Lighting rules of thumb
Australia, 2nd March 2010
There is not one solution to a lighting problem… there are many! As I discussed the lighting design of one of our hotels projects today, I was asked the question by one of my staff if there is any rule of thumb in applying wattages and lamp types depending on the ceiling height in a space. It seems an innocent question to which most would expect a simple answer.
But the experienced designers amongst us will agree that there are many solutions and not really a rule of thumb to go by. The only thing that I can come up with is that the solutions main parameters will be influenced by the selected wattage (or lumens/watt as a probably better yardstick) and the light distribution at origin (the light fitting producing the light)… At the other (receiving) end there are the required lighting levels and tasks or objects that need illumination. Top that up with the desired mood, theme or ambiance and you have a large mix of variables that will influence the design and thus the light fitting (lamp type and wattage) selection process.
To me the design process nearly always starts with what I want to achieve. Uniformly diffuse lighting, indirect reflected light, focused accent lighting…? Bright or soft, cool or warm light? Maybe even some dynamic sequencing? That brings us to the key, which is understanding what lighting really is to achieve. This in turn should come out of our interpretation of the clients brief. Then only we can start setting up the criteria to which the lighting has to comply with.
So is there a rule of thumb…no not really. The only ones that apply are the lighting definitions that tell you how the variables relate to each other 🙂