The Three Layers of Lighting Design Explained

Apr 07, 14 The Three Layers of Lighting Design Explained

When decorating the interior of a space, lighting – one of the most important elements of interior design – is often neglected. Having stylish furniture in a room that’s been feng shui-ed to your heart’s desire won’t have nearly the same effect if the only illumination you’re using is a single table lamp or wall sconce. Just as an interior designer would layer colors or fabric, lighting designers use three layers of light – ambient, accent, and task lighting – to enhance a room’s visual appeal.

 

Why is Layered Lighting Important?

Have you ever been inside a department store dressing room or a dim restaurant bathroom and wondered why the reflection you’re looking at seems less than appealing? It may be because these locations tend to lack multiple layers of lighting, causing unflattering shadows instead of even washes of light. While having all three layers of lighting in public restrooms and dressing rooms isn’t always considered a priority, it should be when it comes to your own home and any other area where a balanced and comfortable ambiance is desired.

The Three Lighting Layers

So that you can get a good idea of how to use ambient, accent, and task lighting in your own home, we’ll break each of these layers down by explaining their function and what kind of light source or fixtures can be used to create them:

layeredlighting41. Ambient Lighting

The ambient lighting layer could also be referred to as the “general lighting” layer. Ambient lighting should give your room overall illumination that provides an adequate visual of the entire area. Typically, ambient lighting is created by ceiling light fixtures such as recessed lights, troffers and panels commonly used in commercial lighting, or large overhead fixtures like pendants or chandeliers. This type of general lighting is typically uniform and, dare we say, boring. That’s why the next two layers of light are crucial in lighting design.

2. Accent Lighting

The second layer of light is known as the accent lighting layer. This layer can also be referred to as the “decorative” layer because it allows you to highlight points of interest in your interiors such as architecture, artwork, or anything other features that can’t be made more prominent just with ambient lighting. Types of fixtures typically used for accent lighting include wall sconces, track lighting, uplighting, and even LED tape lighting installed in coves and under counters for toe-kick lighting.

3. Task Lighting

layeredlighting3As you might have guessed, task lighting, the final layer of lighting design, provides illumination for specific tasks performed in an area. When choosing light for this particular layer, you should first evaluate what is done in that designated area. For example, if you typically read in your favorite chair near the bookshelf, you may want a floor lamp or swing arm sconce for better reading light. Commonly used task lights are table and floor lamps, desk lamps, under cabinet lighting, bathroom vanity lighting, and pendant lighting above smaller areas such as a kitchen island, the one shown in the picture to the right

Now that we’ve explained the three layers of lighting design, this doesn’t mean that you have to use separate fixtures for each layer when choosing your own lighting. Some fixtures can function as two layers of lighting at the same time. For instance, downlights can be used as both general illumination and accent lighting. Similarly, a wall sconce can be used as both accent and task lighting.

Do you have any questions about the best way to use layered lighting in your home? Leave us a comment or send us your question via Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, or LinkedIn!

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How Does Lighting Inspire You?

Feb 26, 14 How Does Lighting Inspire You?

As technologically-advanced inhabitants of modern earth, it’s easy for us to take light for granted. However, light and the way we use it can profoundly affect our lives in ways that often go unseen, affecting our perceptions of ourselves, our surroundings, works of art, and our outlooks. Below are some insightful observations regarding the nature of light by some of the world’s most accredited actors, writers, and designers.

 

 

Aesthetics

Lighting has an important effect on aesthetics. Proper lighting can greatly enhance (or greatly detract) from a person’s physical appearance or the atmosphere of a room.

lettherebelight“There is one fundamental fact about lighting: Where there is no light, there is no beauty.”
Billy Baldwin, Actor

I find great lighting and a squint of the eyes makes anyone look better.
– Cat Deeley, Actress/Singer/Model

“I love lamps. I can’t stand overhead lighting. I have to have everything on a dimmer.”
– Kate Spade, Designer

 

Mood

Lighting can also affect our moods and senses of well-being. The right amount of lighting can make an ordinary place seem almost magical.

fairy lights“The quality of the light around us has a profound effect on our well-being that should not be underestimated.”
– Thomas Fuchs, Designer

“A room is like a stage. If you see it without lighting, it can be the coldest place in the world.”
– Paul Lynde, Actor/Comedian

“I’m a firm believer that lighting affects mood, and twinkly lights on strings bring something magical to occasions ranging from concerts to weddings, though I’m fond of using them as year-round home decor. There’s a reason why they’re sometimes called fairy lights. When the night is right, there aren’t any strings at all.”
– Erin Morgenstern, Writer

 

Artistic Effect

We also underestimate the effect that lighting has on the way we feel about our favorite movies. Consider the contrast between the bright, colorful beauty of the ocean in Finding Nemo to the dimly lit, dreary settings of the latter (and more sinister) Harry Potter movies.

nemovoldemort

Lighting is vital. Without that they’ve got nothing. And, of course, color and texture. When they showed me a little piece of Finding Nemo, I said this has got to be the biggest hit.”
– Joe Grant, Writer

“So much of movie acting is in the lighting, and in loving your characters. I try to know them, and with that intimacy comes love. And now, I love Voldemort.”
– Ralph Fiennes, Actor

 

Outlook

Most importantly, lighting is all about perception. That’s why we often use lighting metaphors to describe a positive or negative outlook on life.

Freedom is just Chaos with better lighting.lightquote
– Alan Dean Foster, Writer

“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting.”
– Susan Cain, Writer

How do you feel about lighting? How does it affect, shape, or inspire you? Let us know in the comments below or give us a shout on FacebookTwitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, or Pinterest.

 

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Beam Angle Explained

Jan 18, 13 Beam Angle Explained

Reflector bulbs are more than just floodlights and spotlights. Like any light bulb, they come in shapes and technologies to fit any application. Two cases in point are the PAR and the MR16. These common bulbs, whether halogen, CFL, or LED, are highly specified, containing engineered surfaces that control the beam of light to an angle so precise it takes seven different classifications just to explain their possible uses!

Very Narrow Spot (VNSP)

The very narrow spot is just like it sounds. At 7 degrees or less for an MR16 or 15 degrees or less for a PAR lamp, this reflector casts an intense, focused beam without a square inch of wasted light. Bulbs with a VNSP beam angle are often used to highlight a small statue or figure on display in a museum or in a jewelry store to make diamonds “pop.”

Narrow Spot (NSP)

landscape lights

Photo by RBerteig (flickr)

Like the very narrow spot, the narrow spot is most popular in commercial applications. At 8 to 15 degrees for an MR16 or 16 to 30 degrees for a PAR lamp, the reflector casts a beam slightly less focused than a VNSP. Look for bulbs with an NSP beam angle in retail settings highlighting a special or sale item or in landscape bullets illuminating a sign or garden feature.

Spot (SP)

The spot, though primarily used in commercial applications, also shows up in homes from time to time. At 16 to 22 degrees for an MR16 or 31 to 60 degrees for a PAR lamp, the reflector casts a medium-sized beam. Bulbs with an SP beam angle are used in stores to highlight a special or sale area or outdoors to illuminate an architectural feature.

Narrow Flood (NFL)

Fireplace Spot Light

Photo by ell brown (flickr)

Businesses and homeowners alike find uses for the narrow flood. At 23 to 32 degrees for an MR16 or 61 to 90 degrees for a PAR lamp, this reflector casts a medium-wide beam. Stores use an NFL beam angle to highlight a display table, while homes might use this bulb in recessed eyeball lights to illuminate a painting over a fireplace mantle.

Flood (FL)

This true “floodlight” has wide variety of applications. At 36 to 45 degrees for an MR16 or 91 to 120 degrees for a PAR lamp, the reflector casts a wide beam. Bulbs with an FL beam angle can be seen in everything from pendant lights in coffee shops to recessed lights in living rooms.

Wide Flood (WFL)

Need a lot of light? There are worse options than the wide flood. At 46 to 59 degrees for an MR16 or 121 to 160 degrees for a PAR lamp, the wide flood has a dispersed beam to cover a large area. Bulbs with a WFL beam angle are common in many general illumination applications from motion-sensing lights above garage doors to recessed cans in auditoriums and movie theaters.

Very Wide Flood (VWFL)

recessed lights

Photo by mccun934 (flickr)

The very wide flood finds its way into specialty applications, more often than not. At over 60 degrees for an MR16 or over 160 degrees for a PAR lamp, this reflector casts an extremely wide beam. Bulbs with a VWFL beam angle are used to illuminate without highlighting any particular object or area. They’re good options for outdoor flood lighting and low-ceiling recessed lights.

Keep in mind these designations vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some brands, like Ushio, throw them out altogether for their simpler system of “narrow,” “medium,” and “wide.” Also note that just because a bulb may have a commercial application, that doesn’t mean you can’t use it in your home. Use reflectors to make your walls a canvas for your lighting ideas, and be sure to share those ideas with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest!

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New Product Enlightenment: LED Candelabra Bulb, Plantmax, and More

Dec 03, 12 New Product Enlightenment: LED Candelabra Bulb, Plantmax, and More

At 1000Bulbs.com, we know we have thousands of products. We also know that you have a life (outside of the Internet) and not a lot of time to go through every product we have online, so say hello to our new series, Enlightenment. Each week, we’ll feature our newest, most innovative products. Sit back, relax, and be enlightened.

PLT 3.5 Watt LED Candelabra Bulb

This energy saving decorative torpedo LED candelabra bulb is perfect for chandeliers and wall lighting and creates a perfect ambiance for any room. It can replace any 25 watt incandescent bulb and has a life expectancy of 30,000 hours. While the incandescent equal is less expensive, it has a life expectancy of only 1,500 hours (FYI, one of these LEDs is the equivalent of 20 incandescent bulbs). Start saving money and energy with our new 3.5 watt decorative torpedo LED candelabra bulb!

Quorum Fixtures

Looking for fun and unique light fixtures? Our newest products from Quorum International feature incredible fixtures with modern, geometric forms. These additions include bathroom fixtures, chandeliers, wall sconces, and more. They bring a stunning elegance with a clean and simple appearance. Give your home a contemporary look with these amazing Quorum International light fixtures!

LEDnovation EnhanceLite LED BR30

LEDnovation’s EnhanceLite LED BR30 is another new, and environmentally friendly, dimmable LED bulb. It is the perfect replacement for a 65 watt incandescent and has a life expectancy of 50,000 hours. It is also UL listed and RoHS compliant. This bulb can be used anywhere warm lighting is needed: Hotel, restaurant, or home – the choice is yours. Just one of these bulbs lasts as long as 25 incandescent bulbs. Be sure to view LEDnovation’s EnhanceLite LED BR30!

Plantmax Grow Lights

Harsh winters keeping you from your horticulture? Not anymore with our Plantmax grow lights! The new collection of Plantmax products includes metal halide bulbs, high pressure sodium bulbs, and ballasts. The metal halide bulbs help the plants grow in vegetative stages, while the high pressure sodium bulbs help in flowering and fruiting. Make sure you and your plants stay happy this winter. Take some time to browse Plantmax grow lights and see which ones are right for you!

eReplacements Projector Lamps

Our new ER series eReplacement front and rear projection lamps are compatible with different brands including 3M, Acer, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, RCA, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, and many more. All of the lamps have a lifetime of 2,000 hours and a 3 month warranty. Browse through our eReplacement Projector Lamps and find the one best suited to your needs!

7-Gauge RAB Poles

Two of our new RAB 7-gauge drilled steel poles feature a tenon top, while the other has a square cap for pole top. They are all bronze, have a 4-inch shaft, and include an anchor bolt kit with a hand hole cover and a base cover. When used to hold pulse start metal halide flood light fixtures, they’re a great way to keep any large outdoor area lit. Browse through our collection of RAB mounting accessories today!

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Five Christmas Decorations You May Have Missed

Nov 30, 12 Five Christmas Decorations You May Have Missed

Christmas is only 24 days away, but it’s not too late to put on your best lighting display ever! You may think you already know everything about Christmas lights and decorations, but there are a few awesome products you may have missed. Here are five of our favorites.

Bubble Lights

Bring back your (or your parents’) childhood memories with candelabra base bubble lights. Used since the 1940s, these unique bulbs aren’t as popular as they once were, but they’re a great idea for a retro-style Christmas. Each bubble light houses a tiny incandescent bulb that creates both heat and light to bubble the liquid within the tube. They even work as nightlights when the holidays are over!

Color-Changing LED Bulbs

Jealous of your neighbor’s Christmas light show, but don’t have time to set up complicated controllers? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just screw in some magic bulbs that did all of the work for you? Color-changing LED Christmas bulbs are just what you’re looking for! Simply replace your existing incandescent or LED C7 or C9 bulbs with these and watch as they cycle through red, blue, green, yellow, orange, and purple.

LED Snowfall Lights

If you live in a climate like ours here in Dallas, you may have given up hope for a White Christmas. But hang LED Snowfall lights from your trees and you can still watch the “snow” fall in the night sky. Ranging from 7 inches to over 6 feet long, each set of these suspended, water-resistant tubes contain cool white LEDs that chase and drift in randomized patterns, emulating a beautiful and calming snowfall.

Battery-Operated Candles

Ideal for candlelit Christmas ceremonies and picturesque holiday displays, battery-operated candles are a safer and cleaner alternative to real candles. Great for windows, tables, and mantles, the wax-drip details and metallic bases of these incandescent and LED candles add a traditional look and feel to any space.

Christmas Light Stringers

C7 and C9 Christmas light stringers are the pro’s secret to a perfect outdoor holiday display. Not only can you choose whatever color of incandescent or LED bulb to use with these stringers, you can also cut them to fit any surface. Reached the end of your gutter? Cut off the excess wire and cap it. Visit our site to pick up whatever length you need, but don’t forget the end plugs!

So what are your holiday decorating ideas this year? Let us know in the comments and drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest!

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