The Fundamentals of Lighting

Getting to Know You: Lighting Basics

Light is one of those things: when it’s right, you may not even notice its brilliance, but when it’s wrong, there’s little else you can focus on (literally). By knowing the basics, you can always choose the right light.

There are three basic types of light—task, ambient, and accent.

Task lighting is what you’ll use in work areas like the kitchen and bathroom, where seeing every detail without straining your eyes is important. Pieces offering task lighting include pendants, under-cabinet lighting, and recessed down lights.

Watt Are You Talking About: A Guide to Light Bulbs

The light bulb has long been known as a great idea—in fact, we even use its image to symbolize… wait for it… a great idea. Innovations in energy efficiency, lifespan, and design have only served to make this great idea even better. So what bulb is best? Let’s explore the options.

Fixture Upper: Types of Lighting Fixtures

Blow minds at your next dinner party with your encyclopedic knowledge of different lighting fixture styles.

Control Freak: How to Control Your Lighting

There are plenty of good reasons to have more control over your lighting. It’s energy efficient, it’s cost saving, it’s user-friendly, and it ensures you’re using the lighting that’s most comfortable at any moment. Even better, there are different ways to do it, ranging from the easy to the more complicated.

Efficiency Expert: Benefits of Energy Saving Lights

The latest innovations in lighting have made it easier than ever to save energy and, by proxy, money. Here’s what you need to know:

Not the Brightest Bulb: Wattage vs. Lumens

It seems simple enough: You want brighter light, you buy a higher wattage bulb, right? Wrong. It’s time for a lesson on watts vs. lumens

Flip Your Switch: Choosing Dimmers vs. Switches

When it comes to controlling light flow, you’ve got options—and both have benefits that are worth considering.

Dimmer switches allow you to control how much light output you experience, giving you the chance to increase the flow as daylight wanes or decrease it to set a more relaxing mood. Instead of just “on” or “off,” you’ve got options. You’ll save energy—and money—so, dimmers all the way! It seems like a no-brainer, right? Of course there’s a catch. If you’re using “smart” bulbs, you’ll need a smart dimmer. In addition, you want to be sure you don’t use a dimmer with anything that has a motor, like a ceiling fan. Even some fluorescent lights shouldn’t be used with dimmer switches, because of the way in which they draw current.

A budgetary note: Dimmers are more expensive than regular switches, so to cut costs, don’t use them in areas that don’t require lighting adjustment. And, as with anything, check your FLOS manual before installing an external dimmer to a light source.

Your LED IQ: How to Avoid Mistakes When Buying LED Lights

You’ve bought light bulbs before—is it really so different when you’re buying LED lights? Yes, obviously. Why else would we bring it up? Here’s what you need to know about buying LED.

It’s all about lumens, not watts.

In the past, you’ve probably focused on wattage when you’re figuring out the right brightness for a bulb. As we discussed previously, wattage actually refers to how much electric power the bulb uses. With LED, though, you’ll want to look at the lumens, because the watts won’t really tell you much about how bright the bulb will get. The lumen is the measurement unit for a bulb’s brightness. Example: An LED bulb with 2600lm has an output equivalent to that of a 150W incandescent bulb. Also worth noting, the 2,600-lumen LED bulb only consumes 26W, delivering 83% energy savings compared to a 150W bulb-- while matching its lumen output.

For Your Consideration: What to Consider Before Buying Designer Lights

Buying a designer light is no small decision: It’s a financial investment, and it impacts the look and experience of your home. Here are a few things to consider before you make the leap.

Your Electrical Installation

When was the last time your home’s electrical work was updated? Before you install a beautiful pendant chandelier, make sure you’re working with the best electrical foundation, or you’ll have to deal with incompatibility headaches and blown fuses (including your own!) Even worse: the insulation on old wiring tends to harden over time, and it may crack and fall off during installation of the new lighting fixture. Wiring without insulation is a fire hazard and can cause electric shock--so it’s very important to check the condition and rewire the circuit if necessary.

Hang On: 5 Things You Should Know Before Hanging a Pendant Light

Pendant lights are one of our favorites: They create a pleasant ambience, they provide task lighting—basically, they’re always right. Here’s what you should know before you install yours.

Its Job: What will this light be doing? Is it purely decorative or will it be used in your work? Knowing what you need will help you choose the best location for the light, such as over a table, and determine if you should hang a solo pendant or a group. And, a lamp’s intended purpose affects product selection. In general, you may need brighter light sources for task lighting than accent lighting.

LED 101: Facts About LED Lights

What do you need to know about LEDs? Everything. LED lights—or Light Emitting Diodes—are innovative light sources that use electronic components called diodes to produce light directly. Other bulbs use heat to create light indirectly, which takes more energy. The use of diodes makes LED a more environmentally sound light source.

The lifespan of an LED light is more than 25,000 hours for a bulb (50,000 for a tube, and 50,000-100,000 hours for integral LED fixtures), as opposed to the 1,000-hour lifespan of a traditional incandescent bulb.

Light-Headed: How Your Light Affects Your Moods

Sure, candlelight is romantic—but the true effect of light on our emotions and moods goes far deeper than you may expect. Here’s how light affects our emotions:

It’s Food for Moods: Ever notice you feel calm and relaxed when there’s natural light flooding through your windows? Or maybe you’ve found yourself prone to depression on days when you’re in the dark. You’re not imagining it: Exposure to light affects our serotonin levels, so more is better. (That’s why you usually feel better after a walk outdoors!)

Tough Choice: How to Choose LED vs Halogen Lights

You’ve found the perfect lamp—so, do you put an LED or Halogen bulb in it? Here’s what you need to know.

CRI: What is the Color Rendering Index?

The CRI—or Color Rendering Index—is a measure of how well a light reveals the true colors of the objects it illuminates, especially in comparison to the way a natural light source would. In plain language, does a light make an object look orange when it’s generally red? The CRI would be low.

The index ranges from 0-100 and indicates a more “true” rendering the higher the number will be. Natural light, for example, would be 100 CRI. Shopping for light? CRI values are often listed as CIE Ra values on commercially available lighting products.

Safety Dance: What’s a UL Certification

A UL Certification or the UL Listing Mark, usually denoted by a red circle with the letters “UL” inside of it, indicates that a product has been tested and that it meets the UL’s requirements and standards of safety.

So what’s the UL, you ask? Great question. UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories, an organization that is considered the world leader in product safety testing and certification. So, in short, the UL Certification is a good sign on any product.

Light It Up: Light and Safety

From your porch light to the pendant over your kitchen counter, lights lend to the overall safety within and around your home.

Porch Light: A porch light enables safe passage across steps and walkways to your front door, allows you to see anyone standing outside, and indicates to passersby that you are home. And, it’s easier to find your keys when the light is on.

Act Natural: How to Integrate Natural Light into Your Space

The use of natural light in building conception doesn’t just create a beautiful result—it’s smart and a step towards sustainability, since illuminating interiors naturally can reduce lighting electricity consumption significantly. Known as “daylighting,” it’s the controlled admission of natural daylight, direct sunlight, and diffused skylight into a space. Architects and builders work more and more to allow for free-flowing daylight in new construction, and to add light to existing spaces in a few key ways:

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