LED GU10 – MR16 – good for what?

The GU10 and MR16 have become a massively popular double act, a lighting type you’d be able to find on just about any street in the country. If you want stylish lights, you can’t discount the MR16. For the uninitiated, a MR16 is a multifaceted reflector bulb with a diameter of two inches, while the GU10 is a ceramic bi-pin twist-to-lock mount.

Useful lighting

What makes GU10-variant lights so useful is that they use mains voltage 240v rather than the 12v used by other types of MR16 lights. This makes them lower maintenance in a few respects than low voltage alternatives, especially when designing your lighting.

Most importantly, there’s no need for transformers, making certain fittings such as ceiling lights much easier to fit into rooms – transformers aren’t invisible, after all. The voltage drop in long lengths of cabling is also much less of an issue with GU10s than in 12 volt lights. Of course, there are benefits to lower-voltage MR16 lights too, such as increased safety, greater efficiency and brighter output. Each type has its benefits.

The GU10-MR16 combo has become a mainstay of homes and businesses, but the MR16 started out its life with an entirely different purpose in mind. It was originally designed for use with slide projectors, but now can be found in use in a wide array of domestic and commercial roles.


Thanks to the reflective glass inner of the MR16, it offers very clear directional light output, making it perfect within recessed ceiling light fixtures, pendants, track light fittings or even standalone desk lights. A key benefit of lights like the MR16 is that they’re small, letting them become “invisible” in-situ much more easily than a traditional incandescent bulb. This is what makes them so useful as ceiling lights, able to fit within much more discreet housings than most other types of lights. If you’re after style and lighting power, you can’t go wrong here.

The directional output also offers great control, letting you keep certain areas in the shadows if need be, although wider-throw options like the wide flood Sylvania Halogen bulb are also available. Wide-throw bulbs tend to offer a beam of up to 60 degrees, which although extremely precise are generally less powerful than the 10 degree models that are also available. The MR16 halogens offer superb overall control over the lighting of a room, or a specific object if moody spotlighting is what you’re after.


There are a few downsides to halogen-based MR16-GU10 team-ups, though. The pressurised bulb gets extremely hot in operation, which means it need to be placed carefully to avoid becoming a fire risk, and next to modern energy-saving bulbs they’re relatively power-hungry. Our most popular MR16 halogens are 50W, such as our own bestselling low-cost Halogen bulb, and 35W bulbs are also common. The lifespan of a bulb is generally between 3,000 and 5,000 hours too. It’s not bad by any means, but doesn’t match the stamina of LED.

But solved by…

All these little issues are solved by what’s been seen for a long time as a “holy grail” within the lighting biz – an LED-based retro-fit alternative. A bulb like the Sylvania LED GU10 is incredibly versatile and will fit into the same fixtures as a traditional Halogen MR16 model, using the GU10 base and being of a similar size. It’s a little more expensive than the traditional pressurised Halogen type, but for many the extra initial cost is more than worth it.

The Sylvania is rated at 350 lumens, equivalent to a 50W GU10 halogen bulb, but consumes just 5.5W of power. It runs much cooler, and will naturally cost less in electricity too, 87% less than the halogen equivalent. If that doesn’t get your energy bill dropping, nothing will.

Using an array of white LEDs, the Sylvania’s lifespan is incredible – rated for up to 25,000 hours of use, almost ten times the stamina of some halogen bulbs.  You could leave these running all day in an office or bar for literally years.

There are very few disadvantages to these new kind of MR16 lights, as they can be dimmed just like more traditional bulbs and pack just as much lighting power. LED GU10s tend to offer quite as highly-directional options as halogens, though, as they do not use the same carefully cut reflective interior that helps to form tight beams in traditional MR16 bulbs.

Efficient lighting

Better for the environment, safer and better for your pocket in the long run, it’s no wonder that thousands of business owners were waiting for years for something like these energy-efficient MR16s to come along. However, whether halogen or LED sounds like your cup of tea, our wide range of bulbs offers the perfect lighting complement to any stylish interior.

Take a look at our full range of LED GU10 light bulbs

Looking for more news, inspiration and advice? Try our Lighting Advice section.

Charles Barnett Managing Director

Charles started Lyco in 1995 with just 4 enthusiastic employees and has grown it considerably over the past 25 years. Charles is also the Managing Director of Lighting Direct and newly acquired Online Lighting. He now has a team of 50 lighting experts working on growing Lyco Group to be the UK leader in lighting for both businesses and homes. Away from the office he is a keen cyclist and is proud to have cycled 1017 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for a new residential centre for adults with multiple learning difficulties.