Lighting Design - What's the Big Deal?

The title of this blog is deliberately provocative, we hope the people it’s aimed at will sit up and take notice.

When you’re starting out a refurb project or even a new build there are so many distractions. So many parts of the build that hadn’t been planned for or stuff hidden behind walls that you didn’t know were there. That’s why we always recommend to clients to have their lighting design in place as early as possible within the internal design layout. From the smallest refurbishment to the largest everybody needs light and light gives you ambiance and balance. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get it right and it will enhance the overall effect by such a huge margin.

Typically when starting a project the overall design is given to an architect but and we’ve seen it here at Drexler Hooke so many times before, the Architect will usually just pass on the responsibility for the design to the electrician or the building contractor. This usually results in what we like to call ‘Gridding’. Gridding is the go to response if there’s no plan in place. Typically it will be with downlights but we have seen it done with pendants in the past too! Unfortunately when this happens the specs on the light fitting tend to be very low also. The optics of an inexpensive ‘Can’ light often only allow slightly more than half of the lumen output of the lamp to escape. In addition, ‘Can’ lights, unless they’re adjustable or wall wash fixtures typically don’t put sufficient light on vertical surfaces, which is where the eye perceives light.

Another big problem is not planning out circuits correctly – the rule of thumb is if you want a different fixture you give it a separate circuit. There are many reasons for this from load type variables to dimming accents. It also gives increased ability when it comes to control. With LEDs comprehensively in the mainstream, the next frontier in lighting is controls. Call it smart, call it connected, call it what you like – the point is that your lights can be controlled. Dimmers and sensors have been around for donkey’s years, but the challenge is to make them more sophisticated, get them to communicate with other devices and make sure people use them. Energy saving is only the start of the potential benefits – connected lighting also promises to pave the way for the internet of things. Lighting is an ideal network for IoT services to be built on – because it’s already there in the ceiling of every building.

A good lighting designer will incorporate ambient, task and accent lighting. They understand that all well-designed spaces incorporate different types of light. This can influence how productive we are, how well we can learn and how quickly we recover from illness.

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