The Construction Centre
Magnifying Glass

Lighting Information

Lighting Overview

Lighting is a wide-ranging subject falling into two main categories of domestic lighting, and commercial lighting. Both of these then have sub categories of interior lighting and exterior lighting. Domestic lighting covers bathroom lighting and kitchen lighting and a massive range of outdoor lights for garden and patio applications. Commercial lighting covers everything from office lighting and industrial lighting to specialist area such as lights for bars, shops and restaurants....more


Featured Lighting Companies (3 of 61)


Lighting Explained

Lighting is an essential part of modern life and gives us the ability to work longer hours in comfort and safety. Many forms of lighting are currently marketed and are suited to a wide range of applications. The two largest sectors of demand are domestic lighting and industrial lighting. In recent years the fear of global warming, to which carbon dioxide produced from electricity generation is a key contributor, and the ever increasing cost of electricity has prompted the development and introduction of energy efficient lighting within all lighting sectors. Government legislation aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions specifically from the domestic building market and changes to the building regulations have also brought on the uptake of energy efficient lights.

Internal Lighting

Historically incandescent light bulbs, also known as tungsten light bulbs, have been used in various forms for over 100 years as the main type of electrical lighting. The bulbs utilise a tungsten filament set within a vacuum surrounded by the glass of the light bulb. The filament glows as a result of the electrical resistance created when electricity is passed through the filament. The traditional incandescent light bulb is inefficient at converting electricity in to visible light. Consequently energy efficient light bulbs are being promoted for use in place of incandescent light bulbs, with the Eurpean Union banning the sale of bulbs with an energy rating below category C by September 2012. This means that incandescent light bulbs are likely to disappear from the shelves as only halogen light bulbs will meet these energy rating requirements. All pearl or frosted glass incandescent light bulbs have been banned from sale since September 2009.

Halogen light bulbs are available from manufacturers as direct replacements for both the bayonet cap and screw type incandescent light bulbs, although similar in appearance to traditional incandescent light bulbs they utilise a tungsten filament surrounded by an inert gas with an added halogen, such as bromine. Halogen bulbs are more energy efficient than traditional light bulbs and can produce more light from an equivalent voltage. Halogen light bulbs have typically become common place within bathroom spotlights and kitchen spotlights, however are not regarded as energy efficient lights by the latest building regulations.

Current building regulations state that energy efficiency lights should have an efficacy of 40 lumens per Watt (40 l/W) or above, where efficacy gives a measure of the amount of light produced relative to power consumed. At present Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL), sometimes referred to as compact fluorescent lights, generally fulfil this requirement and are the most readily available cost effective energy efficient lighting solution. Compact fluorescent lamps contain mercury atoms, which are excited by an electrical current, and fluoresce to produce visible light. Compact fluorescent lamps are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes to suit many different applications around the home. Those available fall in to two categories, CFLs with integral ballasts and those with no integral ballast. The ballast controls electricity dispensation of the bulb and allows the bulb to warm up before the electric arc is struck and the bulb becomes illuminated. CFLs with integral ballasts have a bulky base and can be retro fitted in to standard bayonet cap and screw type traditional electric light fittings. CFLs that do not possess integral ballasts can not be fitted to traditional light fittings and can only be used within designated energy efficient light fittings. A number of designated energy efficient light fittings must be fitted to new build homes, dependant on floor area, according to planning regulations. Energy efficient light fittings generally utilise a two pin or four pin fitting, to prevent the fitting of traditional light bulbs, and contain an inbuilt ballast. Within recent years LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology has significantly improved, with the availability of more effective lighting products year on year. LED technology remains costly for internal applications, with most products available for kitchen and bathroom lighting situations.

Basic energy efficient pendant light fittings can be purchased to replace the traditional bayonet cap or screw type pendant light fittings. More elaborate light fittings, which use the two or four pin energy efficient coupling can be purchased from a number of lighting specialists. As with traditional light fittings derivatives, such as wall mounted, ceiling mounted and floor mounted fixtures are available. Wall mounted lights available in single bulb or twin bulb format can be used to provide soft none intrusive lighting within a room, a classic example being that of a bedside light for reading. In sitting rooms a wall lamp could be used in conjunction with pendant ceiling lights to pride varying levels of illumination. Wall light shades may be offered in glass, fire retardant fabric or even leather materials. For landing areas or entrance halls, which do not usually require good illumination, wall lights known as uplighters could be considered. Uplighters wash the walls with a soft non intrusive illumination and certain ceramic wall uplighters can be over painted to blend in with wall colours. Uplighters are also available manufactured from glass, generally clear or peal effect, finished with a brass or chrome effect light bowl holders at their base.

Picture frame lights and picture lights also fall under the wall lighting category and can provide that finishing touch to any room. They can be mounted directly above a framed wall hung picture and give a spread of light across its surface. Traditional style picture lights may typically be produced in brass or antique brass effect finishes, where as modern or contemporary designs are likely to be manufactured with a chrome or brushed chrome finish.

Other wall based luminaries capable of providing that all important 'wow factor' to a room include recessed lights and skirting board illumination products. Recessed lights can be internally fitted within the wall or skirting board and covered with a flush fitting protective glass. Light emitting diode (LED) skirting board illumination kits can also be obtained and fitted to skirting boards.

Ceiling light fittings are the best means of providing good illumination to a room. Fittings are available in a number of formats, the most common being a pendant light fixture, with spotlights and recessed ceiling lights being popular choices for bathroom and kitchen environments. Pendant lights are produced in many styles, such as traditional chandeliers, which can replicate the appearance of a classic glass chandelier. These may be manufactured from glass and are likely to be finished in brass effect. Ceiling lights may also take the form of spotlights, often referred to as downlighters. Spotlights are generally produced in modern finishes, such as chrome and polished metal, and can be rotated and angled to suit lighting requirements within a room, which can prove to be particularly useful in kitchens.

Recessed spotlights offer a fixed solution and are typically fitted with halogen bulbs for low maintenance, although more energy efficient LED replacement bulbs are now on the market. Dedicated LED spotlights can also be purchased as kits complete with transformers. Where extra light is required within an existing dwelling it may be worth considering a floor lamp or desk lamp to provide illumination at minimal cost, compared to rewiring. When purchasing bathroom lights it is important to check that they satisfy current building regulations regarding protection from water and moisture ingress.

Control gear, such as dimmers (analogue and electronic), infrared light switches, remote control light switches and many more are available for use with most light fittings, however compatibility must be checked prior to purchase as there are many variations on the market.

External Lighting

Many different external lighting products are available for the domestic market. Many are designed to bring life to your garden at night, or illuminate specific features within gardens. Garden lighting products include many forms of path and footway lights that are designed to be sited adjacent to garden paths and access tracks leading to the house. Footway lights are generally produced in illuminated bollard type designs a modern style and can be finished in stainless steel, chrome or even copper effect. More traditional miniature lanterns can also be purchased in mat black finishes, with replica cast iron large scale Victorian lamps also available from lighting specialists. Feature lighting can be achieved with outdoor spotlights, now available in energy efficient LED light format, which can be adjusted to project light on to your chosen feature, whether it be a statue or pond. Most spotlights can simply be staked in to the ground and moved should another feature need to be illuminated. Many solar powered garden spotlights are on the market. Feature lighting can be purchased specifically for decking lighting, with products usually being LED format and designed to be recessed in to the decking material. Other popular feature lights are patio lights and driveway lights. Time control switches or day light sensors can be used to cut external lighting energy usage.

Wall lamps have been around for many years and can provide essential illumination adjacent to a front door. Traditional style wall lamps, often finished in black or brass effect, and contemporary style wall lights, generally available in chrome or stainless steel finishes, are widely available.

Other wall mounted luminaries include security lights, often fitted in conjunction with or incorporating motion detectors, otherwise known as PIR (passive infra red) detectors, which turn the light on when a person approaches its location. The majority of security lights utilise halogen bulbs, however this can be costly if the lights are left on for long periods. As an alternative a compact fluorescent lamp type light bulb has been developed for use within security lights, which can be retro fitted in to existing halogen security lights or purchased as a complete package with a security lamp.

Industrial Lighting

Large amounts of light are required within industrial buildings, traditionally buildings were built incorporating large sections of glass within their roofs to make the most of any available natural light. Overtime strip lighting has emerged as an energy efficient lighting form to provide light in dull and low light situations. Strip lights utilise fluorescent lamps, sometimes referred to as tubular fluorescent lamps (TFLs), and are larger versions of the CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp), and provide light using the same technology. Strip lights can be purchased in many different sizes with integral light shades. Light shades can be obtained to protect lamps against moisture and flying debris. Popular tubular fluorescent lamp sizes include the T5 lamp and T8 lamp, both of which give good energy efficiencies compared to other lamp sizes. Increased efficiency generally occurs with increased tube length and decreases in tube diameter.