Recent fault I attended to in a small block of flats. When the outside light by the front door was switched on, all the remaining lighting in the home was switched off! It was dark at the time I attended which made it even more of a surprise. Someone previously had decided to repair a broken plastic back box on the outside light switch with end result that wires were put in the wrong connections on the switch! All the time the outside light was not used there was no problem with the in home lighting.
When choosing you new low energy lamps it is well worth making sure you have the shade of white that suits the room and the type of lighting you want. Take the trouble to look on the box to see what you are thinking of buying. Generally the colour of white can be bought in the range from 2700K to 4000K.
2700K is a warm white colour that replicates halogen and old style incandescent lamps. This might be what you would need if mixing new LEDs with order style lamps or for use in relaxation rooms such as a lounge or bedroom.
3500K is a noticeable whiter shade than 2700K which may suit a bathroom or kitchen.
4000K is a bright clear white that may suit a white brightly decorated bathroom or kitchen. It offer a very clean modern look.
4000K and upwards to 5000K is sometimes called “daylight”.
While looking at the label on these new lamps you will notice they are rated in Lumens as opposed to Watts. This is something we will all have to get used to because simply buying an old 100 Watt bulb is not something you can do now.
For any spot light lamps such as GU10s and downlighter take care to check the beam width specification as well. They can vary for example between 35 degrees to 60 degrees. Importantly a wider beam width means you can use less downlights for a given size of room, but take care to ensure the end result gives the desired level of light because wider beam width usually means a lower lumen output compared to a narrower beam width. Hence getting an electrical contractor who has experience with light level design is important.
Often places that sell these lamps will have a few on demonstration side by side so you can see the difference. I usually carry a few in my stock so I can demonstrate to customers the differences.
I found this today in a loft above a bathroom. It is not a very good picture but you may just about be able to see the electrical cable feeding downlighters has had the sheath melted and the insulation damaged. What appears to have happened is work in the loft had disturbed the cables resulting in them lying on or close to a halogen lamp of downlighter without a frame. These lamps run very hot and as you can see it has melted a cable. This particular type of lamp is a GU4 type which can be found in kitchen and bathroom downlighters without a protective frame or cover around. It operates at 12V (not normal domestic 230V) for a longer life. This means there is a often little box near each lamp called a transformer that converts the 230V to 12V.
This is a maybe a reminder that home electrical installations should be inspected regularly to try to avoid problems such as this. The new 2015 Electrical Regulations now state that inspection of loft spaces has to be part of a BS7671 periodic inspection of a domestic propery. As a bonus a good electrician at the time of an inspection will be able to advise on electrical safety improvements, low energy choices, fire safety options and convenience improvements. Also be careful who you let lose in your loft to do any work!
If you have any of these GU4 lamps in light fittings in your home then maybe it is time to think about changing them for LED downlighters anyway. Particularly as some of these open frame type fittings in a kitchen fire scenario will allow heat and smoke almost immediately through into the ceiling cavity. New replacement quality LED downlighters run at lower temperatures, are often fire rated to reduce the speed at which a fire could spread, are virtually maintenance free and usually can have a cage option on the back of them so roof/cavity insulation can still be closely installed over the top.
I came across this R80 downlighter in a domestic bathroom. The reported problem was the ES lamp had jammed in the fitting. Simple problem to solve maybe, or maybe not. The plastic assembly had hardened with age, the terminal connectors to the supply were not enclosed, the fixed wiring appears to be flex, the fitting was completely covered in insulation and hence a fire risk, not unexpectedly there was no RCD for it, it was an ordinary R80 fitting (not sealed). Not a pretty sight but had obviously been like that for many years since it was first installed when the house was built. There were other issues elsewhere in the property so the likely outcome will be a new Consumer Unit and partial rewire.
Having first qualified as an electrician in the 80s I am finding it surprising lately that poor quality electrical installation work can be stumbled upon so often. An example that I have come across quite a few times lately is the connection between two cables in a roof cavity using a simple insulated screw terminal block where no enclosure has be used to surround the connectors (Basic Protection in regulation speak). In one of these cases I was told by the home owner that an “electrician” had done the work. Considering the training electricians have to complete before being allowed out on real work I find it incredible that a trained electrician would omit putting an enclosure around live connections in a roof or floor space.
However there is one location in a home where there is a high risk of these terminal blocks being used without an enclosure, this being where fancy or cheap ceiling light fittings are DIY installed as a replacement for a ceiling rose. In many cases there is simply not enough room in these fittings for the required wires (could be 11 wires from three cables). In these cases it is probable a Maintenance Free junction box will required in the ceiling cavity so all the wiring can be connected up as was originally designed then just one cable is needed from the junction box to the new light fitting. Homeowners considering buying replacement light fittings should first enquire with an Electrician to find out if and how a replacement fitting could be safely installed.