Basic Types of Lighting
Quality lighting products used properly can make a big difference in the interior environment of your home. Good lighting helps us to see better and perform tasks more easily, and it provides safety, security and a sense of comfort. Lighting and lighting controls also provide us with the flexibility to adjust and adapt the mood and ambience of our homes.
To better understand how light fixtures, light bulbs and lighting controls can make a difference in your home, take a look at this information on the basics of lighting:
Three are three basic types of lighting that work together in your home:
1. Ambient (general lighting)
A good lighting plan combines all three types to light an area according to function and style.
Ambient lighting provides an area with overall illumination. Also known as general lighting, 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. 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.
Task lighting helps you perform specific tasks, such as reading, grooming, preparing and cooking food, doing homework, working on hobbies, playing games and balancing your checkbook. It can be provided by recessed and track lighting, pendant lighting and undercabinet lighting, as well as by portable floor and desk lamps. Task lighting should be free of distracting glare and shadows and should be bright enough to prevent eye strain.
Accent lighting adds 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 as least three times as much light on the focal point as the general lighting surrounding it. Accent lighting is usually provided by recessed and track lighting or wall-mounted picture lights.
Fixture Shapes and Forms
Once you have selected what you want to light, you will have to decide how you are going to light it. Electro Lighting is the best place to view the many different styles, sizes and shapes of lighting fixtures that are available to deliver the ambient, task and accent lighting you need.
The many shapes and forms of lighting fixtures include:
Lighting Your Home
Lighting can make a big difference in the interior environment of your home. Good lighting used properly helps you to see better and perform tasks more easily. It also provides safety, security and a sense of comfort. Lighting and lighting controls also provide you with the flexibility to adjust and adapt the mood and ambiance of your home.
Lighting fixtures are ideal, and often inexpensive, accessories to supplement the interior design of your home. With an unlimited range of styles, shapes, colors and sizes, lighting fixtures can add sparkle and a final, finishing touch to your décor.
Properly used lighting should complement your lifestyle and meet your family's needs. When planning your home's lighting, keep these tips in mind:
Identify the activities that occur in each room (reading, food preparation, hobby work, grooming, laundry, homework, etc.).
Identify the mood or ambiance that you want to create in each space.
Identify any decorative elements you wish to emphasize, such as artwork or wall textures.
Identify areas with dark wall colors and finishes. These areas absorb more light than those with lighter finishes, so supplemental lighting may be required.
If you need assistance with your plan, a Certified Lighting Consultant or Lighting Specialist at Electro Lighting will be happy to help.
Light Sources/Light Bulbs
The performance of any light fixture depends very much on the light source (bulb) used. Different bulbs produce different lighting effects, and many bulbs have widely varying performance. To save energy, select the most efficient light bulb that will provide the type of lighting you need.
Beginning in mid-2011, the packaging on your favorite light bulbs will change.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is requiring manufacturers of incandescent, compact fluorescent and LED light bulbs to use new labeling on consumer packaging by mid-2011 to help consumers choose the most efficient bulbs for their needs.
For the first time, the label on the front of the package will emphasize the bulb's brightness as measured in lumens, rather than a measurement of watts.
“While watt measurements are familiar to consumers and have been featured on the front of light bulb packages for decades, watts are a measurement of energy use, not brightness,” stated the FTC in its press release. “As a result, reliance on watt measurements alone make it difficult for consumers to compare traditional incandescent bulbs to more efficient bulbs, such as compact fluorescents.”
The new front-of-package labels also will include the estimated yearly energy cost for the particular type of bulb.
The back of each package will have a “Lighting Facts” label modeled after the “Nutrition Facts” label that is currently on food packages. The Lighting Facts label will provide information about:
Light appearance (for example, “warm” or “cool”)
The bulb's brightness, measured in lumens, and a disclosure for bulbs containing mercury, also will be printed on each bulb.
Lighting Measurement Terminology
Wattage: The amount of electricity consumed by a light source
Lumens: The amount of light that a light source produces
Efficacy: Lumens per watt
Footcandles: The amount of light reaching a subject
Types of bulbs
Incandescent bulbs produce light when an electric current passes through a filament and causes it to glow. Because they are less energy efficient than other light sources, they are best used for task lighting that demands high levels of brightness. Beginning in 2012, the U.S. Energy and Independence Act of 2007 will require most incandescent bulbs to produce the same amount of light using less wattage.
The types of incandescent bulbs available include: General service incandescent bulbs are the inexpensive, readily available light bulbs that most of us think about when we hear "light bulb." They produce a warm, yellow-white light that is emitted in all directions and are available in either a clear or frosted finish.
There are three basic shapes:
1. General (A)
2. Globe (G)
3. Decorative (Flame, teardrop and other shapes)
Reflectorized incandescent bulbs have a reflective coating inside the bulb that directs the light in one direction rather than all around. Reflector (R) bulbs put approximately double the amount of light (footcandles) on the subject as General Service (A) of same wattage.
Parabolic Reflector (PAR) bulbs control light more precisely. They produce about four times the light of General Service (A) and are used in recessed and track lighting. Weatherproof casing makes them suitable for outdoor spot and flood fixtures.
Tungsten-halogen incandescent bulbs produce a brighter and whiter light than other incandescent bulbs. They also have a longer life and provide more light per watt than standard incandescent bulbs, making them a more efficient choice. Halogen bulbs are available in two types: line voltage (120 watt) and low voltage (12 volt).
Line Voltage (120 volt)PAR 16, 20, 30 and 38 reflectorized bulbs provide better beam control than regular incandescent PAR bulbs. They are available in numerous spot and flood beam spreads and are used in track, recessed and outdoor spot and floodlights.T-3 Double-Ended bulbs are available in a variety of base types and are used in wall sconces, torchieres and outdoor flood lights. The direction of the light is controlled by the fixture.T-4 Single-Ended bulbs come in both "mini-can" and "bayonet" base types and are used in wall sconces, bath brackets, torchieres and pendants. The direction of the light is controlled by the fixture.
Low Voltage (12 Volt)MR8, MR11 and MR16 (mini-reflectors) provide excellent beam control, and their miniature size allows them to be used in smaller track and recessed fixtures. They are also used in outdoor landscape accent lighting fixtures.PAR36 bulbs provide superior beam control, especially over long distances. They are used in track, recessed and outdoor lamdscape accent fixtures.T-4 Bi-Pin bulbs are miniature bulbs used in pendants, halogen desk lamps and linear, low-voltage track systems. They are widely used in cove lighting and undercabinet lighting.Xenon rigid-loop, festoon and wedge base bulbs have a white light similar to that of halogen but have a much longer life rating (some up to 20,000 hours, much like fluorescent) and operate at lower temperatures than halogen. These miniature bulbs are popular for strip, under-cabinet and cove lighting applications.
Fluorescent bulbs produce light when an electric arc passes between cathodes to excite mercury and other gases producing radiant energy, which is then converted to visible light by a phosphor coating.
They use 1/5 to 1/3 as much electricity as incandescents with comparable lumen ratings and last up to 20 times longer. Compact types are used in smaller, trimmer fixtures such as recessed downlights, wall sconces, close-to-ceiling fixtures, and track lights. Screw-in types can be used in place of incandescents in standard lamp sockets. Available in a wide spectrum of colors. Warm white tones best duplicate the color of incandescents. Today's fluorescent bulbs come in a wide selection of sizes and can produce warm tones of light similar to those of incandescents.
If your fixtures are on a dimming system, look for fluorescent bulbs labeled "dimmable."
Because fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, it is important to dispose of them properly.
Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) are small fluorescent bulbs that can be used in most types of lighting fixtures. The screw-in types can be used to replace incandescent lamps in standard lamp sockets.
T8 bulbs with electronic ballasts are commonly used in larger ceiling fixtures. Because of the electronic ballasts, they turn on instantly and do not hum. They are commonly used in commercial projects and are now being widely used in residential applications.
High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Bulbs
High-Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs produce light when an arc passes between cathodes in a pressurized tube, causing metallic additives to vaporize. They have long lives and are extremely energy efficient, but - with the exception of metal halides - they do not produce pleasing light colors. In residential settings, HIDs are most often used for outdoor security and area lighting.
There are four types of HID's:
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) produce light when voltage is applied to negatively charged semiconductors, causing electrons to combine and create a unit of light (photon). In simpler terms, an LED is a chemical chip embedded in a plastic capsule. Because they are small, several LEDs are sometimes combined to produce a single light bulb.
LED lighting in general is more efficient and longer lasting than any other type of light source, and it is being developed for more and more applications within the home. LEDs are currently popular in under-cabinet strips and some types of downlights.
To ensure that you are purchasing an LED bulb with good color quality and energy efficiency that is as good or better than fluorescent bulbs, look for the ENERGY STAR symbol.