Halogen Reflector Spotlights, Are you sure?
Posted By: Matthew
So, you have an area that you would like to improve the illumination in, or you've just have had your kitchen refitted and you've decided that you'd like to fit some shiny new halogen reflector spotlights, mains voltage halogen GU10 ones for example. Well I suggest that you reconsider this decision to ensure that you've really thought this through.
In this post when I mention 'spots' I am mainly referring to ceiling mounted GU10 and GU5.3 halogen spots, G9 halogen spot lights and a number of LED versions don't really suffer with the issues I'm about to mention.
Now, I'm not saying for a second that all spots are a bad idea
If you're looking to concentrate spots of light towards a certain area then they're perfect for this and you'll find there's a huge range available in almost every style you could ever wish for.
However, if you're considering reflector spots as the primary light source for your room then this is where I suggest that you reconsider. By their very nature they concentrate their output in to tight pools of light. Sometimes there are options to increase or decrease the beam angle to reduce or increase the width of their pools but in virtually all cases you'll still find the light is focused and concentrated directly in front of where the spot head is facing. The closer the object is to the bulb, the more concentrated the pool of light. This is easier to understand if you imagine their pool of light as a cone, the closer to the top of the cone you are, the more narrow it becomes. Generally retrofit LED bulbs don't produce such a tight pool as the halogen ones they're designed to replace but the light is still focused directly in front of the spot head in exactly the same way.
You might be thinking “What's the issue with having tight pools of light though?”
Well the main issue is shadows in the areas where the spots are not pointing. This can be overcome if you are able to get the pools to overlap, but in larger rooms this normally means having more spot heads than you would like and from a cosmetic point of view this may be far from ideal.
I'd now like to go in to a little more detail about where, in my opinion, spots should and shouldn't be used.
Kitchen and Dining Room:
Spots work well directly above a work area such a sink or area for prep but not as the primary light source, you will almost certainly find unwanted shadows, especially if the fitting is located behind where you're normally stood. There are a huge number of alternative options for your kitchen ceiling. If you're looking to illuminate breakfast bars or dining areas then why not consider hanging pendants. For the main ceiling light in a kitchen, it would be sensible to not rule out one of the many T5 fluorescent offerings that are currently available.
They can work as the primary source in this room but you have to aim to get the pools of light to overlap, recessed ones are good for this as you can often position them wherever you like in the ceiling. However, please take in to consideration that you probably wouldn't want to be looking directly in to the light if you were laying back in the bath.
Shower Room / En-suite:
Directly above the shower an IP65 Shower Light is perfect and strongly recommended, the pool of light is ideal for this. For larger shower enclosures consider using three in a triangle formation.
Cloakroom / WC:
For a room that is normally quite small, spots can often be made to work quite well as it's fairly simple to achieve a smooth and even spread.
Spots are ideal as reading lights in the bedroom as this is an instance where you should want the light concentrated on to your reading material. They are less desirable on the ceiling though as you'll often find yourself dazzled by them and if you watch television in bed there's a good chance they'll reflect off of the television screen.
If you are looking to focus and draw attention to certain objects, such as a fireplace or items of artwork, then they're perfect for this. As the primary source, there is a huge number of better alternatives, there are literally 1000's of different ceiling fittings to choose from here. One thing you must consider in the living room is reflection from television screen though, so look out for those that hang down too low.
For narrow hallways the considerations here are pretty much the same as the living room, minus the reflection from television screen. For large open hallways then I doubt you're considering spots in any case, a nice suitably sized multi-arm fitting or chandelier would be better suited.
I sincerely hope that you find this informative and it helps you to make informed choices when it comes to choosing your ceiling luminaires.
Should you have any questions regarding this or you would like further advice then please do not hesitate to contact us where our lighting advisors and technical team will be happy to assist you in any way they can.