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Making Sense of Lighting

by Arthur

I thought you and your readers could use some assistance with buying lighting. This is an area of little consumer information and a lot of confusion.

I sold commercial grade lighting for 14 years. I have extensive training in the art and science of lighting. I have also designed lighting systems for homes.

1) A 60-year old person may need as much as 10 times as much light for the same task as a 20-year old person. Also the lens of the eye or the cornea tends to yellow with age, so color of light becomes more critical.

2 )Light is everywhere so we tend not to notice or analyze it. Light is broken down into ambient or general light, task or work specific light, and accent or mood lighting. Most homes only have general or ambient light. All three types of light must work in concert for effective lighting.

3) Light spreads by reflection so dark walls will reflect less. NO amount of light will effectively light a redwood or cedar paneled room, or a room painted a dark color. Again older eyes will need a different color palette in their homes.

4) Light sources are called lamps or bulbs. The most efficient for home use are fluorescent and the least efficient is incandescent or standard pear shape bulbs. Incandescent uses only 10% of the energy consumed for light - 90% is wasted as heat! And stop complaining about fluorescent, most of what you know is no longer true.

5) A 20 to 25 watt compact fluorescent will replace a 100 watt incandescent. A bonus: a compact fluorescent will last up to 10,000 hours vs. 750 hours for incandescent. Save a minimum of $7.50 in energy cost.

TIP: Remove an incandescent bulb and install a fluorescent.

TIP: Buy Philips Marathon and SLS compact fluorescent for best color and performance.

TIP: Older? Look for a lighting wholesaler with a good selection and ask for 5000 Kelvin or 4100 Kelvin fluorescents.

TIP: Fluorescent are temperature sensitive. Most are rated for indoor use in open fixtures. Many will work in enclosed fixtures; example, remove a 60 watt incandescent, install a 15 watt fluorescent.

TIP: Outdoor use: Many electronic ballast (power supply) will start at freezing (32 degrees) but will take up to 2 minutes to reach full brightness.

TIP: Outdoor floodlighting. Look for the GE Genura lamp (about $20.00) or halogen, infrared reflecting (HIR for GE). The 32 watt Genura will replace a 100 watt reflector type bulb and last up to 4 years. The 60 watt PAR/HIR (get a flood) replaces up to a 150 watt PAR and lasts up to 2 years.

TIP: When buying incandescent which includes halogen, buy 120 volt only. For vision, look for neodymium bulbs or by name, Reveal, by GE.


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