A Change in thinking...
Many customers come to me looking at downlights, most specifically halogen downlights, to light the more basic areas of the home, Bedrooms, Bathrooms and Laundry or even the main lounge and dining areas of a home or rental.
There are misconceptions that recessed lighting is cheaper to install, cheaper to run and more modern. But times change and its important to keep an eye on the details, not only how the room will look but what is the true install and running costs of your lighting options.
Recessed lighting is becoming less and less popular for designers, the minimalist clean lines are being replaced by attractive decorative lighting and better switching options that allow you to better control your energy efficiency and increase the drama of your lighting scheme. Recessed lighting is often harder to install, fittings need to have specific ratings to work with insulation and of course you need to cut some form of hole in the insulation which will allow the heat to escape.
For example lets take a 4m x 4m bedroom and light it with halogen downlights. The downlights are likely to set you back $30-$50 depending on the model, note that this includes energy efficient halogen lamps (35W is as bright as a 50W lamp). Install is likely to cost $50 per light or $200 total, so you are looking at best case scenario to light the room with round white downlights costing you $320, with an ongoing power consumption of 140W (which will be around 10c per day if you run them 3 hours per day).
If we choose to light the same space with a modern ceiling button with 32W circular fluorescent lamp the output will be roughly similar, while the ceiling button will have less downlight, it will light the ceiling and walls better making the whole room feel brighter and livelier. Cost for a good quality fitting will be around $150 with install being around $50 for a total install cost of $200. Ongoing power consumption will be 32W (which will be around 2.5c per day if you run the light 3 hours per day).
We have cut no holes in the insulation and still provided adequate light and increased the visual appeal of the lighting of the space as well as saving money on install and in the long run with a more energy efficient lighting options. Not only that but as the push away from recessing lights continues this option will become more and more required on the sale of the property.
Bearing in mind this is a very basic lighting layout you will still need to add task lights and possibly even more ambient lights to set a particular mood for the space. But giving each room a strong solid base of light that saves you money is a very good start.