Shaun Davis, Managing Director of LED lighting specialists tp24 Limited, addresses some of the issues when choosing LED lighting for a new property.
What lighting do I want for my new home?
Don’t be swayed by some fancy over the top ideas about colour changing and app control of wifi.
Yes there are items on the market that can do this, but most clients that I have talked to who fitted this type of stuff soon became bored and gave up using the systems. It great to show your friends your funky colour changing bathroom, but you need good light to shave and do makeup and the colour changing is more boys toys, more to go wrong and more expensive.
If you are looking for this type of system, go to a specialist and get a good warranty or do it yourself on the cheap and be prepared to replace it when it dies. You need to remember with ribbon systems you will need to house the driver somewhere and may need to access it for replacement.
Why should I use LED?
LEDs have improved hugely in the last few years, but there should be no doubt that you use LED lighting in your new home. The energy saving is around 90% compared to incandescent and halogen lamps and 40% on fluorescent. Unlike fluorescent lighting LED comes on instantly and has no mercury or dangerous gases. It runs much cooler than conventional lighting making it more comfortable to work under, but much safer from a fire risk perspective and safer for children. LED lighting also last much longer so less light bulbs to change. However it does not last forever, so do bear in mind the potential need to change the whole fitting if the LED is built-in and not replaceable. The lifetime on the package is generally a half-life. If the box shows 20,000 hours half have to pass the test to make this claim. That said be sure you have a clear warranty and register or keep the proof of purchase if you are spending a lot.
Where should the lights go?
Focus on where to put the light, how you are going to us the space and what tasks you will doing in the space. Give yourself as many options to change the mood as possible. For example in the kitchen you want to fit recessed downlights, ok easy let’s do 3 rows or 4’ now they can only be on or off, so add a dimmer (make sure it’s an LED dimmer and compatible with your down lights – check with the manufacturer); now we can have them on and off and bright or dimmed. However it doesn’t create the mood or focus on the issues.
Why not use more switching. I recommend that you put one downlight on one switch over the kettle. You can leave this on all the time, go in and out for drinks or pass through the room easily.
Next you need some lights of the preparation area, on another switch, some over the cooker, on another switch and some over the table or breakfast bar on yet another switch. Now you can create many different moods by switching different groups together. You can have them all on for a spring clean or just a couple for a candle lit dinner. Don’t be afraid to add some in the corners just for that romantic dinner.
You can follow this thinking in every room. In the living room you need lights where you sit to read, but you don’t want lights that glare when watching TV or that you are looking at whilst watching TV. So think about background lighting as a separate issue and add other lighting for parties or for cleaning.
Lighting is also great for adding a focal point or wow factor. Many of the new LED lights can look amazing when they are off, they draw peoples attention and draw them into the room. Don’t be afraid to use a bold statement. When the lights are on make sure they deliver the light levels that you need.
How do I know if they will be bright enough, or even too bright?
This can be a daunting task, because most people grew with lights measured in watts, now they have lumens! What are these? Lumens are a way of measuring the light, whereas watts are just a measure of how much power they consume. With LED it is possible to replace a 50w halogen spot lamp with a 3-4w LED providing the same level of light. LED lamps vary a lot and you can often be advised to use a 7w or 10w when a 3w will do. Get some good advice or try and see the product insitu to that you are sure the light will be good enough.
Typically a halogen or incandescent lamp produces about 10-12 lumens per watt. A fluorescent lamp can produce between 45 and 80 lumens per watt depending on the type. LED lamps produce between 60 and 120 lumens per watt. If the LED are frosted they are usually around 70 -80 lumens, but can vary greatly. Clear LED lamps, particularly the latest filament types are at the top end of 100-120 lumens per watt. LED lamps are a bit like computer chips evolving and improving every few months with each new development. With this in mind consider how often you may need to upgrade if you want the latest, so either use replaceable LEDs or ensure that what you have meets your needs.
Can I dim all LED lights?
Dimming systems ensure that the lights are not too bright, but not all LEDs are dimmable. There are dimmable LED options of most standard light bulbs, but they are often more expensive and nearly always have to be used with a compatible LED dimmer switch, so your old dimmer is obsolete. If you use a dimmer switch that has not been recommended by the manufacturer you could be in breach of your warranty and not get a replacement if it fails.
For LED fittings that have built in LED light sources you will be governed by the driver supplied and may not be able to dim at all. Be sure to ask if you want to be able to use a dimmer and ensure that the light is enough for your room.
Some manufacturers also step dimming on some items, this allows you to turn off some of the arms on a fitting or to turn off some of the LED chips in the light source. This is an efficient way of reducing the light level by turning off and saving the power, but it will only have fixed levels so the control is more limited, but usually sufficient. The good thing about step dimming is that you do not need a dimmer switch of any sort and can just use a standard switch.
Be sure to really think through your lighting at the earliest opportunity
Lighting can turn an ordinary space into an extraordinary space. Statement lighting will always add a wow factor to any room, hung low over your dining table, or in a tall stairwell. Lighting is one of, if not the most important, factors in an interior design scheme. Consider all the different levels of lighting in the room from the ceiling pendants, wall lights and table/floor lamps.
Look at the size of your room(s) before choosing your light fittings. One of the biggest mistakes people make is not getting the size or quantity right. Consider the positions of the fittings, the number of arms required and the brightness of the lamps (bulbs). Many older houses had ceiling fittings positioned close to the windows does it need moving to a central point or do you need two lights instead of one for the size of the room?
Depending on the size of your property it is always good to stick to a theme and not have different types in each room, use similar or matching fittings, this will allow the overall design and feel to flow through the house, making it feel bigger and as one. Designers do this with carpets, often sticking to one colour and type throughout to avoid lots of chopping and changing.
LED Light as an Art Form
We all feel like a change sometimes – so why not choose your light fittings from tp24’s unique new G30 Abstract range, which allows you to alter the fittings’ look by simply changing the orientation of the arm, removing the arm or swapped for an alternative arm design. In addition, each LED arm has been designed with a built-in driver and integrated circuit dimming, enabling the consumer to easily control the light levels of the fitting to suit the room ambience.
Lighting company tp24 work in partnership with many of the UK’s premier housebuilders, including Persimmon Homes, Taylor Wimpey, Miller Homes and Summerfield Homes – ensuring that their discerning buyers experience the very best LED lighting schemes for their new homes. tp24’s ‘lighting options’ brochure specifically designed in conjunction with each housebuilder, enables purchasers to select and have installed their chosen lighting prior to moving in.
With a mission to provide low energy lighting solutions for the new build market, tp24 offer a complete re-invention of lighting, where LED’s are becoming Art in Light.
For further information on the full range of energy saving LED light bulbs and fittings from tp24, visit www.tp24.com