Understanding Lighting–What You Don’t Know Can Hurt Your Lighting Scheme

Understanding Lighting–What You Don’t Know Can Hurt Your Lighting Scheme

Understanding Lighting

Today, consumers are faced with having numerous options for a variety of things, including lighting, where they didn’t exist in the past.  As such, many are confused with which type of light to choose for their particular needs.  All the options will be explored and explained here with to simplify your decisions and ensure the best lighting options are chosen to provide the best results within the space.

Understanding the different light bulbs and the type of light that is emitted from each of them will help you determine which is best for which specific space in your home.


LEDs or Light-Emitting Diodes

LEDs are extremely popular, with the technology being used in a variety of electronic devices because they are efficient and sustainable.  They cost more at the point of purchase, but they have so many advantages, beginning with them using approximately 80% of the energy for emitting light.  Furthermore, they can last as much as 80,000 hours, meaning there is a lot of savings to be had with LED lights.  Bulbs don’t have to be replaced frequently, nor do they contain any harmful gases, so it’s also a better choice for the environment.  Therefore, the higher cost of the point-of-purchase is offset by the longevity of the product itself, as the savings occur in the long run.  Moreover, one can save in utility expenses because the electricity is more efficiently used.

LED lighting

Long-lasting and highly energy-efficient, LEDs have lots to offer, but do have their downside as they only provide directional light.  As such, they are perfect for task lighting, such as in cabinets and under-counter lighting, but not ideal for general illumination.

Halogen and Incandescent Lighting

Filament types have only up to 5000 hours of lifespan and waste energy toward heat, whereby only 10% of that energy translates into actual light.  Halogen and incandescent lighting produce light through the mechanism that heats the filament, so they use it much more energy.

Incandescent Lighting

Being the least expensive, the incandescent is the most popular, yet is also not as energy-efficient as others.  It also provides a welcoming quality as it emits a warm glow to complement skin tones.  They can and should be used with a dimmer.  Expect incandescent bulbs last up to 1,000 hours.

Halogen Bulbs

If you need bright light, then opt for halogen bulbs, which cast a light that is closest to natural daylight. Halogen bulbs are more expensive than incandescent bulbs, and burn at higher temperatures, because the bulb may explode with even the tiniest oil residue that would come from the human hand, so be sure to handle with them with the utmost care–always wearing gloves when cleaning or changing them.  Using halogen bulbs will make colors within the space appear sharper, thanks to their “white light.” Expect halogen bulbs to last double the amount of time as would a standard bulbs

CFL or Compact Fluorescent Lamps

A common ceiling lighting choice, the fluorescent light gives off a very harsh light, sometimes even bluish in tone.  It’s often been described as a cold and flat light, incapable of being used with a dimmer.  However, there are numerous types available to choose from, that include those that emit cool or warm light.  Typically, they are used to illuminate large workspaces or areas within a home, such as those in the basement.

CFLs produce light through the gases that are produced inside the tubes.  These gases contain mercury vapor, a poisonous gas that can be inhaled if the tube is broken.  For the environment, there have been many problems with their disposal.  Compact fluorescent light bulbs are all about energy efficiency and savings, as they use only one fourth the energy used by incandescent bulbs.  They have come a long way since they were invented, turning on instantaneously and now provide warmer tones for a  more pleasant atmosphere.  They can be recycled and when they reached the end of their life spans, but be careful when handling them as they do contain trace amounts of mercury.  Expect them to last about 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

How to Use Lighting for a Designer Look


Ambient lighting is use to provide that all-important glow in a space by creating minimal shadow. Connecting all lights that work with a dimmer can provide such light. Another example of ambient lighting comes from a wall sconce, an absolute must in any room.

layering lighting


Accent lighting is that which comes from directional lighting. It creates more interest in a space by highlighting or “accenting” an object. It could also be used to draw attention to an interesting architectural feature. This can be achieved through the use of halogen spotlights or even lamps topped with opaque shades.


Task lighting is that which is in place to allow you to perform daily activities by enhancing visual clarity.  These could include reading, shaving, applying makeup, and so on, or for cooking and meal preparation in the kitchen. It should be glare-free to avoid eyes from growing tired.



Use lighting like an artist would create artwork. Enhance a painting or a sculpture with light.


Natural lighting that comes from the sun, from candles or from a fire should never be neglected.  It’s forever moving and changing with the time, weather conditions, seasons, and so on, and must therefore be  considered in a lighting scheme.

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