Feb 07, 14
Ever feel “not quite yourself” when there’s a lack of light, but can’t quite put your finger on it? Ever notice how your mood seems to improve when you’re in a brighter room? This isn’t your imagination. Studies have shown that light levels do in fact affect our disposition. But how does light affect your mood, and how can you adjust the lighting in your home to improve it?
Low Light = Low Mood?
As mentioned above, low light levels do indeed affect how you feel. While I won’t throw a bunch of science-y terms your way, there are a few terms you should become familiar with: melatonin and serotonin.
Melatonin also helps control weight gain.
Melatonin is vital in controlling your sleeping and waking patterns and is typically highest around bedtime, while serotonin affects many functionalities, such as sleep, appetite, memory, mood, and depression. Specifically, serotonin has a hand in affecting your happiness.
There are both psychological and physiological side effects linked to poor lighting. For example, poor light conditions can impact the amount of melatonin that’s produced, therefore creating an imbalance within your body: the more melatonin that’s produced, the levels of serotonin decrease, as more serotonin is converted to melatonin. So in poorly lit rooms, melatonin levels may be higher, which can cause you to feel depressed and drowsy.
On the contrary, higher levels of light can get your body back in balance, increasing your levels of serotonin and are sometimes even used as a therapy to alleviate common emotional issues.
In what ways can you boost the mood in your home? Does this mean you have to transform your home into the surface of the sun so you’ll be cheery all the time? Not quite. Below are a few ways to brighten things up and make the most of your new-found knowledge of serotonin and melatonin:
- Since bright light can actually give you more energy and increase alertness, it’s recommended to either dim the lights or use warmer color temperatures (2700K to 3000K) to wind down in the evenings.
- If you’re looking to boost your mood, consider switching to full spectrum light bulbs (5000K), as these types of bulbs mimic natural light. If you’re not a fan of bulbs with this color temperature, try some cool white bulbs with color temperatures between 4000K and 4100K.
- Do you like your current lineup of bulbs just the way they are and don’t want to trade them out? Try opening some blinds. The influx of natural light will have almost the same effect as the full-spectrum bulbs.
Did you put any of these tips into practice? Let us know in the comments below , or give us a shout on Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook, Pinterest, or LinkedIn!
Jan 29, 14
The man cave is a testosterone-laden haven for you and your buddies to retreat to. It’s a place to watch all kinds of sporting events or just a spot to have that quality “guy time”. Transforming your man cave from mediocre to the envy of your inner circle is easier than you think. With some well-placed lighting fixtures, you can turn your spot into “the” man caves of man caves.
TV Backlighting: Let’s say you’re having a Die Hard marathon. You’re a few hours into watching John McClane careen across Manhattan and blowing things up. Little by little, your eyes start to hurt. Before you know it, a full-on headache is distracting you from the action. The problem could be due to a lack of lighting affecting your depth perception. Simply put, the dimmer the lights, the harder it is for your eyes to differentiate between the television and the wall, putting a heavy strain on your eyes. Luckily, there’s an easy fix for this: TV backlighting. This can be accomplished by simply adding a few strips of LED tape light to the back of your TV. Not only will this increase your viewing time without getting headaches, but it’ll add a unique touch, making your TV “pop”, drawing attention to it.
Display Lighting: You’ve got a sweet collection of sports memorabilia, including an autographed Roger Staubach jersey, professionally framed and mounted in your man cave, along with an autographed picture of Michael Jordan sailing through the air to the basket. What’s the best way to display these gems? Well, one of the best ways is track lighting. Track lighting gives you the ability to light specific sections of your cave, bringing attention where you want it. Generally, the most popular type of bulb used in display lighting are MR16s. Keep in mind that the further away the bulb is from the object it’s lighting, the wider the beam angle needs to be.
Lutron Skylark S-600P-IV Ivory Dimmer
Dimmable Lights and Dimmers: Adding dimmable lights to your recessed can lights and dimmers gives you the freedom to switch from sports bar lighting to movie theater lighting, all at the push of a button. Not only do dimmable lights and dimmers give you more control for setting the right mood, they also save on electricity costs and extend the life of your bulbs. Keep in mind to make sure your bulbs and dimmers are compatible with each other before you buy them. Otherwise, the bulb may not dim correctly and may emit a buzzing sound.
Bar Backlighting: This is where you can really be creative. The beauty of rope light is that it can be used virtually anywhere. Create an inviting atmosphere by putting warm white rope light under the counters, or use blue rope light to outline your bar back, adding a cool, refined look. Perhaps line the shelves with red rope light, making your bottles come alive with a fiery glow. The possibilities are endless!
*Just because you don’t have a dedicated man cave, the tips above can apply to almost any room, including living or media rooms.
We’d love to see pictures of your man cave! Show us in the comments below or on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, or Pinterest!
Jan 24, 14
While outfitting your home with booby traps akin to Jason Bourne might be fun, setting up your home with a good net of security lights is easier, not to mention safer. The good news is that making your home a less appealing target is actually pretty easy. Below, we’ll throw some tips your way that will make criminals focus their attention elsewhere.
Timers: Simple and ultra-affordable, plug in timers are one of the easiest ways to protect your home. Have to work late and don’t want to come home to a dark house? Going away for a weekend to visit the in-laws, but still want your dining room lights and TV to come on as if you were there? Timers can do all that and then some. Many timers have multiple set points, like the Tork 401A, giving you the freedom to customize when your lights turn on and off, therefore increasing that “lived in” look.
Motion Activated Lights: Motion activated lights are one of the best ways to keep your home safe. They don’t need to be turned on, you can’t forget to turn them off, and they’re operational at all times. It’s important to put motion activated lights around key areas of your home, like over doors or on exterior walls that illuminate a darkened section of your home, eliminating potential hiding spots. For example, maybe you have a gate next to your garage that leads to your backyard. An outward-facing motion sensor would be great on your garage, so that when it comes on, you’ll be able to see the lights from a kitchen or bedroom window. Keep in mind that CFLs are not recommended for use with motion activated sensors, as the constant on and off will greatly shorten the life of the bulb.
Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing your motion activated lights:
- Unless you live in a heavily guarded federal building, you don’t want the same type of lights the FBI uses for their buildings. You actually would want something that’s not overly bright, so you can actually see what’s going on. It’s also a good idea, if you can, to have your lights pointing at something that will be noticeable when the lights are activated, something like a fence. That way you’ll be able to notice when the lights are on from multiple areas in your home.
- Also, make sure to install your lights high enough where they can’t be disabled by someone on the ground and trim those bushes by your windows, to eliminate possible hiding spots.
Porch/Patio Lights: Porch lights shouldn’t only be used during Halloween to determine which houses are handing out candy. Apart from being a sign of hospitality when you have people over, the outdoor lighting fixtures you have in the front and back of your home play a crucial role in your home’s security. Ideally, there should be fixtures on either side of the door, to eliminate shadows. They should also be controlled by a photocell (a device that keeps the lights from coming on in the daytime) or timers. Avoid having lights directly overhead or behind where someone would be standing, as these placements will create harsh shadows or a silhouette effect. This setup will accomplish three things: allow you to quickly find your keys, let you know when someone passes by or is at your door, and allow you to clearly identify who’s at your door.
*When choosing the bulbs to put in your fixtures, choose bulbs that have a CRI equal to or greater than 80. The higher the CRI, colors will look richer and more vibrant. This will help identify the colors of cars, differences in skin tone, and the colors of clothes with greater accuracy.
Landscape Lighting: Looking to add a touch of sophistication to your home’s exterior and eliminate holes in your home’s net of security lighting You can accomplish both with pathway lights. Adding a few of these lights to your sidewalk will not only increase your home’s curb appeal, but will also make the journey from your car to the front door much safer. You may want to stay away from solar-powered lights, as these tend to be very dim. What about those Oak trees in your front yard, or the garden you’ve spent countless back-breaking weekends on? Light ‘em up with uplighting and landscape lighting. For uplighting, it’s important to remember to use warmer color temperatures (2400-3000K) for red tones, such as brick, as the warmer colors will bring out the color of the brick. For landscape lighting, cool color temperatures (4000-4100K) are best, as these will make foliage appear more lush and vivid. Uplighting and landscape lighting serve two functions: to display your hard work and reduce the amount of hiding places potential evil-doers have.
We’ve covered the main areas of security lighting. Are there any others we may have missed? Let us know in the comments below, or holler at us on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn!
Jan 22, 14
So, you’ve just finished painting your bathroom the perfect shade of light blue that took you weeks to decide on. Washed in natural light, your bathroom looks like a calming seaside oasis. But when you turn the lights on at night, it completely loses its soothing affect. Why? Chances are the lighting you currently have installed is all wrong for your new paint colors.
The lighting we choose to use in our homes can have a huge effect on the way we perceive color because it is created by the way objects react to certain wavelengths of light. This is called metamerism. It’s the same reason why you might buy something you thought was black in the store, but in the light of day, you realize it’s actually navy blue. No color is definite or stands alone because any type of light, whether it’s natural or artificial, affects our perception. When considering what kind of artificial light source to use in your home, whether halogen, incandescent, LED, or fluorescent, it’s important to think about how it will enhance or diminish a room’s existing color scheme.
Determine Your End of the Color Spectrum
Kelvin scale and color spectrum
The first thing you’ll need to do before choosing your light source is evaluate whether or not the paint color in your room falls into the warm or cool part of the color spectrum. If your walls are painted in rich reds, yellows, and other earth tones, you would most likely need a warmer light source. If they’re painted in blues, greens, or other vibrant colors with cool undertones, a brighter, cooler light source is your best bet.
The table below describes the kind of light that is generated by each artificial light source.
||Generates a yellow light that enhances warm tones, but dulls cool tones.
||Produces a whiter light that is comparable to sunlight.
||Generally used for cool lighting applications, but is available in warm color temperatures.
||Can be used against all colors and is flexible across the color spectrum.
Warm Paint Colors
To bring out the richness and warmth of your paint color, choose fixtures and lighting that have a “warm white” color temperature between the range of 2400K and 3000K. The lower the number on the Kelvin scale, the warmer the color temperature of the light will be. Typically, the best lights to use within these color temperatures are incandescent or halogen bulbs that produce a whiter light that won’t distort color as much either way. LEDs and CFLs within the low color temperature range will work as well, but make sure they have a high enough lumen output to meet the level of brightness you’re wanting.
Cool Paint Colors
To enhance the vibrancy of cooler paint colors, you’ll want to choose lighting with a color temperature that falls between 4000K and 6000K. LEDs and CFLs within this color temperature range are called either “cool white” or “stark white.” If you were to use a light source with a low color temperature against blue or green paint, the color might appear dull and distorted.
Brightness and Color Rendering
The color temperature of a light source isn’t the only thing that affects the way we see color; brightness of the light, or lumen output, does as well. Rooms with darker colors painted on the walls tend to absorb more light than a room with light colored walls and tend to look dull if the lighting is not bright enough. The brighter the lighting, the more the true color of your walls will stand out. However, the dimness or brightness of your room and how it reacts to color is all a matter of personal preference.
Another factor to keep in mind is the color rendering index (CRI) of the light source that you’re using. Ranging from 0-100, this index determines how a light source will make a color appear to the human eye. The higher the lamp’s CRI, the better it’s color rendering capabilities. While standard incandescent lamps usually have a CRI of 100, LEDs have about 80+ CRI, and fluorescents range anywhere from 50 to 90. As this video shows below, two of the same light sources with differing CRI ratings will cause colors to appear differently in tone.
Do you have any other home lighting questions? Leave us a comment or give us a shout on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, or Pinterest!
Jan 15, 14
There are some definite advantages to renting an apartment or a townhome. If something breaks, you don’t have to pay to have it fixed, and you don’t have to clean the gutters or mow the lawn. However, one big disadvantage of renting is that you may not be able to change out the lighting fixtures as you see fit, and if you can, there’s always a risk of damaging something, and forfeiting your security deposit. So what can you do if your landlord doesn’t want you doing a little lighting makeover? Below are a few simple lighting tips to make the most out of your rented space.
Energy Efficient Lighting: Let’s start with the basics here. We know that the EISA bulb ban officially banned standard 100-watt incandescent bulbs on January 1, 2012,
FlexTec 5050-60-IP20-27K2403 Warm White LED Tape Light
with 75-watt incandescent bulbs following suit on January 1, 2013. The 40 and 60-watt bulbs got the ax this year on January 1 as well. So what does that leave you with? Well, you can either go with CFLs, or their much more efficient alternatives, LEDs. Both will save you stacks of cash compared to incandescent bulbs, but your most efficient option here are the LEDs. While the initial cost of LEDs is considerably higher than incandescents and CFLs, the amount of money you’ll save more than makes up for the initial cost. Plus, you can put the money you save on your energy costs toward your lighting makeover.
Under Cabinet Lighting: The kitchen is one of the most important places to have adequate lighting, not to mention you can add some unique touches with accent lighting.
Since it’s wise to have enough light when you’re using sharp objects to slice and dice, look into under cabinet lighting. If you choose the under cabinet lighting route, you want to make sure your overhead lighting and under cabinet lighting match in color temperature. For example, if your overhead fixture is a cool white (between 4000K and 4100K), then you want to make sure your cabinet lighting matches that color temperature as well. Not only will installing an under cabinet fixture give you more usable light, but it’ll add a touch of refinement as well. If you already have sufficient lighting in your kitchen, check out LED tape light. Amazingly easy to install, LED tape light is an affordable way to add a little flair.
Floor/Table Lamps: Table and floor lamps are simple accessories that have a lot to offer. Not only will they give you more usable light, but they’ll also make your living space a little cozier. Like to curl up with a good book on those rainy days? Try adding a table lamp next to your favorite chair in the living room. Just like table lamps, floor lamps are versatile in that they offer both ambient and task lighting, giving you the freedom to switch between the two as the mood dictates. Looking for something that offers a different feel in terms of ambiance? Try LED candles. Battery operated and made of wax, these candles are much safer than regular candles, but have the same look and feel.
How do you make the most of your rented space? Tell us in the comments below, or give us a shout out on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or Pinterest!
Jan 10, 14
The light bulb ban is bringing energy efficient bulbs, such as LEDs, to the forefront. While this is ruffling the feathers of those not eager to give up the traditional incandescent bulb quite yet, we’ve composed a list of some things that will make the transition to LED lighting as seamless as possible.
Dimmability: Another great way to save on your energy costs is dimming your lights. Dimmers are great for two reasons: they reduce your energy consumption and extend the life of your bulb, and they can set the perfect mood during dinner or watching a movie. While incandescent bulbs change color as they dim, most LEDs don’t. They simply dim by reducing their brightness while maintaining the same color. Before you buy a dimmer, make sure your LED bulbs are dimmable and your bulbs are compatible with your dimmer.
Color Rendering Index (CRI): You may have never heard of CRI before today, but it’s still a really important factor when deciding on your bulbs. Color rendering index is a measure of how accurately a bulb renders colors in relation to the sun, which has a CRI of 100. Why is CRI important? The higher a bulb’s CRI, the better colors will look. Colors will look more vibrant and richer, which you’ll be able to notice in areas such as the kitchen and in the closet. The lower the CRI, the worse colors will look, as they’ll appear washed up and even yellow. Incandescent bulbs have a CRI of 100, meaning they render colors just as accurately as the sun. LED bulbs don’t have a CRI as high as that of an incandescent bulb, but they come fairly close. A good number to use as a reference for CRI is 85, which is a very good color rendering. For an example of CRI in action, click here.
Color Temperature: Before we dive into color temperature, let me first start by saying that color temperature has nothing to do with ambient temperature. Now that that’s settled, color temperature refers to the actual color of the light that’s produced. The lower the numbers, the yellower the light and the higher the numbers, the whiter the light. The warm white scale runs from 2400 Kelvin to 3000 Kelvin, while cool white runs from 4000 Kelvin to 4100 Kelvin and stark white ranging from 5000 Kelvin to 6500 Kelvin. So which color temperature do you pick? That’s purely up to you. Most people will use warm white bulbs to create a cozy, homely feeling throughout the home, and maybe use a cool white bulb in the kitchen. You probably won’t see too many homes with cool white bulbs in them, as these are typically used in hospitals and in businesses.
Light Output: For incandescent bulbs, the higher the wattage, the brighter the bulb (measured in lumens). While that’s accurate for incandescent bulbs, that’s not quite the case for LEDs, as LED bulbs require the use of far less wattage to achieve the same effect as incandescent bulbs. For example, a 60-watt incandescent bulb produces 800 lumens, but it may take only 8, 12, or 14 watts for an LED bulb to produce the same amount of lumens. In other words, you want to choose your bulb based on the amount of lumens it produces, not on the wattage it consumes. The chart on the right will give you a breakdown of the lumen output of standard incandescent bulbs. It’s a good idea to write down these outputs before you go shopping for LEDs, as the product descriptions and labels may not have this information on them.
Price: Easily the biggest objection people have with LEDs is price, which is understandable. While prices are coming down, the upfront cost of this new technology can be a little hard to swallow. However, think of it like this: the initial cost of LEDs will be quickly offset by their longevity and the fact they use substantially less energy than incandescents. Also, you’ll see paybacks on your investments within 12 to 18 months. Not to mention that some LEDs last up to 50,000 hours, while the standard incandescent, while a fraction of the cost of an LED bulb, lasts only about 1,200 hours.
What are some things that will impact your LED buying decisions? Tell us in the comments below, or give us a shout on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or Pinterest!