In previous articles we explained some electric basics.
Understanding Electrics in Your New Home Build and Electrics for your new home build part 2
In this article we look at things to consider when choosing lights for your new home and renovation project.
Lighting your new home
Lights are an important part of your finished house. They illuminate the general area, light specific areas of interest creating a highlight effect, they create mood and ambiance and they can be a feature in themselves (illuminated, or even in some cases when they aren’t on).
I’m sure we’ve all been in rooms, especially hotel rooms, that were dark, gloomy and uninviting. Then, there’re rooms that are blindingly full of light so that they’re stark and unappealing, almost like a hospital operating room. Careful choice of the type of light, the number of lights and their positioning, can add or detract from your home. You don’t want to feel like you’re battling to see, while at the same time you don’t want to be overwhelmed by too much light. The number and variety of light fittings available can provide daunting decisions. Like everything, don’t be influenced by price alone. You install cheap light fittings and invariably they’ll look cheap.
Are your lights safe?
It’s important to ensure that you use light fittings which are approved for use in your country. Be especially careful when purchasing fittings online as these may not be safe and won’t always comply with local regulations. Equally important is ensuring that lights are installed in accordance with their purpose. Some lights are only suitable for indoors and shouldn’t be installed outside where they could be damaged or pose a safety risk, while many light fittings aren’t suitable for bathrooms or other wet areas.
Some lights generate lots of heat and they’re a fire risk when installed in areas which aren’t well ventilated, or where they’re in contact with flammable materials.
Lights more than just light
Always consider how easy it’ll be to replace the lightbulb when it fails. Some light fittings are difficult to open to replace burnt out bulbs. Reaching lights in high ceilings, over stairs, or in double volume areas, is difficult and requires specialist equipment.
Chandeliers look fantastic in some houses, but remember light fittings can be dust collectors, so always think who’ll be cleaning the light and how easily it can be done.
Study where you want illumination. You don’t want lights casting shadows over work areas nor do you want lights shining onto television screens. If you have artwork you may want lights illuminating it.
Light fixtures can add to, or detract from, the overall décor of the room. Some lights are modern, others have a more industrial look, some are beach house, and others have a distinct period or antique look. Using the right light fittings can help create the right look and style and are a valuable addition to the room.
To vary the amount of light in a room, either to create mood, or to take account of the varying daylight entering the room, consider having the lights on dimmer switches which alter the amount of illumination. (Note that some light fixtures and light bulbs aren’t suitable for dimmer switches.) Alternatively, a better option is having lights in a room connected to two or more light switch circuits, so that all the lights don’t have to be on at the same time.
Positioning of light switches is important since you don’t want to walk across a dark room to switch the lights on. Light switches should generally be fitted close to doorways. It’s important to consider the type of doors and how they’ll open. You don’t want light switches to be behind the door when it opens, or be hidden by a sliding door. For passageways, rooms with two separate entrances, and stairs you should consider connecting the lights to separate switches located at either end of the passage, the top and bottom of the stairs and at both entrance doors of a room, so that the lights can be operated from the different locations. Depending on legislation, sometimes light switches for bathrooms must be located outside the room.
Light switches aren’t always the prettiest feature so try and locate them together where possible. Light switches come in various designs and colours. Some blend into the wall so they’re less noticeable, while others form a decorative statement in their own right. Consider how the light switch suites the décor and style of the room. Switches that look antique are suited to heritage homes, while those that are sleek and modern will look out of place in a heritage house. Ensure light switches match the electrical sockets. In general when using metallic colours you should keep the colours consistent in the room, even matching the door locks and handles. Having some fittings in a room copper while others are silver will look mismatched.
Lights can be triggered to come on when they detect movement. This is particularly useful for external lights. The lights go off automatically after a few minutes when movement ceases. Having movement sensors in rooms, particularly in bathrooms, can mean that the lights only illuminate when someone is in the room and then are off when the room is empty. This helps reduce power usage.
Installing energy efficient lights is important to reduce power consumption.
The right light choices
Carefully consider where you need lights and how you will control them. Ensure that the light fittings you choose will be safe, practical, provide sufficient light, and fit with the style of your house. Lights are an important aspect for your new home and can add or detract from both the value of your home and your enjoyment. If in doubt get expert help.
Read our next article related to electrics in your new house Electrical outlets in your new home
This is an extract from the author's book 'An Introduction to Building and Renovating Houses: Volume 2 Finding your Ideal Property and Designing your Dream Home.
Want to learn more about designing, renovating and building houses?
Paul Netscher has written 2 easy to read books 'An Introduction to Building and Renovating Houses - Volumes 1 and 2'. An Introduction to Building and Renovating Houses Volume 1 deals with Hiring Contractors, Managing Construction and Finishing Your Home. and Designing your ideal home Volume 2 deals with Finding Your Ideal Property and Designing Your Dream Home.
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I’m a construction professional, author of several successful construction management books, and a home owner. I’ve made mistakes in construction management, I’ve seen others make mistakes, but importantly I’ve had multiple successful construction projects and I’ve learned from the mistakes. I want to share these lessons and my knowledge with you.
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