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2021 How much does it cost to install downlights?

Some electricians may charge as much as $110 per downlight, but the average downlight installation cost is around $50–$70 per point for installing LED downlights. Expect them to charge a service fee in the region of $150 and an $80–$110 per hour rate thereafter.

Thinking of installing downlights? Downlights can add more light or change the mood of a space, and are a popular option if you have the right ceiling.

In order to install downlights, holes have to be drilled into your ceiling to house them, and the wiring fed and connected to a wall switch. While you can change lightbulbs and purchase downlights yourself, you will still have to hire an electrician to install them.

Replacing or retrofitting halogen downlights with LED downlights is an increasingly popular option, with energy savings and longevity being the obvious drawcards. Read this guide to find out more about:

  • Why install LED lighting?
  • How much do downlights cost?
  • How much does it cost to install downlights?
  • Downlight running costs
  • Downlight safety
  • Hiring an electrician
  • Getting quotes for downlight installation

Why install LED lighting?

In some cases, people replace overhead lighting with downlights or replace existing halogen downlights with more energy efficient LEDs.

LED lighting has been widely adopted for a number of reasons, including:

  • - Being extremely energy efficient (up to 85% cheaper to run than an incandescent bulb)
  • - Producing relatively little heat compared to halogen bulbs, making it safer for use in ceiling cavities
  • - Having impressive longevity

How much do downlights cost?*

When you're installing new downlights, the first step is to determine if your existing downlights are 240V (GU10) or 12V (MR16). This will determine what type of LED bulb you need to buy.

You can buy downlight kits that include the bulb, driver, fitting, lead and plug. Some typical prices are:

  • $18 for a 12W downlight kit (single unit, low profile and dimmable)
  • $25 for a 13W LED downlight kit (single unit, dimmable)

Expect LED lights to come with a 5 year warranty and last up to 50,000 hours.

How much does it cost to install downlights?*

When electricians give you a quote to install downlights, they will generally base their quote on the number of downlights and the difficulty of the installation.

Sparkies will charge a flat service fee and a per hour rate. The service fee will often cover the first 30 minutes they are working on your job. Expect them to charge a service fee in the region of $150 and an $80–$110 per hour rate thereafter.

Quotes for downlight installation can therefore vary dramatically. Some electricians may charge as much as $110 per downlight, but the average downlight installation cost is around $50–$70 per point for installing LED downlights.

If you're planning to retrofit your downlights, factors that may affect the cost of your project include:

  • Whether it's a straight swap of the bulb or an entire light fitting
  • Number of fittings to be replaced
  • Ease of access to your ceiling cavity
  • Health of your wiring and electrical system

Downlight running costs*

One of the main incentives to replace halogen downlights with LEDs is to save on running costs, so it's useful to know how much you can really save on your electricity bills. To run one downlight for a year, expect to pay:

  • $25 per halogen downlight per year
  • $3 per LED downlight per year

10 LED downlights would use 75% less energy and save you in the region of $270 over a year if you replaced 10 x 60 watt halogens.

Downlight safety

One vital reason why your downlight installation needs to be done by a licensed electrician is to minimise the risk of electrical fires.

Improperly installed downlights have been implicated in a number of house fires in Australia. And while LED bulbs do run a lot cooler than halogens, they still generate some heat, which is why they often have a heat sink built in. If you are installing LED bulbs in an enclosed space, such as a ceiling cavity, you need to look for units that are approved for this purpose.

Incidents of fires caused by improperly installed downlights became such a problem, government authorities issued warnings, and Australian Standards for downlights were tightened. Authorities made these recommendations to all Australians considering installing downlights:

  • Only use licensed electricians to install downlights
  • Only buy downlights that meet or exceed Australian Standards
  • Ensure that only non-combustible materials surround the downlights and/or a safety tested mechanical barrier is included in the installation
  • Consider replacing halogen downlights with LED downlights or installing LED lights instead of halogens

For these reasons, electricians are the only tradies qualified to install downlights.

Hiring an electrician

Unlicensed electrical work is not only unlawful in Australia; it could also pose a serious threat to the health and safety of your home. And even though each state and territory has slightly different regulations and classes for electricians, they all must be a licence holder before they can undertake work in your home.

When it comes time to hire a sparkie, you need to make sure they are right for your job. Some questions to ask them include:

  • Are you licensed?
  • Are you insured to work in my home?
  • Can you provide a written quote?
  • Do you have references I can follow up?

Get quotes from at least 3 electricians in your local area so you can compare prices on supply and installation and choose a professional you trust with your downlight project.

If you're thinking about replacing more lighting in your home and you want some inspiration, also check out our pergola lighting ideas and more creative lighting ideas.

*Costs and prices in this article are indicative and should only be used as a guide. They also vary locally and are subject to market forces.

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