With all of us spending an unusual amount of time at home while sheltering-in-place, it is a great time to fine-tune the lighting in your home. From creating the perfect ambiance in the dining room to ensuring that you have eye-worthy lighting in your home office, knowing which light bulbs to install in the different rooms of your home can improve the overall atmosphere of any space.
Lighting Performance: How Lights Can Affect a Room
Light bulb brightness, temperature, and color can alter the feel and vibe of the room and have an impact on your mood. While you may be accustomed to buying the same old box of replacement light bulbs to outfit the entire home, you may want to consider a mixed selection of light bulbs. In this blog, we’ll cover lighting performance, different kinds of light bulbs, and how to strategically place them around your home to get the desired effect.
- Light Bulb Brightness – The brightness of a light bulb is measured in lumens. The higher the lumen, the brighter the bulb. Also, keep in mind that the amount of electricity that it takes to produce the lumen level of that particular light bulb is measured in watts. If a room doesn’t have much natural light and your goal is to have more light, select a bulb that has a higher lumen level.
- Light Bulb Temperature – That ‘K’ you see behind a given number on a bulb stands for ‘Kelvins’ and is used to measure the color temperature of a light bulb. Much like you would raise or lower the saturation level when you’re editing a picture, the same would apply here. Lower ‘Kelvins’ would suggest warmer tones, while higher kelvins would be a brighter white light. For instance, a 5000K bulb would be used to simulate daylight, with a warmer, less harsh light color measurement coming in around 2600K.
- Color Rendering Index – CRI is short for ‘color rendering index’ and is most commonly used when discussing compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), but we’ll get into those later. This measurement applies to what color an object would be when under the light bulb itself. It isn’t uncommon for Incandescent bulbs to have a CRI value of 100, which is the highest possible value. You may want to consider a higher CRI for things like workspaces or bathrooms with vanity mirrors.
Types of Light Bulbs
There are a wide variety of light bulbs on the market today. Each serves a desired purpose and is suitable for certain environments. However, if you want to break it down into categories, there are 3 main types of light bulbs on the market today… Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), halogen incandescent light bulbs, and LED lights.
- Halogen Incandescent Bulbs – These are the most common light bulbs used in homes because they are the least expensive, and come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Halogen incandescent bulbs compliment most skin tones and exude a warmer light.
- Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) – Are you familiar with those long tube lights that you would typically see in an office or classroom? Well, that is fluorescent lighting. CFLs are just fluorescent lights condensed and downsized into a bulb so they can work in most residential light fixtures. These guys are energy efficient. CFLs that have an Energy-Star rating attached to them will use about a third of the energy that an incandescent bulb uses. They do emit a lot of heat, so they tend to have a longer lifespan if they are placed in fixtures with some ventilation. They are known to give off harsh light, but newer CFLs are available in cooler colors and warmer tones. There is one drawback, fluorescent light bulbs do contain small traces of mercury. If they break, properly cleaning the area is a must. And disposing of them should be taken seriously. You can recycle these light bulbs to properly dispose of them.
- LED Light Bulbs – Short for ‘light emitting diode’, LED lights are fairly new to the light bulb scene, but have become extremely popular because they don’t put off a lot of heat, use very little electricity, and last 30x longer than traditional incandescent light bulbs. One drawback is that they are more expensive. But when you factor in the energy savings over time, they arguably pay for themselves.
The 3 Kinds of Lighting
When it comes to your home, types of lighting typically fall into three categories… Accent lighting, ambient lighting, and task lighting. Here is a brief description of each so you can see how it may be useful in different rooms of your home.
- Accent Lighting: Accent lighting is more of a wall light that is used to illuminate bookshelves, landscaping, and ‘accenting’ pictures or artwork in a hallway or corridor. This lighting is used to highlight a particular area and isn’t intended to light up an entire room.
- Ambient Lighting: The most common light is ambient lighting. This light fills the entire space with ‘natural-looking light’.
- Task Lighting: Great for workspaces and desks, home offices, and even art studios, task lighting targets bright light on a specific area.
Choosing the Best Light Bulbs for Your Home
Choosing the right lighting for your home is more important than you may think. Since every room in your home has a different function, the lighting should differ as well. If you want the living room to be a space for relaxation, then choose warmer, softer tone lighting options. For spaces like the home office, you’ll opt for a higher brightness level.
- Ideal Kitchen Lighting – In most modern homes the kitchen is used for more than cooking. Modern kitchens are a meeting place for the family to eat, visit, and share their days. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a task-oriented room. You’ll want your kitchen to be well-lighted. You can use recessed accent lighting and pair it with LEDs to create functional cooking areas and add ambiance.
- Living Room & Dining Room Lighting – You don’t want to go bright in these areas. It’s all about the atmosphere in the living and dining areas. Whether you have an overhead ceiling fan or a chandelier, choose bulbs with a Kelvin of 2-3k to provide soft and warm lighting.
- Best Lighting for Bedroom – Stay away from blue lights in the bedroom, as exposure to blue light is now known to be disruptive to REM sleep. Choose moderate levels of warm light and possibly install a dimmer switch so you can adjust the lighting to your liking depending on the time of day.
- Bathroom Lighting – You’ll want brighter light in the bathroom with task lighting installed around the vanity area. Halogen light bulbs are great in bathrooms because they emit more heat and can double as a heat source for when you get out of the shower. Choose a light bulb with a high CRI for the bathroom.
- Home Office – For your home office, you’ll want to install brighter overall lighting. Combine task lighting for workspaces and choose a cooler tone lightbulb for the general lighting so you stay alert and can focus throughout the day and into the night.
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