I'm renting a flat and need to replace some light bulbs. The bulbs I need are 12V MR16/GU5.3 bulbs.

How can I tell if I can use LED bulbs as opposed to the halogen ones that are there currently? If something needs to be installed in order to be able to use LED bulbs, is this something that I (as someone with no expertise in this area) can do myself, or would I need to get an electrician for that?

  • you can get 12v halogen-replacement LEDs, which should work. making sure they don't get too hot is the main concern, the other common potential problems will show themselves immediately.
    – dandavis
    Apr 29, 2019 at 20:28

2 Answers 2


MR means "Multi Reflector" 16 means 16/8ths of an inch wide (2") GU5.3 means it is a bi-pin connector base where the pins are 5.33mm apart. 12V means it is 12VDC, a very important issue for you when buying replacements.

You can get equivalent LED versions using those same numbers, they should be available from any number of resources, both on-line and brick-and-mortar stores. You would not have to change anything other than the bulb itself because the LED versions will come with a built-in "driver" that will be set up to accept the power that was previously being used by the halogens. Plug and play...

But there is more to your selection than what you posted; you need to match the "beam angle" and the "color temperature". That info should be on the side of your existing halogen bulbs too.

  • Actually, this is something I have been wondering about - the beam angle, the colour temperature and also the lumen output of the bulbs. Maybe I shouldn't necessarily choose new bulbs that match the old ones in every respect. I have a suspicion that the previous tenant just bought whatever MR16/GU5.3 bulbs he could find in the local hardware store, without any real consideration to these mentioned attributes.
    – osullic
    Apr 29, 2019 at 21:27
  • And on the point of the beam angle - the lightbulbs in the bathroom are recessed further into the ceiling than elsewhere in the flat (presumably for some additional humidity-proofing or something) - so I suppose it would be pointless to buy wide-angle bulbs for there because the beam angle will be constrained in any case by virtue of the bulbs being recessed further.
    – osullic
    Apr 29, 2019 at 21:31
  • 1
    Yes, it would. But there are about 5 different beam angle choices; Narrow Spot = than 10 degree beam angle: Spot = 15 degree beam angle: Narrow Flood = 25 degree beam angle: Flood = 36 degree beam angle: Wide Flood = greater than 50 degree beam angle. So if you measure the depth to the front of the bulb and the width of the can, draw it on paper and draw the different angles using a protractor. See, your teacher TOLD YOU that geometry would come in handy!
    – JRaef
    Apr 29, 2019 at 22:33
  • And 3000 degrees kelvin is about equivalent to what most halogen lights would have put out (2700-3200K). If you want a "warmer" color, as in shifted towards reddish hues, use a lower K number.
    – JRaef
    Apr 29, 2019 at 22:41

If the light switch isn't a dimmer, then you can replace the bulbs with any type.

If the switch is a dimmer, you will need to replace the switch with one that is not a dimmer, or a dimmer designed to work with LEDs.

Bring an old bulb with you to the store to make sure that the threads (or in your case, the plug) on the new bulbs are the right size.

You can change the bulbs yourself. Changing a switch is best done with the help of someone who knows how to do it safely.

  • I usually purchase online, much cheaper these days and you can find better quality than big box stores,with better warranty s, with LED's look for a DLC listing, this is a standard that among other things provides 5yr warranty. You just need to match the lumen output of the halogen with the new led, try 1000bulbs.com they have almost every lamp in led imiganible.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 29, 2019 at 18:12
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    Online you can also find cheap J.U.N.K., so one must be careful. A good sign is when the seller is in your own country and ships locally, that means he is the importer and is obliged to sell UL listed equipment, and the Euro CE rules have teeth. When it is shipped to you direct from China, you are the importer and you must comply with import rules. Unfrotunately transshipment through an Amazon distro warehouses is not safe, as it does not count as Amazon importing it when it's a Marketplace seller. Apr 29, 2019 at 20:48

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