An interior space evokes emotion, either a positive or negative reaction. While furnishings, materials and spatial planning play a part in the overall feel of a space, lighting has the greatest impact.
Until recently, energy-efficient lighting options have lacked the light output and colour quality of incandescent bulbs, resulting in a sterile and cold-feeling environment. However, with advancements in technology, LEDs are beginning to produce better light quality and offer true colour rendition. The challenge now is understanding the multitude of available energy-efficient lighting options and determining how to select the right light for an application.
The most important question to ask before choosing an energy-efficient lamp is: What is the application?
Once this has been determined, a designer can then zero in on the lamp options that will best achieve this goal. At this point, a designer should educate their client on the different lamps on the market, what will best suit their space, and what will offer the desired look and feel. A lighting designer can help with this process, providing information on the technical abilities of a lamp and confirming the lamp will perform to the needs of the space.
Assessing the application is key because one lamp type might work for one project but not another. For example, in a restaurant application, the ability to set the mood is of upmost importance. In this case, a designer will want to select a quality LED fixture that is compatible with a lighting control system so that the restaurateur can control the setting, making it more intimate by gently moving the dimmer switch.
In an office environment, atmosphere is typically less important, while the ability of users to control their personal space lighting is often high up on the list. Energy efficiency is also of importance, which can be greatly increased with the addition of occupancy and daylight sensors. Occupancy sensors detect occupancy of a space and turn lights on and off accordingly, while daylight sensors adjust light based on the amount of daylight in a room.
Retail lighting requires special attention – a pop to allow merchandise to shine at its best to attract consumers. Ensuring colours are vibrant and true is an important part of merchandising, as is attracting consumers into a space and making them feel comfortable. Each of these aspects must be considered in order to select the correct energy-efficient lighting option.
Energy-efficient lighting has come a long way in recent years. The new LED lamps are more economically feasible, provide high-quality lighting, have a high colour rendering index rating (the light source is neither too blue or too yellow), and have a lumen output comparable to that of a halogen or high-wattage incandescent bulb, making them a viable lighting option when designing spaces.
Robyn York is a lighting consultant at Inform Contract.