LED downlights are often as easy to install as any normal incandescent light bulb. Most applications involve plugging them into a socket that runs off your mains Alternating Current (AC 110-230V) and because good quality LED lights have their own built-in transformers, it’s a plug and play, DIY situation that can be easily and quickly achieved without the need for transformers on every downlight – which is often the irritating case when running halogens. However, it is vitally important to note that there are a few scenarios that require a bit more tinkering in order that your LED Downlights work at an optimal level and don’t get damaged in the process.
Two critical considerations to take into account when installing your LED lights is whether your downlights will be running off a Direct Current (DC 12V) installation and / or whether you are using a dimmable option. In both cases, it is vitally important to ensure that you have the correct hardware setup so that your LED Downlights can shine their best and for the duration of their exceptionally long operational lives.
Firstly, if you are looking to run your downlights off a 12V DC system, you’ll need to purchase MR16 (socket type) downlights and have the right transformer installed. The Magnetic Transformer is the most commonly used power modulating device for most homes and businesses, and is the transformer type required to optimally run your LED lights. They are also very cheap and you can source them at any electrical shop. If you’ve got one, then great – again it’s an easy plug and play. However, LED Downlights will NOT run off an Electronic Transformer (or better known in the technical world as “Switch Mode Power Supply”). So – best bet is to get your friendly neighbourhood sparky (electrician) to come in and have a look-see as s/he will be able to identify, source and replace that transformer if required.
It’s worth mentioning that you should not run a mix of different lighting technologies on the same 12V circuit as you may experience a drop in illumination of your LED Downlights or they may not turn on at all. With a 12V system it is either all LEDs or all Halogens.
Secondly, if you want to be able to dim your led lights, then you’ll need to purchase a dimmable LED Downlight option and have the right dimmer switch installed. A Bell-Push Dimmer Switch is the optimum device used for controlling the increase or decrease of voltage to your dimmable LED Downlights and should be made available to you by your LED Lighting supplier when you make your purchase. LED lights will NOT run well (or at all in some cases) off the old styled Push-Button dimmer switches. Again, like the Magnetic Transformer, a Bell-Push Dimmer switch is both essential and relatively inexpensive to buy.