How To Get the Best Lighting System (Part 1)

You are probably familiar with the logic quizzes which show pictures of four objects, one of which doesn't belong in the group. When we apply that logic quiz to home construction we tend to follow the same process. For instance, if we're building a starter home, it's perfectly acceptable to install laminate countertops and fiberglass shower/tub combos. If, however, we are building a million dollar custom home, we would most likely not think of anything except quartz or granite for our counters and a custom tiled shower with a separate garden tub. 

Along the same line, if you want to celebrate a special occasion with your mate, you most probably will not take them to McDonalds. It's all a matter of scale and perceived quality. Installing a lighting system shouldn't be any different than choosing your countertops or deciding to take your wife to a nice steak house for an enjoyable evening. Unfortunately, many homeowners are not familiar enough with lighting products and those who install them to distinguish between McDonalds quality versus Kayne Prime quality. 

Choosing the right products and lighting company to install your lighting system should be thought out as well as the type of appliances you plan to install in your kitchen. So the question is "How?" Together, we are going to look at various aspects of a lighting project, evaluate their importance and hopefully come to a better understanding of how to get the best lighting system for your needs.

The first thing we need is a plan. To devise a good plan, we need to ask good questions. Here is one to get us going:

What is the purpose of this lighting system?

There are several functions associated with lighting. Most think of lighting for the esthetic appeal. A well designed system will accentuate the most prominent characteristics of your home's architecture, minimize the weakest features and promote lesser daytime features to strong night features. Illumination levels are the single most important factor in creating the overall look of a system at night and it requires years of experience to understand the relationship between lamp output and illumination levels based on variable distance.  

Another function of a lighting system is security. Whether the system is implemented to physically reduce shadowing and the places where abusers can hide, or to provide confidence while members of the family travel away from home, a well designed lighting system will deter potential security problems.

One function that is not as well known is the ability to reduce liability associated with pedestrian navigation on the property.  Everyone knows falls can result from poor lighting, but people can also fall when blinded by improperly placed or aimed light sources which cause night blindness. Bright lights cause the pupils in the eye to close thereby reducing the amount of light coming into the eye. This is not the situation you want while you're trying to walk down a set of stairs in the dark. Controlling the light in these areas while providing enough light to safely navigate areas of changing elevation generally requires more than just putting a path light at the top and bottom of the stairs.

A function that is related to pedestrian traffic is entertaining. If you entertain guests on a regular basis or you have a large number of guests over occasionally, you need a higher light level in the areas your guests move through. Higher light levels are not what most people want all the time (or everyone would just use eave lights), but want these same areas to be more intimate for most of the time. These opposite requirements require proper design and installation to accomplish both lighting environments.

Part 2