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How to Change Your Home Lighting to LED

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How to Change  Your Home Lighting to LED

The Midlife Man article “The Real Reason You Should Change to LED Lighting” shows you how much you can save on your electricity bills by changing your home lighting to LED.  The savings can be hundreds of dollars each year at current electricity prices in Australia, which are likely to increase further in the coming years.  I am sure most developed countries are suffering the same cost pressures with rising electricity costs.  So you would be crazy not change over to LED lighting, right, at least the lights most used in your home.  It does not make good economic sense to change lighting that is rarely used as your outlay on purchasing new globes and light fittings would never be recouped.  Just identify the lights in your home that are used frequently, typically the kitchen, living area, dining room, bathroom, bedrooms.  The hallway, laundry, etc. lighting may not be worthwhile changing to LED, but everyone’s living patterns and home use differ, so you will need to be the judge.


LED changeover DIY

Now we are going to show you how easy it is to change to LED lighting and save hundreds of dollars, and yes you can do it yourself, no need for an Electrician.  Bulb replacement is obvious anyone with a ladder can do that.  But even an entire downlight fitting can be replaced as these are usually installed with a 3 pin plug socket in the ceiling.  Just unplug the old halogen light transformer and plug in the new LED fitting.





Downlight Changeover to LED - Technical Considerations

Downlight Bulb Types

The two most common downlight bulb types in common use are the MR16 and the GU10, and exist for both halogen and LED lighting.  They have different pin configurations and the GU10 bulb runs at 240 volts (which is the same voltage as supplied by the mains power supply in Australia), while MR16 bulbs run at 12 volts.  For a GU10 bulb the transformer is an integral part of the bulb (one reason they are more expensive).


GU10 Bulb  MR16 Bulb


Dimmable or Not?

Some LED bulbs are dimmable and some are not, make sure you buy the right ones, and most of the  time the old halogen transformer also needs to be swapped for a dimmable transformer designed for LED bulbs,  as well as the bulb for them to function on a dimmable circuit.   Sometimes the existing dimmer switch (on the wall plate) needs to be changed these can be a little expensive, and an electrician would be required to do this.


Lighting Equivalence

As with halogen lights, LED lights come with different light intensities.  A guide for a couple of common light bulb ratings is as follows:

Light Output


12V Halogen











Be sure to match the light intensity to the halogen lighting installed.  Staying with our 50W halogen example above means that you would need to swap it with a 10-12W LED bulb to retain the same light output.   


Light Colour Temperature

All lightbulbs emit light of a certain colour which is dependent on the filament material and operating temperature.  Incandescent lighting for example has a yellow tinge. 

LED bulbs can emit light in a range of colours, so be sure to choose a bulb to suit your needs.  The most common for the home are:

  • Warm White
  • Cool White
  • Daylight

There are lighting colour charts on the web for comparisons, but it is best to see each type of colour bulb in operation to help with your choice.


LED Bulb Replacement in Halogen Downlights

GU10 halogen bulbs can be replaced directly with GU10 LED bulbs as there is no transformer involved.  The GU10 LED bulb has an integrated transformer, which is why the bulbs are a little expensive. 

With the MR16 bulbs some work with some halogen transformers, and some don’t.  Older magnetic transformers generally work well with LED MR16.  However, electronic transformers may not as they need a minimum power to pass through them to operate.  In a one transformer to one bulb scenario, when a halogen bulb is replaced with an LED bulb which would have a much  lower power rating it will not meet the transformer minimum load requirement and may not work correctly.  The lights will probably flicker.  The good news is that the good quality LED bulbs have advanced technology which mimics the higher load of a halogen so the electronic transformer is tricked into enabling the LED downlight to operate correctly.  Generally speaking a good quality LED bulb designed to replace a halogen downlight has a high probability of working satisfactorily, it just can’t be guaranteed. In the worst case you may also have to buy a new transformer to accompany the LED bulb.

Another point to be aware of is that LED bulbs coupled with a transfer designed for halogen bulbs may not output the stated light intensity, and may appear a little dimmer than expected.

If it is not possible to find an MR16 LED bulb to perform in your halogen downlights then you may also have to swap the transformer or the entire fitting, or change to a GU10 kit. 

Also Halogen to LED bulb replacement is not possible if the lights need to be dimmable, and even with a full light kit replacement the existing dimmer may need to be replaced.


Light Fitting Replacement

If swapping out bulbs only, or bulbs and transformer,  does not produce an acceptable result, then go for a full fitting replacement.  Your only choice is 12V MR16 or 240V GU10 bulbs.  Both can be installed by the home owner so long as there is a 3 pin power socket installed on the ceiling to provide power to the light.  Make sure any new light you purchase has the same hole size in the ceiling as your existing halogen downlighting to make the fitting changeover easier.


Cut-out Size

Most modern halogen downlights typically have a 90 mm cut-out, and most LED light kits have the same dimension to facilitate a straight swap out.



Sourcing LED bulbs and Light Fittings

One look in the lighting section at the local hardware store will tell you LED is taking over residential lighting in a big way.  In fact it’s getting harder to find halogen and incandescent bulbs.  But to be sure you are heading in the right direction, for technical matters like changing over your existing lighting to LED, it may be best to go to a lighting store.  Yes some lighting stores can be a little more expensive, but not all.  For example our friends at offer a great range of LED bulbs and fittings, not just for indoor but also for outdoor and specialist needs. LED Lights is an Australian online retailer, with offices in Sydney and Melbourne, and have experienced staff knowledgeable in everything lighting.  For light bulb or fitting upgrades, call the staff on 1300 798 220, they will make sure you choose the most cost effective upgrade path for your home lighting to be LED. will ship to your door so  you can install yourself and save. also offers a 30 day free returns policy. If you buy something and it’s not right or don't like it, send it back for a refund. want you to be able to shop with 100% confidence. Nobody wants to be stuck with goods they don't want, and are there to ensure that never happens. If you need to return or exchange something, it couldn't be easier. appreciate that people are busy so are committed to making the returns process as simple and efficient as possible.



Typical costs from our friends at  for some of the many options available:

LED Lamp 5W MR16 in 3000K or 6000K   


 LED Lamp 5W MR16 in 3000K or 6000K

AUD  $12



LED Retrofit Globe in 6W or 9W Dimmable MR16

 LED Retrofit Globe in 6W or 9W Dimmable MR16


AUD $32

GU10 240V LED Downlight TEK10 10W Dimmable 


GU10 240V LED Downlight TEK10 10W Dimmable


AUD $24


Prices at 24 October 2016

Keep in mind that LED lighting technology gets better and cheaper every day, and when you consider that LED bulbs have an incredibly long life expectancy often around 50,000 hours (over 5 years of continuous operation!!) the bulb and/or fitting purchase cost becomes only a small part of lifetime total cost for a frequently used bulb.


The Take Away

With rising cost of electricity, changing your home lightning, or at least those lights that are used the most can save a lot of money

  1. In the case of downlights the cheapest and easiest solution to upgrade to LED lighting is to change the bulb only.  This should be successful in most cases, so long as the LED bulb is one designed to replace Halogen bulbs.  Check first with the LED bulb supplier
  2. If a large number of downlights with the same type of transformer, are to have the bulbs replaced with LED, it is suggested you try one bulb first to see if the result is acceptable before purchasing the remainder of the bulbs
  3. If replacing a halogen bulb with an LED bulb is not viable for technical reasons, then there are other options such as replacing the transformer as well, or installing a new light kit
  4. Whether its bulb only or an entire light kit, it is an easy job and does not require an Electrician, as it can be legally done by the home owner 
  5. If you want to take advantage of the Australian Government REES scheme then bulb and light replacement needs to be organised through an approved government service provider


Disclaimer: The content of this article and other articles on this website are for informational purposes only and do not constitute professional advice. Please seek advice from a professional in the relevant field, in relation to any specific matter. Refer to the website Terms and Conditions. 



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