Lighting plays a significant role in elevating your interior or architectural project from zero to hero. This is because human beings perceive physical spaces through their quality of light. Designers, hotel owners, and businesses can leverage lighting as an effective design tool to create pleasing and attractive atmospheres within a space. Good lighting can increase your chance of success with any renovation, redesign, or new build project. In fact, great lighting can change everything.
Unfortunately for the majority, lighting is merely an afterthought in their designs. This is because it is viewed through a utilitarian lens rather than a tool that can add aesthetic value. However, if done right, lighting can act as an unsung element that brings your designs to the next level.
Now, selecting the right lighting for your project is a hefty task for even the most experienced designers. However, our ultimate lighting guide gives you all the information you need to choose the right lighting for your project. Let’s begin by exploring the main specification and lighting sources to help you make the right choice. So, without further ado, let’s dive into it.
What Are The Main Specifications?
Before heading towards the aesthetic design, you’ll need to understand the technical specifications in lighting design. These include color temperature, color rendering, illuminance, etc. Here is what you need to know:
1- Color Temperature
Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) is a metric used to measure the warmth or coolness of the light color’s appearance. It is measured on the Kelvin (K) scale. Light generally tends to fall under three categories:
- Warm (Yellowish light)
- Neutral (White Light)
- Cool (White Blue-ish Light)
The low color temperature on the Kelvin scale indicates warm, incandescent light, which starts around 2700K. This goes up to 3500K which is close to the color temperature of fluorescent light. High color temperature means the light is bright and white. Color temperature above 3500K is typically reserved for commercial buildings, such as hospitals (5000K or higher), where ultra-bright light is needed.
Illuminance is a measure of total light falling on a surface, expressed in lumens per unit area. 1 foot-candle is equal to 1 lumen per square, and 1 lumen per square meter is 1 lux. In simple terms, illuminance is a measure of how bright a light source is. Traditionally, this was measured in watts; however, the modern standard for communicating the brightness of a light is lumens. The higher the lumen, the brighter the light source.
3- Lighting Efficiency & Flux
Lighting efficiency or luminous efficiency is a common term used in the lighting industry. It is a measure of the ability of a light source to emit visible light within a given amount of power. It is the ratio of the visible light from the light source to the power that goes into the light source from the electrical line. The visible light is called luminous flux, and the units are measured in lumens.
4- Color Rendering Index
Color rendering index (CRI) is a measure of how light will impact the appearance of a color as compared to direct sunlight. The higher the CRI value, the closer to the ‘true’ color you will be in that light source. The ideal CRI for a light source is 90 and above. This means bulbs and lights with a CRI higher than 90 CRI will show an accurate color rendering of the objects under it.
5- Rated Power
Rated power is a measure of how much power a light source consumes, expressed in watts. For example, if a bulb has a rated power of 60 W, this means it converts 60 J of electric energy into light energy in one second. It gives buyers a standard value by which they can select an appropriate light output for a particular room.
What Are The Different Types Of Light Sources?
When selecting lighting for your project, it is a good idea to explore the different options you have. This will help you narrow your choices and find the best selection according to your project. Having said this, let’s investigate the different types of light sources.
1- Incandescent Lamp
Incandescent lamps are defined as the ones in which light is produced through a filament heated to incandescence by an electric current. These are considered the least energy-efficient due to their short life span and relative inefficiency. For this reason, they are relatively more expensive than LED and fluorescent lamps.
Apart from this, they give you a chance to start with a minimal initial investment as they are very inexpensive to purchase. They are available in different shapes and sizes and provide a pleasant warm light with excellent color rendition.
2- Halogen Tungsten Lamp
There is a huge variety of halogen lamps available in the market with varying shapes, sizes, and power. However, they pretty much have a similar structure to standard incandescent bulbs. Generally, they are small in size and consume less energy. They emit 30% brighter and whiter light and last longer.
Lastly, their light intensity does not weaken with time due to tungsten vapors which prevent the glass from getting dark. On the contrary, they produce a lot of heat and emit ultraviolet radiation. For this reason, you need to use protective measures if you are going to use a halogen lamp directed towards your body.
3- LED lamp
Light Emitting Diode (LED) is one of the most energy-efficient and rapidly-growing lighting technologies. High-quality LED bulbs have a longer lifespan, are more durable, and offer quality lighting. They use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer as compared to incandescent lights. The only major drawback they have is that they are expensive as compared to other lighting options.
Light bulbs, also known as lamps, come in different shapes, sizes, and temperatures, allowing you to have multiple fixtures with different base types and filament designations. There are generally four types of bulbs available in the market: incandescent, fluorescent, LED, and Halogen bulbs.
5- Fluorescent Lamp
A fluorescent lamp is a low-pressure mercury electric discharge lamp in which a fluorescent coating (phosphor) transforms ultraviolet energy into visible light. These lamps are relatively more expensive as compared to incandescent ones. However, they last 6-10 times longer and are more cost-effective and efficient. They are ideal for spaces where light needs to remain on for an extended period of time.
6- High-Pressure Mercury Vapor Lamp
Mercury Vapor lamp is a high-density discharge lamp that uses an arc through vaporized mercury in a high-pressure tube to produce a bright light directly from its own arc. Mercury vapor lamps offer good lighting efficiency, high color rendering, and a longer lifespan. Since it contains traces of mercury, it needs proper disposal. It is not suitable for color photography or film as human skin appears green under the light. Lastly, warm-up time is required to start the lamp.
All in all, lighting is one of the major design aspects of any architectural or interior project. With so many specifications and choices on the table, it can be rather overwhelming to make a decision. This guide gives you a basic understanding of the technical specifications and types of sources in a lighting project. We hope this guide helps designers, hotel owners, and event organizers to plan their next lighting project in the right way. Let us know if you have any questions in the comments section; we will try our best to answer all your queries as soon as possible. Cheers!