12v downlights have always been popular and remain so for good reason. Low voltage downlighters are cheap to buy and give a crisp white light from the 12v lamp. Some people believe that because they are low voltage, they are more energy efficient than mains voltage downlights. In some cases this may be true but in others it is the opposite.
All transformers waste energy in converting 240v to 12v, however most 12v lamps give more light per watt than its mains voltage counterpart. Many people use a 35w MR16 where a 50w mains voltage GU10 lamp would be used. In addition, most low voltage lamps last longer than their mains voltage equivalent and give a crisp white light. It is likely that there is no real energy saving benefit in choosing one against the other.
All low voltage down lights require a separate transformer. These are rated as 60va, 105va and so on. The va is volts multiplied by amps and at 12v converts to the same amount in watts, so 60va will power a total of 60w and 105va will power a total of 105w. It is imperative that the transformer is capable of powering the total load placed on it.
Some people prefer one transformer for each fitting. This has the advantage that if a transformer fails, then only one down light is affected. In addition, each transformer is small and can be placed in the ceiling void through the hole created for the downlight.
Others choose a larger transformer to power multiple downlights. This has the advantage of lower initial costs but if the transformer fails then all of the fittings connected to it will be affected. In addition, the transformer will be considerably larger than a lower rated transformer, making finding a suitable place difficult. There is no right and wrong answer, the choice is yours.
Heat is the enemy of low voltage transformers. The area around the transformer must be clear of all debris and insulation. In loft spaces, the insulation material must be removed from beneath, around and above the transformer to prevent overheating. All of our transformers incorporate a thermal cut-out so if the transformer overheats it cuts out before any damage is caused.
Low voltage downlighters can be easily dimmed using a leading or trailing edge dimmer so long as a dimmable transformer is used. The dimmer module depends on the type of transformer used, please ask if in doubt.
To assist you further in making an informed choice, please see our lighting information page, where you will find an article entitled Recessed Downlights Explained.
If you require any further help or advice on selecting 12v downlights, please call 0151 650 2138 or send us a message using the contact us form for friendly, honest and down to earth information.