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LED, Compact Fluro and The Truth Behind 12 Volt Halogen Downlights

Posted on 13 May 2013

Let’s talk about those wonderful looking 12 Volt Halogen Down lights that have been all the rage since the 1990’S – every day I walk into a home that has 5 to 500 of these lights, other than noticing how bright the house is I also notice how hot the house is.  The heat that comes off these lights is lost energy being burnt up, this heat makes your home or business hotter therefore requiring more cooling – so there is your first expense.

I love the way sparkies and electrical shops used to sell these, because they look so good the sale is half sealed, the next thing they focus on is the 12Volts and not 240Volts – it makes sense doesn’t it, lower volts must mean it’s cheaper to run right?  Wrong…. In fact what counts here is the wattage of the bulb used, and most of the halogen lights are 50 watts or more, so let’s say you have a bedroom and whack in 4 halogen lights at 50watts – you have just used up 200watts of energy – the other option would have been a bayonet or a round fluro type fitting – these would be no more than 60 watts or with compact fluros 10-12 watts.  And lets say you have 50 x 12 Volt Halogens in the house that’s 2500 watts.

So what can you do when it comes to lights?  Well first of all if you have the old incandescent light bulbs, pull them out and throw them away – there now illegal to import and to sell – and they also burn energy like it’s gone out of fashion.

So what now – Compact Fluros, they are affordable give great light, they are cheaper to run than the old incandescent lights; however they are fragile and not good for the environment as they contain Mercury – for more information on the dangers of CFL lights read our blog: http://bit.ly/YOdQIp


The light-emitting diode (LED) is one of today's most energy-efficient and rapidly-developing lighting technologies. Quality LED light bulbs last longer, are more durable, and offer comparable or better light quality than other types of lighting.

Energy Savings

LED is a highly energy efficient lighting technology, and has the potential to fundamentally change the future of lighting in the United States.  Residential LEDs -- especially ENERGY STAR rated products -- use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting.

How LEDs are Different

LED lighting is very different from other lighting sources such as incandescent bulbs and CFLs. Key differences include the following:

Light Source: LEDs are the size of a fleck of pepper, and a mix of red, green, and blue LEDs is typically used to make white light.

Direction: LEDs emit light in a specific direction, reducing the need for reflectors and diffusers that can trap light. This feature makes LEDs more efficient for many uses such as recessed downlights and task lighting. With other types of lighting, the light must be reflected to the desired direction and more than half of the light may never leave the fixture.

Heat: LEDs emit very little heat. In comparison, incandescent bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat and CFLs release about 80% of their energy as heat.

Transformers and Drivers for MR 16 Globes

If you are using GU 10 based 240 volt globes then you have no worries. However if you are using MR 16 based globes or need a dimming function, you will be using a Transformer or

Driver to power your lights.

Many electronic halogen transformers will not work successfully with LED globes. It is critically important to use the correct transformer/driver with MR 16 based LED globes.

The Australian Electrical Code states that the transformer must be changed when replacing the halogen light bulb with a different type of bulb, including LED.
If you choose to ignore this and install an LED bulb using the existing driver note that the brightness, smoothness of light output and life of the LED globe is dependent on the transformer or driver you use. Generally speaking wire wound transformers will successfully run most LED globes, but, they are not tuned to give the utmost in performance or globe life.  Using these transformers with a 5 watt LED will still cost you the same as running a 10 watt bulb due to the transformer not being designed for LED.

Also be aware that many cheaper electronic transformers used to power halogen globes will not run LED globes at all, or will run them with a noticeable flickering.

Many electronic transformers have a "VA" rating or a load rating "20- 60" stamped on them. If this is the case they will not recognize a load of only 4, 6 or 9 watts.

Quality LED globes draw so little power that the electronic transformers do not see them as a load and the transformer will not turn on.

If deciding to buy the light and the transformer you may find that you can purchase a kit which includes pre-terminated cables from the bulb to the transformer and a new housing to go into the ceiling.  It’s not a bad idea getting the whole lot as Halogen bulbs usually discolour the old housing.

Buying LED lights

Everyone is getting in on the act when it comes to LED lights, the problem is the quality of the LED and of the chip that drives them can be very different, one 12 watt LED will barely light up a room where another is blinding in its performance.

Again it’s you get what you pay for.

The other thing to look at is the light frequency for its brightness, its life – cheap ones sit around 25,000 hours where the more expensive are 100,000 or more.  100,000 hours is over 20 years of service – the extra $20 today on a quality bulb will save you $60 or more per bulb over 20 years.

LED lighting will save you money.

This is a fact.

You will save money in three ways.

Firstly, you will save money on replacement costs, due to the LED globes long life.

Secondly, you will save money on running costs, due to the small amount of electricity they use.

Thirdly, Halogens use 75% of their power producing heat, Quality LED globes, only 15%, you won't need as much Air conditioning power.

SolarGreen supply and install quality LED Light systems For homes, offices, car parks, warehouses and more.  Our bulbs start with a 2 year warranty – the best on the market.

Check out our online store to purchase some today:  http://www.solargreen.net.au/shop/category/cat19897/SolarGreen_Online_Store.html



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