We are excited to share a post from guest author Karyn Judd Reilly. Karyn is one of the lighting designers that Häfele America Co. has on retainer to provide lighting designs for customers who are incorporating Häfele’s innovative Loox LED lighting into their projects.
It’s been almost two years since I began working for Häfele America Co. as a lighting designer, and time has flown by. I have learned a great deal from my interactions with our clients, and the questions seem to follow a particular path. In this series of posts, I hope to shine some “Lumens” onto those questions.
- How do I know how intense a light will be and which light is best for my circumstances?
- So I get it, Lumens and Lux, but how do I use it? What does it mean for recommendations?
- How does the Häfele power system work? Can I hard wire your products?
- What is color temperature? Or shouldn’t everyone use warm white light for all applications?
Those are the big recurring questions, and I will attempt to answer the first question below.
Lighting is measured in various ways, but in the US we’ve become accustomed to thinking of light intensity as the same as wattage. It might have been an easy gauge for comparing incandescent light bulbs to each other, but that’s no longer the case given the variety of light sources on the market. As higher wattage incandescent products are phased out to make way for more efficient options, alternate ways of measuring intensity are becoming mainstream. The US Dept. of Energy (DOE) does a good job of making this point, in this post. http://www.energy.gov/energysaver/articles/lumens-and-lighting-facts-label (link on the word post)
As a designer, I use Lux to understand not only the intensity of a light, but how far that intensity will travel to my destination. Lux is the metric equivalent to foot candles you may have studied in school. Lumens ratings are a great way to compare products to one another, but a lumen is measured as light output from the source, so we don’t know how far or well the intensity travels. We’ve posted about Lumens and Lux in previous posts, found here, and I often refer clients to this page to explain the differences.
Each of our LED products has a corresponding chart that tells me critical information on it’s performance at various distances.
The chart also tells me the beam angle on the product, so naturally the tighter the beam angle, the further the light will travel before diffusing. To place this in context, the puck illustrated in the chart above, installed at the top of an 80” high tall glass cabinet, would not illuminate the entire height of the unit. In this application, I would recommend using vertical LED ribbon down the sides to provide even illumination.
Simple, right? Well, of course there is a catch. Lighting is all about context. I often receive schematics of spaces that need lighting, but a black and white drawing only goes so far. Until I know the context of the space, I can’t make a great recommendation.
- Quality of existing lighting-Is the area full of natural sunlight or is it a dark room full of dark wood finishes? What is the color temperature of the existing lighting?
- Context of finishes-What is the color and texture of the surfaces in the space?
- Goals of new product-Does the end user need task lighting or are they more interested in accenting features? What, if anything, will be on display?
Lighting plays off the surroundings of a space or product, even the colors of the surfaces they illuminate. The next time you are lighting a dark walnut unit, remember that the finish calls for more lux than if the piece was painted white. Likewise, using pucks in cubbies will give you more intensity than if used as under a long bank of cabinets in a kitchen -there is more surface area to reflect the light back into the space.
There’s your quick intro into lighting, and I hope you come back for more in our future posts.