Whether it’s a homey kitchen, a garage bay, a vast church sanctuary or a shared workspace at an ad agency, every room eventually needs updated lighting. And that means more than changing light bulbs, especially as new lighting innovations come forward every year.
Like any major change, revising your lighting setup will benefit from some advance planning and consideration. Let’s look at a few items to consider before you forge ahead into designing and purchasing new lights.
Count the cost
In many settings, you’ll have an opportunity to convert from old-style fluorescent tube fixtures, or fixtures that were designed for incandescents. These latter fixtures might still have incandescent bulbs (if they are 75 watts or more) or might have individual LED bulbs. The question is, what will meet your needs at the lowest cost? Some items to consider:
- If you’re still using incandescents, replacing them with LED’s will save significant amounts of power, and greatly reduce the number of time spent changing bulbs or tubes out.
- You may have an opportunity to replace bulb/tube-based fixtures with non-bulb LED fixtures. These have the advantage of lasting longer than bulbs and usually cost about the same as a bulbed fixture, but at the end of their life (which is often as much as 20 years or more) the entire fixture will need to be replaced.
- Depending on your circumstances and the nature of your project, you may be able to qualify for rebates, tax cuts or grants from government bodies and electric utilities.
- You should also consider whether you wish to retrofit or replace fixtures. Both are good options, depending on your situation.
LED’s come in a wide array of different color temperatures, and choosing the right temperature for the space and the activities in it will pay off well. For a full rundown on these options, see our recent blog post, Considering Color.
Look at lumens
When you’re choosing new lighting, look for the lumen count on the fixtures or bulbs you buy. Lumens are a measure of the amount of light emitted, while watts are a measure of power used. Using lumens allows you to compare apples to apples. 800 lumens is roughly equivalent to a 60 watt incandescent bulb, but an 800 lumen LED bulb will use about 11 watts.
One important consideration is how well your bulbs or fixtures will hold up. This is one reason LED’s are usually a better option than CFL’s even in cases where their power use, initial cost, and service life are similar. LED’s can handle vibration stresses, continue working even after being dropped or suffering other impacts, and don’t shatter.
These are just a few of the many factors to consider when launching a new lighting project. The good news is that no matter what questions you have, you can give Thayer a call, and we’ll gladly help you through the entire process.