LED spotlights typically come in the classic reflector forms: mains-powered GU10, low voltage MR11 and MR16, and powerful AR111 spotlights. They’re often intended as replacements for halogen spotlights, so for a kick-off it’s useful to recognise some of the differences between the two technologies.
In spotlights, perhaps more than most forms of lighting, colour accuracy might be an important consideration. A halogen bulb produces a continuous spectrum of colour, just as its regular incandescent ancestor does or did, whereas an LED light produces a discontinuous spectrum. What does this mean?
For colour to be viewed accurately it helps if any given hue is represented within the light that shines upon it. With LED the spectrum ‘spikes’, so that some colours are better represented than others (aqua colours tend to be problematic, for instance). This isn’t the case with halogen, because it’s a filament-burning technology that replicates daylight in its basic properties - any colour illuminated is rendered accurately, and thus halogen breezes a high CRI rating where other forms of lighting clamber for a respectable score.
This is the big ace up the sleeve of halogen, and the reason why it’s still competitive as high quality, colour-critical display lighting or task lighting. It’s a natural form of light - a simulator of black body radiation that’s easy on the eyes and can withstand even photographic scrutiny. An ideal application for a halogen spotlight may be a hair salon, where sustained detail work is carried out and high colour accuracy is required. This information might hopefully help you choose the technology best suited for your purpose.
With the competition dealt with we can say this: LED is a lighting form for now and the future, and it’s viable in a great many applications. Even in display lighting where halogen is still prevalent, LED offers advantages. Virtually no generation of heat means you can place LED lights within close proximity of delicate fabrics and artworks without risking heat or UV damage. LED lights are cooler running, so you can touch them without sizzling your skin even after hours of use. And then there’s the big-hitter, LED uses phenomenally less power than halogen and lasts many times longer.
These are some of the more generic considerations you might want to think about when buying an LED spotlight. Do the many advantages outweigh LED’s few disadvantages? How critical is accurate colour and natural light to your purpose? How will it be used and for what purpose? Is it for general illumination or critical detail work? LED is a wonderfully effective form of lighting, particularly flexible in its many low-powered applications, and it’s an investment - you’ll literally get years of maintenance-free use from an LED spotlight!