Downlight vs Spotlight

By Qianguang Zheng     9 April 2019 

One of the most FAQs we had so far is


“Is spotlight a downlight?  How can you tell the difference?”


The massive production of LED has gradually reduced the size of a light source which we rely on every day and night.


The downlight and spotlight have all evolved into a one-piece, bulb-less lighting kit that sometimes even attached with a power plug.


But no matter how similar they look in nowadays, they are still designed to perform different lighting tasks.


Description of a Downlight:


A small direct luminaire whose light is directed vertically downward.

- (Dictionary of Architecture & Construction  By Cyril Harris)


Usually comes with a matt diffuser and some time has a gimbal design to fit in a tilted ceiling.


Description of a Spotlight


A powerful light focused on the illuminate a small area, usually mounted so that it can be directed at will. 

- (Dictionary of Architecture & Construction  By Cyril Harris)

Track light is one type of spotlight that is clipped on a track, the lamp heads are movable along its track and can be removed or added.


To sum up, downlight is fixed in a pointing direction, where the spotlight is more flexible on changing the pointing direction to perform different tasks like highlighting a wall décor or a Vase of flowers.


When it is no longer pursuing uniform illumination like “a house is full of lights”, downlights and spotlights have embarked on a “wider stage” from the “previously popular” “rectilinear edge ceilings” to provide home furnishing.


The level of texture in the light, the creation of atmosphere, the emphasis on the highlights, the reduction of the details of the quality, and even uniform lighting.


To provide these different lighting scenes for life, it is necessary to perform fine control over the light. The luminaire is realized by the property of “beam angle”.

In Australia, downlights’ beam angle is usually equal to or greater than 90° (<120°) and a spotlight’s beam angle is often in a range between 30° to 80°.

15° Beam Angle’s effect

37° Beam Angle’s effect

60° Beam Angle’s effect

The complexity of the Reflector & Lens’ design determines the quality for the light beam it casts out.