Reema and I were discussing lights and fixtures the other day and she filled me in with a very interesting topic for discussion. Lumen! What lumen should you opt for if you want to create mood lighting in your home? What kind of combination should you go for if you are opting for multiple light source? What is the ideal lumens or output for a cozy corner or a bath? Is there a formula? The discussion just opened up a whole new world of questions and possibilities and in a matter of hours I found myself aborad the ethernet ship, all set to strutt the world of lights.
And can I tell you that I got totally sucked into it for hours!
While much has been discussed about light fixtures and styles, not much is talked about the lumen or the output of light. I mean you’d go to a hardware store and ask for lights and he’d ask you a standard question: 25 or 40? And most of us do choose light based on the wattage but truth is, power consumption has nothing to do with the brightness. And all along the wattage and brightness were connected wrongly!
Lumen vs. Watts. It’s really quite simple
Watts is the unit of power. It literally tells you how much electrical power it consumes.
Lumen on the other hand is a unit of brightness. It is the amount of brightness that a bulb or light source emits.
For the longest time, the concept of lumen was not there. Higher watt means higher brightness and that’s how it was calculated. But that’s before LED’s disrupted the market. Now LEDs, technically, aren’t even bulbs but we will keep science aside and get to the point. LEDs emit more lumen/watt which makes it a very convenient option for getting bright light minus the power consumption. For example, a standard 25watts bulb will emit 200+ lumen which is the same amount of lumen a 4Watt LED can emit. How? It’s got to do with diodes and you can read all about it if you just google Anode and Cathode. I bloody did. Because I love science.
LEDs also don’t heat up like standard bulbs because they use less watt or power.
So how do you go about mood lighting? How much lumen do you need?
Looks like there is a formula after all! Firstly, calculate whether you light source will be a single source or one of many. A good way to go about it to calculate the total lumen of your room. If you are going for ambient lighting or mood lighting, and your sitting room or bedroom must have 10-20 lumen/sqft. So if your bedroom or living room is say 200 sqft, you’d need about 2000- 4000 lumen. You can mix and match it- for example, the lampshades can be 400 lumens, the lights on your headboard can be 200 each, and higher for the ceiling lights. And this also gives you the flexibility to control the intensity of light in your room. You can switch a few on when you are working, keep just the lamp shades on when you are relaxing and keep all the lights on when you are shooting or doing work that require a sharp eye. and this brings us to the discussion of “Layering Lights”
How to Layer Lights
Now before I tell you this, I’d ask you to take a minute and think of your favourite restaurant. Or home. And then ask you to remember the kind of lighting used. Very easily you’ll be able to point out atleast 3 types of lighting. And, it’s there for a reason. In most spaces, there are three kinds of light that comes into play. A) Ambient light B) Accent light C) Task light
And a beautifully ambient atmosphere will have the right mix of three. So you can play around with the mood in the space!
Ambient light: this is the main light of the space. It’s like that one light you switch on everytime you get back home! For us, its the IKEA lamp right next to the door. This can be ceiling lights, the main chandelier, a set of floor lamps or whatever you use to light up the space primarily. This is your canvas.
Accent Light: Accent lights are lights that highlights a particular area of your home. For example, see those spotlights I have over my gallery wall. They are mostly off. Haha.
Task Light: The chandelier above our dining or the lamp on my study – they are all task lights.
This IKEA lamp in my living room combines an uplighter and a reading light so i can switch the ambience.
Warm White, Cool White or Day Light
Now that we have spoken about lights, let’s see which colour of ight to choose for what purpose. Commercial and residential lighting range comes inbetween 2700 to 6500 Kelvin, and you can choices among this range for your home.
2700K to 3000K: Warm white, for a very cozy ambience. All my lights are warm white.
3100K to 4500K: Cool White, best for basement, loft, garage and tasks. Hate it.
4500K to 6500K: Day Light. Cool Crisp light. AKA ATM Machine lights. Hate it. Hahaha But its subjective. You may very well love it.
I also love the soft glow of a tungsten bulb and I’d group them in a few or hang them in our balcony for that perfect low light mood. Check them out as well!
So, to bring it all in a nutshell:
Lumen is the amount of brightness you get per watt. Watt is how much electrical power your bulb consumes
LED gives you more bright light in less power.
You can combine and layer lights: mix ambient + accent + task lights. Mix and match them to change the mood around
You need 10-20 Lumen/sqft of space and 70 to 80 for bathroom and kitchens
2700K to 3000K is warm white- this is what I use for a cozy ambience in my home!
A Short lighting course on balcony lighting
If you have a sizeable balcony, add lights that sway in the wind. It’s just such a happy sight! But tie it up during storm please. I also like fairy lights in my balcony all year around- you can either string them up from the roof or hang them to length in the balcony grills. They are such joy to look at in the evenings. I love it! And I did tell you this would be a short course. This is short!
Haha, I hope this will help you in your light dilemma and you’ll choose the right light everytime! I mean, if we are to stay where the light is, shouldn’t it be the best light ever? Food for thought!