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Lighting: Debunking the LED

Lighting – debunking the LED

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Lighting – debunking the LED

Photos courtesy of Living Lighting Etobicoke-Kingsway

The world of lighting has been changing drastically in the past several years. It used to be we had a few products to select from, some better for certain applications than others, and as long as we addressed the basic principles of lighting we should be safe in our lighting design. However, the technology that had moved at a bit of snails-pace started to rapidly increase and we are finding ourselves reaching a point where the traditional incandescent bulb will soon be a thing of the past with, amongst others, the LED bulb taking centre stage.

The LED bulb, or light emitting diode, has graced us with its presence for several years now.

This is a bulb that functions differently than the conventional incandescent. In the LED bulb, electrical currents pass through tiny microchips, illuminating the tiny light sources referred to as “LEDs” … the result is visible light. To prevent performance issues, the heat LEDs produce is absorbed into a heat sink.

LED bulbs are definitely different in many ways when compared with incandescent. The LED bulb does not actually “burn out”. In the case of LED lighting, they will experience a lumen depreciation in lieu of the burn out effect; meaning the brightness of the LED simply dims slowly over time. The “lifetime” of the LED bulb, therefore, is recognized when the light output is decreased by about 30 percent. However, that said, many LED bulbs have a life expectancy of up to 50,000 hours; longer than the typical incandescent. Another major difference between these bulbs would definitely be their energy output. With incandescent bulbs, light productions involves generating a lot heat as the filament needs to be warmed; this is wasted energy as a large portion of this electricity is not actually producing any visible light. Based on this process, as the LED bulb functions in a different fashion, it also generates very little heat, whereby a higher percentage of the electricity required goes directly to the production of light… therefore “energy efficient” as it will consume one-sixth the energy of incandescent bulbs and can last up to twenty-five times longer.

This is definitely a fantastic and important factor, in our world today. However, let’s face it LED lighting is not necessarily a favourite of many. Between the too bright, too white, too cool and the undimmable factor, the LED had a rough start on the market.

Too bright…

Many believe that the wattage of a bulb is an indication of the brightness of light, but in actuality, it is a measure of the volume of energy the bulb draws. With incandescents, we have accepted a general correlation between watts and brightness. However, with LEDs it’s not quite the same as they are designed to draw less energy and therefore simply don’t equate; as a 60w incandescent is approximately an 8-12 watt LED. The best way to determine the light output is to work in a measurement of lumens, the accurate measurement of brightness a light bulb can provide.

Too white, too cool…

After a bit of a rough start with the colour of the basic LED bulb, which was drastically different than customary warm, yellowish light the years of incandescent gave us, we are now able to select from several options of white LED lighting. Warm white and soft white will give us a yellowy hue similar to that of an incandescent. The bright white LED bulbs will produce a much “whiter” light more similar to daylight. Technically speaking, light colour or colour temperature is measured in kelvins. The lower the number the warmer the light will be. The incandescent bulb lies somewhere between 2700k and 3500k, so to achieve a similar warmth or colour of light a 3000k LED would be a wise choice, instead of a 4000k, a definitely brighter and whiter light.

Dimmability…

There have been many issues with dimming LED lights, or even the inconsistency of the dimmability of LEDs. When retrofitting lighting, you need to remember that LED bulbs have a low electrical load, often lower than typical dimmers which are still designed for tungsten loads that are rated at 250w to 400w. It’s best to simply just use dimmers that have been specifically designed for LED loads, and in the case of smart home technology attention should be paid to ensuring the compatibility of the LED dimmers with that of the specific supplier. Sadly, an equal balance of consistent dimming is often extremely difficult to achieve. It’s never a good idea to mix different manufacturers on the same dimming circuit as every LED can have its own circuitry design and the dimmer may not be able to provide a consistent signal to each light source; resulting in flickering, humming and annoyance. The short of it is… to really avoid any issues should they occur the best would be to change all the bulbs on that particular circuit preventing any chance of inconsistency. This can be rather expensive, but chances are it will eliminate any issues until such time that technological progress perfects the “ghosts” of the LED bulbs.

Becoming more familiar with the LED bulb will hopefully put to rest the loss of the incandescent that so many of us will mourn. The LED is a different entity and needs to be realized as such, so instead of fighting the change, embrace it and move forward knowing that the LED will light the way for the future.

Linda Mazur is an award-winning, nationally publicized designer and Principal of Linda Mazur Design Group.

With almost two decades of experience this in demand multi-disciplinary design firm is known for creating relaxed stylish spaces and full-scale design builds within Toronto, the GTA and throughout Canada.

@LindaMazurGroup


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The Most Colourful Time of the Year

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The Most Colourful Time of the Year

Holiday decorating allows you to unleash a vibrant colour scheme, in tune with the festive season

Photography By Gillian Jackson

Holidays are meant to be festive and colourful, and I’m here to tell you there are no rules about which colours you use to decorate your home. If someone even mentions a “don’t,” I’m very quick to tell them to MYOB (meaning Mind Your Own Business). Let’s just have fun, throw political correctness and matchy-matchy out the front door and celebrate the season with colour!

A statement chandelier plays nicely with blue, silver and chartreuse tree and mantel decor

It may be just me, but I love going into my friend’s and client’s homes during the holiday season, just to see how they’ve decorated. Do they follow through with an already existing colour story? Or do they make a bold statement with vivid hues that don’t speak to anything else? Sometimes elegant and understated is the way to go, but you can find ornaments in almost every colour today, so it’s just a matter of getting creative with the placement.

One client, who during the holidays has been known to put a tree in Every. Single. Room., loves decorating, and the holidays give her an excuse to go over the top! You may not want to consider installing a real pine tree in your powder room, as she has done more than once, but think about it…there are benefits, especially when it comes to that lovely, pine scent.

But let’s get back to colour.

ROARING RUSTIC

Imagine owning a house with a 14-foot-high basement. There’s no question whether a tree will fit, it’s a matter of how tall a tree you can find. If it’s the kids’ retreat during the holidays, the decor can be colourful, youthful and fun. The room is dominated by a beautiful field-stone fireplace and bold berry-red furnishings, so my client added pops of red, pink, fuchsia, and purple. It looks just right with rustic, natural decor.

Pink, red, purple and fuchsia ornaments and decorations work when you let one of those colours dominate. Here it’s the berry red that draws your eye through the design.

CLASSIC WITH A TWIST

Silver and blue are classic, go-together colours during the holidays. Adding hints of chartreuse to the mix tames the blue and silver ever so slightly, but what a great combination. By repeating the colours together throughout a space, you give the eye a treat as it looks around the space. But don’t overdo it; it doesn’t have to be too theme-y. Let whatever blues you love mix with the other colours to add depth and interest.

Candles and natural greenery are more than enough to make your dinner table beautiful!

LET THERE BE LIGHT

Don’t skimp on the shine. Glittery fabrics, candle light, warm LED bulbs in the tree and a roaring fire. They all spin their magic to make your room come alive. Try to add light in special places, like lanterns on the floor with candles. It adds interest in the corners and can also help light a path from room to room in the evenings.

Candles lit on the table and surrounding it bathe your holiday decor in a warm glow.

BEYOND CONVENTIONAL

Taking your holiday decor colour scheme in a direction dictated by the furnishings is a sure winner. But if your home has a neutral palette, you can go in whatever direction you like. I personally have used a black and golden-orange colour scheme in previous years because I love the way the colours look together. It’s not as Halloween-y as it sounds. It has a slight gothic vibe but still reads festive and cheerful.

Orange and black may sound garish but I loved my gothic Christmas tree!

So where do you start and stop? That’s up to you. No rules. Except don’t ignore your holiday dinner table, it needs colour, too, but just subtle hints of it. Here, the people around the table and the food must take centre stage. Use a sideboard or bar cart to create a holiday wonderland, perhaps surrounding a dessert buffet, but go easy on the table decor. Candle light and dimmable lighting is the only complement you need with happy guests.

Mirrored, white and silver ornaments help temper the black and orange-gold colour scheme.

It’s that one time a year you can (almost) go over the top but look at it as a way to bring fun, beauty and warmth to your home.

Tips

  • Don’t be afraid to mix analogous colours (variations of the same hue like burgundy and pink) whether it’s in an ombré throw or a shiny ornament, it will look fun and fabulous!
  • If you have a tradition of colours you use every year and you love it, don’t change it. Just add another colour into the mix to keep your holiday decor fresh.
  • The sparkle of a chandelier feels special all year long but adding the holiday glitz and glamour makes your whole room downright shimmer.
  • Warm LED lighting gives you that soft, warm glow. Try to avoid cold, fluorescent-like lighting. You’re not at the office, you’re at home for the holidays.
  • The only rule about adding colour to your holiday decor is just ADD IT!

Designer, spokesperson, author and television personality, Jane Lockhart is one of Canada’s best-known experts in the world of design and colour. janelockhart.com

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For Your Eyes Only

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For Your Eyes Only

Lighting requirements change as we age.

The right lighting can make a big difference when it comes to age-related vision problems. As we age, the lenses in our eyes begin to harden and discolour, causing decreased vision and colour distortion. While brighter is often better for older eyes, the direction and the type of lighting, as well as its colour, are all important for optimal vision.

EASY FIXES

The advantages of using LED lighting, over incandescent or fluorescent lighting, far outweigh their high, upfront cost. LEDs emit an excellent quality of light in a range of colours and brightness. Not only do LED lights save on energy, but they don’t emit heat, nor are they damaging to the eyes.

Another simple fix, is to replace existing fixtures with lights that have a higher wattage, so that they bring more light to a space.

If you’re dealing with a limited range of movement, lower light switches to an attainable height, and replace the toggle switches with newer paddle ones. Strategically placed plugs can also help you to access them easier.

Automatic lights, that sense when someone walks into a space, are particularly helpful to illuminate outdoor walkways, dark closets, garages, and laundry rooms – especially when you need to be hands-free.

Install two- or three-way light switches at all entrances, exits and stairwells to save you from having to backtrack, and then move forward in the dark.

PLAN AHEAD

Many Canadians are choosing to age independently in their own homes. For your comfort and well-being, it’s important to evaluate your needs before the actual needs arise. If a renovation is in your future, make sure that you include a lighting plan. This is the best time to move switches and outlets, and add lighting where needed. In order to create uniformity and to avoid dark areas that can be disorienting, a good plan incorporates layers of ambient, task and accent lighting.

Pot lights can be added to an existing space with a minimal amount of damage, and add a wide area of general light. Track lighting is another easy-to-install option that features adjustable heads to direct the light exactly where you need it.

SAFETY AND FUNCTION

Task lighting targets specific areas. Affordable, easy fixes include adding a pendant light, or recessed lighting, over the sink, as well as undercabinet lights to distribute light evenly on work surfaces. If needed, consider LED strip lights that can be placed at the top of cabinets and on the toe kicks to help reflect light.

It’s imperative that stairwells and hallways are well illuminated. In addition to overhead lighting, step lights and recessed wall lights also help to create a lighted path that makes these areas easier to navigate.

The installation of correct lighting helps to prevent accidents for a safer, more comfortable environment.

 

Paul Lorefice is a master electrician and the owner of New City Electric Inc. in the GTA. NewCityElectric.ca.

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