Lighting and electrical decisions

Low Voltage Downlight

Our electical appointment last Monday including all things ‘powered’. Of course, lighting choices were included in this appointment. Without the help of our wonderful Metricon advisor, we would have been lost and completely confused.

It’s amazing all the things you need to think about when wiring a house – most of it I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. The number of lights in a room, the light spacing, where to put the switches for said lights – it’s mind boggling!

Here’s a few tips I’ve got after going through this exhausting meeting…

  • When estimating the lighting for a room, estimate based upon a spacing of 1.2 meters between lights if you’re using halogen, and 1.0 meters between LED/low wattage downlights.
  • Remember that light exits the fixture at a 45 degree angle and factor in corners and dark corners.
  • When choosing your power points for a room, don’t put them back to back on adjoining rooms. It’s very easy and relatively inexpensive for a sparky to add a power point on the opposite side of an internal wall. Put it on a different wall – it’s much more expensive and difficult to run wiring to the opposite side of the room after the walls are closed up.
  • Most builders allocate a single socket for a room. It’s easy to change naked bulbs out for a halogen after handover, and it’s a fraction of the price. Metricon was charging $105/downlight. We went to Beacon lighting this week and found high quality gimbal halogens for $35/downlight.
  • If you’re wanting to run cabling through the wall for your wall mounted TV, try getting a pre-installed conduit with a feed wire. You can choose your own cabling and, assuming it’s not all that far, run your own cables. It cost us around $80 for the conduit.

If you pay attention to the details of the wiring, and understand what can and can’t be done after handover, you can really save a good amount of money. If you’re not sure whether it can be done or not – just ask. The types of requests the builder gets are far and wide. They’ve probably heard it before.

About Stefan
Stefan is the regular writer for Megan & Stefan, and hails originally from San Diego, California. A resident of Australia since 2007, he write about his experiences living abroad, his love of photography, and documenting the process of building a house here in this sunburnt country he calls home. Feel free to drop him a line - he's always up for a chat.


  1. Kriss says:

    We actually used cat5 wiring to wire our surround sound back speakers. Our builder wanted multiple thousand dollars to do such and two cat5 outlets only cost a little over a $200. I suppose a true audiophile could hear the difference, but we can’t!
    Unfortunately, I would say no matter how much you plan with electrical you always seem to miss something. We have cat5 wiring in every room of our house, but still had shortages. An office, for example, can need a cat5 outlet for phone, fax, and network…
    We also virtually walked through our house so many times, and yet, we still wish we had more 3 or 4 way switches.
    But, in the end, you make it work just like you did with every previous apartment or pre-built house before.
    This is exciting stuff guys! It is very neat to hear about your home building adventures as they happen.

  2. T&T says:

    re: “light exiting fixtures”, you can actually get downlights with different angles eg 45, 60 degrees etc – just in case you find your lighting insufficient in real life!

    and definitely the actual hardware cost of downlights are very low compared to M’s cost, but the M cost includes labour and fitting; we ended up putting in a lot of downlights downstairs because it would be impossible to add them in after handover.

    and you’re lucky being able to option a conduit run cheaply – in our electrical appointment (melbourne) I wanted a lot of conduit runs, but got a flat out “no” to that request!

  3. Stefan says:

    Hi guys,

    Thanks for the reply. That’s good to know about the downlights being available in different angles – I had no idea and the rep didn’t mention this to me during our appointment.

  4. John says:

    Hi Stefan,

    some good tips there.

    I would add though on the number of lights tip that all the display home builders over do there lighting so as to create a “light” feel in their displays. I know this is a personal preferences thing but I prefer less ceiling lights and a balance with lamp lighting.

    One thing you did’nt mention though is dimmer switches. these are great for generating a bit of light, generating mood, for use in young childrens rooms etc.
    Be a bit careful though, the cheaper dimmer switches hum and it can be really annoying!!

    Just on the single light offering per room you refer to above – and the conversion of this to a downlight – be aware that hole size for a standard downlight and bayonet fitting are different. I can hear you saying yes, so what, drill a bigger whole….but there is no gyprock now in the centre of the whole to guide the drill bit – this makes drilling a bit diffcult and if you’re not careful you’ll “hack” it.


  5. Stefan says:

    Hi John,

    Great tips! Thanks for the additional information and feedback.


  1. […] when the interior of the home really comes alive. The home is fitted out with insulation, electrical,¬†cupboards, gyprock, and the lot – everything that would be required to complete the home. […]

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