where to start?

part 1/3

So, you have your keys to your new home and faced with the challenge of how to create a great lighting scheme. Before you even start, here are a few things you need to know:

First, you have to forget about conventional lighting with fluorescent and halogen. It's all about LED (Led Emitting Diode) now. We know that LED lighting saves energy, lots of energy as compared to fluorescent and especially if compared with halogen. LED also have much longer life, so you can expect the light to last for a very long time.

In the early days, LED lighting has earned a pretty bad reputation: bad color rendering, flickering, not dimmable, visible color difference between lights of the same model and premature failure. The good news is that, today, if you are buying from a reputable supplier, most of these problems have been resolved. Here are a few basic points you need to know:

LED lighting in Bedroom


1. CCT or Correlated Color Temperature. This is measured in K, Kelvin. It is a measure of how white or warm the light is. Daylight will be around 6,000K and the color of an incandescent lamp will be 2700K. With LED you can get many color temperatures in between. 3000K or warm white is the most popular for homes. 3000K is also used in many high end shops. More up market hotels and residences may use 2700K. Most offices will opt for 4000K.

2. CRI or Color Rendering Index. This is a measure of how true the color rendered by the light source as compared to an incandescent source. In the early days of LED, this was a big problem, but has been largely resolved. The acceptable CRI would be 80% or higher. But LED source with CRI of 95 and above are now available in the market.

3. SDCM or Standard Deviation Color Matching. Again in the early days of LED there was a problem that batches of LED would have different color and this can be easily observed. The SDCM standard was created to measure the deviations. High end installations may require SDCM of 3 or lower. But for residential, the general consensus is that an SDCM lower than 5 or 6 is acceptable. The lower the SDCM the higher the price of the LED source.

4. Luminaire lumens. This is the amount of usable light emitting from the fixture. This figure is usually lower than the lumen output of the LED light source due to light loss from the lens or the diffuser.

5. Lux level. The brightness of a surface is measured in lux. The surface is usually taken as the working plane and is normally about 700mm from the floor. The general or average lighting for a bedroom would be about 200 – 300 lux. The area where a task will be performed should have at least 500 lux for adults and higher for children and older people.


LED Round Ceiling Light 6. Direct Lighting. Typically, in a room where there is only one lighting point in the middle of the ceiling, a ceiling light will be installed. Such fixtures would provide direct lighting. To prevent excessive glare, a diffuser would be added. But the diffuser will cut out about 30 – 40% of the light. Most such fixtures would have a high degree of glare if the fixture has a high lumen output and a small lighted surface.
LED Cove Lighting 7. Indirect Lighting are cove lights, lights hidden behind the pelmet, or staircase ledge. The light source is not visible from the normal viewing angle and the light is bounce off the ceiling, wall or floor. Indirect lighting provides very comfortable lighting for a room.
LED Table Lamp 8. Task Lighting refers to lighting chosen specifically for a specific task. It is usually a table reading lamp, a bedside reading lamp or a floor lamp sited next to a sofa. Task lighting can also be wall mounted. Task lighting is important because it will supplement the general lighting to provide the required illumination level for tasks requiring more light such as reading or craft work

9. Recessed downlights. LED Recessed DownlightIf a false ceiling is available or can be created, downlights are the best way to achieve a good lighted ambience. Choosing a good downlight with glare cut is very important. In a downlight with good glare control, the light source sits higher and cannot be visible from the normal viewing angle. Such downlights are higher and a ceiling with enough recessed depth is necessary. Allow for a ceiling with at least 200mm from false ceiling to the concrete ceiling. Properly planned and installed, downlights allow you to light every area of a room: to wash a feature wall, highlight a table, painting or an object of art. The next time you notice an installation, be it a shop, hotel or restaurant, where you find the lighting effect to be very pleasant, look up and you will see downlights with good glare control. Not just any plain shallow or slim downlight with an opal diffuser flushed with the ceiling. Such fixtures should be relegated to the store room or the back toilets.

LED Track Lighting 10. Track Lighting are normally used in shops and department store. Also in galleries, museums and hotel ballrooms. Track lighting allows for great flexibility. The spotlights can be changed or moved, for example whenever a shop displays moved. The spotlight themselves can be fitted with accessories, color filters, spread lens, etc. In the home, track lighting can provide the similar effect of recessed downlights, when there is no false ceiling. Tracks can arranged in long straight lengths, L-shaped, U-shaped or closed squares and rectangles. Some tracks can even be curved.
LED Strips 11. LED Strips have replaced fluorescent lamps and incandescent festoon lamps for cove lighting. Led strips allows the lengths to be cut to fit the ceiling and if installed properly there are hardly any shadows. There are normally rated at 12V or 24V DC. The cutting distance are shorter for a 12V led strip compared with a 24V led strip. For straight lengths, choose a led strip with an aluminum housing and a frosted or clear acrylic cover. This will prevent dust collecting on the strip and allow for easier cleaning. We would recommend that led strips be installed with a dimmable power supply which can allow you to control the light level from the strip

12. Dimming. Always try to include dimming in your lighting installation. In the last 2 to 3 years, dimming of led is now easily available and there is no need to re-wire the house to include the control wire. You can dim straight from the wall mounted dimmer switch by controlling the line voltage to the dimmable driver. Not all dimmable drivers work on the standard wall 'triac' or leading edge dimmers. So check before you order.

13. Tunable White Tunable LED lighting from daylight to warm whiteThe advent of led lighting has made it possible to 'tune' the white from your light fixtures. This is done by having 2 or 3 groups of led chips with different color temperature on your led module. The simplest configuration could be a mixture of 3000K and 6000K led chips on the printed circuit board. The electronics on the driver will allow say, only the 3000K led chips to be turned on, in which case you get a warm white. Or only the 6,000K chips to be turned on in which case you get daylight. A third setting can control that 60% of the 3000K led chips are turned on at 50% of the brightness and 40% of the 6000K chips are turned on at 50% brightness. This MIXING of warm white and daylight will provide around 4000K color temperature (white light) at the same light level. The mixing control can be very sophisticated by use of a dimming and scene control system or very simply by toggling the wall switch on and off a number of times. Say switch on to get daylight, turn off and on again to get warm light and turn off and on again to get white light.

14. Why have tunable white. The reason could be simply that you want to have certain color of light for different activities or you want the light color to reinforce your circadian rhythms: say you awake in the morning and it helps that the daylight in your bathroom will kick start your day. In the evening after a hard day, you are ready to go to the sleep mode and the warm white of the bedroom will help to put you to relax and to sleep.

This is the first part of our 3 part discourse on lighting your home. Look out for more in-depth information on lighting your home on our web page.

NEXT > Part 2: 5 common mistakes when choosing lightings for your home.

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