Lighting in the Home
Domestic lighting fulfils a number of functions in the interior. In practical terms, it is a supplement or substitute for natural daylight activities, enabling ordinary tasks to be performed safely; it can provide additional brightness in a work area or dark corner, as well as an even level of background illumination. However, just as important is lighting’s ability to generate mood and atmosphere. Subtle interplays of light and shade soften and enhance the decoration of a room. Directional light picks out architectural detail, displays, objects and pictures. And the design of the light fitting can in itself be a source of style and interest.
TYPES OF LIGHTING
Broadly speaking, all domestic lights have two components: the light source itself (bulb or lamp) and the light fitting. When choosing lighting for your home, you should consider not only the style of the fitting but also the quality and distribution of the light that it produces. Depending on the fitting, light can be distributed:
• evenly in all directions
• principally in one direction
• with some diffusion in a concentrated beam
Background lighting essentially acts as a replacement for daylight; typically it is supplied by a ceiling-mounted fitting or a pendant. Alternatives include wall lights, uplights and table lamps, all of which can produce something more interesting than a single bright light overhead, whose effect can be dull and uninspiring.
Areas such as kitchen counters, workbenches and desks — anywhere that specific tasks are to be performed — need an extra level of light. Task lighting should be positioned so that shadows do not fall across the work surface: directional lights which can be angled to suit needs — such as downlights, angled desk lamps and spotlights — are often a good choice.
Another form of task lighting is utility lighting. Practical rather than aesthetic, utility lighting is the type used to illuminate dark and potentially dangerous areas, such as stairways and exterior paths.
By picking out decorative displays, accent lighting creates a sense of drama. Strongly directional spotlights are particularly effective: they can be angled to highlight a collection of objects, a set of bookshelves or a group of pictures. Other types of accent lighting include traditional bracket picture lights, concealed lights in display cases and floor-standing uplights.
Bulbs and Lamps
1 General purpose tungsten bulb
2 Tungsten striplight
3 Parabolic aluminized
4 Halogen display bulb
5 Halogen reflector (cool beam)
6 Halogen reflector bulb
7 Globe bulb
8 Candle-shaped bulb
9 Fluorescent long-life bulb
10 Reflector bulb
11 Fluorescent striplight
12 Circular fluorescent tube
13 Crown-silvered bulb
TYPES OF LIGHT SOURCE
The three main types used in the home are tungsten, tungsten halogen and fluorescent. The differences between them concern the efficiency of their use of energy, their average lifetime and, most important in aesthetic terms, the quality of colour they lend to whatever they illuminate.
The commonest domestic light source is the tungsten filament bulb. This consists of a filament which glows inside a pearl or clear glass bulb that is filled with an inert(eg. argon) in low concentration. Compared to daylight, tungsten is a warm light, yellowish in tone, and is well suited to interior use. It does not alter colour relationships significantly and provides a good tonal contrast. Tinted tungsten bulbs are available in a range of pastel and primary colours.
However, tungsten lights are somewhat less practical than other light sources. The bulbs do not last very long, they generate a fair amount of heat, and they do not make efficient use of. But they are inexpensive and can function with dimmers.
Tungsten halogen has a cool, crisp appearance, whiter and brighter than ordinary tungsten. The lamp is filled with one of the halogens (a family of chemical elements), and this reacts with vapours from the tungsten filament.
Like tungsten, tungsten halogen is effective at colour rendering and at revealing contrasts, but it also has a vital, sparkling quality which makes it particularly suitable for use in uplights, spotlights and accent lighting. There are two main types, mains-voltage and low-voltage; the latter can be used with a transformer. Both can be dimmed.
Unlike tungsten or tungsten halogen, fluorescent light has a significant effect on both colour and tone. However, there are modern fluorescent lights available that simulate daylight, and special covers can be used to make the light more sympathetic.
The distribution of light
This varies according to the design of the light fitting. Highly directional light is provided by downlights, spotlights and some types of uplights. Table lamps, on the other hand, diffuse light in more than one direction.