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Spotlight vs Downlight: Which is the Best Lighting Option for Your Home?

 There is no one-size-fits-all solution in lighting. The best approach to helping our customers choose lights for their new space is not to pick them out for them, but to help them understand the different types of lights available


Lighting is an aspect of interior design that is almost impossible to quantify tangibly. At its core, what we see with our eyes is just light bouncing off objects and passing through our pupils, then interpreted by our brains – essentially, all of us see a different version of the world around us, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution in lighting.

As such, we believe that the best approach to helping our customers choose lights for their new space is not to pick them out for them, but to help them understand the different types of lights available and let them make an informed choice from there.

Today, the focus is on two commonly used terms in the local market: spotlights, and downlights.



The terms ‘spotlight’ and ‘downlight’ can be quite fuzzy – due to the incredibly wide range of lighting designs available nowadays, it can be difficult to classify lights under these two categories without first establishing what identifies each of them. Also note that both spotlight and downlight have both recessed and surface-mounted versions, however we will be sharing more on the light output rather than physical forms today.


By our definition:

Spotlights are light fixtures that produce a narrow, focus beam. It can be used as a general lighting or used to highlight interest points (i.e. artwork, architectural features, or specific areas) in a space.

Downlights, on the other hand, are light fixtures that provide a wider spread light effect as compared to spotlights, creating a diffused light output for the space. They can illuminate larger areas evenly, ideal for task purposes.


As the name implies, spotlights create ‘spots’ of concentrated light in a space. A good way to picture the effect this provides is to examine the lighting in luxurious hotel rooms: the space is lit up with spotlights strategically placed to provide the perfect soft focus and cosy light ambience. We, as guests are always feeling pleasantly welcome and instantly immersed in absolute relaxation mode. The rich contrast that spotlights’ emits helps in creating a sense of depth, making everything look more pronounced. Spotlights are designed for homeowners, who are looking to create a hotel-like, cosy ambience at home. 



Spotlights come in so many different design options (trust us, you will be spoilt with choices) and there is definitely one perfect design for every homeowner. Not just aesthetic design matters in a stylish home, functional design plays an important role to elevate everyday comfort and convenience too.

Functional designs like; anti-glare and tiltability features.

And for those who are concerned with the glare spotlights give out, this can be mitigated by looking out for spotlights that have anti-glare elements. Spotlight designs that have anti-glare feature help to ease the glare but still provides the necessary illumination.

Another outstanding feature that many spotlight designs have is tiltability. The ability to adjust the angle of the spotlight is particularly useful as you can decide where illumination should be. This makes them perfect in spaces where there are objects that you want to feature (e.g. statement furniture pieces, wall art).

One downside to spotlights, however, is that their narrower beam of light also means less area covered by each light fixture. As such, more lights may be necessary to adequately light up a space.



Highly functional, and widely available: these are some things that make downlights a popular lighting option. Downlights come with a frosted panel, which acts as a diffuser that aids to spread the beam of light widely.

With downlights, there will be little to no dark corners in a space. The overall effect achieved will be a space that will generally be perceived as very well-lit, less shadow, but flatter visually. The wider light spread from downlights also mean the light produced is distributed more evenly, resulting in a thinner light spread. With that said, the CRI of downlight is limited to 80 due to the additional frosted filter that aids to the diffusing of light beam, this means that the quality of light is not as high quality as spotlights of CRI 90 or more. CRI (color rendering index) refer to the accuracy of light quality.

When used in a room, downlights will illuminate the whole room in a homogenous manner. This makes downlights suitable for spaces where function is valued over aesthetics – some examples of where downlights are commonly used is kitchens, offices and classrooms. A well-lit space with less shadow is perceived as a conducive environment for practical uses like cooking or studying. The wide light spread offered by downlights also mean less pieces are needed to fully cover a room when compared to spotlights.


Some common complaints with downlights: The lack of modular options and glare.

Most downlights come with integrated light source, which means the whole fixture must be replaced once it fails. And due to the wider frosted panel, which helps to even out lighting effect, it also in return create glare . To counterattack the glare problem, consider unique creation like Buro ceiling lamp which is adjustable to avoid the light directly or go for dimmable option.

In summary:



-          Stronger beam that creates depth and rich contrast

-          Multiple designs to choose from

-          Tiltable designs available

-          Many fixtures come with replaceable bulbs

-          CRI 90 and above available


-          Smaller area of light coverage

-          Needs good lighting planning to execute well




-          Widespread beam that illuminates room evenly

-          Less-concentrated light output suitable as task lighting

-          Less dark corners in a space


-          Less contrast, results in flatter look

-          Non-modular, has to be fully replaced

-          Widely considered the less aesthetic option

-          Glare issues


Which do I choose?

Now that we better understand the above types of lighting, which should we choose for a new home? In our experience, the most logical way to decide between the two is to consider the intended function of each room. For example: a study room meant for work-from-home arrangements will suit downlights better, while a living room with paintings and sculptures on display will look substantially better with spotlights. In some cases, a combination of both types may be used to achieve layered lighting effects and meet different lighting requirements within a space. For example, a mixture of spotlights and cove lighting (cove produce diffused lighting too) can help to accentuate the aesthetics of a space and be used for functional purposes simultaneously.

Another consideration that we recommend looking at the maintenance requirements. We, Singaporeans are known for being practical and choosing a low-maintenance product is always top on our priority list.

There are many spotlights designs available that run on light bulbs (usually GU10 format bulbs), and these bulbs can be easily replaced without the need for special tools. Downlights, as mentioned above, are usually integrated modules that must be fully replaced by a qualified technician when they fail.

In a local context, downlights have been the go-to choice for many over the past decade. In recent years, however, this has started to change. In the pursuit of better living, many interior designers have started to move away from highly functional downlights, and towards the visual appeal of spotlights. It should be noted, though, that function and aesthetics do not have to be mutually exclusive when it comes to lighting. With careful planning and selection, you can strike a balance between downlight and spotlights can help to create a space that has the best of both worlds.

So.. which is your preference?

  • 0%Spotlight

  • 0%Downlight




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