What Lighting Can Do for a Room
Lighting is what people see first in a room. Without it they don’t see the rest of the room. Well-planned and well-installed lighting can change the way a room looks, as well as how it feels. It can complete a room just as the right furniture and color scheme does. It is the single most visible part of the wiring system.
When designing lighting, keep in mind that the fixtures do a specific job as well as having a certain look. Tailor the fixture to the job, then find the look. Understanding a few basic ideas can help you achieve an overall "finished" room.
Good overall lighting can be accomplished by “layering” the light. Start with general light that can be used as a path through the room, or when looking for something in the room. This should be moderately bright, and controlled by the easiest switch to find. This switch should be a dimmer.
Follow this with more task-specific lighting, such as table or floor lamps for reading. These can have table-mounted dimmers. All of these combined, with the dimmers at their brightest, will make cleaning easy.
For general lighting you can use a central ceiling-mounted fixture, several small recessed fixtures, or track lighting. Halo, Juno or Lightolier and several others make good recessed and track lighting.
Task lighting can take many forms:
These are named for the rail in which the individual fixtures or “Heads” are mounted. Track lighting is probably the most versatile kind of lighting because the heads can be aimed in almost any direction.
There are a few styles of track. Single circuit track has all the heads turn on at the same time. Two circuit track has two sets of heads. A big variety of fittings allow lighting track to be installed around corners and at different heights. Another type of track is cut into the ceiling so the track itself is much less visible. Again, there are various fittings, for both one and two circuits. They use the same heads as surface mounted track.
The heads are the actual light source. They are quite adjustable in direction. Heads come in low and full-voltage, both using the same type of track. All are modern in style.
These are used mainly for downward lighting and give about a six foot diameter circle of light when in an eight foot tall ceiling. They are composed of three pieces, the Can, the Trim, and the Lamp.
There are two basic types of Can, Low or full-voltage. Each come in models designed for installation in open framing such as a new house, or finished ceilings such as a remodel project. They will be either IC or non-IC, which stands for Insulation Contact. IC cans must be used when they will be touching any other material such as plastic, wood, wiring, etc. The Can is the part which is not seen.
The Trim is the part of the fixture that you see. There are many styles available for both low and full-voltage fixtures. Some can be aimed, most cannot. They are designed for use with specific types of Lamps.
Motion sensor fixtures usually have two flood light lamps, and are used for security and convenience. They need both heat and motion to be activated. Good ones have adjustment for the distance they see, how light it needs to be to let them work, and how long they stay on. Some come with an override that allows you to turn them on manually. RAB makes good ones in a variety of styles.
Under cabinet fixtures are task lights that attach to the bottom of kitchen cabinets for a concealed light source. They are available with either Halogen, Xenon or fluorescent lamps. They come in various lengths designed to fit under the the different size cabinets. Good Halogen or Xenon fixtures have insulated spacers or ventilation slots to keep heat from normal operation away from the cabinet. Good fluorescents are small in height and have electronic ballasts. Most have built-in switches.
Some Basic Lighting Ideas