Category Archives: Interior Lighting

Updating Your Lighting and Where to Start

updating-your-lighting-and-where-to-startUpdating your lighting to LED fixtures will save energy costs. You will have lower electrical bills and the LED bulbs will last much longer than incandescent or halogen lights. LED lighting will increase the value of your home when the lights are used in permanent fixtures.

There are no filaments in LED bulbs. Light is emitted by electrons passing across a semiconductor diode with a reflector. The diodes are capped with a clear or tinted lens. LED lights give off very little heat compared to standard incandescent bulbs. LEDs usually do not contain glass or other hazardous materials.

Getting started

Take a long look at your home and analyze the following:

  • What rooms, including the kitchen, use the most lights?
  • What is the lighting cost on your electric utility bill?
  • What is your budget for replacing lights?

The first question is easy. Your kitchen and other work areas probably use the most lights. You may have halogen bulbs in the ceiling or a fluorescent light overhead. Other rooms may have overhead lights or lamps. Lamp bulbs are the easiest to replace with LED bulbs. They give off the same illumination or lumens.

Estimating the lighting cost in your utility bill is a little more difficult. Approximate the cost by the number of hours you illuminate your home multiplied by the cost per kilowatt hour. This is a vague estimate but it will help with LED versus incandescent light costs evaluation.

Comparisons

There are several charts available that compare LEDs with CFL or spiral lights and standard incandescent lights. A standard 60-watt incandescent light uses only 10 watts with a LED bulb. The CFL uses about 14 watts. The incandescent bulb will last for about 1,200 hours and the CFL is good for 10,000 hours while the LED equivalent is good for 50,000 hours.

The LED bulb will use about 500 kWh of power over 50,000 hours while the incandescent bulb will have been replaced up to 40 times and burned up 3,000 KWh of power. This gives you a general idea of the difference. Since LEDs use less power, they are ideal for solar-powered homes and fixtures, including outdoor lights.

Types of LED fixtures

LED bulbs come in all sizes and configurations. Colors are available from standard bright white to pink and yellow tones. LED fixtures, including chandeliers, work with dimmers to control the amount of light in a room.

Standard screw bulbs fit into any traditional lamp or lighting fixture. Pin sockets are also available. LEDs work great for track and recessed lighting. LEDs fit into tracks and modern task light hanging fixtures in kitchens and other work areas. Basic bright white light is good for kitchens and workplaces while softer lights may be used in living and dining rooms.

Candle flame shapes, round globes, and tube lights can be used anywhere. Modern lamps are designed exclusively for use with LED bulbs. Swimming and spa pool lights include floating battery-powered LEDsSpecial LED strip lights or ribbons fit under cabinets and on walkways for subtle illumination and safety.

Prices have lowered substantially for LED products. They are more popular than ever since they last for many years. A LED bulb with 11 watts and 1100 lumens will replace a 75-watt incandescent bulb for under $10. While it is more expensive than a standard incandescent light, the savings on energy and replacement makes it a good value.

Consider updating your home with LED lighting. This is important for the present and the future as saving energy is necessary for a sustainable lifestyle.

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How Many Lights Does a Room Need?

how-many-lights-does-a-room-needHow much lighting should you plan for when you’re building or renovating a home? The best answer is that it depends on differing factors. Yes, there are a variety of formulas to help you determine how much lighting to install, but first, consider the following:

  • How big is the room?
  • How many windows does it have, and what is their orientation? Obviously, east- and west-facing windows will provide abundant sunlight.
  • What size are the windows? A bright, open picture window will let in plenty of sunlight during the day, so will the room require bright lighting at night?
  • How open is the home? Some homes have twists, turns and closed-up, tight spaces that may require extra lighting to eliminate gloomy pockets.
  • Do you prefer brightly lit interiors or do you lean more to softer illumination?
  • What’s the purpose of the room? For instance, you may need more lighting in the kitchen for epicurean paring, dicing, slicing and trimming, while you want a softer, more romantic lighting scheme in the bedroom.

Once you’ve considered all these questions, you’re ready to calculate the amount of light needed per room.

Calculating Lighting Needs

Lighting providers use different methods to calculate lighting needs. With the following method, you will need square footage, as well as a measurement for foot-candles and lumens.

First, determine the square footage of the room by multiplying length times width in feet. For example, a room that’s 20 feet by 15 feet is 300 square feet in area.

Now you need foot-candle measurements for each room. A foot-candle is how bright light is a foot away from the source. Foot-candle needs vary according to the use of the room. Bathrooms and kitchens usually need more foot-candles than living rooms or bedrooms. Consult a lighting expert for general foot-candle needs per each room.

Next, you’ll need to figure out how many lumens are needed per room. The lumen is a measurement that conveys how much light is reaching what you want to illuminate. Multiply square footage of the room by the foot-candle measurement. So, for a 300-square-foot living room, needing 10-20 foot-candles, you’d need 3000-6000 lumens.

When shopping for light fixtures, look on the label for the output of lumens they can provide.

Room-by-Room Lighting Tips

These room-by-room tips can help you assess your lighting needs more accurately.

Kitchen (5000-10,000 lumens). This multi-purpose room often presents challenges, as you light for different purposes, from food prep to breakfast to making out bills. Place recessed lights on the sides of the ceiling to reduce shadows. Install lights under the cabinet to illuminate tasks.

Bedrooms (2000-4000 lumens). Place table lamps for reading or mood lighting; install overhead fixtures for cleaning and other tasks.

Bathrooms (4000-8000 lumens). Tub/shower areas can be murky; install a light overhead. Installing lights along the sides of mirrors is better than ceiling fixtures for illuminating shaving or applying makeup.

Living room. Plan to use several different types of lighting: lamps for reading; accent lighting (spotlights and picture lights) for artwork; and ambient lighting, angled away from seating.

Dining room (3000-6000 lumens). Install adjustable recessed lights that you can angle to highlight table decorations. Avoid positioning lights over dining chairs to prevent casting shadows on diners.

Office (3000-6000 lumens). Use portable lamps for computer stations so you can angle them and avoid glare on the monitor. Angling recessed lighting toward walls makes the room look brighter.

Remember: the calculating formula is just a guideline. Talk to a lighting expert in depth about your home’s lighting needs before you put those holes in the drywall.

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Decorative Lighting

decorative-lighting

You might have heard people talking about decorative lighting and how it enhanced their homes inside and out. You might have been intrigued by the idea, but don’t exactly know where to start. So what is exactly decorative lighting? Quickly, decorative lighting enhances any design from traditional to contemporary for both interiors and exteriors of someone’s home using lighting, so it provides a means to decorate your space to show off specifics of your property.

Now that you have the basic definition of decorative lighting, the question now arises, how do you use decorative lighting in your home in a way that redefines your living space? Today, we will be going over this in greater detail.

Indoor Decorative Lighting

Decorating the inside of your home can be an exciting task, particularly when you get to use decorative lighting to add a personal style that you can change up when you want. Here are a few styles of lighting you can use to add to any room in your house.

  • Wall Lights: This type of lighting is typically put above works of art, but thanks to the internet you can use wall lights to create awesome wonders such as 3-D wall lights and peel lights.
  • Recessed Lighting: This type of lighting creates the illusion that a room is bigger than it actually is as it focuses light on one area. It’s been a popular trend to put around trim around the ceiling for a dramatic effect.
  • Hanging Lights: Pendant lights or chandeliers fit into this category and they can be used in  variety of ways from elegant and classical to modern. Pendant lights can match any design theme you may have with a variety of options as well.

Outdoor Decorative Lighting

Outdoor lighting not only enhances the beauty of your property, but protects it as well, as a brightly lit home wards off intruders. Outdoor lighting can include:

  • Pathway Lights: These lights create a light glow lighting up sidewalks and pathways. A lot of pathway lights are solar powered, which is an added benefit.
  • Flood Lights: This type of lighting can show off specific flowers, bushes, and trees. Flood lights can be set up to show decorations as well during seasonal occasions.
  • Wall Lights: These lights are usually found in entry ways by the front and rear of your home as well by garage doors.
  • String Lights: Not just popular for the holidays anymore, but is also popular to use to light up fences, entryways, decks, and gazebos virtually any time of the year.

Using decorative lighting is not as complicated as it may seem. You can use decorative lighting both indoors and outdoors in many different styles within different budgets as it’s up to you what you want to do. There are many ideas for decorative lighting that you can use and many ideas that keep on popping up on the internet. What style of decorative lighting will you try in your home today?

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Ambient Lighting

ambient-lighting

Much like an artist begins with a background coat of paint, creates color coatings over it, and then finishes with accents, a gifted decorator builds the lighting of a room in layers. Natural and ambient lighting act as the “undercoat”. Ambient lighting is the general or base level light, covering most of the room. It’s not as simple as placing a ceiling chandelier, though. Ambient sources are sometimes the collective effect of accent and task lighting.

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning

You would think decorating would be anything but methodical, but there’s a science behind the way lighting and fixtures are placed. Accent and task lighting should be between four and five times dimmer than ambient light to achieve enough contrast. The simplest of techniques would have you placing a bright source in the center of the room or in the form of a series of evenly placed spotlights. Nothing in décor is ever that simple, though.

Palette

Palette is critical even if your lighting has no tint. LED and fluorescent bulbs are generally cool in hue, while halogen produces a warm shade. Today’s LEDs are now available in a more natural white shade as well as in multiple colors that can be changed according to your mood. That means you can build energy efficiency into your room without limiting your palette. Cool light improves visibility and is thus ideal for studies and kitchens. Bedrooms and living areas fare best with warm neutral shades.

Color

When you mix different shades of paint, you create new colors. Lighting is no different. Yellow layered over blue lighting will achieve a green hue, while ivory placed over red will lighten the shade to a pink. Neutral lighting palettes are  equally challenging to create because, without bright accents and enough contrast, your room will be a sea of boring beige. Bear in mind that green, red, and blue light create white.

These days, ambient light is even used to influence emotion. Blue, for example, is a calming shade, while red stimulates focus and concentration.

Variety

Ambient lighting needn’t be uniform at all times of the day. Some rooms require flexible light levels. Dining rooms and living areas are best lit with the help of dimmer switches. Entertainment areas and gardens need to have flexible palettes to suit a range of occasions, so choose colored LEDs that can be changed without effort.

Light Level and Shadows

The most important role of ambient light is to set the overall light level in the room. Don’t limit yourself to one level. Even ambient lighting can be carefully placed to light some areas more brightly than others. If you want to build a few different ambient light levels into your room, you also have the option of using task and accent lighting to contribute to your general lighting sources.

The Aspen Foyer by architect, Charles Cuniffe, is a perfect example of how accents and layered ambient lights can establish a varied, yet controlled, lighting level. Tiny nested spotlights and accent lights placed along the entire length of the wall and floor flood the foyer in a highly segmented, yet controlled, level. It’s backlighting that makes that complexity possible. Cuniffe achieved a similar effect by using backlit stairs leading away from a brightly, simply lit entrance. Here, the way shadows fall has played the primary role in the placement of light. There is no need to use ambient light in a centralized area, particularly if you have arched walls and V-shaped ceilings that would cast interesting shadows if the room were lit asymmetrically.

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Task Lighting

task-lighting

There is a concept in interior design called task lighting, which is a process of increasing the amount of light present in a specific place of the house for practical reasons. A lot of home owners are considering putting up extra lights around certain parts of their property that needs it. Today we will go over what task lighting is and how it can be used to improve your home.

Importance of Task Lights

We take the kitchen as the primary example of a place in the house where task lighting comes in handy. A simple overhead light might give us the necessary lighting we need in order to cook our meals. However, what if we are just using a portion of the kitchen? For example, we don’t have to turn on an overhead light if we are just cutting vegetables on our countertop, or washing the dishes in the sink. This is where task lighting comes in.

The main purpose of task lighting is to provide a high intensity light to improve the brightness of a specific room in the house. In the kitchen example from above, we can put task lights beneath our cabinets so that chopping vegetables or using the microwave oven becomes easier. We can also put task lights near the dishwasher to help us see clearer without having to turn on the overhead lights that may use more energy to light up a large space when we only need a portion of the light.

Task lighting takes into account the proper amount of light in order for our eyes to work comfortably with it. Task lighting is also installed in places where the bulbs are hidden from plain view, in order to reduce glare and improve contrast

Installing Task Lights

Installing task lights are relatively easy, but there are factors involved that should be taken into account first before doing so. Discussing it is not the purpose of this article, but in general, you need to choose the color temperature, color rendition, and glare of the light. Generally, our eyes are more accustomed to cool light, which is why white and blue lights are more suitable for bedrooms, reading rooms, and kitchens. Warm lights, or lights that have a yellow or red color, are better outdoors on the other hand.

In installing task lights, we also need to note that the light source should not be visible in order to reduce glare and contrast. A perfect example is lampshades, wherein the light source is enclosed in a cover to direct the light downwards where you are supposed to put your book for a more illuminated reading.

In house setting, task lights are usually installed under cupboards in the kitchen, on the medicine cabinets of bathrooms, near the tables in bedrooms, and some parts of the living room that needs extra amounts of light. Typically LED lights are used as they save power and come in many different options. A professional electrician can help you with the choice of lighting and the manner of installation for your task lights.

Task lights provide the added illuminance needed by our eyes while removing the contrast and glare that may strain them. Task lights are installed in areas of the house that need extra light intensity. They provide the necessary intensity that we need to cook food properly, or read books without having to turn on the overhead light, and do other activities that need an extra amount of luminescence without having the need to turn on the overhead light.

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Going Green with the Lighting in Your Home

going-green-with-the-lighting-in-your-home

If you’re looking for ways to make your home more green as a way to reduce your environmental footprint and save a little bit of money on your energy costs at the same time, then you should turn your attention to your home’s lighting. Home lighting is an area where a lot of energy can be saved without having to spend that much money.

The following are just a few tips for creating a more eco-friendly lighting scheme:

Use LEDs. LEDs are the most energy efficient light bulbs you can purchase – even more so than compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). LEDs that are qualified by Energy Star use roughly 20 to 25 percent of the energy that traditional incandescent lights use. Not to mention that they last upwards of 100,000 hours, which is around 25 times longer than traditional incandescent lights. Yes, they are a little bit more expensive as far as initial costs go – but they are well worth the investment considering the money you save over the long term on both your monthly energy bills as well as the fact that you won’t need to replace them for a very long time.

Look for more eco-friendly materials. If you are buying new light fixtures, then pay attention to the materials that were used in their production. For example, if you need new table lamps, then look for table lamps that were made using natural materials, such as cloth or wood, or recycled materials, such as glass or metal. You could even buy fixtures made using reclaimed materials or use reclaimed materials to build your own lamps.

Turn those lights off. Remember back in the day when your parents would yell at you to turn the lights off in your room before you left? There’s a reason for this – leaving the lights on when they’re not needed saps energy and therefore has a negative effect on both the environment and your energy bills. So make it a habit to turn the lights out when you’re done with them!

Use surge protectors. Instead of plugging your lamps directly into the closest outlet, pick up a surge protector. Why? Because plugging your lamps directly into the wall sockets means that they will be absorbing energy even when turned off. A surge protector can help cut off the energy absorption.

Install dimmers. Sometimes, you simply don’t need all the light that a fixture provides. For example, maybe the living room needs a little bit of light to supplement the natural light coming in through the windows. In this case, using all the light your general lighting provides may be over kill. A dimmer can help you control how much light is provided by the fixture it’s attached to. Not only does this give you more control over the light that is provided, but it can help you reduce the amount of energy you use since you’ll no longer be wasting unneeded light.

Take advantage of natural light. The more natural light that is let into the home, the less dependent you will be on your artificial light. Natural light is better quality and healthier for you as well. Consider installing larger windows if possible. You could even install skylights to let in even more light.

If you want to make your home more eco-friendly, then be sure to use these tips to ensure that your home’s lighting is both environmentally-friendly as well as energy efficient, thereby saving you money and reducing your environmental footprint.

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Lighting Your Living Room

lighting-your-living-room

Living room, great room or family room lighting sets the mood. It also makes it pleasant for reading, watching television or using your laptop. There a several types of lighting available using energy efficient light emitting diode or LED lights. The modern lights can be used in many ways with traditional or modern furnishings.

Lamps

LED lights use semi-conductor technology in place of the traditional incandescent bulb. The LED fixtures can fit into antique design lamps as well as modern table and floor lamps. A LED light will use a fraction of the electricity while giving off the same amount of light such as the 80 to 100 watt incandescent bulb recommended for reading.

Place floor and table lamps where they are needed to focus light. LED lights come with color coatings in pink, yellow or cool blue tones to set a mood in a room.

Ceiling lights

Living rooms can have standard ceiling lights but more creative lighting is available with modern LED lights. Try arranging LED light strips around the perimeter of a room where the walls and ceiling meet. The LED ceiling light strips can be arranged in concentric circles in the center of the ceiling for a different affect.

The intensity of the light can be controlled by dimmer switches. The  LED strips adhere to the wall with tape.

Chandeliers in classic and contemporary designs take LED bulbs for attractive ceiling lights in living and dining rooms.

Pendant lighting

This style of task lighting is now popular in kitchens and dining rooms as well as in living rooms. Pendant lighting is decorative and it’s usually focused on work areas. LED pendant light design varies from round globes to cones, stars, candles, rustic fixtures and contemporary designs. A grouping of pendant lights suspended from the ceiling at different levels works well in modern living rooms.

Wall lights

Strips of LED lights can be placed vertically along the sides of walls in corners, next to windows or in areas where you need the light. This offers a very modern look to a room.

Can lights using LED bulbs will work on walls, shelving or ceilings. These are usually the adjustable lights that can shine in different directions. This type of lighting works well for reading or setting a mood.

Wall sconces are popular in living and dining areas as well as bedrooms. This style of wall mounted light fixture comes in traditional and modern designs. They are often placed above sofas or fireplaces.

Recessed and track lighting

Special LED bulbs are available for recessed lighting in ceilings and walls. Recessed lighting is popular in living rooms, dining rooms and kitchen – family room areas.  Track LED lights in special cans can be used on walls and ceilings in living areas.

The cans holding the LED lights are slightly different from the cans used with incandescent bulbs. LED lights only use about 10% of their energy for heat but the heat is at the base of the bulb. The LED cans allow that heat to escape through air circulation.

Accent lighting

You may have photos, paintings and other artwork that should be highlighted in your living room or family room area. Special low intensity LED lights can be affixed to frames to cast light on the artwork without fading the pigment.

Accent lights highlight special architectural features such as sculpture, cabinet,  a bar or decorative fireplaces.

Lighting can be layered in a living room with ceiling, table and accents lights. Experiment and find the look right for your living area.

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