The hurdles in modern lighting design are around two issues:
- Variety: Homes used to be filled with incandescent bulbs, making the wiring and control of them relatively straight forward. Offices opted for fluorescent lights with similar simplicity. With a wide array of LED lighting, today’s architectural lighting design involves controlling multiple bulb types, all at different dimming percentages to create a desired effect.
- Quantity: While running a single light or bank of recessed lights to a switch is relatively straight-forward, this scales poorly the more you add, leaving your walls cluttered with a confusing number of dimmers and switches. Modern smart lighting involves tying many loads into a single interface, and designing it as intuitively as possible.
Electricians used to wire a switch and connect it to a fixture. Now, the interrelationship between the fixture, the wiring, the dimming module and the control system all need to be taken into account.
If you’re looking for more of a 101 introduction to the smart lighting landscape, read our article here. If you have specific questions on a project, let us know here:
- Dim everything – There’s no reason to not use a dimmer at this point. The control of mood, even in the simplest of spaces, makes all the difference between good and mediocre lighting design.
- Layer the light – Our recommendation is a least 3 layers per area, and more in proud rooms.
- LED is the future – Its flexibility, performance and low energy consumption make LED unparalleled as a lighting technology. All hardware decisions should keep this in mind.
- Know your preferences – Lighting is very personal. Do you like warm light or cool light? Are you particularly susceptible to the side effects of glare? Does your home have specific features that should be highlighted or downplayed?
While LED technology has opened up a lot of flexibility (at a lower power consumption) for residential and commercial lighting projects, many people don’t realize the enormous gamut in quality in the LED market.
There is actually an objective way to measure this quality. It’s called CRI (Color Rendering Index) and it measures two important factors:
- How accurately the light illuminates objects in a room in comparison to natural (sun) light.
- How consistently each bulb performs.
Look across a white wall illuminated by several bulbs. When the CRI is low you’ll see the hue of the wall change as your eyes scan across. You’ll also often notice an overall unnatural hue (often the color temperature is too low with a bluish tinge to it.) The CRI scale is 1 – 100. Most off-the-shelf brands measure in the 60 – 80 range.
Proper LED architectural lighting is rated above 90. The other important factor to consider is how broad the brand can go. The last thing you want is a system that works but only for 70% of the home, requiring you to figure out another separately controlled system.
Considering these goals, there are a few brands we frequently choose on our projects:
Great lighting design deserves great control, which happens via both touch panel and App control.
The material quality of a switch, button or keypad on the wall is often overlooked… Until you try one of high quality. Once you do, the cheapness in materials found on most walls becomes unignorable.