In most buildings, plasterboard has been used for ceilings because it provides a good level of fire protection, preventing fires from spreading throughout the property. The plasterboard is fire rated at 30 minutes, this being the amount of time it takes for a fire to burn through the flat sheet of plasterboard. Plasterboards can be combined in thickness to increase this fire rating. Cutting holes in the ceiling to install traditional down lights will compromise this level of fire protection as it provides edges for the flames to catch as well as allowing air to freely circulate into the room.
This is not the case with fire rated down lights as they utilise a material in the fitting that expands with heat and completely seals the unit, which prevents fire from filling the void above and spreading, providing 90 minutes of protection in the event of a fire.
Building Regulations state that any residential dwelling with the top floor height of up to 18m above the ground should have ceilings resistant to fire to up to 60 minutes. The residential building that have a top floor up to 30m should have ceilings resistant to fire for up to 90 minutes.
Please note that a ceiling’s fire integrity must be restored after fitting down lights. Building Regulations 1991 Approved Document B Fire Safety 2000 Edition Section 11.2 (applicable in England and Wales) says: ‘If a fire separating element is to be effective, then every joint, or imperfection of fit or opening to allow services to pass through the element, should be adequately protected by sealing or fire-stopping so that the resistance of the element is not impaired’. Also the IEE Wiring Regulations 16th Edition BS 7671: 2001 Section 527-02-01 says: ‘Where a wiring system passes through elements of building construction such as floors, walls, roofs, ceilings, partitions or cavity barriers, the openings remaining after the passage of the wiring system shall be sealed according to the degree of fire resistance required of the element concerned (if any)’. In other parts of the UK The Building Standards (Scotland) Regulations 1990, Amendment 5, 1999, Technical Standard Part D or The Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000, Technical Booklet E would apply.
SimplyLED fire rated down lights have undergone rigorous testing in order to obtain the necessary certification. In many circumstances, fire rated down lights are a legal necessity in order comply with building regulations.
There are a number of possible causes of failure with GU10s. Poor quality lamps are most often to blame, as they are not manufactured and tested to the same standard as bulbs made by reputable manufacturers. Don’t buy a ten pack of halogen bulbs by an unknown manufacturer for £5 and expect them to last a long time- they won’t!
Another reason that a bulb may blow prematurely is frequently switching it off and on. The filament inside a Halogen bulb degrades slightly each time the bulb is switched on. In high traffic areas where the bulbs are subjected to frequent on-off cycles, like kitchens and bathrooms, the lifespan of the bulbs can be significantly reduced. Replacing the halogen bulbs with LEDs can solve this problem. Because LED bulbs use surface mounted diode chips to produce light- as opposed to the traditional filament inside a halogen bulb- they do not degrade when exposed to repeated on-off cycles. They are also far more resilient to knocks and vibrations (often caused by people walking around upstairs) which is another common reason for the early failure of incandescent halogen bulbs.
Other possible causes include over heating, bad electricity supply, over voltage, and poor quality fittings. Many light fittings are quite poorly designed and if there is poor airflow around the light fitting itself the bulbs can overheat and fail very quickly. We recommend consulting a qualified electrician when trying to determine the cause of repeated bulb failure.
Fed up with your halogen bulbs blowing every few months? Why not switch to SimplyLED NxtGen Series II LEDs? Manufactured to the highest possible standards, these bulbs have also undergone strict safety and reliability testing. They’re also expected to last around 35,000 hours- a vast improvement on the average 5,000 hour lifespan of a halogen. This means that they would last for over twenty years if used for four hours each day. This ultra-long life span makes LED bulbs the perfect choice for light fittings in hard to reach places such as high ceilings or above stairs. Furthermore, because LED bulbs fade gradually over many hours, you will have plenty of chance to replace the bulb before it dies completely, meaning that you won’t be left in the dark.
GU10 and MR16 bulbs look similar when inside a fitting, and are similar in many ways. However, are also have some differences, which are discussed below.
The key difference between GU10 and MR16 LED’s is the voltage. GU10 lamps have a built-in transformer so use mains voltage between 220v and 240v, meaning that Halogen GU10s can be directly swapped with most LED GU10s. On the other hand, MR16 bulbs only use 12 volts; so will require an external transformer to step-down the mains voltage. Some MR16 LEDs will require a dedicated LED transformer (also known as a driver) although this is not always the case, bulbs such as SimplyLED’s NxtGen series II are robust enough to work with the majority of existing transformers. Because MR16 bulbs run on 12v- with the transformer hidden above the ceiling- they are particularly suitable for bathrooms and other environments where they are likely to get splashed. MR16 bulbs are also used frequently for outdoor lighting.
Price is an important consideration for some consumers. The prices of the bulbs are similar, and both MR16 and GU10 LED bulbs consume a similar amount of power (measured in Watts) so running costs are the same. However, because MR16 bulbs require extra transformers and wiring, the initial cost of installing them may be slightly more than GU10s.
MR16 LED downlights use two small pins that simply push into the socket and are held in place by friction. GU10s feature a more secure “push and twist” bayonet fitting with much larger pins than MR16.
Which Should I choose?
Unless you have a pre-existing fitting(s) it is generally cheaper and simpler to install GU10 bulbs as they are “plug-and-play”, requiring no external transformers. The exception is in wet or damp environments where a low voltage MR16 installation would be a safer alternative, MR16 and GU10 bulbs both look similar when fitted, but there are several important differences including voltage, fitting and cost of installation
Replacing a GU10 can sometimes be quite tricky, depending on the fitting used. Here’s our step by step guide.
TURN THE POWER OFF! This is extremely important; the bulbs run on mains voltage and an electric shock could be fatal.
Determine how the bulb is held in place. Some fittings use spring clips which need to be removed before the bulb holder can be lowered from the ceiling.
When the fitting has been lowered from the ceiling, grip the bulb holder firmly in one hand and the bulb in the other. Then simply push the bulb in slightly before turning it anticlockwise.
In some cases where access to the rear or side of the bulb is restricted, you will need to use a special lamp removal tool which uses a sucker to grip the face of the bulb so it can be turned and removed.
The next step is to replace the bulb with your new energy saving GU10 before putting it back into the fitting.
See the video below for more information
The old saying “buy cheap, buy twice”, certainly applies to light bulbs; you only have to take a look at online forums and reviews to see that this is the case. Prices for both LED and CFL replacements vary significantly across brands and retailers, but it is recommended that buyers choose well established brands. High quality LED bulbs such as those sold by SimplyLED offer several important differences:
Components and Testing
Cheap LED bulbs use inferior technology whereas quality products feature integrated digital LED drivers, thermal and surge protection, as well as an increased lifespan and reliability. Premium LEDs are also CE and RoHS certified and have undergone rigorous independent safety and quality assurance testing. Unfortunately this is not the case with counterfeit LEDs.
Most importantly, low quality bulbs have a very poor light output in terms of brightness and colour temperature. The lifespan of cheap bulbs is also likely to be far less than that of a high-quality product, and they are unlikely to last as long as described on the packaging. Another big problem with cheap LED bulbs is the poor and inconsistent colour temperature: A common complaint is that a batch of bulbs bought at the same time will deteriorate at different rates, leaving a ceiling full of down lights that are different shades of white and levels of brightness.
Look out for the length of warranty on products- most retailers should offer at least two years. Once again, this it’s important to choose an established retailer who’s likely to still be operating when you start having problems a year after purchase.
One of the best ways to determine the quality of a bulb is to see what other customer think! The Internet make this simple, and it’s worth taking some time to look around the web for independent product reviews and testimonials. SimplyLED have dozens of customer video testimonials on their YouTube channel.
Energy for lighting represents a large proportion of total electricity costs in the home. LED GU10s are a highly efficient form of lighting because they don’t waste energy in the form of heat like traditional bulbs. Using around 90% less energy than standard incandescent or halogen bulbs, they will obviously save a substantial amount in energy costs. Furthermore, the average halogen bulb will only last for a year, whereas an LED bulb will last decades!
It might surprise you to learn how many light bulbs are in your home. With the increasing popularity of spotlights, the total number of bulbs can quickly add up, with most rooms having somewhere between 4-12 bulbs.
In this example, we will image replacing the most commonly found 50w GU10 halogen bulbs. There are 8 in the kitchen, 4 in the bathroom, and 8 in the living room totalling 20 bulbs; in reality, most homes have many more than this.
Electricity costs vary depending on supplier and tariffs, but for this example, we will use an average price of 13p per KwH.
- A 50w Halogen bulb that’s used for 4 hours each day will cost about £9.50 per year.
- A 5w SimplyLED NxtGen LED bulb used for four hours will cost about £0.95 per year.
- This means that replacing 20 halogen bulbs with LEDs will save £170.80 per year.
At a cost of just over £200 for 20, it will take just over 14 months for the bulbs to pay for themselves. LED GU10s last around 30,000 hours (about twenty years), so imagine the savings you’ll make over their lifetime; in just ten years, you would save £1780- and that doesn’t take into account energy price increases, or the cost of having to replace those old halogen bulbs every year. In short, LED bulbs offer one of the simplest ways to significantly reduce your home electricity bill.
GU10 LEDs are extremely versatile and offer a multitude of uses in domestic and commercial environments. Available as a multi-coloured bulb or in one of three shades of white, there’s the right bulb for every type of interior from minimalist and modern, to cosy and traditional. They can come in an array of different colours and can even be dimmed, allowing you to adjust their settings to cater for many different situations and moods. LED GU10s work well in just about any room, but some of their unique advantages make them particularly suitable for certain applications.
High Traffic Areas
Like all incandescent lamps, halogen bulbs suffer from a slight deterioration in their filament each time they are switched on and off. In high traffic areas such as kitchens and bathrooms where this happens frequently, the bulbs lifespan is dramatically reduced. In these rooms, LED bulbs offer a far superior alternative. Because they use solid state technology with no filament, they are unaffected by on-off cycles and will last on average 30,000 hours.
Hard To Reach Places
Because LED GU10s have an extremely long lifespan, they are highly suitable for hard to reach light fittings, such as those above stairs, or on high ceilings; once installed, you can forget about having to change the bulb for decades! And because they fade over time, you won’t have to worry about the lights suddenly blowing, leaving you in the dark.
Business environments such as offices, shops, restaurants and hair salons, which require lighting to be on all day could make significant carbon reductions as well as financial savings by switching to LED GU10s. Additionally, unlike fluorescent tubes, LED lighting doesn’t flicker or emit UV radiation, which have both been known to cause health issues with long exposure. An example is of a business to make the Switch is One Hair Salon in Milton Keynes: you can view the case study here.
With so many different types of GU10 bulbs on the market, choosing the right bulb can be confusing. There are a number of factors to take into account when deciding which type of energy saving GU10 will be a suitable replacement for your existing bulbs.
CFL or LED?
Modern homes commonly use a mixture of standard light fittings and halogen down lighters or spotlights (mainly in kitchens and bathrooms). There are low-energy alternatives for both these types of light: but when most people think of an energy saving bulb, they think of a CFL. Although they represent a cost effective way to reduce energy consumption, the light output can be unsatisfactory- especially with budget bulbs. LED bulbs are even more efficient, and the ideal replacement for all bulbs, but particularly those used in light fittings and down lights, which previously used halogen bulbs. Although they are slightly more expensive than CFL, LED bulbs last approximately twice as long, and emit a superior quality of light.
Colour temperature an area which sometimes confuses consumers. It is usually defined by terms such as warm white or cool white. Warm white is typically the most popular choice in homes, particularly in countries with cooler climates, as the colour temperature is closer to that of halogen and incandescent bulbs. SimplyLED’s NxtGen Series II GU10s are available in very warm white which is virtually indistinguishable from your existing halogens. Some consumers prefer cool white bulbs, particularly in minimalist and contemporary styled interiors as they provide a cleaner, starker appearance.
Some CFL bulbs, particularly those at the cheaper end of the market, produce an unsatisfactory light colour that is often described as being “greenish: These are generally best avoided, as they also take a long time to reach full brightness.
Halogen replacements are not always dimmable, and you should always check the description to see if they will be compatible for use with a dimmer switch. SimplyLED’s NxtGen Series II LEDs are available in a dimmable variety, but the bulbs will generally that the existing switch is replaced with a compatible trailing edge dimmer switch in order to avoid problems like flickering or strobing.
The GU10 is one of the most commonly used lights fitting in the UK. They are suited to a variety of applications that require directional lighting, such as track lighting, recessed ceiling lights, and retail display lighting. The small size of the lamp gives greater flexibility in placing the lamps and with the option of various beam widths, the light beam can be placed very specifically. Most GU10 bulbs are either Halogen, CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) or LED, usually with a wattage of 35W or 50W (or the equivalent light output).
Types of GU10s
Halogen bulbs, a variation on the ordinary incandescent bulb, are the oldest of the three types. Ease of manufacturing makes halogen bulbs the cheapest to buy but they use by far the most energy and operate at very high temperatures: this results in a relatively short lifespan. CFL bulbs use the same technology as the familiar strip light tubes. They are more expensive to manufacture and buy, but use less power and create less heat than halogen and other incandescent bulbs. Although the technical challenges of producing small CFL bulbs have been overcome, their life expectancy has been found to be somewhat inconsistent. Other problems include the slow build up to full output, and the 20% to 30% reduction in output as they age. CFLs are also the least environmental friendly bulbs as they contain mercury vapour – this escapes into the atmosphere if the bulb is broken.
LEDs are the newest in lighting technology and are still the most expensive. However, their efficiency continues to improve while the costs come down. LEDs use the least amount of energy for any given light output, producing a lot less heat in the process.
The fitting uses a two-pin bayonet, also known as a “twist and lock” mount. Bayonet mounts are a safer alternative to screw fittings as they are less likely to work loose due to vibrations; this is especially important in down-stairs fittings. The dimensions of a standard GU10 are 50mm in diameter and 56mm in length, the exception being CFL GU10 which can be 20mm longer than the standard halogen. Most GU10 light fittings are open backed which allow the bulb to be pushed further back in the fitting and therefore the bulbs will be fine for use. However in some fittings the bulb cannot be pushed far enough back into the fitting and as such the bulb protrudes from the fitting.
Halogen bulbs were once seen as being at the forefront of energy saving lighting as they could produce 25% more light per watt than traditional bulbs, as well as having double the lifespan. Nowadays, LED lighting technology has surpassed halogen in terms of efficiency and longevity, and offers a vastly improved lighting solution for consumers.
A Cost Effective Solution
As lighting accounts for up to 40% of the average households energy bills, and energy costs rising at an alarming rate, it makes sense to reduce energy consumption by upgrading to the latest halogen replacement LED bulbs. A bulb like the NxtGen series II GU10 from SimplyLED consumes only 5 watts, while emitting the equivalent light to a 50w halogen. After the first year in which savings would cover the initial cost of the bulb, a user could expect to save around £10 per year in electricity costs. The average home has 25 lamps, so would save approximately £250 per year. Over the 25 year lifespan of the bulbs, this works out at £6250, and that doesn’t include the amount you’d save by not having to replace your halogens every 6 months!
SimplyLED NxtGen bulbs are expected to last around 35,000 hours. This means that they would last for over twenty years if used for an average of four hours each day. Obviously, this is a significant improvement on traditional halogen light bulbs which generally only last for a year or two. This ultra-long life span makes LED bulbs the perfect choice for light fittings on high ceilings, where replacing blown bulbs a difficult and time consuming job. Furthermore, because LED bulbs fade gradually over many hours, you will have plenty of chance to replace the bulb before it dies completely.
LED Bulbs: A Revolution In Lighting
LED technology has progressed rapidly in recent years, and have moved away from the bluey-white colour that they were often associated with in their infancy as home lighting. LEDs can now be made to produce a light virtually indistinguishable from the halogen counterparts in terms of brightness, colour temperature and beam angle. As well as using around 90% less energy than halogens, LEDs also have a vastly longer lifespan, usually around 30,000 hours compared to an average of 5,000 for halogen bulbs. For an average household, this represents a life of around 20 years. LED bulbs are more expensive than halogen but represent a worthwhile investment that will save thousands of pounds across the lifespan of the bulb.