How To Be A Lighting Genius: Part One

This is Part One of our two part special on lighting. You’ll learn the technical terms behind lighting terminology and we’ll also fill you in on what’s hot right now, pardon the pun. We love lighting here at Space Shack, whether you’re flooding a room or creating a simple atmospheric mood, lighting often gets overlooked as it's considered an ominous task with a considerable cost. What many people underestimate is, lighting can change a room from drab to fab, it can help transition a room from an elegant setting during the day, to a piece of theatricality at night. So let's break it down shall we?

Incandescent Lighting

Incandescent lighting is traditional lighting technology. It is essentially electricity owing through a filament which acts as a resistor to create light. Although it’s pretty widespread, it’s incredibly inefficient as most of the energy created is let off as heat - a bi-product. It also creates a warm yellowish tone, as opposed to harsh whites, so it isn’t the most ideal choice in every situation.
Think of halogen lighting as incandescent lighting's more efficient younger brother. They have much longer life spans and won’t leave you with a scalding burned hands as you try changing the bulb. They are widely available, easily dimmable and have a high CRI (colour rendering index) which means you’ll have whiter whites and redder reds basically. Although they’re vastly better than traditional incandescent lights, they’re still inefficient when compared to modern technologies, as a result, they’re starting to become rather outdated.

Low voltage halogen lights in our East London kitchen extension to provide a warm white light

Low voltage halogen lights in our East London kitchen extension to provide a warm white light

Fluorescent Lighting

Fluorescent lighting transmits a current through a tube filled with either; an inactive gas, or a small amount of mercury which creates ultraviolet light as a result. The light activates the phosphor coating on the interior side of the tube which then releases visible light through fluorescence. Get it? Good, because I didn’t understand any of that either. Essentially, all you need to know is it’s like lighting a match in room full of gas, but on a much smaller scale of course. Fluorescent lights come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. From the oh-so typical tube lights (usually seen in commercial buildings and warehouses) to spiral compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) which were designed to replace typical Edison bulbs. However, dimming capabilities and CRI are generally poor and difficult to control. They are available in a vast array of colours to match any mood you’re trying to convey - who doesn’t like a jazzy neon sign for example?! My most important piece of advice would be avoiding fluorescent for any kind of main lighting source.

LEDs

Lighting emitting diodes, or widely known as LEDs, produce light by passing current through a semiconductor which let’s out a light through electroluminescence. Of all technologies, LEDs are recognisably the most efficient. They are available in a wide range of colours, temperatures, shapes, sizes and CRIs. They tend to come in the form of rigid strip-lights or white LED ‘bulbs’ - designed to fit snug into traditional Edison light sockets. What makes them so efficient, is the minimal power needed to power them and they also produce next to no bi-product Sounds like a light made in heaven, yes? They are however difficult to dim and create just the right mood, so require a driver that can perform pulse with width modulation (PWM) to rapidly cycle the LED.
They’re perfect to light next to anything and the future! Want to add some luminescent lighting to your under cabinets? Looking for an efficient way to light a room without a light in sight? LED is the answer. We are however still waiting for manufacturers to integrate common bulb bases to fit LEDs, but hopefully that shouldn’t be in the too distant future and Phillips seem to be doing a pretty good job. They can also be quite expensive, so beware, using solely LED will very quickly break your budget.

Here is a summary table of the various technologies:

We would like to shout out our guest blogger and design assistant Kamran Nayyer who specially created this two part lighting blog series for our Space Shack readers. 

Stay tuned for Part Two next week where we’ll show you different techniques to add light to your home. Keep up to date with regular posts like this one by following us on Instagram and bookmarking our blog page for weekly updates!