Downlights, the energy efficient, sleek, and scintillating lighting method. In this complete guide to Downlights, JJB Electrical, your local electricians in Harlow dive into the lighting world explaining everything you need to know about downlights and the installation process. 

Let’s start right at the beginning…

What is a downlight?

A downlight is a modern light fitting which is commonly recessed into a ceiling. They can also be placed under cupboards, on stairways and even within hardwood floors. As they are recessed you only see a small part of the light fitting. They are a great option if you have low ceilings or if you need extra illumination which doesn’t take up extra space. 

Lighting combinations 

Downlights work great in combination with other lighting methods like feature lighting. Take a large open plan living space – you might opt for a smart feature lighting piece but there are some areas which lack sufficient lighting. Installing a few downlights can ensure the whole space if adequality lit without stealing the limelight of your feature piece. Take a look at this example we installed in a kitchen / dining area in Harlow:

JJB Electrical Harlow - Downlight Installation


This combination of lighting methods is known as layering light – downlights are normally used thanks to their sleek, non-obtrusive design. 

Downlights Vs. Spotlights

You’ve probably referred to your downlights as spotlights before (a common mistake) as they can look very similar. From an electrician’s perspective they actually serve very different purposes. Let’s look at this in more detail: 

  • Downlights: Downlights are installed into something, typically a ceiling as mentioned above. They are used to provide bright overall illumination, great in task areas like a kitchen or bathroom. 
  • Spotlights: Spotlights are fixed into a wall or ceiling. Their purpose is to illuminate a specific area with little light overflow. Spotlights are commonly used to illuminate pieces of art.  

What should I consider when installing downlights?

Before installing any form of lighting you should appoint a fully qualified electrician. An electrician with experience will ensure the installation process is done correctly and to a high standard. This will leave you with safe, efficient lighting which will likely last you a long time. Choosing an electrician who specialises in lighting is even better – they are likely to have a portfolio of recent work and be able to offer unique lighting solutions. Here at JJB Electrical in Harlow we specialise in indoor downlight installations as well as feature and decorative. Check out our portfolio for some inspo!

You should also consider things like placement, lighting levels and if you’d like a dimmer switch fitted. Not sure exactly what you need or want? Don’t worry, our experienced electricians will ask the right questions and work with you to create your perfect downlight lighting solution. Let’s have a look at the different considerations in more detail:

-    Placement: Lighting placement is key when it comes to downlights. Your lights need to work in harmony with the room shape and size. Downlights should be placed where you need light the most – avoid just opting for a grid layout because you think it might make the most sense. Take a kitchen for example: downlights should be placed strategically to avoid overhead shadows and always kept well away from walls, keeping as central as possible. Keeping the downlights as central as possible avoids the greyish shadow from corners and edges which can in turn make rooms appear smaller, darker, and cramped. 

  • Lighting levels & colour temperature: The recommended lighting level for living areas is around 150 lux. In kitchens task areas this goes up to 400. Your electrician will be able to advise more about lighting levels after they know what rooms / areas you require downlights to be installed. Colour temperature is also a big factor – you can either opt for warmer or cooler white depending on the atmosphere you wish to create. 
  • Dimmer switch: Having a dimmer switch can bring many benefits – it allows you to control the lighting level within a room. Prepping dinner? Have your lights on full when in task. Once dinners ready you can enjoy your food in a more relaxed setting by dimming the lights…creating a candle lit atmosphere. 
  • Obstructions: Finally, do you have any obstructions which could get in the way of your downlights? Take a ceiling fan for example – if you place downlights near the fan, when in operation the fan blades will obscure the lights. This will create a rather annoying flicker which will definitely drive anyone mad! Your electrician will also check for any pipes running above your ceiling to avoid any mishaps. This is where a fully qualified electrician is a necessity!

Can I install downlights myself?

We would highly recommend you do NOT. Downlights are by no means the hardest form of lighting to install but to untrained eyes, things can be missed causing bigger issues down the line. To avoid unnecessary cost and save yourself time, hire an electrician!!!

How much does it cost to install downlights? 

This will very much depend on room size, type and if it’s a replacement or new installation. To gain a more accurate cost depiction get in touch with one of our team members. 

How long does it take to install downlights? 

Again this will depend on how many you are having installed. On average it can take anywhere from two to four hours per room. 


Which rooms should have downlights?

Every home is unique. Downlights can be placed in pretty much all rooms, even bathrooms. Their nonobtrusive, easy installation means rooms both big and large can benefit from downlights. This being said, we think downlights work exceptionally well in kitchens and living areas. 

How many downlights do I need per room?

As mentioned above the one size fits all approach simply doesn’t apply when it comes to downlight installations. With every home and every room being different, the ideal number of downlights can vary. 

I have a halogen downlight can I change them to an LED downlight?

Yes! Switching to an LED downlight will be more energy efficient, environmentally friendly and cost effective. 

Can you have too many downlights?

You’re probably wondering…is there such thing as too much light? Well, yes! Although it’s wise for a kitchens and other areas of your homes to be well lit, too much light can cause eye strain and just generally make life a little uncomfortable. Too many downlights can also create a rather clinical feel, not the atmosphere any home needs! This is why hiring an experienced lighting electrician is crucial. 

Do downlights use a lot of electricity?

LED downlights are very energy efficient – on average LEDs use up to 90% less energy and their lifespan is double their predecessors. Lighting makes up around 11% of the average household’s energy intake, so switching to LEDs will certainly save you money!

Outdoor downlight installation 

You can even install downlights outside! As long as they have a high IP rating, downlights can be a great additional outdoor lighting source. Commonly installed within soffits, they can offer precise illumination, enhance your curb appeal, and add visual interest. Got a CCTV camera? Downlights might even improve footage quality. 

Bathroom downlight installation

If you’re wondering whether downlights can be installed within a bathroom, yes, they can! Downlights installed in bathrooms must have an IP rating of at least 65. IP (Ingress Protection) ensures any installation is protected against water and other damaging elements. Bathroom zones also need to be taken into consideration but don’t worry, that’s what we’re here for!

Fire rated downlights

Lastly, you should note any downlights to be installed between habitable floors must be fire rated. Fire rated downlights help to prevent the spread of fire by sealing off the install hole – this does not block the way of fire completely, but it will significantly slow the spread down. They also help to maintain and protect the structure of the house during a fire. 

My downlights aren’t working, can you help? 

Yes, while we are expert downlight installers, we can also repair downlight faults. Commonly causes of faulty downlights are loose connections, crushed wiring, and lack of earth. 

JJB Electrical – Downlight Electrician in Harlow

JJB Electrical are your local lighting electricians based in Harlow. We specialise in downlight installations for homes of all shapes and sizes. Our electricians are registered with NAPIT, endorsed by TrustMark and are proud to be a Which? Trusted Trader in Hertfordshire. At JJB Electrical you can expect communication from start to finish, high quality workmanship, professionalism and of course a friendly smile…especially if you make us a decent cuppa on the job! All our installations are guaranteed for six years through NAPIT giving you the peace of mind you truly deserve. 

Lighting is a big part of our home and can transform even the most design challenging rooms. With an expert lighting electrician like JJB Electrical in Harlow, your home will be transformed into a warm, welcoming, and well-lit space. Suffering from a poorly lit home? Get in touch with our team of professional electricians today!