84 ELECTRICALCONTRACTOR | MAR. 15 | WWW.ECMAG.COM
> FOCUS THE LIGHT WITHIN
Uniform general lighting may provide good task-light levels,
but it can be boring. Task and accent layers should be provided
to tell a visual story. In a home, where you put the light is as
important as the amount of light delivered. Use it to brighten
objects and areas of interest to draw attention. Light can also be
used to affect a room’s perceived visual size. To make the space
appear larger and draw attention to the architecture, consider
indirect or shielded direct ambient lighting that uniformly illuminates high-reflectance (e.g., white but not glossy) walls and
ceilings. To make a space appear smaller and draw attention to
bright objects instead of surfaces, consider recessed or surface-mounted direct lighting for general lighting.
Another way to draw attention to surfaces and materials is
through wall washing and grazing. With wall washing, lights
are typically placed at or above the ceiling to smoothly and
uniformly illuminate 8–9 feet of wall from top to bottom. The
luminaires should be placed far enough from the wall so the
light falls on the wall at a wider angle; consider 2½– 3 feet as a
starting point and adjust as needed.
With grazing, the intent is to reveal rather than wash out texture. Luminaires are placed closer to the wall, so the light falls
on it at a narrower angle, producing shadows that reveal texture.
Placement can be adjusted farther from the wall to reduce shadowing and closer to heighten it. Luminaires should be spaced
apart in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions.
Note the contribution of these layers to the ambient light
level. In some spaces, contribution from decorative, accent,
wall wash or task lighting may provide adequate ambient lighting, making separate general lighting luminaires unnecessary.
Then general lighting becomes a matter of taste.
Each layer should be separately controlled and dimmed
wherever possible. Dimming allows the owner to tune the layers to create lighting scenes that are perfect for different space
function, to set a mood or to optimize visual comfort.
A variety of lamps and luminaires is available to provide desired performance while making the right aesthetic
statement. Luminaires may be functional or decorative, contemporary or classic comfort. They can stand out or blend with
the architecture. Aimable luminaires allow direction of the light
beam, which may be further modified into a precise pattern
using lenses, filters and louvers. The same or similar luminaires
can be used in all rooms featuring a pendant for a unified aesthetic, or different luminaires can be used in each room for a
whimsical approach. For a traditional look or to help the lighting blend, consider a symmetrical approach—symmetrical rows
of downlights and the same table luminaire at both ends of a
couch. Diffuse lighting creates a soft warm glow, while direct
lighting such as point-source track lighting can create a sense of
tension and sparkle. Many ceiling fans are available with integral lighting or with an optional lighting kit.
The luminaire should be appropriately lamped, with con-
siderations that include lumens, wattage, efficacy (lumens per
watt), service life, color temperature (warm, neutral or cool
tone), ease of dimming, cost, mercury, resistance to shock and
vibration, heat and ultraviolet output, and so on.
Now that we know the basics of design, let’s take a brief tour
of individual rooms and spaces.
The foyer is the visitor’s first impression of the home. The primary goal of the lighting here is to provide a warm welcome
and facilitate safe passage to the rest of the house.
For general lighting, consider a pendant or chandelier for
taller ceilings and flush or semiflush ceiling luminaires for
Scale the pendant to the space—for example, use a vertical
pendant such as a lantern in a tall, narrow foyer. Typically, you
add the room’s length and width in feet (e.g., 20 feet), which
would be a suitable diameter for the pendant in inches (20-inch
diameter). The bottom of the luminaire should be about 7 feet
above the floor. If using flush or semiflush ceiling luminaires,
consider wall sconces or a lamp on a small table for a decorative touch. If stairs lead off of the foyer, they should be lighted
uniformly for safety.
The general lighting in this multifunctional space should fill
it with a subtle warm glow that makes it feel inviting and
comfortable. The general lighting can be a visual element to
personalize the space, such as a chandelier, or blend in with the
General lighting in a living room should fill the spa e with a
subtle warm glow to make it feel inviting and comfortable. The
general lighting can be a visual element to personalize the space,
such as a chandelier, or blend in with the architecture, such as