Why would you want a small downlight? One reason is when you do not have the space, nor need the light output of a larger one. Most downlights are 75mm – 125mm overall diameter and emit several thousand lumens. There are plenty of occasions when this is simply too much.
For example, in residential lighting, you often need to highlight a table or the corner of a room. You might also want a row of lights to bring out the colour or pattern on a wall. Tall recesses benefit from small downlights. So, too, do narrow corridors, display cabinets and under shelves.
In commercial premises, small downlights are more suited visually to areas where you need the space to be softer and more relaxing. This might include break-out areas, staff restaurants, small meeting rooms and boardrooms.
Most of the downlights reviewed here are 50mm dia, or less. They all emit several hundred lumens so they function well and are not purely decorative. Due to their size, all have remote drivers and they are, of course, all LED.
Never forget the colour rendering. All the downlights here are Ra 80 to Ra 95. Similarly, the colour appearance is either 2700K or 3000K.
Check the quality of the beam before you specify the downlight. Some were brilliant and some were too wide or uneven to be really useful.
Even with low wattage luminaires, it is always worth considering energy saving. Apart from the on/off switch, manual dimming would most probably be the best solution for domestic applications.
Anolis are best known for their huge range of quality, colour-change exterior luminaires. They are a well-established name across the world so their move to produce a small range of interior luminaires is intriguing. The MC stands for Multi Chip and the standard version of this small downlight is RGBW in a choice of whites. The ArcSource has a prismed front lens that mixes the light from the coloured LEDs. There is a range of beam widths from 16° to 33°. It’s primary function is where you want colour change rather than plain white. The actual downlight is 50 mm across and it comes with a MR-16 housing that clips on so that it can replace a halogen downlight.
This is a classy little unit designed by Philippe Starck. It is unusual in that it has a flared reflector that projects 10mm below the ceiling. This is deliberate and would add a sparkle to a ceiling. The model we received had a polished copper reflector that gives extra warmth to the beam. White, chrome and black are also available and they can be simply swapped over by unscrewing them. Inside, the LED chip is mounted high up and fitted with a black anti-glare surround. The Bon Jour also has a nice clean beam that isn’t always the case with other similar downlights. Distributed in the UK by Atrium.
EcoLED have moved on in recent years and now have some high performance luminaires aimed squarely at the specification sector. An example of this is their new website that has a section called Light Builder where you can specify exactly the luminaire you want in terms of wattage, finishes, CCT, CRI, bezels, beam angle etc.
The particular model we tested was 10W. The deep set LED combined with a low glare inner and a small light aperture of just 20 mm means that you get a lot of light from an almost invisible opening in the ceiling.
This is slightly larger than the other downlights tested here, with a mouth opening of 50 mm, plus the very slim bezel. There is a range of reflectors and one I particularly liked was the burnished chrome; you could also describe it as antique silver. Other finishes include a satin gold thay would add lustre to the standard 2700K, CRI 90 LED chip. Like some of the others, the LED is set well back from the bezel and iGuzzini claim the Fazer has a glare rating UGR of < 15.
This is a budget unit with a range of bezel inserts. It would suit a roll-out for a hotel, restaurant or retail chain. The 4W driver is one of the smallest I have ever seen at 20 mm x 25 mm x 40 mm. There is a range of inter-changeable reflector inserts but, personally, I found them a bit fiddly to swap over. On the plus side, the lens is clear glass so it is easy to clean and won’t get scratched.
This is one of a range of soft appearance, fixed, trimless downlights. They are used in conjunction with their own Lucent LED35 module. A neat feature of the trimless downlight is the sprung ball-catch mechanism so you can easily remove the lamp body. Two beam angles and three CCTs are also available. When recessed into the ceiling, you can see the 3 mm wide trim and the internal recess that can be white or black.
One of the reasons people specify Mike Stoane equipment, apart from the performance, is the beautiful finish of the metalwork. Joins are wafer thin and the anodising is finer than talc. You can’t see the detail of a downlight’s construction in the ceiling but you can when it is mounted in a display case, cabinet or custom made furniture. This is where the Mole benefits over its competitors. It is a small wattage unit and mainly used outdoors, it is IP66, but it is finding many uses indoors in applications such as flooring, display cabinets and anywhere people might see it close up.
This is one of the shallowest adjustable downlights I have seen. Aimed straight down, the height above the ceiling is only 35mm. Even taking full advantage of the 45° tilt available, you only need 50 mm depth. The depth makes it ideal for cabinets and under-shelf lighting. The standard unit is 2700K and a CRI of > 80 or > 90 is available. John Cullen know their customers and this little unit is sure to be popular.
The main characteristic of this downlight is its very wide beam. This is produced by the Plexiglass diffuser combined with the white internal reflector. There is a slim, 5 mm wide, bright chrome bezel and so when switched on, the downlight appears as a uniform, bright glowing disc with just a slight chrome surround.