Changing a light bulb – it’s the classic example of a simple task, but a well designed lighting system actually has a lot of thought put into it. The positioning, brightness, and colour of your lights can have great effects on your mood and productivity throughout the day.
For existing home owners who are not looking to add new light fittings to their house, there is a great deal of variation in available power outputs and colours, which has been further complicated by the advent of modern lighting technologies.
Traditionally, all home lighting has been provided by incandescent lights, the age-old technology brought to commercial production by Thomas Edison in 1878. While many refinements have been made since then, it has only been in recent years that compact fluorescent and LED lamps have become suitable for use in the home.
So what should you be looking for in a light?
It’s easy to consider the wattage of a light the determining factor in a light’s brightness, and while there is a strong correlation, the method falls short when considering compact fluorescent and LED lamps.
The unit used to measure the light which hits a surface is called the lumen. A comfortable brightness to aim for in the home is 150 lumens. So if, for example, you have a 10 square-metre room with 2 lights, you should look to buy two 750 lumen lamps (150 x 10 / 2).
As with the colour temperature, the brightness also should vary depending on the room’s purpose. While 150 lumens is comfortable for bedrooms and living rooms, kitchens and offices may benefit from 250-500 lumens.
The best solution to ensure an ideal brightness is to install a sufficiently powerful light in combination with a light dimmer. A dimmer allows you to adjust the brightness of your lights by use of a dial located with your light switch.
Everyone is no doubt familiar with the standard 60W incandescent light bulb. The 800 lumen output of one of these light bulbs is matched by the compact fluorescent with a 14W power consumption, and the modern LED with only 7W. To put it simply: LED > Compact Fluorescent > Incandescent.
When considering energy consumption, you should also consider the initial cost of the light. Although LED has the best energy efficiency, it is also the most expensive of the current options. This has been continually falling as the technology becomes more popular, but at the present they are still not necessarily the best value light.
It’s clear that the LED will be the the future leader of home lighting for at least the next decade or two. If you’re holding out for a price drop, the compact fluorescent will treat you well enough.