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How to Design Energy-Efficient Lighting Plans

How to Design Energy-Efficient Lighting Plans

How to design energy efficient lighting plans

Lighting technology is changing all the time although sometimes, when googling, references to outdated products such as incandescent light bulbs will be made. No one uses these any more. Or fluorescents – not many new lights are designed to take fluorescent tubes.

Everything has now moved towards the LED light source which can be used in a variety of ways.

Accent Lighting

LEDs have brought us all sorts of ways of bringing in energy efficient accent lighting. For example, miniature LEDs placed near a wall can graze up the surface and, if punchy enough, cast soft reflected light onto the ceiling. They look lovely when placed near a stone wall or a surface with texture and can act as marker lights, with each fitting only using around one watt of electricity.

They can look great in niches and shelving. Again, hardly expending any electricity, they create interest and add to the design ‘shape’ of the room.

Linear LEDs

Linear LED profiles are also very popular nowadays and add a contemporary flavour. These can be used in recessed profiles either washing light down walls, or placed in coving to wash light upwards. This effect of indirect light is very soft, working on the principle of reflected light, although bear in mind that the amount of reflection you get will depend on the colour of the wall or ceiling surface.

Coffered ceilings are very popular in large interiors and can bring light into the centre of the room as well as being an attractive design feature. Although the linear LED used in this method of lighting is technically energy efficient, if the run is long, the number of watts can add up. Take a coffered area of 3 metres by 4 metres for example; this is a total of 14 metres of linear lighting. A high output product could take up to 20 watts per metre so this would be the equivalent of 280 watts to run. Not bad in old-fashioned terms but more than using LED downlights.

Downlights

LEDs are brilliant for overall lighting but there’s a huge range out there. Wattage can be anything from around 4 – 12 watts depending on punch and the quality of the fitting.

Of course, it’s always worth factoring in the cost of the fitting – and that doesn’t mean buying cheap. Often, by cutting corners when you buy the fitting you could end up having to replace it within a couple of years – and then you’ll incur the cost of replacement and the electrician.

Tips for Buying Downlights

Downlights can be glary but if you select a fitting where the light source is set back, you’ll get a softer effect.

Remember that LEDs don’t like getting hot. That’s why the good quality ones will have a fan effect at the back of the fitting to distribute the heat. This means that they don’t like being squashed into tight spaces and certainly don’t like insulation packed around them. So, ensure you follow the fitting instructions and remember that, if you have living accommodation above, you’ll probably need to have fire rated fittings and some of these will be more bulky than standard ones.

Finally, I would normally recommend 2700°K for most areas although the cooler 3000°K can work in kitchens and bathrooms.

The cooler the light temperature, the more light output you’ll get but the difference is miniscule and the experience can be harsh under a 4000°K no matter how energy efficient it appears to be.

Claire Pendarves is a lighting designer with over 20 years’ experience

Luxplan offers an online lighting design service ranging from one hour zoom consultancy – ‘Ask me Anything’ to full lighting design and specification. I design and spec; you buy independently

How to Design Living Room Lighting

How to Design Living Room Lighting

how to design living room lighting

The first thing you need to do when you plan lighting for a living room is ask yourself the following questions:

Which way is living room facing?

This will have an impact on how much light the room gets and at what time of the day. For example, a North facing room will have quite consistent light but will be relatively dark, whereas a room facing West may lack light in the morning but will be brighter in the evenings. This is important as, in the UK especially, we don’t just need to plan our lighting for when it’s dark. We need to think about the quality of light during the days, especially during our long winters.

How much natural light is there?

While the direction the room is facing will have an impact, so will its construction. Does it have high ceilings with big windows? Is there a rooflight? All these factors will have an effect.

Another issue is the balance of light. If the room is large with lovely natural light pouring in from large windows on only one side, how much light will be at the back of the room? This can sometimes make the light unbalanced and the back of the room will seem comparatively dark.

How will you be using the room?

If your room is only really going to be used at night, then the amount of natural light it’s receiving won’t be quite so important. For example, a room that acts more as a snug, where you can curl up in front of the fire and watch the TV won’t be needing quite such bright light, whereas a multi-functional room with, say, a desk in the corner, will need to incorporate more flexible lighting.

Where will you be placing the furniture?

If you’re not sure of the layout at this stage, run through some variables and you’ll probably find that there’s only really a couple of layouts that appeal. Where will you be placing your television, if there is one.

Will you be having shelves or even a media unit? This is a good way of integrating accent lighting.

How to Light a Living Room

Ideally a living room should have three circuits but this will depend on the size and complexity of the room.

1. Accent Lighting/Low Ambient circuit

Having a room in total darkness, when it can be viewed from other areas of the house, can be quite gloomy feeling like a black hole. Whereas incorporating a small amount of light will make the room look inviting and extend the feel of any adjacent living space. This can done using very little electricity -; in fact, with miniature LEDs you can do this using a mere 5-10 watts.

One of the fundamental elements of lighting design is layering light and this circuit can create a magical effect. For example, small inground LEDs uplighting window or door reveals, grazing up fireplaces, giving soft lighting in shelving etc.This may not be particularly picked up on by visitors, but the tranquil feel and ambience of the room will resonate.

It’s comforting to have some low level lighting on when watching television. Dark is too black and having more lights on can affect the movie watching experience.

2. General Lighting

This will be the circuit that envelopes you with soft light and will give you light to function, without glare.

Usually this will be in the form of wall lights and lamps. Downlights can work as well, provided they aren’t directly overhead as this can be harsh. Pools of light in front of curtains, or angled onto artwork is a gentle way of bringing light into the room without glare.

Most living rooms benefit hugely from low level lighting in the form of lamps. It makes life much easier if these are plugged into a 5 amp lamp circuit.

Consider what style of lamps you will need. At least one of these should be a task light for reading or sewing. Do you have a favourite chair? If you’re going for table lamps with shades, what colour and opacity will the shades have? For example, a modern frosted glass shade is going to give far more light out into a room than say, a pleated dark fabric one.

Lamp sockets don’t need to be located on the wall – in fact, in a large room it’s really useful to have the sockets in the floor, near the seating areas, otherwise you’ll end up with trailing cords everywhere. Sometimes clients say they can’t have that because of the underfloor heating, but it’s still feasible, provided it’s planned in the early stages.

3. Overhead Lighting

Many people ask how to light a living room with no overhead lighting’ but it’s always useful to factor in an additional circuit for this. You won’t be using it often but there will be times when you’re grateful you incorporated this additional source of light.

If the room doesn’t get much natural daylight you will often want to ramp up the lighting, such as gloomy rainy days, playing card games or some activity that needs a greater spread of task lighting.

Also, living rooms are often multi-functional, with a desk in the corner or an area to exercise before work. You’ll want a different mood then. Then of course, there’s times you’ll want to clean and hoover when a good amount of light is invaluable.

Overhead lighting can be provided by downlights if preferred, or the ceilings are too low for a feature pendant, but beware of glare. The best downlights will have the light source set back and a dark baffle will absorb the glare even more. If the room is large with a high ceiling there are some beautiful pendants which can add to the aesthetics of the room, as well a providing light. Again, beware of glare.

In conclusion, when planning the lighting for a new-build or renovation I would recommend wiring for three circuits although that will depend on the size of the room and budget.

If you’re just trying to revamp a living room, you can’t go wrong with adding some lamps. Mix it up. At least one task lamp, and others that will give light out into the room. One plug-in uplight can look great!

Finally, dimmers are an invaluable way of controlling the mood. Just make sure that your lights and dimming modules are compatible so check beforehand.

Claire Pendarves is a lighting designer with over 20 years’ experience

Luxplan offers an online lighting design service ranging from one hour zoom consultancy – ‘Ask me Anything’ to full lighting design and specification. I design and spec; you buy independently

Why is Interior Lighting Design Important?

Why is Interior Lighting Design Important?

Lighting high ceiling

Self-builders often reach the point where they’ve agreed the architectural plans and chosen the flooring, kitchen and bathrooms for their building project, then realise they need to plan the lighting. This involves some decision making. Should they get their electrician to work it out? Will their architect plan the lighting? Or should they have a stab at it themselves?

Here are some answers which may help.

Will Electricians Plan Lighting?

There’s an enormous range of electricians out there and some of them may well be more interested in the aesthetics of lighting. But many electricians, whilst good at their job, have no qualms about running grids of downlights throughout a house, oblivious to the fact that the effect will be flat and lifeless.

Clients sometimes send me through the initial M & E plans that were done in the early planning stage of the project. It was often these plans that made them determined to hire a lighting designer!

Lighting is a combination of science and art, so you can’t just work out the lumens for the square footage and bung in some lights in a grid. This might work for a standard office but doesn’t really cut it for an interior lighting design.

I originally trained as an interior designer, then went on to specialise in lighting design. Many lighting designers originate from architectural design. Very few will just focus on lumen output alone, which will often be how the electrician approaches it.

In addition, electricians probably won’t be quite so discerning when it comes to choosing downlights and accent lighting. Often, they’ll use their ‘go-to’ downlights which they supply for all their jobs. They may well get a good deal on them and won’t analyse the light quality, i.e. colour temperature of light as well as CRI (colour rendering index).

I liken it to cooking. Would you get a food technician to cook for your silver wedding anniversary party? I doubt it. You would probably prefer a chef.  

Do Architects Deal with Lighting?

If clients decide that it’s best not to get the electrician to do the lighting plan they’ll then ask, “Do architects do lighting plans?”

Short answer is yes, technically they can do lighting plans, if they are willing. But will they do the best lighting plan?

I think architects are great at incorporating natural light into a building and this will be their key consideration in terms of lighting. But architects can look at the plan in a very structured way.

Take a kitchen/living room plan, for example. I view the interior in my mind’s eye and consider the layout of the kitchen and the flow of the space. I’ll also assess that the lighting needs to be flexible. On a gloomy day you’ll want to whack up the lighting, but during an intimate dinner you’ll want the lighting subtle. Monday morning rushes for school require different lighting to sunny summer evenings when you’re filleting fish at the back of the kitchen.

This means various circuits and dimming protocols. This isn’t really an architect’s speciality.

What Does a Lighting Designer Do?

Self-builders will often ask, What does a lighting designer or lighting consultant do? Of course, it will vary from designer to designer, but first they’ll need to learn more about the following in order to do the best job.

  •                 An idea of your lifestyle and any specific requirements
  •                 Interior design style so that the overall look is cohesive
  •                 Kitchen plans, bathroom plans
  •                 Furniture layouts
  •                 Flooring
  •                 Any features to be incorporated, e.g. artwork, textured walling, joinery etc.

If you’re hiring a local lighting designer, they will often meet you first and go through your requirements. They will then submit an initial design, make the necessary alterations, and then meet with the electrician on site, preferably before first fix.

My online lighting design service works similarly, apart from the meetings with electricians.

Is my remote lighting service as comprehensive as other local lighting designers? No, but it will be more cost-effective. With Luxplan, I don’t aim to compete with top lighting designers who offer a fully comprehensive service. Ultimately, the extent of the service is reflected in the fees.

Why Do I Need a Lighting Designer?

Another question is ‘can’t my interior designer do my lighting design? Why do I need a lighting designer?’

Interior designers specialise in spacial design, finishes, fabrics, wallcoverings and bringing in mood and texture to a project; it’s rare that they know that much about lighting design.

I originally trained as an interior designer and loved my work, but it was when I was working on a project on the banks of Lake Geneva that a renowned lighting designer was brought in. This was going back quite a few years, when residential lighting designers weren’t such a thing, but it certainly opened my eyes. That changed my career. To me, there is nothing so magical as being in an ambience bathed in soft light – where you feel calm, and where areas are zoned, just by the use of clever lighting.

Think of the beautiful spaces you’ve been in, where you’ve felt good. Was it just the décor? Think back. I bet the lighting played a large part.

What is Included in a Lighting Plan?

Lighting plans will show the position of the lights linked to a key so you can see what the symbols mean.

The circuits and light fittings will be marked on the plan and listed on the specification. This should make it easy for the electrician to look at the plan and connect it to the specification with any additional notes giving further information.

In essence, the lighting plan can look rather boring, but a whole lot of thinking will be behind it. The positioning of each light will have been carefully thought out, so if any changes are made to the layout of the interior, the positions will need to be re-jigged.

Is a Lighting Designer Worth It?

Building or renovating a house involves a certain expense, but we can appreciate the rewards for many years to come. There’s nothing worse than scrimping on certain elements in the build and living to regret the compromises that have been made along the way.

It’s always worth spending money on good quality flooring, heating, bathrooms and kitchens. Self-builders will often use bathroom designers and kitchen designers. Why not use a lighting designer?

Of course, it will depend on who you use. Some lighting suppliers will say they carry out the lighting design but often it’s just a tagged-on service and their primary aim is to sell the products. Always worth checking their terms of service, and who is actually doing the design.

Other lighting designers offer an unbiased lighting design service where the client can buy their own lighting. This is how I work, although as my service is primarily remote, I don’t do so much hand holding as some of the larger or more local lighting designers. The amount of detail and contact, of course, would be reflected in the fees.

Ultimately, I believe a lighting designer is always worth it, but the cost would need to be balanced in keeping with the value of the property. Having said that, if the budget is running tight, it’s always worth getting the architectural lighting in place first. Feature lighting can always be added later.

In summary, I would say that getting a good lighting design plan in place is vital, by whatever means you achieve it.

But then, of course, I would be biased!

Claire Pendarves is a lighting designer with over 20 years’ experience

Luxplan offers an online lighting design service ranging from one hour zoom consultancy – ‘Ask me Anything’ to full lighting design and specification. I design and spec; you buy independently.

Bath Lighting Trip

Bath Lighting Trip

Lighting in Bath
Jim Lawrence Lighting Shop in Bath

As I’m a lighting consultant in South West England, it’s important that I keep in touch with the latest lighting trends which means travelling to see the physical light products myself. I make sure I attend lighting shows and design exhibitions but, over the last couple of years, these have been sparce. A trip to London takes time and I’m finding that many larger stores are devoting less space to their lighting displays which is frustrating.

So recently, I decided to combine business with pleasure and head to Bath to visit the lighting shops and enjoy the ambience. In fact, I’m so enthralled with lighting, that it’s always a pleasure to seek out exciting new feature lights and witness how the light falls from each fitting.

Bath

Bath, in southwest England, is one of my favourite cities, and the beautifully proportioned buildings, in their soft stone is a balm for the soul. I used to visit Bath for weekends when I was a designer in London, but it’s just as easy to travel there from Cornwall. A day is manageable; a weekend is preferable, just to have a more relaxed time enjoying the ambience and experiencing food from some of the fabulous restaurants.

Jim Lawrence

My first port of call was Jim Lawrence who have recently opened an expansive shop in Walcot Street.

I often specify Jim Lawrence for lighting design projects. Their prices are good, and their light fittings sit particularly well in classical interiors. They may not have the wow of such companies as Vaughan and Portaromana, but their quality is excellent and they also have the added benefit or producing door furniture and other ironmongery so that the whole look of your project can be cohesive.  

The shop is very well set out with an enormous range of light fittings without feeling overwhelming. That’s quite an art in itself. Equally, the staff were friendly and attentive without being fawning.

Although I live and breathe lighting it was still really useful to view the lights in reality. I’m currently planning the lighting for a beautiful regency house where the kitchen has a low ceiling, and seeing the lights I was proposing helped me to assess the size more accurately. In the end I chose a mix of the Fulbourn and Ava pendant lights to hang over a long kitchen island. It was very timely, as Jim Lawrence had just added a copper finish to these lights which was perfect, and the clients have now gone ahead with ordering them.  

I would recommend allowing a good amount of time in the shop and if you need to replenish some lampshades, or choose new ones, I would recommend checking these out as well. There’s nothing like actually seeing the size of lampshades to gauge how they will fit with the light fittings or lamps. They also do fabrics and curtain poles, although I forgot to pay them much attention.

The Fine Cheese Company

The Fine Cheese Company, Bath

Not exactly a lighting shop but selecting lighting can be exhausting and one needs a break!

As I had travelled up to Bath with my husband, we decided to treat ourselves to lunch in the small restaurant of this exquisite cheese shop. We chose a platter of cheese and one of delicious charcuterie which came with all the trimmings. The plates were so stylishly and generously laid out that I was fearful we had ordered two double portions. But no, our waiter assured us that they didn’t skimp on quantities and wanted us to enjoy.

Replenished, I decided to visit the next lighting venue.

Felix Lighting Specialists      

I’ve ordered light fittings from this company in the past and I love the combination of renovated original pieces and replicas of the same. Their feature lights are unusual and stylish and many of them incorporate holophane and prismatic glass which I particularly like. This type of glass gives out a soft lighting effect and sits really well in classical interiors when I’m working on renovations.

Felix Lighting Specialists are based in Bartlet Street and I have to confess that I was expecting more of a showroom. They weren’t technically open but there seemed to be an awful lot of people squashed in the interior between the cardboard boxes. It was a Friday so maybe not a good day to visit. Perhaps the boxes were about to be despatched. I chatted to one of the men who worked there and asked some technical questions about adapting a particular fitting. They are incredibly busy, and it seems that since the hospitality trade has cottoned on to them, they barely have time to draw breath.

It’s really worth looking at their website and, if you plan to view a particular light, I would telephone them beforehand to check that you can actually see it. Also, another piece of advice is, if you order a pendant light make sure you specify a ceiling fitting and chain, or flex, as there’s nothing worse than reaching the moment of fitting the light without all the elements.

Holloways of Ludlow

Holloways of Ludlow, Bath

Next stop was Holloways of Ludlow in Milsom Street where they have an amazing and huge showroom which only opened in April 2021.

Here was a feast for the eyes in contemporary design – not only of lighting but also wonderful furniture, including pieces from one of my favourite Danish companies, Carl Hanson and Son. Useful as well to see the Nelson bubble lamps on display as sometimes it’s hard to gauge the size of such pieces.

The range of lighting on display was spectacular and their piece de resistance was the Bocci 28 piece installation that ran down the stairwell. It’s very hard to see pieces like this in their glory unless you go to a hospitality venue such as a hotel or restaurant, and even then it’s hard knowing where they’re situated. There were some other beautifully extravagant pieces as well!

There was a lovely relaxed, expansive feeling about the shop and the people working there were very knowledgeable and friendly. Definitely worth a visit.

Enlighten of Bath

Enlighten of Bath is smaller and has the appearance of being slightly crammed, which is why you will probably need some assistance to find what you’re looking for. At first sight, it seems more for traditional tastes, although the owner, interior designer Anne Fisher, can help you select more contemporary lighting if you prefer.

Graham and Green

I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon Graham and Green in Walcot Street. They hadn’t been on my lighting plan! I will often recommend feature lighting, such as chandeliers, pendant lights or wall lights from this company, although it’s worth noting that their range is constantly changing.

If I suggest a piece from here I will usually recommend the client buys it and puts it in storage, as there’s no guarantee that it will be there in two months time.

Like many catalogue retailers, Graham and Green has progressed through online, to a physical store. It’s a good move, especially in Bath. People really enjoy seeing things in the flesh and, I imagine with so many people being in relaxed shopping mood in Bath, the spontaneous sales must make it a very profitable shop.

The Aurelius pendant light is an impressive piece although Graham and Green’s prices have crept up a bit.

Oka

Oka has a retail outlet on Milsom Street although I didn’t have time to go in and have a look at the lighting. I know their range, which is primarily classical, and I’ve visited their store in Broadway, Gloucestershire which is a wonderful selection of individually furnished rooms all set up in an impressive Georgian house

I think, in the lighting field, Oka’s main strength is their range of lamps. They really do some fabulous table lamps – especially large ones which are well priced. I particularly like their Minerva lamp – a beautiful shape and large and impressive.

At the end of my lighting day, I couldn’t resist nipping back to The Fine Cheese Company to select some cheeses to take back for the weekend. A bit of an indulgence but I felt I deserved it after the long day.

New Colourful Table Lamps

New Colourful Table Lamps

November saw the launch of the Plato lamp designed by Susie Atkinson for Studio Atkinson. Shown here in green but available in seven colours: Flamingo Pink, Oxblood, Seafoam Blue, Flint Grey, Sunflower Yellow, Fern Green and Ivory. A stylish way of bringing in a pop of colour into an interior. Available in large or small and a choice of coolie or drum lampshades. Definitely worth checking out. www.susieatkinson.com

Bespoke Lighting – Don’t Shy Away

Bespoke Lighting – Don’t Shy Away

Bespoke Lighting Could be Just What you Need

Bespoke lighting

Around thirteen years ago a wealthy local landowner came into my showroom and drew a sketch of the type of wall lights he wanted for his courtyards and stable yard.

“Can you find me something like that, Claire?” he asked showing me with his hands a size around 450 mm high. They had to be low energy (we were talking fluorescent in those days rather than LED) and, because his mansion was large in every sense, they had to be big.

“Well,” I replied, it wouldn’t be easy. I hadn’t come across a fitting matching his description and suggested that it would have to bespoke.

No, no, no, was the reply, he didn’t want bespoke, far too expensive, so I kept on looking.

On one of my trips to the wonderful Tyson showroom in London I came across four beautiful French antique wall lights that met the description and I sent pictures to my client who approved.  There was only one slight problem – there were only four available and we needed fourteen!

Eventually my client relented and agreed that the bespoke route was going to be the best solution so we moved forward, basing the design on the proportions of the antique light fittings. It was agreed that copper was the best metal to use as it would withstand the maritime climate of Cornwall and we even incorporated the family emblem at the top of the fittings giving that final stamp of individuality. Once the craftsmen were selected and the drawings approved the whole process took around 13 weeks.

I can’t include photographs of the final fittings as my clients are very private but I have continued doing work for them over the years and every time I go back I see how the lights are faring. They have patinated gently and sit well against the high granite walls of the building- in fact they totally look as if they belong.

Were the lights expensive? Yes, quite. Luckily, the cost of the design was spread between the fourteen fittings so per unit it worked out less than having one or two individual fittings designed but the price was not horrendous and the result was wonderful.

Sometimes you need bespoke because it is just impossible to find anything that suits the situation and other times it is bespoke that will bring the drama and individuality that is needed in a space. For example, take the amazing Shoal installations by Scabetti 

Check out the website for their amazingly individuality.

If the budget won’t run to the truly bespoke there are many ways to incorporate individuality into the light fittings of an interior.

At a recent Decorex exhibition I was very impressed by a new range of light fittings byDavid Hunt

Take the Hyde Wall light for example – these come in a standard choice of four finishes but there is also a bespoke lighting option of ten beautiful colours.  David Hunt are also doing a wide range of shades in 23 different fabrics which will help to enhance any interior.

Jielde – one of my absolute favourite companies, although not advertised as bespoke supply their wonderful range of lighting in a total of 26 different colours that will bring individuality to any scheme.

Lampshades can do it.  If you’re good at drawing to scale, just work out the size of a lampshade you would like, choose the fabric and get it made by a company such as Iberian Lighting

I’ve used them in the past, such as where we needed three oversized stacked shades for a large hotel lobby.

Don’t want to go quite that far? Check out the range of lampshades by Heathfield  They come in a wide range of sizes and fabrics.

Or if you want lampshades that look truly individual and original check out Beauvamp

In fact I love their shades so much it’s almost worth creating a bespoke interior just to match!