7 Jun 2006

Living with downlighters, just

I am really developing a dislike of downlighters. We put a shedload of them into our kitchen during a refit in 2002: 14 to be precise, to accompany 4 that were already there. Today, I replaced 7 of these GU10 halogen bulbs, which had all blown. And this was the second time I had made a replacement bulb sweep. I think I have now replaced 16 bulbs in four years. They are said to last 4,000 hours each. Maybe they have, maybe they haven’t, but it seems to me that the average lifespan of these bulbs is much less than that.

And the physical act of replacing the GU10 bulbs is also really deeply unsatisfying. It’s a bit like something you might read up on in the bad sex guide. If you’ve ever used the Dutch cap as your preferred method of contraception, you’ll feel right at home changing over GU10 bulbs, because the simple mechanics of male-to-female insertion somehow becomes both time-consuming and difficult to understand. Sexy it isn’t.

First you have to unhitch a C-shape wire with a couple of protruding bits, which hold the bulbs in place within the bezel, which is what they call the silver bit you see surrounding the bulbs; sometimes the wire just pops out, often it’s quite resistant. You can easily end up wrestling with the blighter for ages until it suddenly comes loose and falls to the floor. Then the bulb hangs down limply from the hole in the ceiling from two low-voltage cables. Next you have to yank the bulb away from these wires. No pleasing clicks or turns here, just tug and hope. The replacement bulbs, which cost around £2.50 each, have two tiny little pins which have to be inserted into two holes in a circular plate, which sometimes comes adrift. If the circular plate has gone, you just have to guess where these two pins go. You push, you wangle, you push a bit more, it isn’t really in place correctly but you think it will do. There is certainly no satisfying click to tell you you are home. You just have to assume that it’s in. Then push the bulb back into the ceiling and then replace the horrible C-shaped wire clip in the bezel.

If you’ve got it right, the light comes on when you hit the switch. If not, then you’ll probably be landed with an unwanted pregnancy.

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