Help me with my lighting

Help Me With My Lighting…

By Tony Alt, ARA Gallery and Interiors, Linn County LIVING WELL Magazine

When choosing the right lighting design and style, choices are plentiful. Deciding between incandescent, halogen, and LED can become an overwhelming task. Hopefully this article will help in your next lighting adventure.

Lighting is so important. However, it gets passed over or less emphasis is placed on it when it should be the opposite. Lighting can be the finishing touch and brings life to the interior items. When artwork, wood floors, build outs, granite countertops, fabrics, etc., are properly lit, you see more texture and depth, which can make a room visually pop. The right lighting can add depth and a spatial relationship that can make a room feel much larger than before, especially if one has darker walls.

Incandescent Lighting: This is the most common light and has the most choices for light fixtures. The lights can be dimmed and provides a nice warm glow that is pleasing to eye. This uses more energy than most other forms of lights.

Florescent: These lights generally create more of a cooler tone of light that is generally used in offices and more commercial areas. Even though there are some fluorescents available that have a warmer glow, they are not as warm as the standard incandescent. Fluorescents are more energy efficient, however most cannot be dimmed, and they produce more UV light than the incandescent which could create more fading than the incandescent. These bulbs do not get hot when in use.

Halogen: Halogens are much more energy efficient than the incandescent. Although they do burn hot to the touch, they do have a lot of great benefits. A 50-watt halogen will create similar light output as a standard 300-watt incandescent bulb. Halogen MR16 type bulbs are also available in many beam spreads from a very narrow spot that can cast a beam of light all the way across a large room, or a wide flood to wash a wall with light. It is this type of lighting that can create a lot of depth in a room by using the spots. It is a much different type of light though. Instead of the incandescent or florescent that lights an entire room equally, the halogens are much more pin pointed and direct, allowing you to direct where you want to light.

LED: These are similar to the halogen, but much more energy efficient. These are perhaps the most energy efficient on the market and a great “green” choice for the environment. They are the newest on the market and have fewer options for fixtures, however each year the selections get better and better. They are more expensive than other lighting options, however they last so much longer. Where other lights may last 2,000 hours, some LEDs last 30,000 to 100,000 hours or some even say for life. So, you pay more up front, but you save in the long run in less electricity used and less replacement bulbs purchased. When LEDs first came out, they had a cool light feel similar to the florescent; however, each year they get better and now have a nice warm light very similar to the incandescent. As for energy comparison, you can replace a standard 60-watt bulb with a 5-watt LED and get similar light output, which is a large energy savings. Again, there are less fixtures to choose from and LEDs are more expensive up front, but a great way to go for long term.

Dimmers: I strongly recommend dimmers. Not only do they save energy, but they can also extend the life span of the light bulbs and the transformers/fixtures. I like using the digital fade dimmers that slowly bring the light up to the brightness you desire, and that slowly fades off when done. The slow up and down is the best way to prolong the life of the bulbs and transformers as they slowly heat up.

Timers: A small item that gets overlooked is the timer. A simple timer is a great way to automatically turn off a set of lights at a certain time, or over night, etc. This is a great idea for a commercial location that leaves a lot of lights on over night. A few timers will turn them off at night, saving not only energy costs, but prolonging the life of their bulbs and fixtures.

At ARA Gallery & Interiors, we offer free in home and office consultations and we would be happy to come out to see your space and offer you suggestions, ideas and products that can completely change or update you look. We offer a vast selection of lighting products including, spots, chandeliers, sconces and accent lighting. We would love to help you with your next project.

Tony Alt, owner, designer, ARA Gallery & Interiors. ARA Gallery & Interiors is located at 4850 Armar Dr. SE Cedar Rapids, IA 52403. 319-366-2520.