Imagine the scenario, your car has broken down and you call a doctor to fix it, or you want to light your garden and you get a landscape architect to illuminate it!
Whilst the first example sounds ridiculous, the second scenario happens all the time and, in our opinion, it is just as bad.
We all have ideas on how to do something but is it based on, qualifications, experience or just because, it “can’t be that hard”?
Why use a professional lighting designer?
The real question is, why choose another profession to design something that they do not specialise in?
Lighting design appears to be simple, place a few lights here and there on a plan and you are ready to go. Sometimes when we see lighting plans it looks like this is exactly what happened.
Has the person ‘designing’ the lighting considered the light type e.g. directional lighting, decorative, discrete etc. What about the finish, stainless steel, copper, powder coated etc?
Then the real questions, are the lights low voltage or mains fed? If they are low voltage, are they constant current or constant voltage? Where will the drivers be housed, how many drivers do I need? What about the electrical loading, can the supply handle the amount of power required?
Suddenly, the few dots placed onto a plan seems more complicated. However, this is just the start of the process. For instance, if you are lighting a room what’s the lux levels needed for a specific task like cooking? Are there enough fittings to illuminate a kitchen or too many for a dining room?
What are the lumens and how bright do you want the lights to be? In the past we used to speak about watts, in actual fact, watts equals power used to produce the light, but that does not indicate how much light that fitting produces.
Do two 6 watts light fittings from different brands produce the same amount of light, probably not!
What colour temperature should be used: warm, cool or neutral white? The colour temperature of a light source is denoted in kelvins, warm white can be 2200K, 2700K or 3000K.
Should every room be warm white? Is cool white brighter? What is the colour rendering of a light source? Does it represent colours correctly enough in a room where you’re doing your make up or choosing your outfit?
Then you have the garden to think about and any element that goes along with it. What about water features, colourful flower bed or evergreens?
What about circuits and how many? You then have to consider zones; these are not the same as circuits, you can have several zones in one circuit. Where are the cables going to run from and to? Has there been any thought on where the power will come from and is there access to the fuse board?
Once you have cleared the above hurdles then you have to consider how the lights will be controlled: will it be a simple light switch or timer, sensor, remote control, dimmed or sophisticated lighting controls? Very often this is overlooked and left for the electrician to ‘sort out’ which of course can make or break a lighting scheme.
A good lighting design will take all the above into account along with what effect the chosen lights are going to create. Do you want atmospheric, security, navigational, ambient, functional, romantic lighting?
Lighting design, it’s easy, right?!
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