, you may be tempted to shop around on the internet and find cheaper versions. BEWARE! We make sure to source our bulbs from reputable suppliers such as Philips, Megaman, Osman, Kosnic, Aurora and others. See our full list here. Apart from getting guaranteed quality and the bulb life promised, we know that our bulbs have met stringent safety checks. Unfortunately there are also some bulbs out there from suppliers who are less concerned about such things. Many of their bulbs are not properly insulated and with a GU10 LED running straight from the mains, you could run the risk of getting a very nasty shock indeed when you go to screw it into your light fitting. So do buy properly branded bulbs from suppliers you can trust. When people complain they’re not getting the bulb life promised, it’s usually because they have bought an inferior brand and of course, the manufacturer is pocketing a healthy profit since reputable LEDs do cost more.