I realize there was a recent thread on undercabinet halogen lighting vs
fluorescents, but this is a different twist on kitchen lighting:
Any of you folks have experience with halogen ceiling track lighting in
kitchens using MR-16 vs GU-10 bulbs? The former are 12-volt and would have
attached stepdown transformers and have integral reflector cones that
enclose the bulbs, the latter AFAIK are 120v line voltage bulbs that need
no transformer and no special dimming switch, but lighting quality is
unknown to me. In my living room I get some buzzing from the transformers
that feed the MR-16's, so wonder if the 120v versions would be better or at
least quieter. My existing ceiling has 120v tracks, and I don't want to get
a central transformer.
My main concern is the intensity, and spectrum, of the two kinds of
halogens. Why is one preferable to the other?
I dim 7- 120 v and 6 mr16 units off one regular dimmer no buzz or noise
from HomeDepot low voltage units. MR16 are a bit whiter than the 120v
bulbs. The 120v put out more light. You can use MR16transformer and 120v
non transformer on one track with a regular dimmer to experiment. Both
bulbs can be ordered in apx 5 different width patterns from narrow spot
to wide angle.
The quality of the beam of light is a major difference between the 12 volt
MR16 and 120 volt small reflector lamps. 12 volt filaments are compact -
short and thick so a spot light beam of a few degrees is possible and the
quality of the beam (most of the light near the center and little spill) is
120 volt filaments are thin and long. They also tend to flop around so the
beam is mushy unless large reflectors (such as in PAR38 lamps) are used.
Such big lamps and fixtures are typically out-of-scale for residential
lighting, so MR16 lamps have been good residential lighting tools now since
The overall spectral characteristics of both lamps are virtually the same,
but some halogen lamps are designed to be a bit "whiter" -- that is, they
have a slightly higher chromaticity. For example, GE MR16 "Constant Color
Precise" 12 volt lamps are rated for 2900-3050 Kelvins while their 120 volt
versions are rated for 2600-2700 Kelvins (higher Kelvins = whiter light).
The MR16 lamp was first designed as a compact halogen lamp for Kodak
Carousel slide projectors. Then lighting designers started using it and
lamp manufacturers began to make it in 12 volt versions with several beam
spreads and wattages.
If you don't need an even and well-shaped beam, then the blob of light from
120 volt small reflector lamps may be O.K. It's best to look at the light
pattern from the lamps and compare them if possible.
Both 12 volt and 120 volt lamps can be noisy - especially on dimmers. You
can minimize noise problems by using high-quality commercial equipment (Halo
or Lightolier fixtures, Lutron dimmers, etc.) or trying out a fixture in
your room environment before buying a whole system. The room itself makes a
difference since room surfaces can amplify buzzing and humming sounds.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.