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How to Choose Lighting

By HHI Staff

Good lighting is important for both safety and aesthetics. Sunlight from windows and skylights can provide a certain amount of light, but it may not be enough, or, for privacy reasons, you may not be able to fully take advantage of it. Of course, at night, windows and skylights offer no help in illuminating your home’s interior, so artificial lighting is necessary.


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Most people don’t think of the health ramifications of the lamps and fixtures they use daily in their homes, except perhaps whether the light given off is bright enough to do an intended job. However, when you buy bulbs and tubes, you may want to consider the light spectrum they emit and also their energy efficiency and life expectancy. When you buy lighting fixtures and decorative lamps, you might also consider how easy they’ll be to clean, and what materials were used in their construction. Still another consideration is the amount of heat they emit. Ultimately, everything you put in your home has a potential effect on your well-being — even what you choose for lighting.
Some Artificial Light Basics
Many people want to know, “How much artificial light do I need in my home?” Actually, over the years, lighting engineers have changed the recommended lighting requirements from time to time. As a rule though, in most situations there needs to be overall general illumination sufficient enough to see clearly when there are no other sources of light. Extra task lighting is required over kitchen countertops or in reading areas, for example. Remember, it’s usually best to err on the side of having too much light than not having enough for safety’s sake, and yet glare (harsh, piercing light coming directly from a lighting source) and reflected glare (glare that has bounced off objects) can sometimes pose safety problems.

If you want to be absolutely certain of the ideal lighting requirements for your home, local lighting stores may have lighting consultants who will come to your home at a reasonable cost. These people are familiar with typical home-lighting needs and popular lighting trends. However, you should keep in mind that consultants who are connected with lighting stores may tend to suggest more fixtures, and costlier ones, than you may truly need. Remember, nearly every fixture permanently mounted into ceilings or walls will require installation by an electrician, and every bulb or tube that is turned on means a higher utility bill. Therefore, it’s important to combine suggestions from others with your own common sense.

Whenever you buy a bulb or tube for a fixture or lamp, be sure to get the correct wattage. For example, some fixtures come with a label stating, “Don’t use a bulb over 60 watts.” These warnings are issued because bulbs of greater-than-recommended wattage could create too much heat for the fixture to operate safely. Therefore, always check to see if a fixture or decorative lamp has a recommended wattage label. Also, when replacing a bulb or tube, be certain that the electricity to the fixture or decorative lamp is turned off in order to prevent accidental electrocution.


From Creating a Healthy Household: The Ultimate Guide For Healthier, Safer, Less-Toxic Living, © 2000 by Lynn Marie Bower.



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How to Choose Lighting:  Created on February 15th, 2007.  Last Modified on February 28th, 2011


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