LED bulbs: MR16 or GU10?

November 22, 2017 by James Alcock

LED bulbs: MR16 or GU10?

LED lighting is a great way to save energy in your home. Lighting tends to account for about 15% of your typical energy bill, but when you switch to LED lighting from more traditional lighting, you can reduce this to about 2%!

What’s different about LED lighting?

If you look at older lighting like incandescent or halogen bulbs, they produce light when electricity is put through them and the filament in the bulb gets extremely hot, eventually glowing and producing light. The problem is that for each unit of electricity used when you switch on one of these bulbs, 90% of the energy is lost as heat while only 10% is actually given off as light.

If you look at LED lighting, that 90:10 ratio is reversed, as 90% of the energy running through an LED bulb will be converted to light and just 10% will be let off as heat.

The great news too is that the LED bulbs themselves aren’t that much more expensive than their older cousins. I remember when we started the EcoStore, a simple 5w GU10 was about £13 to buy, but now they are just £2.50 a bulb.

Because LED bulbs don’t produce as much heat, the don’t degrade as nearly as quickly as the equivalent incandescent or halogen bulbs, so one of our LED bulbs can easily last 10 times longer. No more having to get the ladder out to change the spotlights in the kitchen every month!

Another great thing about LED lights is that they are now available in pretty much every fitting type. So if you want a bayonet or screw fitting, there will be an LED available that will use just 1/10th of the energy of the equivalent incandescent. As a rule of thumb, when you are shopping for LED bulbs, in order to get the same level of brightness we recommend dividing the wattage of the incandescent or halogen bulb by 10 – this should give you the equivalent wattage LED bulb. For example you might want to replace a 50w halogen spotlight with a 5w LED spotlight.

Which are better – GU10S or MR16s?

We offer a huge range of LED bulbs on our site, and they are all tried and tested brands – so each bulb you buy from us should work perfectly! Do note however that for spotlights (GU10 bulbs typically) you have to be specific about whether you want dimmable or non-dimmable bulbs!

My one word of advice is in relation to MR16 LED bulbs – and that is try to avoid them! Lots of people unfortunately have MR16 halogen spotlights in their home; they are common in kitchens, lounges and bedrooms. The problem with MR16 bulbs though is that they require transformers to convert higher voltage (normally 240v), alternating current (AC) to low voltage, direct current (DC) for the bulbs to operate.

So while you can replace any other incandescent or halogen bulb with an LED equivalent with absolutely no issues, when people start putting MR16 LED bulbs into their MR16 fittings in the ceiling all sorts of things can happen. The issue is you can’t normally predict exactly what the result will be, but expect flashing bulbs and bulbs that simply don’t turn on as a minimum.

The reason MR16 LED bulbs normally cause issues is related to the transformers. Traditional transformers need a certain amount of power to run properly, but LEDs have such a small electrical load that regular transformers do not register that they’re wired to a bulb at all – so they don’t work!

Basically, the bottom line is that if you want to install MR16 LED bulbs in your home, you will need to buy LED compatible transformers. This can actually be more costly and painful than just swapping the MR16 fitting for a new GU10 fitting.

Whenever we get calls from people with MR16 halogen spotlights we always implore them to swap the fitting with a new GU10 fitting. It is for this reason that we no longer sell MR16 LED bulbs at the EcoStore – but if you are in doubt please call one of the team and they can run through your requirements.

To summarise, it is definitely worth swapping to LED lighting – it will save you 90% on the lighting part of your electricity bill. If you have MR16 spotlights, take the fittings and drivers out and swap them with GU10 fittings/LED bulbs. This will mean you can quickly swap bulbs in the future and you know you will never have any issues!

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