The single most important concept in creating a good lighting plan for the home is to use an array of different types of lighting. Too many people make the mistake of expecting one type of lighting to do it all. Each type meets a particular need. To keep it simple, there are two main types of lighting: natural and artificial. Natural indoor lighting uses windows, skylights and other open designs in a way that lets natural sunlight into a room. The effect sunlight has in your home depends on the season, time of day and weather. Artificial lighting requires the use of light bulbs to provide functionality.
Ambient: Also called general lighting, ambient lighting provides overall illumination for a room, and is intended to create a uniform light level throughout a space, independent of any special lighting that may be needed in targeted areas of a room. it radiates a comfortable level of brightness without glare and allows you to see and walk about safely. In some spaces such as laundry rooms, the ambient lighting also serves as the primary source of task lighting. In most home settings, when a person steps into a room and flips on a switch, ambient lighting illuminates the space. Ambient lighting takes many forms, including ceiling-mounted or recessed fixtures that direct light downwards; wall sconces or floor-lamp torchieres that wash the walls with light; cove, soffit and valance lighting that bounces light off ceilings and walls. It can be accomplished with chandeliers, ceiling or wall-mounted fixtures, recessed or track lights and with lanterns mounted on the outside of the home. Having a central source of ambient light in all rooms is fundamental to a good lighting plan.
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Task: Targeted to a particular area of a room, task lighting is intended to illuminate a specific function. Areas of a home that require task lighting include kitchen counters; living room seating areas where reading will take place; and home office desk surfaces where paperwork will be done. In a kitchen, under-cabinet lighting provides task lighting for a countertop; in a living room, a table lamp is often used for task lighting to accommodate reading. Task lighting should be free of distracting glare and shadows and should be bright enough to prevent eye strain.
Accent: Also called highlighting, accent lighting draws attention to a particular object, such as artwork, sculpture, plants or bookcases. Accent lighting is often used outdoors, to highlight a beautiful tree, plant or water feature, or to draw the eye to a particular area of the landscape. Recessed or track lighting is often used for accent lighting, with adjustable fittings that allow light to be focused precisely even on a small object. When planning the layers of light in a room, it usually makes sense to consider the ambient lighting first, then consider task and accent lighting. With rooms that are heavily task-oriented, however, such as home offices, some designers focus on task lighting first. And in a hallway that doubles as a photo or art gallery, accent lighting might be the first consideration as it tends to add drama to a room by creating visual interest. As part of an interior design scheme, it is used to draw the eye to houseplants, paintings, sculptures, and other prized possessions. It can also be used to highlight the texture of a brick or stone wall, window treatments or outdoor landscaping. To be effective, accent lighting requires at least three times as much light on the focal point as the general lighting surrounding it. Each light bulb has its pros and cons and certain bulbs work better in different spaces of a home. Take a deeper look at the different light bulbs to see where each should be used.
Incandescent is the most commonly used light bulb and usually the least expensive. This type of light has a warm, inviting quality and is very complimentary to skin tones and psychologically appealing. Incandescent bulbs can be used with a dimmer; however, they’re not as energy efficient as other options. The fat bulbs that most of us have been using for general lighting in bedrooms since childhood are known as incandescent light bulbs. These lamps have been the standard for a long time due to the natural, warm light they produce and their undeniable low price. These bulbs are also very easy to put on a dimmer control in comparison to other lamp types. The main problem with incandescent bulbs is that they consume two to three times more energy than the alternatives. This coupled with a much shorter lifespan (up to 1,500 hours) than its competitors makes incandescent bulbs an expensive option
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Halogen bulbs are a variation of incandescent. They give the closest approximation of natural daylight, known as “white light.” Colors appear sharper under halogen light and the bulbs can be dimmed. They’re a little more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, but are more expensive and burn at a higher temperature. Most often halogen bulbs are used in under-cabinet lighting, pendant lights and recessed cans. Remember not to use bare hands when changing the halogen bulb. The smallest residue of oil from a human hand can rub off on the bulb, creating an atmosphere where the bulb warms too quickly when the lamp is turned on, which can cause the bulb to explode. Halogens are most often used in track lighting systems, ultramodern light fixtures, and, believe it or not, headlights. Halogen light bulbs tend to initially cost more than non-halogen incandescent bulbs but make up for the difference with a longer lifespan and higher energy efficiency. The trouble with halogen bulbs lies in the fact that they produce a lot of heat.
Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) consume a quarter of the energy that incandescent bulbs do and last 10 times longer. They are quiet, instant-on and have warmer color-corrected tones. They can be used anywhere you would use a typical incandescent light bulb. CFLs contain trace amounts of mercury, a harmful substance. Although the bulbs contain far less mercury than other household items, care needs to be taken to prevent breakage. Also, when CFLs burn out, they should be recycled. There are many types of fluorescents on the market: warm ones, cool ones and special-colored ones, and they typically produce more light and last longer than incandescent. They are closer to incandescent bulbs in size but retain the energy saving properties. The two most common shapes are U-shaped and spiral.
Fluorescent bulbs work well to light large areas like basements or attics. You more than likely associate fluorescent lamps with the long fixtures found in kitchens, laundry rooms, and garages. The fact is that fluorescent lamps come in many different shapes and sizes and can be used for diverse purposes and in various light fixtures. They produce a large amount of white light that reveals detail without producing excess heat. This together with a low operating cost makes fluorescent bulbs an ideal choice for work areas. One downfall for the fluorescent lamp is that it produces a very white light that does not seem as natural or warm as an incandescent bulb. This light has also been connected with the fading of paintings since it contains a high amount of UV rays. These bulbs become dimmer towards the end of their life and may not turn on in extremely cold temperatures. Fluorescent bulbs have also been accused of being harmful to the environment due to the mercury and phosphor materials contained inside. Because of this used fluorescent lamps typically cannot be disposed of as regular trash.
LED, which stands for “light-emitting diode,” is a lighting technology that is long-lasting and extremely energy-efficient, but they’re not ready to supplant all other bulbs yet. For one, they provide only directional light, not diffused light, making them ideal for under-counter task lighting, but not general room illumination. To overcome this, new models consist of large arrays of LEDs clustered together, but at prices from five to six times higher than CFLs, the bulbs are not for everybody.
Size Smaller than standard fluorescent lamps, compact fluorescent bulbs are nevertheless larger than incandescent bulbs. It is important to consider this since a compact fluorescent bulb might be too large for some of your fixtures.
Wattage A fluorescent lamp produces five times more light than an incandescent of the same wattage. So if you are using a 100-watt incandescent lamp to light a room, a 20-watt compact fluorescent will produce roughly the same amount of light.
Types of Lighting
Directional Lighting – is light that is focused and forced to travel in a particular direction either by a reflector or baffle. This may be a spotlight of any sort so that the light goes in a particular direction.
Downlights – come in all sorts of forms that give a narrow beam that spreads down to the floor. They are recessed or semi-recessed and maybe a feature or extremely discreet. Some have baffles or reflectors and are able to be angled to direct light to wash a wall i.e. a wall washer.
General Lighting – is a light that is an overall source. The general light hasn’t had its light focused into a beam or set in a particular direction. The light shines in all directions from its source without obstruction.
Reflected Lighting – is light that is bounced off another object usually a wall or a ceiling. It comes from a directional light source usually but has the light diffused by the reflection, to subtly and/or softly illuminate rather than the full intensity of directional light.
Up lighters – can be freestanding or may be mounted directly to the wall and either fully shrouded or have a translucent shade giving an overall ambient light as well as a reflected light.
All these types of lighting can be used in combination but you have to pay particular attention to the overall light level to create the mood. Generally, sets of lighting sources should be switched separately to control the effects and to keep the system as versatile as possible. Remember that a lighting system is for creating mood, enabling tasks to be carried out and to enhance the effects of the interior design of the room, it should not be looked at as just a general light source. Indoor lighting is an essential feature of a home, as it provides function and ambiance. The different types of indoor lighting make it possible to choose the best delivery of light, based on your needs.
Indoor Lighting Tips
Identify the purpose and function of each room and how specific lighting can enhance that purpose. Recessed lighting is an easy way to focus light throughout a kitchen or master bedroom. Track lighting allows each light to be positioned to focus on different areas. In the kitchen, under-cabinet lighting makes your workspace glow and focuses light onto the countertop, where you spend most of your time. In-cabinet lighting helps you find what you need quickly and looks chic. the distinctive fixture creates a focal point or complements a piece of art. Pendant lights look smart and decorative providing light over the dining table. A chandelier can dazzle a room with flecks of light and can be found in a variety of sizes. For an eye-catching effect, seek ones in a non-traditional color like black crystal, smoky brown or teal. Try different lampshades in various shapes and textures for a quick transformation in any room, especially as the seasons change. Table lamps (especially Tiffany-inspired glass) and floor lamps work well to complement existing overhead lighting by enhancing a corner that might normally be dim. The best effect is with layering different types of lighting in each room.