General Guidelines for Lighting

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    and from our own point of view.  We set these ideas forward to help stimulate your own thinking on the subject and to help you get enough of the right kind of light in the right place to suit your purpose.  

We assume, of course, that you are trying to get enough of the right kind of light in the right place to suit your purpose without having excess fixtures, watts, and undesirable color characteristics in your light source.

The Right Kind of Light . . .

 . . . depends on a number of factors, such as:

  • What things are going to be illuminated?
  • What activity is planned and by/for whom ?
  • What are the priorities for color rendition, mood, etc.?
  • What competition is there from some other light source?
  • What is your preference?


. . . in the Right Place . . .

. . . depends on a number of factors, too, such as:

  • What is the floor plan?
  • What activity is planned and by/for whom?
  • What advantages/disadvantages are presented by:
    •  ceiling height? 
    •  competing light source?
    •  structures/obstructions?
    •  the reflective quality of illuminated objects?
  • What are the characteristics of your chosen light source?
  • What is your preference?

. . . and in the Right Amount?

        Yes, we could repeat all of the above . . . well, almost.  There are recommended ranges of light level for certain kinds of areas and tasks.  We defer to others who have prepared those charts for that kind of information.  What we suggest is that those recommended light levels are not the sole means of determining the right amount of light, if other characteristics of the light are examined; and if the light source is carefully placed.

    For example:  We lighted a jewelry store with fluorescent fixtures by placing the fixtures directly over the display counters.  We paid virtually no attention to the light levels in the walkway, knowing that they would be well above the levels necessary for walking about.  We used lamps at 5000 Kelvin with a color rendition index of 85, so the ambient light in the space was not overly yellow.  (Yellow light tends to reflect, to distort many colors, and to cause a false sensation of brightness [glare].)  To provide the specular highlights necessary for showing gemstones, we placed low voltage fixtures beside the fluorescent fixtures with carefully chosen beam spreads in Solux lamps (4700K) thereby adding about 20% more lumens on the countertops only; and we did it without any apparent bright spots or difference in color of the light.  


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