5 Steps to Properly Replacing 50w Halogens with the Best GU10 LED bulb

Do you know how to find the best GU10 LED bulb to replace your 50w halogens ?

Buying spotlights for your home used to be so simple. You knew they would be bright, you knew they were all dimmable and you knew the quality of light that they emitted would create a lovely warm glow and inviting ambience in your home. The only choice you had to make was whether to go for a GU10 or MR16 fitting.

However, now we have moved onto LED, things have now become more confusing. I’ll actually go even further than that, things have become utterly bemusing for customers. Did you know that even if you have invested a considerable amount of time and energy into researching the industry and products, you still stand very little chance of buying an LED spotlight that can actually replace a 50w halogen?

Whilst every ‘specialist’ LED retailer will proudly tell you that their product will be a like-for-like replacement for a 50w halogen, the truth is that virtually none of them are a genuine replacement. I currently only know of two products that genuinely are 50w halogen replacement LED spotlights. That’s quite shocking when you consider the thousands of products all advertised as halogen replacements. To ensure that you get the best spotlights you can, here are the five things you need to look out for when replacing halogens with GU10 LED’s:

1) Colour Temperature

Firstly, ‘warm white’ is NOT a colour temperature. It is a description of a colour that can vary significantly from company to company and product to product. Companies use this inaccurate and vague term to insinuate that their product will emit a similar warm colour and feel to that of a halogen, which is often not the case.

Take a look at these three images:

On the left we have a 50w halogen. In the middle, an LED spot sold by a leading online LED retailer very visible in Google searches, that describes this spot as a ‘perfect halogen replacement’ with a colour of warm white. Finally, we have a genuine 50w halogen replacement 7w GU10 LED.

50W Halogen – 2700k4w LED Spot – 3000k7w LED Spot – 2700k
50W Halogen4W Low CRI LED7W Spot

From the images you can see the ‘perfect halogen replacement’  LED spot in the middle is in no way comparable to the halogen or the 7w LED spot. This is because:

  • It is a completely different colour temperature
  • It has a low CRI score (we’ll come to that later)

When you actually pay attention to the colour temperature of the ‘perfect halogen replacement’ LED spot (which the company in question don’t publish on their website), it isn’t ‘warm white’ at all as claimed. It’s actually 3000k, a much more whiter light that I find is quite harsh and uninviting for living areas.

One reason a company might describe 300ok as ‘warm white’ (whilst not actually publishing the colour temperature) is because the higher the colour temperature, the lower lumen rating you effectively need for comparative levels of illumination. Your eye responds differently with variable sensitivity to colours in the spectrum and 200 lumens of a natural white spot (3000k) will appear “brighter” than 200 lumens of warm white (2700k) unit, meaning the retailer does not need to purchase an LED Spot with a high performance chip, making it cheaper.

2700k provides that nice cosy, relaxing, winding down at the end of the day ambience and natural white for work tasks in the kitchen, shaving and make up in the bathroom

Lighting choices are a very personal. Individual preferences do vary; different people and age groups will have very different opinions on which they prefer.

So make sure when you are looking to replace a halogen, ignore the term ‘warm white’ and look for the colour temperature of 2700k.

Colour Temperature Guide

2) Colour Rendering Index

This is the one area where virtually all LED’s are lacking. CRI is a measure out of 100 that tells you how effective that light source will be at showing the true colour(s) of objects in your home. The closer to 100 you get, the better that product is at rendering the true colours. The important factor here is that a 50w halogen has a CRI of 100. This means it’s perfect at rendering colour and everything in your home will look it’s best under these spotlights. The vast majority of LED spotlights on sale only have a CRI of around 80, which means that the ability of these LEDs to render colour efficiently will be roughly 20% lower than the halogen – quite a considerable drop.

If you take a look at this image, the lamps are identical in terms of colour temperature and lumens, but look at the difference a drop of 20 CRI had on the colours of the play matt and wooden floor?

60W Incandescent 2700K – 100 CRI10W LED Bulb 2700k – 80CRI11w LED Bulb 2700k – 97CRI
60W Incandescent Bulb10W LED Bulb Low CRI11W LED Bulb high CRI97

 Now Take a look at these two photographs:

LED Lighting with 2700K and 95+ CRI LED Lighting with 2700k and 80 CRI
95 High CRI LED80CRI LED

Pay particular attention to the brown leather chair. You can clearly see that the definition in the appearance of the colours is far superior under the high (95+) CRI lighting.

Now have a look at these three photographs of a mat on some flooring:

50W Halogen – 2700K, 100 CRI4W LED Spot – 3000k, 80 CRI7W LED Spot – 2700k, 95 CRI
50W Kids4W Low CRI7W high CRI

Compare the CRI of a 50w halogen and a 95 CRI LED spot both with a colour temperature of 2700k, with the “perfect halogen replacement” 4w LED spot at 3000k with only 80 CRI. Can you see the difference that the wrong colour temperature and low CRI have on the colour of the flooring and the mat? The 4w LED Spot creates a sterile, uninviting atmosphere whereas the 50w halogen and 7w LED spot create a lovely warm and welcoming environment filled with vibrant colours.

 Here are three more images to confirm this point:

50W Halogen4W LED Spot 7w LED Spot 
50W Halogen4W Low CRILED high CRI

Compare the difference between the 4w LED spot with its sterile and sanitary colours with the vibrant and warm colours of both the 50w halogen and 7w LED spot. If you’ve spent a considerable amount of time and money on furniture and furnishings for your home, wouldn’t you want it to look as good as it possibly could? Then why for the sake of a few pounds per lamp would you settle for poor quality lighting?

When you are looking at lighting and see an LED spotlight advertised as a ‘perfect’, ‘like for like’ or ‘direct replacement’ for a halogen, you need to ensure that the CRI score is at least 95. If not, it cannot be a genuine halogen replacement. Some companies don’t even publish a CRI figure for their LED products, which I find astonishing, so avoid these products and companies. Remember: to genuinely replace a halogen, an LED must have CRI of at least 95 (combined with a colour temperature of 2700k).

3) Lumens 

The required lumens you need to replace a 50w halogen are dependent on firstly getting the colour temperature and CRI right. If you have found an LED GU10 with 2700k and CRI of 95 or more, you will only require lumens of around 350.

4) Beam Angle

This is simple: a traditional 50w halogen has a beam angle of 38 degrees, so you just need to find an LED spotlight that matches this.

However, you can get LED’s with a much wider beam angle, up to 135 degrees. You just need to decide what works best for you and the room that you are installing them in. From my experience, 38 to 60 degrees works in the vast majority of applications.

5) Lifespan

A high quality LED spotlight will have a maximum lifespan of around 25,000 hours and no more. Because the brightness of an LED gradually decreases over time, the lifespan of an LED lamp is calculated to the point where at least 70% of useful lumens still remain. That means at the point where an LED has lost 31% of it’s useful lumens, that is the time it should be deemed ‘failed’.

Amazingly, some retailers still claim that their LED products have a lifespan of 50,000 hours. I’ve yet to see any of them publish a comprehensive and credible test report proving it. Yes an LED chip can last 50,000 to 100,000 hours, but the chip will not emit enough useful lumens to be bright enough to do the job ‘as described’. The other critical components of the LED lamp, such as the power supply or driver, will not last 50-100k hours either.

The fact is that an LED spotlight has a maximum lifespan of 25,000 hours and there are credible test reports to back this fact up. No reputable manufacturer of retailer would claim any more than this.

Conclusion

If you follow the directions below, then you will find the best GU10 LED Bulb LED  to replace your 50w halogens.

Wattage7Watt – 10Watt
Colour Temperature2700K
Colour Rendering Index (CRI) 95+
Lumens345+
Beam Angle38-60
Lifespan25,000 Hours
Expect to pay £12 for a dimmable LED Spot

If you would like further advice on LED spotlights from recognised industry experts, don’t hesitate to call us on 01484 609759 or e-mail customerjoy@well-lit.co.uk.

Our own high-CRI GU10 bulb used in this article is available to buy online.

Chris Stimson

Founder 

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