Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Basically, there are a couple of ways to add lighting to your garden: line voltage and low voltage. Both can be installed quickly and safely, without risk of electric shock. These lighting types are also low energy consumers. As far as lighting options go, with a low voltage system you can accent or create visibility lights to decks, pathways, stairs, and garden beds. You can do the same with solar fixtures; however, there may be less choice, style and intensity.
Keep in mind that you’re not lighting up a ball park at night and that excessive lighting can disturb your neighbor. Design your garden with lighting in a careful manner. Use fixtures to provide safety and visibility along paths and in areas of circulation and add other lights to gently highlight a small area, focal point, beautiful tree or shrub.
Imagine enjoying views of the garden at night during any season. When warmer weather arrives, a carefully lit garden can be as inviting for evening pleasures as any spot within your home. Fixtures such as pathway lights and lanterns can mark a strolling path and along the way, a beautiful tree is lit from below, casting interesting shadowing. There is so much that can be done to enhance and highlight the garden at night. Take a look at the selection of fixtures available and determine which form of lighting (solar, low voltage) you prefer.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Ambient Lighting provides an area with overall illumination at a comfortable level of brightness, enabling one to see and walk about safely. Ambient lighting can be accomplished with chandeliers, ceiling or wall-mounted fixtures, recessed, track lights, and lanterns outside your home. A basic form of lighting that replaces sunlight, general lighting is fundamental to a lighting plan.
Task Lighting helps you perform specific tasks such as reading, sewing, cooking, homework, hobbies, games, or balancing your checkbook. Task lighting can be provided by recessed lighting, track lighting, pendant lighting, and portable lamps. Task lighting should be free of distracting glare and shadows and should be bright enough to prevent eyestrain.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
1. Can I see well enough to get dressed?
2. Is there a light in the closet?
3. Are there individual reading lights on each side of the bed?
4. Is there an overhead light source?
5. Do I have enough light to determine the colors of clothing in my drawers?
6. Do I have a light source near the door?
7. Have I installed outlets in convenient locations while building/renovating the bedroom?
8. Can I fill dark corners with portable lighting sources?
9. Do I have a dimmer installed on the overhead light source?
10. Are there lights at the dressing table to help with makeup?
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Over the years I’ve often been asked what to do when considering replacing or adding lighting over a kitchen island or bar.
My answer: three to four individual mini-pendants. That’s great if you are willing to have an Electrician install the junction boxes or if you’re lucky you already have them in place.
But some applications with special ceilings have the homeowners standing firm as cutting up their ceilings and installing more electrical boxes is not an option they are willing to explore.
My first question is: what is the kitchen island used for? I get a lot of different answers but most people are eating, reading or preparing food. Knowing this information helps with how many pendants and what type of light bulb, directional or non directional, is best suited for their use.
So getting back to the challenge of lighting a kitchen island with only one power source, here are my top 3 picks:
(A)Three low voltage pendants hung on a 12” decorative circular canopy.
(B) Three low voltage pendants hung on a 24” decorative rectangular bar canopy.
(C) A mono rail system with pendants and maybe a few directional heads for good measure. Low voltage systems offer more contemporary styles of glass pendants but 120 volt systems are the easiest and least expensive to install.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Today, I’m posting a very informative article from our brilliant friends at Residential Lighting Magazine.
Residential Lighting: What is the difference between line voltage and low voltage?
Meeker: Line voltage means that it’s running on the line voltage of the home without a transformer, which is 120 volts. It’s table lamps, and most ceiling fixtures, chandeliers, are line voltage. Low voltage means there’s a transmitter, and [the electricity is] being transformed so the 120 volts is being brought down to 12 volts. Some chandeliers are low voltage. A lot of recessed cans are low voltage. Task lighting, desk lights are low voltage sometimes.
Residential Lighting: What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
Meeker: Typically the advantage of line voltage is that it’s going to be a less expensive fixture because you don’t have a transformer. It tends to be sort of more traditional lighting style fixtures.
Low voltage, on the other hand… uses smaller lightbulbs, so you can have more compact fixtures. There’s a type of lamp called an MR16, which is used in recessed cans, and the great thing about MR16s is they make incredible variety of beam spreads. So if you want to have a really super narrow spot or if you wanted to have a big, wide flood, they’ve got that and everything in between. So, the advantage of low voltage is that it’s got a lot more interesting lamps to use than with line voltage.
With line voltage, [if you want] recessed cans, usually you have either a flood or a spot; there’s a choice between the two, and that’s about it. Whereas with the low voltage, there might be 20 different beam variations in any given wattage. And the other advantage for recessed cans is that there are different types of lenses that can be put in front of low voltage — some line voltage lamps have that but more usually in the low voltage field — so you can change the way the light is. So not only do you have all these beam spreads, but you also have these effects you can create: You can soften the beam, you can stretch it out, you can do all sorts of things with it. So it’s great for lighting artwork, for creating mood and accent, that sort of thing.
Residential Lighting: Is there one that’s becoming more popular these days?
Meeker: Well… the lighting industry is kind of thrown up in the air right now. And that’s because there’s a lot of legislation going through right now to eliminate tungsten light bulbs, which is a line-voltage light bulb. Australia, right now, I don’t know if they’ve done it yet, but they’re going to eliminate the standard old light bulb because it’s not very energy efficient. It creates a lot of heat for the amount of light it produces. So for energy reasons they’re getting rid of it. MR16s, halogens, was kind of the ruling light source, and what’s going on now is LEDs are now sort of usurping its position… The LEDs are very expensive, and they haven’t completely filled out all the different categories that are being done by the low-voltage light bulbs right now. I think it’s just a matter of time before that occurs. LEDs are a light-emitting diode. It’s a type of lamp that they used initially on electronic equipment and they started using it for signal lights, like when you have a controlled intersection, when you have an automobile traffic. The advantage of them is their life is astounding… [A] line-voltage standard light bulb has about a 700- to 1,000-hour life. The low-voltage light bulb has between a 2,000- and 3,000-hour life. The LED [has about a] 10,000- to 100,000-hour life. They also use very little electricity. The disadvantage, though, is that right now [LEDs are] really expensive, but if they go into higher production, the price will come down. They are low voltage. You have to have a special [device] — it’s called a driver, which is a kind of transformer that powers them.
Residential Lighting: What are some other disadvantages to low-voltage light fixtures?
Meeker: One of the disadvantages of the low-voltage light bulb [is] that you need to have a transformer somewhere. And sometimes transformers buzz and hum. You don’t normally get a buzz or hum from a line-voltage light bulb.
Residential Lighting: Is there anything that retailers can suggest to consumers to buy to reduce that sound?
Meeker: Well, buy good quality fixtures, number one. Number two, when you are installing low-voltage light fixtures, you have to have a low-voltage dimmer to go with it. That sometimes helps reduce the noise. And then proper installation also helps. If you follow those three guidelines — good equipment to start with, the proper dimmer and then also the right installation — you should have a problem. But, you know, it does come up every once in a while, so it’s a matter of sort of fiddling around with some of the components to see if you can get it to quiet down.
Residential Lighting: In terms of energy usage, which is better?
Meeker: [Low-voltage is not a whole lot more energy efficient than line-voltage]. It turns out that tungsten, as we said, is not very energy efficient; it generates a lot of heat. Next up on the ladder of electricity usage is halogen… [which] is more efficient with its wattage, so it produces more light per watt, about one-and-a-half times the amount. The next up on the ladder would be fluorescent. And fluorescent in a sense is low-voltage because it has a ballast with it. It’s more energy efficient. One of the disadvantages of fluorescent is you can’t really focus the beam very well; it’s more of a general illumination. It can be dimmed, but you have to use special dimmers and ballast to do it. And then on the top of efficiency heap would be LEDs.
Residential Lighting: In terms of installing a transformer, is that something a homeowner can do themselves?
Meeker: Well, usually. Let’s say you buy a chandelier that has little low-voltage light bulbs on it. The transformer is usually inside the canopy that attaches to the ceiling. So it’s not as if it’s some sort of special box that you have to deal with. It’s part of the fixture. But the designer had to create room when they designed the fixture to put the transformer somewhere. So it’s usually a half-sphere that’s on the ceiling. Whereas with a line-voltage they don’t have to deal with that issue because there is no transformer. And it tends to be a little flatter or not a half-dome. It’s usually not a big obstacle; it’s just part of the fixture, and you just install it as you would any other sort of fixture.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Flush-mount ceiling light fixtures are a popular choice for overhead, widely distributed lighting. Flush-mounts work especially well in kitchens, bedrooms, hallways and foyers. They are also good for use in areas in which ceilings are lower, making chandeliers and hanging fixtures impractical.
Semi-flush light fixtures offer the appeal of being mid-way between flush and hanging fixtures. Semi-flush lamps do hang from the ceiling, but only by a small amount. This type of light fixture works well in the same locations as flush-mounts and provides dispersed lighting from above, in addition to good indirect brightening.
Chandeliers, pendants, and other hanging lights provide both good general illumination and more focused lighting for specific areas, like dining room tables. Whether you choose flush-mount, semi-flush, or hanging lights, you'll be amazed by the array of styles and colors to suit all decorating themes, from traditional to retro and everything in between. Quality lighting can last a lifetime, both enhancing your decorating style and increasing property values. To ensure you get the best-quality light fixtures for your home, visit Lighting4sale.com, an American Lighting Association member lighting showroom.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
From function to design, lighting affects everything. A room's appearance and feel, highlights and accents, and utility and cost are all important in considering how our home‘s lighting affects how we live. When contemplating a renovation, consider how lighting renewal can transform your eyesight, living space and energy consumption.
"Many of today's lighting trends include energy efficiency and conservation," says Rick Wiedemer, president of Hinkley Lighting in
Ceiling, wall-mounted and portable fixtures, and recessed and track lighting are all available in energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs as well as light-emitting diode (LED) lights.
Baby boomers are finding that they need three to four times as much light and that glare is hard on the eyes. Fluorescent bulbs are easier to see by than regular light bulbs. LED lights are being used more for their reduced glare, as well as Halogen, for their white light quality. You can choose energy-efficient bulbs in many styles for redecorating your whole house.
So, you have heard about LED lights but aren't sure what they are?
As Joe Rey-Barreau explains, "Light-emitting diodes resemble a very small computer chip - a sandwich of two very thin layers of glass with a chemical in between, that when charged with electricity, emits powerful illumination and saves energy."
Rey-Barreau, a professor in architecture and interior design at the
LED lights are being constructed for every type of lighting to fit the style in your home. Rey-Barreau says, "There's no singularity to style. I call it populism in a continuing major trend that’s going on; a diversification of styles. Because there’s a style for every person, and everyone can get what they want."
With decorative finishes in brushed nickel, pewter or Italian glass, you can find a look that suits your taste. In the kitchen, the keystone of entertainment, adding a few under-cabinet fixtures will make food preparation easier, and a few pendant fixtures over the island or breakfast nook will add a touch of art that draws the eye in a whole new direction.
Historically, exotic finishes were seen as high-end, pricey items that are now more affordable and can be found in the entry level of product availability. For example, items like Murano glass from
"More recently, the varied styles in light fixtures have been combined to create a new combination of designs for a completely different look. Traditional and contemporary styles come together - modernist materials like stainless steel combined with crystals - for a trend that's different that anything weíve seen in the past," says Rey-Barreau.
Create a lively, warm living environment with precisely placed light. Illuminate your prized painting, book collection or family heirloom with recessed lighting, sconces or the latest, MonoRail.
MonoRail is the biggest thing since ice cream. MonoRail is like track lighting was 40 years ago. It's twistable to configure to any position you want, to hang pendants or directional head lights, or fixtures - right up to the rail, and they come in brushed aluminum and bronze, which is great if you have a wood ceiling; it just disappears.
Carefully aimed light allows you to see well, and lights up what you want people to see; as if creating a work of art with your living space. In the dining room, where the attention is on the guests at the table, a chandelier provides the general lighting you need and adds style and sparkle, perfect for dining, tasks or table games.
"The dining room fixture is like jewelry for your house," says Held. "You don't change it as often, but when redecorating a room you notice that your fixture is dated."
Good light is essential to seeing well, especially for the tiny fine print. For better lighting where you need it most - for reading or hobbies - MonoRail is perfect. Direct it exactly where you need it, and readjust the direction later when your need changes. Or, include recessed lighting around the whole room with numerous switches and dimmer choices to adjust the light on demand.