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IT'S LIT / Lighting Design Guide for Architects and Interior Designers

11 June 2017
Green Office Park in BSD City, Tangerang by Axis Architecture, Singapore and Tetra Desaindo, Jakarta
Lighting Consultant: Lightbox Lighting

Lighting is an important piece in architecture and interior. It plays a major role on how you experience a space, whether through natural sunlight, or through artificial lighting. Good lighting really brings out the best of your design.

In this post, we are covering the basic terminology that comes up again and again in lighting spec:

1. LUMEN & LUX

A lumen is the unit used to measure how bright a light source is. An easy way to illustrate this is to use a candle: a lamp that is as bright as 1 birthday candle puts out 1 lumen of light; a lamp that is as bright as 100 birthday candles puts out 100 lumens.

Lux on the other hand, measures how much lumen is spread over a square metre. Specifically, 1lx (lux) informs you that a light source emits 1 lumen of light on 1 m2.


Image Source: Yellowtrace

2. WATTAGE

A wattage is the indication of how much electrical power a light source consumes. It is NOT an indication of how much light it produces (that’s lumen). 

LED (Light-emimtting diode) first appeared in the Sixties but technological advances and mass production means that they are now the best choice for moneysaving, ecological lighting and considered as the present pinnacle of green power choice in lighting industry. LED fittings might cost more in the beginning, but it will save cost for you, or your client in the long run. An easy way to illustrate this moneysaving logic is shown in the table below:

 

The above table illustrates that in order to put out 1100lumens, LED light only requires 17W, whilst standard incandescent 75W, a halogen 53W, a CFLs (which contains mercury) 19W. This might seem like not much of a difference in energy consumption when you are looking at one light, however when you are looking at an entire floor of an office building that uses at least 120 light fixtures, you can multiply the difference between 75W and 17W (58W) by 120. That is an extra 6960W that you don’t need. In a large scale project like this, the energy requirement is insurmountable and the decision to specify LED is a no-brainer cost saving decision


Green Office Park in BSD City, Tangerang by Axis Architecture, Singapore and Tetra Desaindo, Jakarta
Lighting Consultant: Lightbox Lighting

Some designers might mention that the quality of light produced by LED bulbs is incomparable to traditional incandescent. However LED filament bulbs have been around the market for some years and they are great cost and energy saving alternative.

It is fundamental to understand that just like another industrial made product, there are so many levels of quality in LED production. A good, consistent, high color rendering production, and durable LED will never be as cheap as LEDs that are put in production with less strict quality control.

3. COLOUR TEMPERATURE

This defines whether a light source appears ‘cool’, ‘neutral’ or ‘warm’. It is measured in Kelvin (K) scale. The image below well illustrates the idea - the lower the light temperature number, the warmer a light gets.

 
Left (1000K - Warm) to Right (10000K - Cool)

A 1500K candle light is generally used as a starting range for warm light; domestic appropriate warm light ranges between 2700-3000K; neutral lamps of 4000K; and cool lamps around 6000K and are more often used in offices and retail. Very cool temperatures of 6000K+ can start to look almost blue-white and are used in car LED headlights.

However this number is merely a guide. If you compare 2 different brands of 3000K light fittings, you will almost always see two different colours. One of the ways for a designer to make a decision is to put the selected finishes under the light.

4. BEAM ANGLE

This is basically the lighting’s measure of spread and is measured in degrees.


10° beam angle


30° beam angle

What hospitality designers could do is to specify lights with narrower beam in dining areas so each table is illuminated separately. This results in a more intimate, private feel for patrons sitting on those tables. Narrow beam lights can also be used to accentuate columns and pillars.


Lastly, some not to do's in terms of lighting positioning are:

1. Installing any light above a fan blade
The spinning fan blade gives the illusion of flickering of the light above, and will cause discomfort and eye strain.

2. Installing any light above any door swing zone, especially when there is little distance between top of door and ceiling level.
When the door opens and closes, it will temporarily create blackout within that zone, as the door leaf will cover the light.

Well, there you go. Now you know what to look out for in your lighting design. From my professional career as an interior architect in Sydney, I have realised that working with trusted, knowledgeable partners in lighting design does prevent expensive mistakes and allow designers to focus on their strength.

This article is written by:

VANESSA
ASPEC Founder

Thank you to Andrew Susilo & Mario Putra from Lightbox Lighting for your input to this post.
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