The Best Lighting for Your Home Remodel
Lightbulb technology has advanced dramatically over the past fifteen years. Lighting is often one aspect of home remodeling that homeowners do not think about. The type of lighting that you use in your home can affect your wallet and your health. There are three types of lightbulbs that are used to light your home. Below is a brief overview of these lightbulbs, as well as an explanation of how to best light your home.
An Overview of Home Lighting
The prototype to the incandescent bulb was invented in the late 1880s by Thomas Edison. His original plans evolved into what is known today as the incandescent bulb. These bulbs create light by generating heat. There is a wire filament in the middle of the bulb that is heated via electricity. Eventually, the heat causes the wire to glow, which in turn creates light. This process is highly inefficient, however, since almost 90% of the energy created is heat, not light. This makes incandescent bulbs dangerous to touch, and they can melt or burn sensitive materials that are nearby. Additionally, incandescent bulbs have a relatively short lifespan, since the tungsten wire in the middle of them wears over time. These bulbs continue to be used by consumers simply because they are familiar. For modern home lighting, though, they are the most inefficient lightbulbs on the market. They die quickly and do not light your home well.
Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs)
CFLs are spiral-shaped lightbulbs. They were first designed in the 1930s and rose to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s. CFLs take some time to generate light due to their design. The inner tube of a CFL contains argon and mercury. When an electric current runs through a CFL’s tube, the argon reacts to the mercury vapor which generates ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light is not visible to the eye. Therefore, a fluorescent coating – located on the inside of the tube – turns the ultraviolet light into visible light. Due to the lengthy process required to make light, CFLs require more energy to turn on than incandescent bulbs. In recessed lighting, CFLs waste much of their light because the light they emit is faint and indirect. CFLs are also very delicate light bulbs. Their inner tubes are incredibly fragile. If a CFL bulb shatters, they will leak argon and mercury. Due to their mercury content, CFL bulbs require specific recycling processes. Additionally, CFL bulbs are less efficient in both hot and cold weather. Due to the ultraviolet light conversion process, CFLs cannot be dimmed: they are either on or off. CFLs are being phased out of the market due to their inefficient lighting and due to the superiority of LEDs. If your home has any CFL lighting, they too should be replaced immediately.
Light-emitting Diode Bulbs (LEDs)
LEDs create light by using a semiconductor material to move electrons at a fast pace. LEDs do not rely on heat to create a light, so they are cool to the touch even when they are on. Because LEDs do not require argon, mercury, or fluorescent coating to make light, they are far cheaper than CFLs to produce. Due to their popularity, they are very affordable.
Additionally, LEDs are designed intentionally to be very durable. In the event that an LED bulb does shatter, it has no toxic materials that can harm you or your family. LEDs are durable because they are solid state: unlike CFLs and incandescent bulbs, LEDs do not have moving parts. They are smaller in size than CFLs and incandescent bulbs. LEDs have a very long lifespan and they are very energy efficient. Due to their longevity, you do not need to waste money constantly replacing them. LEDs are considered the greenest and most energy-efficient light source. LEDs have a large color spectrum, allowing you to light your home in a variety of fun and festive ways. Below are suggestions for using LEDs to improve your home’s lighting.
Rooms to Remodel with LEDs
A good night’s sleep is vital to staying healthy. However, many modern devices – such as smartphones and computer monitors – use blue light in their screens or lighting systems. Blue wavelengths are naturally found in sunlight. Blue wavelengths in light help keep the body and mind alert and active. They also are not found in any other natural light source (e.g. fire).
Blue wavelengths have a profound impact on circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock. They disrupt internal sleep signals, which prevents your body from falling into a proper sleeping pattern. By using lighting systems that contain blue wavelengths, you are damaging your ability to sleep well. Therefore, making sure your bedroom has proper lighting will help you get the sleep you need.
In order to sleep properly, invest in LED lighting that can change color. When night falls, set the lights to a dim red. A Harvard study found that red wavelengths are the least disruptive wavelength to a circadian rhythm. Many LEDs are programmable and capable of being set to change color at time intervals. By installing LED lighting in your bedroom, you can ensure that your nighttime lighting does not disturb your sleep. In the morning, though, you can program the color to change to a neutral white. Since white light contains blue wavelengths, your body will wake up faster with the different wavelengths. While red lighting may seem ominous, you can design your bedroom to complement the color.
While blue wavelengths are detrimental to the bedroom, they can be subtly useful in the kitchen! Being awake and alert while cooking is very important. LED bulbs come in a variety of sizes and shapes. You can buy them as string lights or as a light strip. Place LED light strips underneath cabinets and shelves in order to give your kitchen more dimension. LED lighting can also accent architectural designs in your kitchen. For example, you can use them to create dimension around the bottom of your kitchen island. You can also install strips in your silverware drawer so that it is easier to see all of your utensils. The best part about LED strips is that they can be programmed to turn on and off in certain ways. For the silverware drawer, they can be programmed to only turn on when the drawer is open. All LEDs can be dimmed as well, so you can adjust the brightness of LED strips under cabinets for some mood lighting. Ceiling lighting is fine, but in order to add an additional dimension to your kitchen, install some hanging lights above the kitchen island. Hanging lights will draw the eye downward, further focusing your kitchen’s sightlines around the countertops. Make sure the colors of the light fixtures match the rest of the kitchen’s accessories.
The Living Area
While hanging lights in the kitchen are fun and bright, avoid installing them in the living room. Maintaining the visual height of your living room is important, and hanging lights will make the room feel smaller. Therefore, install ceiling lighting in your living room. Floor lamps were popular in the 2000s, but you should use them sparingly in a modern living room. You can have a reading lamp next to an armchair, in order to create some lighting depth. Make sure that the lamp is sleek and simple in its design, though. Ornate lighting fixtures are outdated. While light fixtures can be design pieces in a kitchen, lighting in your living room should not be noticeable. The focal point of your living room should be a fireplace or television, not the lighting fixtures. LED lighting is ideal for your living room because it is dimmable, which creates a dynamic movie watching experience. If your living area is not designed with overhead lighting, be sure to include it in your remodel.
Open concept basements are a definitive remodel design. This makes it not only easier to light your basement, but also it creates a sense of openness and unity. Ceiling lighting will be necessary for your basement as well. You do want to install some windows during the remodel, simply because natural sunlight will create a lovely effect during daylight hours. LED lighting, however, will help mimic natural light during later hours. Installing a cove molding in your basement ceiling will create some depth; and, you can line the molding with LED strips in order to create a more dramatic depth. Be sure to install LED lighting that can be programmed to change color. This will create fun lighting effects that can improve your basement’s entertainment value. You could program the strips to mimic the colors of your favorite sports team, to flash the colors associated with a holiday (e.g. Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July), or you can simply have a rainbow spectrum running. LED lighting in your basement will add dimension to the space, making it feel more open and inviting.
LED lighting is the most energy-efficient way to light your home. Not only are the bulbs affordable, but they will last you many years. They are the best bulbs for the environment and they are the least dangerous bulbs to keep in your home. Even if your full home remodel is not complete, replacing your incandescent and CFL bulbs with LEDs will improve your home’s lighting dramatically.