Indoor, Outdoor Lighting | Angies List Tips

Interior Lighting

  • Consider the various activities that will occur in the room you’re lighting. Use general lighting for entertaining and watching television, task lighting for reading or sewing and accent lighting for artwork and plants.
  • If you’re unsure how much lighting the room will require, plan to “over light” and install dimmers.
  • Rarely does one overhead light cut it in the kitchen these days – consider the cabinets, sink, island and other work stations.
  • Adequate lighting in the bathroom is critical. Task lighting is recommended for the vanity, but stay away from recessed lights as they’ll cause dark shadows on your face. And don’t forget the shower or tub.
  • Chandeliers or pendant lights should be hung 30” above the table surface.
  • Drown a small room in recessed lighting to make it feel bigger.
  • If you purchase a fixture with three-way lighting, don’t forget to purchase a three-way bulb.
  • Dimming controls allow you to design the lighting to suit each mood and activity.
  • Energy-saving fluorescents give off more light than the energy they consume compared to incandescents. They’re more expensive up front, but will last 10 times longer than traditional bulbs.

Outdoor Lighting

  • Outdoor lighting enhances the beauty of your property, makes your home safer and more secure and can extend the amount of time you enjoy outdoors.
  • A common mistake homeowners make is buying outdoor fixtures that are too small. A good rule of thumb is they should be one-quarter the height of your entry door.
  • If flanking both sides of your front door, the fixture can be a little smaller; think bigger if you’re just lighting one side however.
  • Motion detector lights are a great option for lesser-used paths, providing security and visibility when needed, but without the price tag of constant use. Solar options are also available to illuminate paths away from an electrical connection.
  • Look for rust resistant coatings on outdoor fixtures, like cast aluminum.


Comments

I am an architectural lighting designer with my own firm and over 26 years experience. All of the comments I am reading here only re-inforce what I already know......and that is, how much mis-information there is amongst the general public about fluorescent lighting - and even more about LED lighting. Every comment I have read thus far contains mis-information. I blame this on all the well meaning "greenies" jumping on the sustainability bandwagon and writing about the subject with insufficient research and data. No light source can provide the appropriate solution for every lighting application. There is NOT a one size fits all. But folks, get used to it, cause fluorescent lighting is here to stay! There are new energy codes in several states now (and more to come) that require high efficiency lighting based on lumens per watt (translate: fluorescent) in kitchens and bathrooms in all new construction. Fluorescent lighting can be a good solution when used appropriately in the right application. Almost all wattages of linear and pin base compact fluorescents have full range dimming capabilities (from 100% down to 5% light output) when the light fixtures they're used in utilize good quality dimming ballasts and are controlled on a compatible, good quality, fluorescent dimmer. The retrofit screw-in type fluorescent bulbs that you buy in the hardware stores are generally not dimmable, but you can buy dimmable screw-in lamps in specialty lighting stores that carry a larger selection. These retro-fit lamps, however, do not dim down to the same low end level as the pin-base fluorescent lamps. These pin-base lamps are designed to be used in fixtures that utilize dimming ballasts that are part of the light fixture and not part of the lamp. This is a much better way to utilize fluorescent lighting because when the lamps dies, you replace only the lamp, and not the ballasts. There is also a much wider range of wattages and color temperatures with pin base lamps(for residential lighting use a warmer color temperature of 2700K or 3000K). Yes, the life of a fluorescnet lamp is predicated on the number of starts and the length of time the lamp stays on. So if you turn them on and off all day long, they will not last as long as the propaganda on the packaging would have you believe. They will still last longer than a standard general service incandescent lamps and they are a more efficient light source (lumens per watt)than incandescent. I am not even going to get into the controversy about LED lighting, there isn't enough room on this website!

James, Kathy's right about the GW scare. It really is a hoax. Anyway, I've had some unpleasant experiences with the CFLs lately, and am not inclined to return to using them anytime soon. Bring on the affordable LED bulbs, and then I may be inclined to give up on the incandescents. BTW, pay attention to the text on the CFL packages! There are certain applications unsuitable for "some" CFLs - emergency lights being among them.

False claims??? Kathy, Kathy, Kathy... you wouldn't happen to be one of those who thinks Obama is a non-US citizen Muslim socialist, would you?

Rob's point about not turning fluorescents off and on is an urban myth that is not valid. see this website, e.g.: http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/myths/fluorescent_lights.html

I hate the new compact flourorescent bulbs-they are ugly and slow to light up. They also cause hazmat clean up if brokent. I do NOT want the government to tell me what to use. And have you heard the latest? You're being asked to turn off all the lights in your house this Sat night around the world? Give me a break! This is a scary world we live in with these false clamims about global warming and Obama wants to install "smart meters" that tell us when we're overusing electricity--talk about Big Brother!!! Anyone else worried about this?

Outside lights should not be placed right next to doors. Put them a few feet away so the insects that cluster around them don't feel they are invited to come into the house whenever the door is opened.

Certain fluorescent bulbs can be dimmed. The new generation of bulbs aren't dim on startup unless very cold. Yes, more mercury is emitted by burning coal, but many coal plants are converting to clean and capture coal technology while many people will regrettably just throw the bulbs in the garbage instead of looking for a recycling collection center. On a side note do we really need the government telling us what bulbs to use? Seems a tad controlling and "central planningesque."

The other problem with compact fluorescents is that they can be quite dim on startup, so they are not good for a place where they will be on for only a short time.

Light bulbs are rated in lumens, it would be helpful to know the lumens per sq ft. required for various rooms. Some fluorescent lights can be dimmed, but they are much more expensive. Compact fluorescent do not use extra poser on start-up. Fluorescent lights contain less mercury than would typically be emitted burning coal to make the electricity an incandescent bulb would consume.

A couple of interesting notes on flourescent lights: 1. They can't be dimmed 2. You only see savings after the light has been on for several hours, because of the high initial startup cost 3. They contain mercury and other hazardous materials, so when they break or get put in a landfill, those materials leak out into the environment. Flourescents are ok for places where the lights stay on for extended periods (although the HazMat problem is still there), but for closets, bathrooms, and other places where they stay on for only a short time, or anywhere you may want a dimmer, they're not so good!

dimmers are great and compact fluorescents are great. both? not so much.

great advice

Thank you! This information came at just the right time for our latest projects!

Add comment

Deals
Anonymous reviews are Internet graffiti.  Angie's List has real reviews from real people.

What is Angie's List?

Angie’s List is the trusted site where more than 2 million households go to get ratings and reviews on everything from home repair to health care. Stop guessing when it comes to hiring! Check Angie’s List to find out who does the best work in town.

Local Discounts

Daily deals up to 70% off popular home improvement projects from top-rated contractors on Angie’s List!