Picking the right lighting for a home can be a confusing job. Many are accustomed to a certain type of light fixture or design and rarely think of any other types of lighting or designs. One of the best parts about a new home improvement project or new construction is that you get to design the space how you like it. When designing your new project, consult this guide on the different types of lighting that can be used.
Determining Lighting Goals
To give each room its own unique room and feeling, lighting must be considered. Direct or task lighting, such as these ceiling pendants, are great for a kitchen or bathroom. This type of lighting focuses illumination on a particular space. Living rooms and bedrooms can be made comfortable with ambient or indirect lighting which provides overall lighting to a room. Once you have decided which one you need for a specific space, you can move on to choose lighting options.
Purposes of Different Types of Light
There is no such thing as a light that covers every purpose. Some fixtures will multi-task their lighting duties, but in order to choose wisely, the first step is to understand the four layers of light.
Task. This lighting illuminates work spaces, such as countertops where you are preparing food or inside a pantry closet so you can see what goods are stocked on those shelves.
Accent. This highlighting adds depth and dimension to the environment (recessed adjustable fixtures and track lights.)
Decorative. The purpose of decorative lighting, such as chandeliers and candlestick-type sconces) is to add interest to a space.
Ambient. This gentle light fills the room and bounces off the ceiling. You’ll get this effect from pendant-hung indirect fixtures, opaque wall sconces and torchieres.
Decorating with Lighting
A particularly popular option within new construction is recessed lighting in more unorthodox areas. This may include recessed lighting at the bottom of hallway moldings or upper bedroom moldings. Others may include more modern styles of light like drop down ceiling lights or recessed wall lights. Make your artwork come to life and illuminate it with halogen light from track or adjustable recessed down-lighting.
Choosing the Right Bulbs
Different bulbs perform different jobs and while they all look alike, it is important to know which one is best in your home.
incandescent: These are the traditional bulbs most of us have used for decades, and they’re starting to phase out in favor of more energy-efficient options. They produce a warm, glowing light.
Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFLs): These use 75% less energy than an incandescent bulb and last longer. They usually emit a cooler tone, but you can find them in a range of brightness levels and temperatures. It’s worth noting that CFLs do contain mercury, and while the amounts are small, they still require more careful handling and disposal.
LEDs: These are just as efficient as CFLs, but they can last up to three times longer. They used to be mostly used for task lighting, because they provided a harsh, direct light. However, they’ve come a long way. They now offer the same look as incandescents, but they’re efficient, less hot to the touch, and last a very long time. For these reasons, they can also be more expensive, but there are utility rebates available.
Halogen: These give off a bright, white light, similar to natural daylight. Great for task lighting. They also use 10-20% less energy than an incandescent bulb.
Finally, dimmers allow for you to control the brightness of the light bulb in a certain room. Dimming your lights by 50 percent — even your energy efficient LEDS — can cut your energy cost in half. Plus, dimming makes lights run cooler, which extends their life.