Downlights vs Spotlights

Downlights vs Spotlights

11 March 2022by KG Electrical

You’ve got your home layout just the way you want it; the fixtures and fittings are all in order, and your colour scheme is just right. But to create the right mood in your home, your choice of domestic lighting is also key. There’s a stunning range of lighting types available, all of which can dramatically change the whole atmosphere of a room. In this article we’re going to focus on the choice between downlights and spotlights. What exactly is the difference between these two popular lighting fixtures, and which one is right for your home?

What is a downlight?

A downlight is a versatile type of light fitting that’s particularly popular in kitchens and the bathrooms, thanks to its practical appearance and functionality. Recessed into the ceiling so that they don’t stick out at all, groups of downlights are great for providing extra illumination right where you need it – for example, above kitchen workspaces. If you compare a group of downlights to a central pendant light hanging down in the middle of the room, you’ll immediately notice how much brighter and more focused the light they provide can be.


What are spotlights?

A spotlight is an adjustable lamp fixed in place on a wall or ceiling. Spotlights can either be used for highlighting particular features of a room, or for providing soft, ambient light without a particular focus. This makes them ideal for positioning above an artwork or other key feature, and also for use in bedrooms and lounges to create a relaxing atmosphere.

What is the difference between a downlight and a spotlight? 

If you’re confused what the difference is between downlights and spotlights, you’re not alone! Many people use these two words interchangeably, as if they mean the same thing. 

In fact, there are a few important differences:

  • Spotlights are designed for emphasis, to focus a narrow beam of light at a particular point. Downlights provide a more general type of bright light – they would be the main lights in the room. 
  • Downlights are recessed into the ceiling, so that they lie flush. In contrast, spotlights are mounted on the surface of a ceiling or a wall.
  • Downlights just point in one direction – down! Spotlights are adjustable, so that you can fix the light in your chosen path. 

Downlights vs Spotlights: which one should you choose?

Choosing between the two will all depend on your particular environment, and what you are trying to achieve with your lighting. Some people opt for a combination of both! Here are some key advantages and disadvantages to help you choose…

Advantages and disadvantages of downlights


  • Downlights can be fitted on multiple different circuits, so you can have different sets of downlights on at different times
  • Strong, bright light source
  • Useful for lighting dark corners
  • LED downlights are energy efficient


  • Downlights need to be fitted a certain distance apart to avoid overheating
  • Installation involves cutting holes in the ceiling which could affect how much noise you hear from above.

Tips for using downlights in your home

  • Think about where you need brighter lights to help you with practical tasks. We’ve talked about food preparation areas in the kitchen; other areas suited to downlights might be the bathroom (particularly over the mirror) and your home office.
  • Opt for dimmable downlights if you want to be able to adjust the brightness.

Advantages and disadvantages of spotlights


  • Spotlights are adjustable and versatile, so you can adjust the angle of light whenever you like
  • You can choose from multiple fittings or just a single spotlight
  • Like downlights, spotlights can be arranged on multiple circuits
  • You can make a feature of your spotlights with attractive lampshades
  • Spotlights provide softer, ambient lighting


  • The softer light provided by a spotlight may not be adequate to light a whole room, so spotlights may be used in combination with other lighting.

Tips for using spotlights in your home

  • Don’t limit yourself! Using several spotlights in combination with a main light gives you lots of options to control the mood of your space, depending on what you’re doing and how you feel at the time.
  • Have you got a favourite piece of art, or a photograph that you’d like to display? Show it off with judicious use of spotlights.

Get in touch with KG Electrical Contractors today 

Need more advice on which type of light to choose? Read more about downlights and spotlights, or contact us on 01727 741 993.

Book Your Local Trusted and Award winning Electrician Today

    More from our Blog

    View All BLog Articles