Category: Article:

Interior Lighting
by Dr. Oneida Cramer

The big news in lighting came to light when lighting consultant, Dan Blitzer, came to Dallas in June for a series of lectures sponsored by the American Lighting Association and held at the International Lighting & Accessories Market in the Dallas Market Center.

?I think that spaces are getting brighter, that people are designing more light into spaces than they did ten years ago, ? Blitzer said. This phenomenon is due to a combination of factors: (1) fashion--lighting fashion goes from darker to brighter, from high contrast like theatre to less contrast like outdoors--variables that image-makers, high-end architects, sophisticated designers, the entertainment industry lead and those of us who observe and imitate follow; (2) aging--the growing population of older people now require increased lighting; and (3) technology--advances in technology make it easier to get higher light levels without overwhelming the energy system and making the space to hot to live, for example.

?Virtually all of the light sources in use today, with the exception of the ordinary light bulb, are different than they were twenty years ago,? Blitzer said. ?There?s been a substantial turnover in technology. Light bulbs last longer. Phillips has started to market long-life light bulbs. Manufacturers have always made light bulbs last longer; but they don?t give as much light. Phillips decided, after doing market research, that convenience is more important to consumers than energy or many of the other attributes in lighting. So, they decided to develop and market light bulbs that last two to three times as long and make an issue out of it. And they have a market campaign to promote longer-life light bulbs. To me, as an industry observer, I think that is quite interesting.?

Down lighting is also making news. Commercial grade recessed down lighting had been used in high-end homes until about ten years ago, according to Blitzer. With the advent of energy regulation and the requirement for more insulation in the ceiling, commercial grade products no longer were adequate for the home. So, manufacturers began designing specification grade products equipped with sophisticated optics plus the home energy regulation requirements. Now all homeowners can choose from three grades of down lighting--the basic builder grade, the better residential grade, and the best specification grade.

?The hallmark of outstanding light design is to use finely lighted fixtures to perform whatever task it is the you want to do,? said Blitzer. Ideally, high-end ambient down lighting makes the surfaces below bright while the ceilings remain clean and the light source appears smooth and undetectable. Instead of seeing a light bulb in the fixture, which does not satisfy the fundamental idea for recessed lighting, bulbs should disappear inside fixtures that offer a low glare-no flash smooth, soft edge field of light

?Most important is low glare,? said Blitzer. ?I don?t want to see any light bulb. I don?t want to see any flash of the light bulb. I want to see reflection of the light bulb in any reflected surfaces?calm, soft, neutral.? The best types of fixtures are made with the alzak finish; alzak is a process of sealing and polishing a surface for more focus. And the non-directional hazy, soft specular, clear alzak is the most popular product sold today. Also available are gold alzak, popular around warm finishes like wood, and black alzak, which adds a more mysterious appearance.

Better fixtures have a refined trim and hold bulbs 3 to 4 inches inside recessed pockets. More sophisticated optics can emit light from smaller holes and apertures, according to Blitzer. On the other hand, the cruder the optics, the bigger the hole needs to be to get light out.

Spacing light fixtures is very important; the most attractive ambiance is achieved with a regular pattern of fixtures integrated in the ceiling architecture and in line with the key vertical elements, like the doors, windows, columns, and furniture.

?Recessed down lighting is a solution that makes a space and objects bright,? said Blitzer. ?To be candid, it is not the best way and is almost never the best way used exclusively. It will tend to give design a flat, uncomfortable feeling.? But with layers of luminescence coming from lamps, wall scones, pendants, and chandeliers for balance and interest, recessed down lighting fills in dark shadows and creates areas of accent.

To avoid using only down lighting in a room, take into consideration all the lighting possibilities and where best to apply a variety of sources. For instance, ambient lighting, which is fundamental to any lighting plan, can come from chandeliers and ceiling or wall mounted fixtures, as well as recessed lighting. Lamps and pendant lights make excellent sources for task lighting such as reading. Recessed lighting from track, ceiling, and wall-mounted fixtures are all excellent sources for the fine-beam accent lighting. And wall-washing luminaries, the broad, even gradient of illumination over a wall surface, also comes from recessed fixtures. Not just preventing a room from looking dim, wall washing makes the room look larger. Note that fixtures must be carefully spaced in the ceiling to avoid casting shadows along the edges of architectural detail in soffits and coffers.

Wall hangings, such as tapestries, look best in the light from the incandescent daylight, light bulb according to Al Gitelman of Al Gitelman and Associates Tapestries, because the tungsten-halogen light enhances the fabric?s brilliance without damaging the fibers. Fluorescent light, on the other hand, washes out the color.

Compact fluorescent lighting, developed almost twenty years ago, has undergone a steady improvement in output as tubes increased from the twin to the quad (four-tubes) and then settled on the triple tubes. Fluorescent lights, in general, have become quieter without an annoying start-up flicker and are now available in a wider spectrum of colors. Today, compact fluorescence is finding wide applications in wall wash systems in kitchens, baths, and in out-of-the-way areas providing low profile down lighting. Still, its mushy non-directed beam lacks the focus necessary for accent lighting, according to Blitzer. Yet manufacturers are continually improving compact fluorescent lighting because of its high-energy efficiency.

If you?re looking for ways to economize on electricity, the American Association of Lighting offers a few simple tips. Turn lights off when not needed and use dimmers. Use photoelectric cells or automatic timers for outdoor lighting, and more efficient reflector bulbs for task and accent lighting indoors. And when possible use fluorescent lights.

-by Dr. Oneida Cramer
For more information, see the about page
For my favorite music go here

Home - Email Webmaster - About - Links - Privacy Policy
1 1 1 hello