Do you find yourself asking the question “What is the best beam angle for downlights?” If so, this practical guide will help you gain a better understanding on the topic.
As you may already know, adequate and proper lighting is a crucial aspect of any home or office space. But, did you know that downlights feature a range of different beam angles?
From bulbs to tealight candles, all light sources have beam angles. And when it comes to setting a room’s mood, beam angles are equally as, if not more important than the colour temperature that the downlights emit.
A beam angle is a measurement of how light is emitted or distributed from a source. A regular light bulb can have 360 degrees beam angle, unlike downlights that come in a range of different beam angles.
The majority of LEDs and recessed downlights have a fairly narrow beam of 40 degrees. In the industry, anything within 5 degrees of this is standard. When you select a downlight with a wider beam angle, you don’t get any extra light, it just spreads out further. The brightness which is measured in lumens remains the same while the beam intensity measured in candelas increases.
The only downside to a wider beam angle is having lower intensity. Beam angles vary considerably because of the availability of many types of bulbs and styles. For simplicity, most manufacturers divide their products into two categories – spots and floods.
Spots are bulbs with relatively narrow beam angles – between 45 degrees and 60 degrees. They create an intense circle of light known as a hotspot, with a small diameter that remains bright over long distances. They are mainly used where light distribution needs restricting or when precision placement is required. A common use is in feature lighting, where attention is focused on a specific object (such as a picture or ornament).
They are light bulbs with wider beam angles – 90 degrees and above. Just as the name implies, they do the exact opposite of spots. Their purpose is to flood an area with an even distribution of light. This makes them a better option for general illumination and can help soften the appearance of shadows. The wide beam angle also means that they can be spaced further apart thereby reducing the number of fixtures required to efficiently light a room.
Different Beam Angles for Downlights
With the technology rapidly developing, there are various beam angles you can choose from. GU10 LEDs and LED downlights are available in a wide mix of beam angles. Broad beam angles such as 60 degrees are becoming increasingly popular. The most popular option among buyers is currently a 40-degree or 60-degree beam, followed by narrow 25-degree beams. Our favorite 40-degree beam downlight is the Warm White 10W Dimmable LED Downlight.The following are the most common range of bulb angles available:
- 15 Degrees
A downlight with a beam angle of 15 degrees offers concentrated light which is crucial for accent lighting. If you want to direct light at things such as artwork, pottery, plants, and souvenirs, a downlight with 15 degrees beam angle offers the most concentrated light. It helps create a dazzling atmosphere in your room by providing focused and intense lighting.
- 25 Degrees
Narrower beams of 25 degrees can also provide intense light. It’s a great choice for illuminating surfaces and emphasizing smaller details in your room. It is commonly used in kitchens or rooms with high ceilings (i.e. study rooms or libraries). If the space between your floor and ceiling is over 9 feet, 25-degree downlights can give you a gorgeous beam. This beam is also referred to as a ‘spot’.
- 36 Degrees
Downlighlights with a beam angle of 36 degrees are perfect for rooms in your office and home. However, it also depends on its application and light spacing. It is ideal for use in domestic household ceiling fitted appliances since it can offer a softer, general light. One great 36-degree downlight is the Single 10W LED Dimmable LED Downlight in Matt White, which is also deemed as one of the best lights for reading.
- 60 Degrees
Ideal for large spaces, this beam angle is continuously increasing in popularity. Although it covers a large area, it does not offer more light. Nevertheless, it spreads the light further and is highly suggested for soft diffuse lighting. The beam angle of 60 degrees is perfect for use in the living room. It is also known as floodlighting and suitable for standard ceiling heights.
- 120 Degrees
If you are looking to install only a few downlights in your room and still get your desired lighting, a downlight with 120 degrees beam angle is a great option.
Dark Patches and Hot Spots
A dark patch is an area between two or more lights where the beams don’t meet or overlap each other. A hot spot is a pool of too much light found directly below a downlight. A room with poor uniformity is made up of pools of a combination of overly bright light and dull patches.
Fortunately, software now exists that can help to ensure good lighting uniformity in a room. You can use these software without knowledge of lighting, but they will take you longer to learn and understand.
Popular lighting software are Relux and DIALux.
It is a professional software designed for lighting planning for outdoor areas, indoor premises, the lighting of facades, lighting design, and projecting. Relux is capable of calculating natural light as well as energy consumption in a specific object depending on isolation and artificial light. It includes an extensive library of various interior and exterior elements that can be used for the design of interior or facade, as well as its visualization and estimation.
This program precisely estimates vertical and horizontal lighting levels, natural and blinding light factors. It enables you to accurately visualize 3D graphic design presenting natural light breaks, object views, and reflections from various angles. The app is available to download for free and has more than 200,000 users globally.
DIALux is a free software developed by DIAL for professional light planning. It is a common tool among light planners and designers all over the world. It helps to design simple and intuitive lighting systems for indoor and outdoor use. With DIALux, you can:
- Calculate and visualize the daylight
- Plan your lighting scenes
- Plan the colour and intensity of the lights you intend to use
- Position the emergency lighting on the project
This tool also calculates the energy consumption of the lighting project for the implementation of existing rules at national and international levels. Over 190 renowned lighting manufacturers worldwide use DIALux due to its many advantages in planning.
Things to Consider:
When you get the formula right in either software, you will achieve superb uniformity of 90% or higher. However, you will need to consider the following key factors:
- The Right Downlight
In lighting, brightness is measured in lumens while wattage is the amount of energy a lighting fixture consumes. Therefore, your aim should be to get the lowest watts and the highest lumens. For instance, in large rooms such as lounges that do not need to be too bright, you can get away with a wide beaming, bright downlight.
Are your walls dark or white and glossy? If you use a wide beam in a room with dark walls, the light will be absorbed and won’t reflect back out. But, if you use a wide beam in a white glossy room, you will not lose a lot of light since it will be reflected back.
- Average Lux
Lux is a unit used to measure the intensity of light hitting a surface, typically a floor or wall in a lighting design. One lux is equivalent to one lumen per square meter. There are no legal regulations for correct lux levels in homes. However, commercial rooms like offices need a minimum average of 500 lux.
Your decision on the best average lux level for your room depends on the room’s use. One family’s living room may have a totally different function from another family’s. Sometimes it is a good idea to make it brighter with the option of dimming the lights to your desired level.
- Working Plane
You can calculate your average lux based on the floor in spaces such as a hallway. In areas such as the kitchen, you will use the worktop height so that you can see what you are cooking and chopping.
Considerations When Choosing a Downlight Beam Angle
When choosing a beam angle for downlights, the basic consideration is to ensure that, when you install them, they can adequately illuminate your space. For every lighting purpose, the following are the factors you should consider:
- Building Type
This is one of the main factors in deciding what beam angle of downlights to use. Deciding how many lights you need in the building depends on you choosing the right beam angle. For example, a warehouse with high ceilings cannot have the same downlights as a retail store. Due to the height of the building, the beam angle will affect the illuminations and visibility.
- Number of Lights
If you have a 40,000 square foot building, you need to know the lumens that will offer the right amount of brightness. According to the industry standard, a commercial space requires 70 lumens per square foot. Lighting designers should create a lighting layout design plan before choosing the beam angle. It helps figure out how many downlight fixtures will be required.
- Height of Ceilings and Fixtures
Knowing your ceiling’s height helps you ensure that the beam angles are overlapping. If not, you may end up with either an overly-dim or too bright area in your building. Overlapped beam angles ensure that light covers all your space (preventing accidents).
The standard height of a ceiling is roughly 7.9 to 8.9 feet where a wider beam angle, 60 degrees or more is sufficient. If your ceiling height is more than 8.9 feet, you will need a narrow beam angle of 45 degrees or less. In every lighting case, you need to accommodate your ceiling’s height to ensure that you get a bright working space.
- Downlight Bulb Type
In every application, you should consider various types of bulbs and what they can offer to your space. For example, in spaces with high ceilings, you will need downlights with a narrower beam angle. For low ceilings, the beam angle can be wider.
Downlight Beam Angles for Residential Use
In a typical home, a medium-sized, standard beam angle of roughly 40 degrees for ceiling fixtures is generally all that is necessary to adequately light a room. A great choice for that would be the 10W Dimmable IP65 & Fire-Rated LED Downlight in Warm White. Still, this number varies based on the ceiling height and the number of fixtures in a given area. In lounges and living rooms where bright lights are not necessary, a wider beam angle of around 60 degrees can be ideal.
Areas such as stairwells with higher ceilings may require downlights with narrower beams to provide ample lighting and prevent accidents. As for ceilings of 3 metres or higher, you can install a beam angle of 25 degrees or narrower.
Downlight Beam Angles for Commercial Settings
When it comes to commercial lighting, the most important factors to consider are efficiency, effective task lighting, and aesthetics. Narrower beam angles are common in commercial settings because businesses have different lighting needs and higher ceilings than residential buildings.
For example, in a retail setting, merchandise needs to be displayed with flattering light. This means using a variety of downlights with beam angles that decrease shadows and limit glare so consumers can easily see the products displayed. Jewellery stores might use a downlight with a very narrow beam angle to catch the customers’ attention.
In an office, a wide beam angle that disperses light evenly is necessary – as well as additional other lights with narrow beam angles for personal tasks. This setup reduces glare and creates an ideal working space for employees.
Downlights with specific beam angles are not necessarily limited to residential or commercial applications. Most of them can be effective and productive in various types of settings. The main tip to help you choose a downlight beam angle is to mainly have a wider beam in large rooms and fixtures with a narrower beam in small areas. However, don’t forget to consider the ceiling height.