Retro fit LED downlight globes are available in two distinct types based on their supply voltage. The two types are:
The choice between MR16 and GU10 LED downlight globes depends on several factors due to their differences and limitations. It also depends on if you already have downlights installed or are looking to carry out a complete new installation. The differences are stated below
The key difference between GU10 and MR16 LED’s are that GU10 LED’s are 240V based where as MR16 LEDs are low voltage 12V based.
As MR16 LED downlights are low voltage based, you will need an external transformer to convert your buildings mains 240V to 12V before supplying the LED. GU10 LED downlights on the other hand can be connected directly to a 240V mains supply as they contain an inbuilt transformer
MR16 LED downlights require a bipin type MR16 socket that is connected to a transformer whereas GU10 led downlights require a GU10 type connector that is wired up direct to 240V mains power
MR16 LED downlights can be made more compact in size because they use an external power supply / transformer unlike GU10 LED downlights that need to house an inbuilt transformer. As a result MR16 LED downlights tend to be similar in dimensions to halogen downlights and have the ability to easily fit into existing halogen fixtures. For example the MR16 Philips Master and the MR16 LED Technologies CREE LED downlight are both similar in size to a conventional halogen. While GU10's tend to be larger than MR16, new GU10's are becoming very compact. In particular the 7W Osram Superstar is almost the same size as a standard halogen. You also get lower wattage GU10 LEDs that are similar in size to halogens, a good example of this is the 6W GU10 LED Technologies CREE LED Downlight.
Generally both MR16 and GU10 LED downlights have similar brightness for the same wattage and brand. However because MR16 LED downlights utilise an external transformer, they can house more powerful LED chips resulting in the availability of very bright MR16 LED Downlights. However currently there is very little difference in terms of brightness between equivalent watt lamps
Both MR16 and GU10 LED downlights are available in a dimming form.
For the same wattage downlight and brand, MR16’s and GU10’s produce very similar amounts of heat. GU10’s may produce slightly more due to the fact that their inbuilt transformer may produce some heat. Overall you won’t notice much difference at all.
Both MR16 and GU10 LED downlights consume the same amount of power in terms of a whole package. A GU10 LED itself consumes slightly more power because of its inbuilt driver but when you look at it in terms of a package, an MR16 LED downlight with an external transformer together will consume the same amount of enegry as a GU10 LED downlight
It can be said that MR16 LED downlights are safer especially when used in an area where there is a chance of splashing water. A good scenario is when you need LED downlights in a bathroom or in an outdoor area subject to rain fail. The actual transformer is housed inside the roof and is safe from splashing water. A 12V lamp will not be affected in terms of electrocution when subjected to water which makes it safer to handle. Another good example are pond LED’s which are submerged in water. The transformer for these LED’s can be located external to the pond in a safe area in turn making the pond safe from being subject to 240V mains power.
Both 12V M16 and 240V GU10 LED downlights are here to stay as they are both a standard type of light fitting. They both have their advantages and applications, however in the future you may see a move towards GU10 led downlights as internal transformer technology improves. There will be at time when LED downlights can be compact while still housing a small internal transformer. The only reason MR16 LED downlights will still be available are due to the fact that they can replace existing 12V halogens and also due to the fact that they are required to be used in areas that are subjected to water.
Finally, one of the most important factors that affects people is the cost. Overall the setup of a 12V system i.e. a transformer, 12V MR16 LED downlight and necessary wires is more expensive than a GU10 LED downlight setup. As GU10 LEDs do not require transformers, there is one less part to worry about and less labour involved in wiring them up. As a result a GU10 complete kit such as the 7W Osram GU10 LED Downlight with GU10 connect and fixture is very affordable and cheap.
The answer to this question really depends on your existing setup. If you have a 12V based MR16 setup then you would buy a 12V MR16 LED downlight and vice versa for a GU10 setup. If you are doing a completely new light installation, it may be best to consider downlight kits or GU10's. We have written an article on how to convert your exsiting halogen downlights to LEDs which will be useful in helping you find out which LED downlight suits your conversion.