You are now convinced that you have to install LED downlights in your new house. Amazingly, many people still opt for halogen downlights or compact fluorescents - however, LED down lights use much less power, will last a lifetime, operate at a safe temperature, are not manufactured with harmful chemicals, and now provide a faultless light for the home. Also, LED LIGHTS are a better option than LED GLOBES as they are designed to last.
So - what is the best way to install them? How do you minimise the electrician costs and maintain flexibility?
Install a power plug for each light
The team at Renovator Store has spent some time with residential electricians to determine the best way to install your LED down lights. Each down light should have its own power plug. We discuss below the best plugs to use for a new house and for a retro-fit in an existing house. The reason we recommend a power plug for each light is it provides ultimate safety and flexibility. The other option is to hard wire them. If they are plugged in then it is a simple DIY job if you ever need to replace them or temporarily remove them (say to paint a ceiling) - and that means you do not need to get an electrician in at $75 per hour to do it!
LED downlight kits typically come with a transformer (to convert your 240V power to a voltage power compatible for the light fixture). The transformer should have a an Australian power plug that can simply be plugged in. That means you can elect to simply plug the lights in yourself, or hire general labour to do this. Many home owners find that once the wiring is completed in this way they do not need to get the electrician back to fit off the lights. They can get their builder or painter to simply plug in the lights and clip them into the ceiling once the ceiling is completed - for the average home this will save you a lot of electrician labour costs. At a recent new house build project I reviewed, the electricians prepared to hard wire each LED down light. Each cable termination for a light had to be taped off for safety while the plasters and painters completed their trades, and then the electricians had to come back and extract and un-tape the wire ends, hard wire the lights, and clip them into the ceiling. I estimate more than $2,000 in extra power cable, connectors/junctions, and electrician labour was required to install the lights this way.
The other benefit of plugging the lights in means that if you ever wish to change the light to a new style or brightness, or if it is not working, you do not need to hire an electrician for the task - simply unplug the old transformer and light and plug in the new one!
Installing in a new house
When pre-wiring we recommend that you get your sparky to install in the ceiling a Clipsal QuickConnect plug (or equivalent) for each light. These take about 30 seconds each to install as they cleverly clip onto the flexible power cable. This saves you expensive electrician costs, and for a few dollars each provide you complete flexibility and safety. As outlined above - you do not need to get the sparky back to install the lights as you, your painter, or builder can easily plug them in. If your sparky doesn't know about them or hasn't used them before - then show them this article!
Installing in an existing house (retro-fitting)
Hire your electrician to pull out the existing light fittings and transformers and then attach a suitable plug on the flexible power cable. It is far quicker and easier for the electrician to hard wire into the larger connection holes on a socket, than into the small LED driver. This saves you money and your electrician or you can simply plug in the lights. Therefore your electrician can do their work and do not need to come back to "fit off" as an electrician is not required to plug a light in. Simply do it yourself or get your painters to plug and clip in the lights as they go.
Another benefit is that it is a simple DIY job to change the light down the track if you want a new look or if it is not working properly.
Look out for our next blog on choosing the best dimmer for your LED down lights.