EXPOSURE: Redesign the Downlight

In the October issue of Designing Lighting, I appeal to the lighting industry to redesign the downlight. There are some amazing downlights made – and none of them are compatible with any other. We – the industry – are creating a potential mess for our consumers down the road, and this is especially true in the residential market. I do not want to return to the days of halogen incandescent, even though I loved the MR16, but I do want us to do better at interoperability and standards. Let me know what you think!

6 thoughts on “EXPOSURE: Redesign the Downlight

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  1. I would go for low voltage downlights with the option for a centralized driver that can control color temperature. Sure, you have to run more conductors, but you can run much smaller than 14-2AWG Romex.


    1. Steve, I would love to see that happen!! All LEDs are natively low-voltage, so running 110 everywhere means we have dozens or hundreds of small, cheap transformers all over the house, instead of fewer, more robust, easily serviced drivers in remote locations.


  2. Interesting parallel to what is happening in the home automation and IOT fields. There is almost no financial benefit to manufacturers to build in interoperability in the lighting field, unlike with IOT. But one way in to this discussion might be talking to these manufacturers about waste/e-waste. We end up tossing out a lot more hardware as a result of no interoperability.


    1. Daniel, you are right about “no financial benefit,” at least in the short-term-we-need-to-post-good-numbers-for-our-shareholders mindset. Longer term category leadership that benefits consumers and the planet will reach a few brave companies…let’s hope for more!


  3. David, I 100% agree here. Sadly I fear that traditional solutions are being challenged by new ‘tech first’ solutions. There’s too much profit in the industry right now for the industry to give the consumers a clear choice. Many of the previously high-end only features of high end lighting; scenes, individually controllable fixtures, presence sensors are now features of apps. For most consumer this is interesting, and cool, tech that we haven’t had. Unfortunately tech features are giving way to light quality which is worse.

    Unfortunately by putting the tech in the bulbs, the very thing the industry is saying is green, the lifespan for these bulbs will outlast the tech lifespan.

    I’m in the middle of trying to decide what to do in my house – as a consumer there’s little to know information from the industry on what to do. All I want is to individually control bulbs in my house, keep my wifi network free, integrate blinds, have custom scenes. All that is easy with the new apps but what isn’t easy is I also want high quality led lighting and beautiful functional switches.

    There’s so many interesting things the industry could do – I love the idea of an LEDison solution just combine it with individually addressable lights (controlled via smart switch controls) and you’ll have a change at getting into consumers top of mind.

    Finally as a consumer, and an avid diy-er, please get things to work together – and if you don’t then honestly the tech first approaches from Amazon, Apple, Google will leave you behind. Perhaps the answer lies in the industry adopting a standard like Matter (https://csa-iot.org/all-solutions/matter/).


    1. Thanks for the comment! I am excited about the potential for Matter to make a difference. A few courageous manufacturers willing to work together could change the entire industry, making it easier for you to get exactly what you are asking for here. The components and technologies all exist…you could have high quality LED lighting, beautiful functional switches, wifi freedom, and individual control…but sadly as you point out it would be a crazy assemblage of proprietary technologies destined to become obsolete.


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