See the Light – a lighting primer

Lighting is one of those things we seem to take it for granted. And when done well, it enhances a space, and when done poorly -well you know. Lighting is highly subjective, like sound and noise, and changes with our perception, age and mood.

So here a few design factors we consider when developing a lighting scheme.

Brightness (intensity)-

The task at hand demands a certain level of light needed to comfortably read, watch a movie, or perform surgery. The level of brightness is measured in footcandles or lux. As a range of brightness: walking through a parking lot at night , one would typically encounter a lighting level of 5 footcandles (fc), reading in an office about 40 fc, and full sunshine outside about 10,000 fc. We control the design with the number of lighting fixtures chosen, the type of light bulb (called a lamp to the trade),  height we mount the fixture, etc..


Color Rendition-

You know how peoples faces look more inviting by the campfire? It’s not just the wine talking- the warm light from the fire is actually a different color than the harsher-cooler light that you may find in an office. The color of the lamps is measured in a color rendition index (CRI) measured in degrees Kelvin.  Warm incandescent light is typically around 2700 degrees K, and outdoor light closer to 5000 degrees K.  The same colors viewed in different lighting conditions are indeed different. You probably know this from the phenomenon of buying paint in the store and painting your room and doing a double take-thinking to yourself-“This cannot be the same color that I saw in the store”.

It is the same color-but the lighting has changed from one location to the other. Hmm-So check the color on the side of the lamp you are buying!  (and do a small paint sample mockup first)

Also since light is either absorbed or reflected, the light level is perceived to be different.  So the same number of light fixtures and lamps is not a universal-given if one is planning a light color scheme or if a dark color scheme or heavily textured floor and wall finish is being planned.

Type of light and control

In addition to standard switched,  lighting can easily be controled with dimmers, motion  sensors, and photo-cells. Programmable lighting and smart remote control by your mobile phone and a receiving control module makes the issue of staying late at work -security a non-issue.

Energy use

Clearly, the need to conserve energy is high. So good lighting deseign is critical to use the right amount of light to do the task and look stunning, but not at the sake of indulgent use of resources. With the combination of proper light controls and the right fixtures specified the challenge can be eaily answered.

Stop squinting and call now – let’s review 914 674 2950-ask for Steve