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The Basics of People and Light: How They Affect Home Lighting Needs

March 31st, 2009 · No Comments · Lighting Tips

Lighting enables us to see. We take in light from direct light sources or after it bounces off other sources. When light shines on opaque objects, some of that light is absorbed and some of the light is reflected multiple directions off the surface. This concept is important because the color of the objects is determined by the light that is reflected off of their surfaces.

The varying levels of brightness on an object help us determine the shapes, lines, and details of the object we are looking at. In most cases, the more “contrast” a shape, line, or detail has, the better we can see it; however, this all depends on the ability of the actual person to see, not just the availability of light in the home. As everyone knows, we all have varying visual abilities from birth and oftentimes our ability to see decreases as we get older. Thus the older we get, the more light we need in order to see objects clearly. This is important to understand when designing your house, both for you and your anticipated guests.

Our eyes also have the amazing ability to adjust to bright and dark conditions. Lighting can be helpful at times during the night when all you need to do is navigate a hallway. A dim light from an electrical socket would be just enough because our eyes will adjust to allow more of the light in. Lighting can also make us pause before we enter darker areas. If we enter a dark area too soon after leaving a brighter area, we will have issues seeing until we allow our eyes to adjust. Therefore, it’s important to understand the different ways each room will be used, and plan your lighting accordingly.

Selecting the correct lighting, and using it effectively, can be a daunting task. When you consider the numerous professionals involved in home-lighting, and all of the lighting products that can be bought at many different retail outlets, lighting your home can actually be quite confusing. Not to mention all of the safety regulations you must follow when installing your lighting fixtures.  It is often best handled by a qualified professional. The reasons previously stated make the decision to change the lighting in your home a very important one. The choices you make should provide you with flexible and long lasting installations.

Every home often has a variety of people and activities to accommodate—all of which require different lighting needs varying by room.  You must choose the correct lighting to satisfy each of these activities.  For example, a den which is used for reading and watching TV might only need ambient light and a reading lamp; however, a kitchen will need spot-lighting in the areas you prepare and eat your food.

You must also understand how people use the rooms in your house and try to apply appropriate conservation habits. In the previous examples, the kitchen light might stay on more often than the reading lamps because people are in and out of the kitchen more frequently.  Leaving the kitchen lights on in that case, is fine. The den, however, is used differently and not as often.  When you leave the den, not knowing when the next person will use the room, it is a good idea to make sure the lights are turned off.  Making the lighting controls easily accessible will help your conservation efforts.

Understanding how light works and how people use lighting will help you approach your home’s lighting with your best foot forward. It will help you conserve efforts in the planning and installation process. It will also help you conserve energy and money throughout your time spent in your home.

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