ELECTRICAL: Lighting Design Basics
- AMBIENT HOUSE LIGHTING
Ambient light (or fill light) is the soft, general illumination that fills a room and softens the shadows. As a rule, the fixtures (often called luminaires in the lighting industry) used to provide ambient light should not draw attention to themselves. Ambient light is best provided by opaque wall sconces, cove lighting, torchiere floor lamps (which point upwards), or dish-shaped hanging fixtures (called indirect pendants).
- Wall Sconces
Wall sconces should be opaque, not transparent, so that the light will be softer and will not draw the eye to the fixtures. Sconces almost always come in pairs, and they typically are used to flank a door, fireplace, or console table. Two sconces are adequate to provide ambient light in an average size room, but four will be much more effective at providing even, balanced lighting.
- Cove Lighting
Cove lighting is installed near the ceiling, behind a cornice or ledge. Suitable fixtures include strip lights with miniature incandescent or xenon lamps, compact fluorescents, or standard-length fluorescent tubes.
For cove lighting, plan on using either xenon or fluorescent lamps, between 20 to 30 watts per foot for either type. Place the lamps behind the cove as shown in Figure 5-56.
If a room has a 9-ft. ceiling, cove lighting can be installed between 12 and 24 in. down from the ceiling. In a room with an 8-ft. ceiling, cove lighting is typically installed 12 in. down. (Note: This may leave the center of some rooms rather dark; the solution here is to include an indirect pendant fixture in the center of the ceiling.)