How to change a spotlight bulb

Spotlights have many advantages over traditional pendant lighting, not the least of which is the ability to easily fit new spotlights and the lower power consumption of the most common bulb types.

However, there are several types of downlight bulbs and many more types of fittings, and each has its vagaries in how to change them. We’re here to lend a helping hand and walk you through the process of changing the two most common types of spotlight; the GU10 LED and the MR16 light bulbs.

How to change a GU10 bulb

A GU10 light fitting can hold GU10 halogen or LED light bulbs. Increasingly homeowners are replacing halogen bulbs with LED, as these have a lower fire risk, consume less energy, and have a longer life span.

Your GU10 light fitting can have a range of front pieces that hold the bulb in place, but the most common types are either a rotating front trim that screws into the GU10 holder or a metal spring clip, which needs to be squeezed to release the bulb. Some will contain both.

Before starting your GU10 bulb removal, ensure that the light socket is switched off at the wall. If you are in any doubt, turn off the power to the circuit at your circuit breaker. 

1. If your light fitting has a rotating front trim, unscrew it until it is loose enough to remove by hand. If your light fitting uses a pinch clip, squeeze the two ends of the clip together and release it from the GU10 holder.

2. Once the front piece is removed, the bulb will come loose from the GU10 holder and can be gently eased out of the fitting to allow you better access for releasing the bulb.

 3. Grip the bulb and the light socket and rotate anti-clockwise a short way to release the bulb. It only takes a twist of a few degrees to release the bulb, so there is no need for copious twisting or pressure.

4. You may have a metal spring clip behind the front fitting you have removed. Pinch the ends together to release this from the front element, and then remove it. The bulb should now be free and can be removed from the fitting. 

5. The new bulb can be put into the fitting, and then this process can be reversed. Reinsert the spring clip, ensuring that it is correctly aligned. 

6. Insert the bulb into the light socket and twist clockwise to lock it in place. Finally, insert the bulb and front element back into the light fitting and screw it back in.

How to change a spotlight bulb with spring clip only?

Some cheaper fittings do not have any front piece, and you’ll only see the two prongs of the metal spring clip exposed forwards (instead of backwards, as it would be in the example above. In these situations, pinch the metal prongs together and twist the bulb anti-clockwise to release it. Ease it forward and remove the lighting socket and the rear. 


The MR16 is a round bulb similar to the MR11. They are commonly used in track lighting and recessed downlights. Like other spotlight bulbs, they come in a range of wattages, but the most common is 50 watts. If you’ve got these in your kitchen, you’ll need to learn how to change spotlight bulbs in the ceiling. 

Before you start, ensure that the light socket is switched off at the wall. If you are in any doubt, turn off the power to the circuit at your circuit breaker.

1. Grip the lip of the MR16 light fitting and gently ease it straight down. The cap is fitted inside the downlight can and will release after being eased down a few millimetres.

2. The entire light fitting, including the bulb, will come out of the downlight canister and should hang on its wires.

3. Ease the bulb out of the light socket by gripping it. You will see the light connector connecting the light to the wires. Pull this off (no twisting required), and the trim and light bulb assembly will easily come loose from the socket.

4. There will be a spring retaining clip inside the recessed trim of the MR16 fitting. Just ease the old bulb out of the fitting. 

5. While disassembling, you can take the opportunity to clean the glass that may have several years of dirt.

6. Insert the new lightbulb, ensuring the bulb is clipped correctly into the retaining clip. 

7. Attach the light assembly back into the light connector and ease the light back into the can. 


Learning how to change a spotlight bulb is one of those things that seems tricky the first time you want to do it, but it is straightforward to do. Learning how to remove spotlight bulb from various fittings can be the most challenging part, but once you’ve mastered spotlight removal, you’ll be an old pro. 

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