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LIGHTING DESIGN

People are affected both physically and emotionally by lighting design. Most people are unaware of the significant role that light plays on their mood. For example, light may be used to encourage patrons to eat slowly, drink more and order desert in dimly lit restaurants. It is often used to the opposite effect in stark, well-lit medical buildings which need to convey a clean, efficient and task oriented atmosphere. Our emotional reaction to light comes from our perceptions of the light quality, quantity and placement.

Lighting Design Elements


Good lighting design accounts for these perceptions with the use of very real practices described below. In residential lighting, there are three basic design techniques to consider. 1. Ambient Lighting provides general, overall illumination that: Makes a comfortable and visual environment Enables one to move about easily and safely Defines the space

2. Accent Lighting provides light to view what is special. Accent lights: Direct extra light to selected objects and surfaces Draw the eye Provide dramatic interest

3. Task Lighting provides light to work by, illuminating areas where work is performed such as: Reading, paperwork Food preparation Bathroom grooming

Applying Lighting Design Elements

To simplify lighting design, a general rule of thumb is to always include a minimum of two light layers in every room. Said differently, every room of your home should contain an ambient light source and either accent or task lighting. Many contractors will put a single flushmount in the center of bedrooms as the only source of light. To compensate for the lonely fixture, a bulb with too much light output (lumens) is often used which, in turn, overlights the space. Not only does the contractor run the risk of creating dark corners in the room and a glare bomb in the center, the features of the rooms architecture or size are not showcased. The general light with layers rule may be achieved a number of ways in bedrooms. It is possible that homebuyers will plug in portable table lamps to provide additional light for reading (task) or for lowering light levels (ambient) if the bulb used is a 3 way. Another possibility is for the contractor to install indirect light, bounced off the ceiling, from a cove (often rope, fluorescent tube or Xenon lights). Instead, the contractor may choose to add a second layer of light with recessed cans that line the perimeter of the room. Although cans are very popular for their sleek appearance, drawbacks do exist with their use. Each hole in the ceiling (even ICAT rated) creates mini-chimneys for conditioned air to escape the home. In addition, many recessed cans are not installed using proper design techniques. Recessed cans are directional light fixtures that distribute a cone of light downward. Generally, directional lights are reserved for task and accent lighting rather than ambient overall illumination. Recessed cans may, however, provide ambient light within rooms that are designed for multiple light layers and separately controlled task lights. In order to provide ambient light, cans should be installed along the perimeter of the room between 1 and 3 feet from the wall. A distance of one foot or less is ideal for wall washing applications and will likely produce scallops along the wall. Two feet is most common and more than three feet is likely too far. Cans should never be placed on 4 foot centers. The resultant grid is not ideal and the directional downward nature of the light creates harsh shadows and poor facial modeling. There are multiple ways to achieve good lighting design in a home and hiring a lighting designer, architect or often a seasoned electrician is a great place to start.

Color Quality of Light the ENERGY STAR pledge


Traditional incandescent lights deliver warm white light by nature of their design. Recent incandescent product offerings of daylight bulbs are simply a traditional bulb with a blue film coating on the glass to skew the color. CFLs on the other hand can be designed to provide a wide range of colors from warm white to cool white and daylight. Early introductions with linear fluorescent shop lights and even the first CFL offerings did not provide enough education to consumers on the importance of color. As a result, CFLs and fluorescent lights in general were given a bad rap for the quality of light color produced. ENERGY STAR CFLs have been

third party tested to ensure that the color label on the box, whether its in degrees Kelvin or a description of white shade, is accurate and will meet customer expectations. Color quality is measured with two metrics: Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) and Color Rendering Index (CRI). To understand the use of these metrics we must first understand light as energy. Light is the form of energy that we experience visibly. Light, along with radio waves and x-rays, is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum of radiant energy.

It is along the visible spectrum of wavelengths for which red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet together form white light. This is why when light passes through a prism it bends to form a rainbow. The mix of intensities from each wavelength affects the color of the light we see. We perceive the wavelength intensities by saying the color is warm and inviting or cool and sterile. For instance, if the light source emits a high intensity of red wavelengths and less of the blue wavelengths like incandescent lights, the light will appear warm in color. How we measure that warmth is through CCT or color temperature, labeled in degrees Kelvin (K). Incandescent lights have a CCT of 2700K. Most lighting manufacturers will label their products as warm white, white, cool white or daylight as an intuitive guide. Understanding Color Quality: Light quality: color temperature (CCT)

While color temperature measures the light itself, CRI is a measure of the affect the light has on the surfaces it strikes. CRI measures how well the light source renders the colors of the objects being illuminated. Colors of an object are seen by the human eye as a function of the wavelengths absorbed and reflected off of it. This is why a light rich in red wavelengths will make a red apple appear vibrant and healthy but a blue ball appear dull. The red wavelengths are reflected back to our eyes by the apple allowing us to see red. These same red wavelengths are absorbed by the blue ball and the less intense blue wavelengths are reflected back. If the light were completely void of blue wavelengths the ball would appear black. This is why it is only possible to compare CRIs among light sources with the same color temperature. Understanding Color Quality: Light quality: color rendering index (CRI)

A CRI rating of 80 or higher is considered undetectable by the human eye. Incandescent Lights and sunlight have perfect CRI ratings of 100 given their full spectrum nature. Other light sources including CFLs and LEDs (and TVs, Computers) employ the R-G-B principle to produce white light through a mixture of red, green and blue wavelengths. RGB technologies are unable to achieve CRI ratings of 100 but many measure above 80. ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs are required to have a minimum CRI of 80 or above.