Couching lighting design issues

In my study, there is a sleeper couch tucked into a nook defined by opposing partial walls. Above the armrests of the couch, and at just the right height for reading while lying down, are antique lights that I rewired with plug-in cords and mounted onto quarter-sawn-oak plaques. (I made them in the woodshop so we didn’t have to pay an electrician to route new circuits through the wall and...

04/01/2010


 

 

 

In my study, there is a sleeper couch tucked into a nook defined by opposing partial walls. Above the armrests of the couch, and at just the right height for reading while lying down, are antique lights that I rewired with plug-in cords and mounted onto quarter-sawn-oak plaques. (I made them in the woodshop so we didn’t have to pay an electrician to route new circuits through the wall and into the basement.) This was one of those projects that simmered on the back burner for several years awaiting a creative and aesthetic solution (i.e., the rewiring and plaques). When the project was finally complete, I installed two CFLs that I had around the house at the time to provide the illumination.

 

The bulbs look identical but in fact have two totally different lighting qualities. One is warm and the other is cool. Invariably, when reading, I’m under the warm light and hardly use the cool light. I’ll get back to that point in a minute.

 

Opposite the couch is a north-facing window that points to a neighbor’s house across the street. At night, the neighbor’s exterior security light casts a pinpoint of glare that is directionally visible (and irritating) only when I’m reading under the warm CFL. I deal with the glare by holding my book closer to my face or closing the curtains.

 

So here we have a microcosm of several issues regarding both lighting and human nature.

 

The first issue is the perception of CFLs casting ugly, even disturbing light. The cool variety is grey and discomfiting; a real turnoff. But the warm variety is easier on the eyes and calming.

 

The second issue is that of human nature—people having preferences for “good” lighting, but a willingness to live with bad lighting. For all the time, care, and expense I put into retrofitting and installing the lights, I’ve lapsed on simply replacing the cool CFL or swapping it with the warm one to avoid the glare of my neighbor’s light (although another alternative is to shoot the security light with a BB gun, but I digress). It’s as if once the lights were installed and operating, they became immutable; or, looking at it from another angle, I’m just used to working around bad lighting.

 

Clearly, human nature and lighting are tightly intertwined. Additionally, working on lighting systems with sustainability in mind, integrating daylighting with electrical lighting while keeping maintainability and flexibility, is extraordinarily complex. With that, I invite you to read Siva Haran’s article on sustainable lighting design, as we welcome him to the Editorial Advisory Board, effective with this issue. Also, check out the Codes & Standards article on performance-based lighting codes on page 13.

 

Send your questions and comments to: Michael.Ivanovich@reedbusiness.com

 

 

 



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