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 o Light up Your Life: Some tips

Posted by ltngbolt (My Page) on Thu, Mar 11, 04 at 21:50

As an electrical contractor and being in the construction field for over 25 years there are some consistent mistakes I see made in new homes and renovations. Maybe some of this can be helpful.

A house or any particular room can be carefully planned, well thought out and perfectly executed but without the proper lighting it never really comes to life. A perfect example is a tile back splash in a kitchen. Without some nice under cabinet lighting to show it off it never really reaches it's potential as an eye opener.

As you plan each room there are three basic forms of lighting. General Lighting - which light you need in a room to function. A means to safely navigate the room in the dark of night. Accent Lighting - light that highlights a particular item or items of importance to you or the room design. Task lighting - light that serves a function related to a particular task or area where work is performed.

A kitchen benefits most from all three forms of lighting in most cases. Recessed lighting combined with a pendant or two and possibly a ceiling fan can provide the general lighting. Under cabinet lighting serves two functions. It acts as Task lighting for working on the countertop as well as Accent lighting to highlight that beautiful countertop and back splash. Additional accent lighting can be added in glass cabinets, which really brings them to life. In some cases where crown molding is installed and there is space above some cove lighting can create a wonderful effect and ambience to a room.

In a living room a couple of well placed wall washers can turn an fireplace wall that seemed ordinary into a piece of art. Perhaps you are planning on a wall to display photos or a collection of art posters. Wouldn't it be nice to light that independently and show it off? Along with the lighting, the way in which they are switched is almost as important. A room with 9 recessed lights that all come on at once lacks forethought.

In any room by breaking the lights that are switched into sections or patterns and through the use of dimmers, a room can take on many personalities and moods. When considering switches it is also important to consider traffic flow through the house. There is nothing worse than a setup where you have to go back and turn a light off only to proceed in the dark. With the proper planning and use of 3 way and 4 way switches the house can be so much more user friendly.

If you find this info useful let me know and I can keep going.............and going..........and going lol

Follow-Up Postings:

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: dalia98 (My Page) on Thu, Mar 11, 04 at 22:04

ltngbolt: Thanks so much for your useful info. Since you brought up the subject of undercabinet lighting and backsplashes, I have a question for you. I just had Xenon strip (bar?) lights installed under 3 cabinets - the electrician mounted them all the way back. First, I'm wondering whether this is the best place from a lighting design point of view (I've read different things). Second, I think their placement will interfere with the installation of my future tile backsplash. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks again.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

It depends on the type and style of the actual fixture. Can you show me what they are. Some lights I mount near the back wall and some against the front edge of the cabinet. If we want to really accent the tile splash we will use low voltage linear lighting with xenon bulbs (good choice BTW) and face them towards the back. If you want more emphasis on the countertop the back is the way to go. Also the wiring shows less or not at all when they are on the back wall. So that is one pro for the back. Look at these photos. In the first kitchen the UC lights are mounted near the front edge of the cabinets.

Here is a link that might be useful: UC Lighting

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: GCing_n_KC (My Page) on Thu, Mar 11, 04 at 22:46


PLEEEZZZZZE keep going and going and going. The More - The Better! I enjoyed seeing your website as well! It really let me SEE what a difference there is when you add some lighting in the right place. I love the before/after pic's--they're priceless ! I think seeing it may have made my electric bill go up significantly...but Oh Well, the finished product will be astounding.
I have GOT to get my lighting/electrical figured out. I promise to hang on every word you type ! And I thank you for taking the time to do so!

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: dman60 (My Page) on Thu, Mar 11, 04 at 22:52

Same here!!! Bring it on

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: Fairegold (My Page) on Fri, Mar 12, 04 at 0:10

Can you post some of this over in the Kitchens Forum? Lighting is a big topic over there.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Fri, Mar 12, 04 at 0:45

On a side note relating to having a home built or a large renovation or addition. Many times when you deal with a builder or general contractor you don't directly deal with the subs. In my experience they tend to want full control which I understand to a degree. The problem is for most, they don't have a good handle nor the experience to know my trade. Your electrical contractor can offer you many good ideas and design your electrical system with your wants and needs in mind. In my mind a good builder knows that he has hired experts that can help make a better job. Those builders will let the subs interact with the client to make the right decisions. Of course price should only be discussed with the builder or GC not the subs.

At this stage of my career if a builder says we are putting 5 recessed lights here a switch there a hanging light there, etc and doesn't want my input, I won't continue working for him because I know I am not giving the customer the best job they can have. There is nothing more rewarding for me than to have a customer tell me after they have used the house, I am so glad you suggested that light over the sink I use it all the time or that switch next to my bed for reading. That is what it's all about for me.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: kimmers71 (My Page) on Fri, Mar 12, 04 at 8:27

ltngbolt - great post.

We haven't broke ground yet but met with our electrician last night for three hours. I cannot tell you how much we appreciated meeting with him, going over our plans, him showing us different lights, switches, setup, etc. in his home. We also now know what to expect and how to think about things when doing the walk-thru. This also gave us both reassurance that the bid he's giving us is fairly accurate. We know we'll add things during the walk-thru but we made probably 90% of the decisions last night.

I highly recommend people meet with their electricians prior to breaking ground. You can go overbudget very quickly if you have no idea of what you're getting into as there are an endless number of options.


 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: southview (My Page) on Fri, Mar 12, 04 at 15:15

What you are saying to me is to meet with all you subs and get their in put on their specalty. I plan to discuss this point with my GC and have it understood. Thanks!!

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: tommerose (My Page) on Fri, Mar 12, 04 at 19:26

Yes, good information, thank you

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: sandbur (My Page) on Fri, Mar 12, 04 at 20:45

I realize this will be going against the grain but did you ever consider there is an energy shortage in the U.S.A. In 1991 I operated and maintained a compressor booster station that compressed 45 MM cubic ft. of natural gas/day from the gas well heads. When I retired in 1999 that same station was compressing 9 MM cubic feet. Let me tell you something folks, we're out of low cost fossile fuels as you once were accustomed to. You better get puckered up because I believe you're in for a big surprize. This country is depleted of the natural energy source we enjoyed for the last 100 years and all this lighting isn't helping. Your choice, the answer will be neculear if it continues, but not it my back yard.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: kaleberg (My Page) on Fri, Mar 12, 04 at 22:52

Thank you for your wisdom. I learned a lot from your posts and hope you will continue sharing your knowledge with us.
You make an important point; we Americans must learn to use our natural resources more frugally. However, good lighting is not necessarily wasteful. As Ltngbolt points out, thoughtful switch layout can mean that you actually use fewer lights at a time. Good lighting design should also take into account the play of whatever natural light is available. If we think about how we use light, both natural and artificial, as we build, we need not sacrifice beauty or efficiency.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Sat, Mar 13, 04 at 0:03

sandbur, you make some valid points and kaleberg your counterpoints are very valid. To elaborate more on that subject, there are many ways you can accomplish both good lighting and sensible lighting in your home. I live in an area where price per KWH is one of the highest in the country so it is a big issue here.

There are many ways to get good effect and still save energy. Using halogen bulbs in high hats, maintaining manufacturers recomendations for wattage of course, you can get the same light while reducing wattage. A 50 watt halogen flood will give you the same if not more light than an 85 watt incandescent, not to mention you will get better true color rendering and the bulbs will last 3 or 4 times longer.

Dimmers of today, unlike old rheostat dimmers actually reduce electric usage when dimming lights. One often overlooked place to save a great deal is outdoor lighting. Most homes have one or two exterior lights that remian on 12 hours a night. In my area those 2 100 watt bulbs cost $100 a year combined. By installing a 25 watt fluorescent bulb in each I can save $50, not to mention I won't have to change the bulb for about 3 years.

There are some great products on the market today that can be very helpful as well. Digital timers can be set so lights do not remain on for a longer period than necessary and motion detectors both outside and indoors can prevent lights from being left on. The indoor motion detectors which take the place of a switch can be very benificial if you have children.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Sat, Mar 13, 04 at 9:30

When in the stages of planning and building a home or addition sometimes, or should I say most times, things start to spiral out of control with cost. You can cut costs in certain area by having the prep work for some electrical features you may want without actually putting them in. For instance perhaps you want to install recessed lighting in rooms where there will be an accessible attic above. You can have the switch installed and have the electrician run the switch leg up into the attic and have them installed at a later date. In most cases with an attic I can wire recessed cans into a finished ceiling without doing any damage at all.

Having a 2" PVC pipe run from an attic to a basement can prove useful for the future as well. Ten years agao we would not have known that cat 5 would be the cable of choice for our computers. A few years down the road there may be some new type of wiring needed and with this conduit you can have it run more easily.

Landscape lighting should also be given thought. Most times this is left out of the house plans. By giving it a little thought you can have some switches installed with a box outside to add outdoor landscape lighting. Two switches and one box outside is all that is needed in most cases.

 o Lighting Control

One thing I'd add to ltngbolt's recommendations. Look at adding a simple lighting control system like Lightolier's Compose PLC or Lutron's RadioRA. The wire pretty much like standard switches, but can add a ton of convenience to a house.

Some ideas/examples:

1.Overall (whole house) scenes such as Entertaining, Dining, Relaxing, Romance, Morning, etc. Individual (room) scenes such as read, dress, bath, relax, accent, etc.

2. You can set up a nightlighting scene or to to light the path to children's rooms or a bathroom at night. The lights would be set very dim in select places so that you are not blinded in the middle of the night.

3. You can interface with motion detectors, garage door openers, alarm system, etc.

4. All On button for bumps in the night.

5. All Off next to the bed and door to the garage mean no lights left on.

Another couple of ideas:

1. Use door jamb switches for close closets that turn lights on-off when door is opened-closed.

2. If you don't want fluor. floodlights, use halogen and put them on a dimmer.

3. Add a few switched receptacles in ideal places for table and floor lamps. Some folks even dim these, but if you plan to do that, I'd use a single receptacle instead of a duplex and have the nameplate labeled. Don't want to dim the tv!

Here is a link that might be useful: Compose PLC

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Sat, Mar 13, 04 at 13:22

A lot of the information about lighting we talk about fits most modern housing. There are other cases where your house is a traditional older home such as an old victorian. Sometimes trying to incorporate good lighting and still keeping the original look and feel of the home is extremely difficult. One of the ways this can be accomplished is through lighting control systems as explained by GardenAround above. The company Smarthome has some great products for controlling your home.

When trying to light rooms with an old look there are so many great light fixtures out there. Wall sconces are a good way to light a room like this. Ceiling fixtures in hallways can be decorative. Cove lighting adds a wonderful touch while taking nothing away from the look of the room.

Even the exterior lighting on houses of this nature can be well lit without disturbing the flow. Carefully placed lighting in the landscape hidden by shrubbery can have a stunning effect on the house in the dark.

So just because your house is a classic and you want to keep the look doesn't mean you have to live in the dark. It just takes a little more consideration and thought put into it.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Sun, Mar 14, 04 at 10:07

When you are out there choosing and buying your new light fixtures, here is a little tip. Make sure they sell you bulbs, and the proper ones at that. I can't tell you how many times I hang a beautiful new fixture for someone and then ask for bulbs, and get answers like, don't the bulbs come with this? Do you supply the bulbs? The salesman didn't say anything about bulbs!

Most large home stores and even a lot of lighting stores seem to overlook this little detail on a regular basis. When you do choose a bulb don't assume the fixture can take only one kind of bulb. There are usually several options and some can make a huge difference in the overall appearence of the fixture. As an example, on a pair of wall sconces with bulbs that are exposed in a candle like setting, a set of wax covered candelabra bulbs give a wonderful effect and eliminate the associated glare found with ordinary clear bulbs. I think spun-glo bulbs are the name.

Ceiling fan light kits can look so much better with smaller special fan bulbs or tear drop style bulbs. Take a few minutes more to browse the bulbs for your fixture and you will end up with a lighting fixture that is a touch above the rest.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: msetwin (My Page) on Tue, Mar 16, 04 at 10:18

ltngbolt, I have a few questions.

They are just putting the deck on our house this week, so electrical will be a few weeks away. This is our third custom house (probably our last). My dad was an electrician decades ago, and I remember lots of hints from him. The kitchen will be the focus in this house. We are having multiple circuits in the kitchen for all my "heat seeking" countertop appliances. I plan for lots of recessed lighting as well as undercounter. We have 10 foot ceilings in the kitchen so I'm wondering if over the island I should go with a ceiling-mounted fixture (I just saw a gorgeous, florescent with paintable frame yesterday) or a double pendant. Will the pendant require special mounting (longer chains, etc) because of the higher ceilings? Would the ceiling mounted fixture be too high to be effective? My KD turned up his nose at the florescent light idea, but actually I LOVE florescent light in the kitchen, so see no problem myself. (he isn't supplying lighting, so he won't make anything) Plus the focal point of the kitchen (a custom designed range hood) is framed on the opposite wall by an open view from the family room, and the pendant hanging in the middle might obstruct that.

Something I didn't see mentioned above is floor receptacles. In today's open floor plans (kitchen, dining, living all in one big area) furniture arrangement often requires seating to be moved away from walls. I plan to have two floor receptacles installed in our family room (one at each end) so I can plug in floor/table lamps without stretching cords across traffic areas. Any comments or suggestions?

Finally, we have two sets of antique wall sconces we've had for years. I'm considering putting one set in the dining room and the other on each side of our bed. Aside from making sure their wiring is up to code, is there anything we should consider?

Thanks SO MUCH for your input in an area many take for granted or don't give enough thought to.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: MickeyJ2 (My Page) on Tue, Mar 16, 04 at 11:16


I've gotten to know our electrician quite intimately (just kidding!). But we do have a good rapport and I "hang" on his every suggestion and recommendation. He calls me; I call him. You must be a lot like him as far as your concern for the homeowner goes. After all, that is who will be living with the decisions, NOT the GC!

The above poster mentioned floor receptacles. I also plan to have one or two installed in the great room. When I talked to the electrician about where to place it/them, he suggested that, since we have a crawl space and will have wood floors, we wait until we have the furniture arranged (and most probably RE-arranged!) and then decide where to put the receptacle(s). Does that sound like a good plan?

Thanks for your advice...keep it up! :)

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Tue, Mar 16, 04 at 15:35

msetwin and MickeyJ2,
As for the floor receptacles I completely agree that they can be very useful in the cases you mentioned. Mickey, what your electrician is saying I would say the same thing. Since the floor is wood and accessible from below, the receptacles can be added at any point. Most times I try and put the lighting in later as well for the same reasons, even though it is more work it makes a better job. Of course sometimes that is not possible.

msetwin, Everything you said sounded good. Pertaining the pendants vs. the fluorescent here is what I think. First is the 10 foot ceiling is not a problem in either case, with the pendants most can be purchased with different downrod lengths. As to whether the pendants would obstruct the view, it really depends on how large they are. You can get some sleek fixtures that compliment the whole picture. The bottom line is that you said you love fluorescent light. That said it is your house and if you want that then you should get what you like. The only downside I see is the mixture of light. Having the fluorescent on with the incandescent recessed lighting can have a strange look.

As for the floor receptacles, I don't know what type of floor, but be sure you put enough thought into it. They can of course be covered with a blank that they come with in the event you don't use them but you probably wouldn't like them in the middle of your floor. Overall with furniture away from the wall it's a great idea. The antique wall sconces I think is woderful. About 70" off the floor center is a typical installation. Make sure they are available to the electrican prior to rough as there are 3 different boxes that can be used and it helps to know beforehand.

If I can make one suggestion. Since you do like fluoresent lights you may want to consider using them for under cabinet lights. Todays new fluorescents with electronic ballasts and thin bulbs make them much more attractive. They also produce more lumens per watt than incandescents, are economical and the bulbs last a long time. That said, it may not suit your kicthen design and will probobaly piss off your KD even more LOL.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: MickeyJ2 (My Page) on Tue, Mar 16, 04 at 16:10

Now I KNOW you and my electrician are made from the same mold!!! When we first talked about under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen, I told him I wanted the Xenon lights. He just "squinched" up his nose and gazed briefly out the window. I had gotten to know him well enough by that time to know EXACTLY what that look meant. I said, "Alright, what's YOUR suggestion?" He went on tell me about the newer fluorescent lighting, how much cooler, more economical, actually better light (in his opinion), etc. than the Xenon. He kept saying "Trust me on this!" So, guess what...I did, and that's what we are getting.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Tue, Mar 16, 04 at 16:21

LOL, I just checked your my page to make sure you weren't one of my customers.....never know, small world.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Fri, Mar 19, 04 at 16:54

Today an issue came up on a job that I thought would be good to pass on here. When building a new home or an addition and it comes to the point of the electrical rough in, most times the customer has no idea what fixtures they are using. The reason is no one asks them. I am not talking about recessed lighting but rather wall sconces and hanging fixtures or pendants.

The reason this can be helpful and avoid unecessary damage later is for instance. Say in a bathroom you are going to have a wall sconce on either side of a mirror. I can make an assumption that a one lamp fixture will fit within a 10" area. Later I come to install the fixture only to find a 12" wide 2 lamp fixture that will now hit the wall. When I am in the rough stage I can be a pain and ask a million questions because I want to avoid this scenario, but it slows me down. It's a lot easier if you do your homework ahead of time in the planning stages.

This doesn't mean you have to purchase and store the fixtures ahead of time, you can just get the specs because that is all that is needed. The same applies for all other elctrical needs like appliances. The specs on the Range if it is electric, or any other electrical appliances in the kitchen. In some cases the builder will be supplying these and it is his responsibility.

Another thing and this I think will never change. Ask who is doing the control wiring on the job. I can't tell you how many times the AC and Heating contractor assume the thermostat and associated wiring will be done by the electrician only to have the electrician assume the heating and AC contractors are doing it. Then it is discovered nobody did it and no one charged for it!

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: gee_ess (My Page) on Sat, Mar 20, 04 at 22:33

Love this thread!
ltngbolt- what are the pros and cons of halogen lighting and when/how is it best utilized? I don't have any halogen fixtures in my current house and don't have any idea how, or if, I will incorporate them in the new house. It is really a foreign product to me. Also, is there a name for those new undercounter lights you were talking about? I need to know what to tell my electrician. Thanks

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

Hi gee ess,
Glad you like the thread. Okay first let's talk about halogen lighting. A halogen light bulb is an incandescent light. It works like an incandescent in that a tungsten filament heats up till it glows. The difference is in a halogen bulb the heat evaporates the tungsten and it chemically reacts with the halogen gas and redeposits on the filament. This results in longer bulb life, but also there is more heat generated to create this effect.

The positive attributes of halogen light is it is a crisp clean white light with excellent CRI (color rendering index). I usually say it shows things in their true color. It is also more efficient than an incandescent so you can get more light with less wattage. On the downside they do burn hot, however used in the proper fixture with the proper wattage, this is not a problem.

Best area to use halogen lighting? Well I will tell you my opinion here for what it's worth. If you are lighting an object, such as a painting or expensive vase, They are great for the crisp light and good CRI. Some kitchens I think need them, while others I would not necessarily want them. When the cabinest are a light color halogen light tends to show the cabinets as they are while incandescents cast a yellowish tone. If the wood cabinets or furniture are darker than oak I feel incandescents look better. I have a ceramic tile floor in my living room. It looks so much better under halogen recessed lights than incandescents. I tried it both ways.

If you have any recessed or track lighting in your home now, get one halogen bulb that you could try. For example if you have a 75 or 100 watt flood, get a 50 watt halogen flood and try it. I think you will be surprised at the difference.

There are other options, not to confuse you. First is a product made by GE called Reveal bulbs. They replace standard light bulbs and floods. Frankly I haven't tried any but I am going to see if I can get one this week. They are supposed to have better CRI than a standard incandescent. I will let you all know what I find out.

Another option, and depending on where you live, possibly a law. i.e. Ca. Compact fluorescents can replace most types of light bulbs. The CRI on these is quite good on the better quality bulbs. You do have to do your homework though. There has been such an explosion in manufacturing these in recent years that there is a lot of crap out there to weed through. If you need to save on your electric bills, these are by far the best way to go. I am not particularly fond of them and use them mostly in purely functional situations like outdoors, basements, closets etc.

The undercabinet lights. There are a few to choose from. The link below will show you the type I like for our high end installations. BTW I don't get anything if you buy these Task lights although I wish I did the way I recommend them to people. One point when looking into undercabinet lighting. Don't overlook fluorescent. Many people have the misconception that UC fluorescents are those ugly bulky fixtures our parents or grandparents had in the kitchen. The newer fixtures are nothing like that. They are slim and bright and efficient.

Hope that was helpful

Here is a link that might be useful: Task Lighting

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: gee_ess (My Page) on Sun, Mar 21, 04 at 0:34

Yes! thank you! One more question: Can halogen lightbulbs go in regular light fixtures? Can I try a halogen flood in my recessed fixtures in the kitchen? Wattage comparisons? BTW - I like your suggestion for fluorescent lighting under the counter. We JUST replaced the fl. lightbulbs in our laundry room for the second time and we have lived here 11 years!

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Sun, Mar 21, 04 at 9:45

gee ess,
If the cans are not too old you should be able to remove the trim and look inside for a label that will tell you what type of bulbs are allowed for that fixture. If you don't see one you can tell me make and model of can and trim and I may be able to tell you.

You mentioned the bulbs in your fluorescents lasting so long. This is true but here is a tip. Fluoresecent bulbs don't just go out, they slowly diminish. It is a good idea to change them about once a year or every two years tops. Past that point you will not be getting the light you should and put undue strain on the ballast.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: MickeyJ2 (My Page) on Sun, Mar 21, 04 at 11:05

FWIW...I love the GE Reveal bulbs. They make my gray hair look white vs. yellow (I HATE gray hair that looks yellow)!! Seriously, the Reveal bulbs do cast an entirely different light on things. They are much brighter and well, whiter, although the bulbs are kind of purplish-blue. I use them for reading and needlework and I seem to have less eye-strain. Don't know if I'd want to put them all over the house but I do like them for certain task lighting.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: MrsBigE (My Page) on Mon, Mar 22, 04 at 4:51

I LOVE this post and could have read and read and read.... I can't get enough light... we haven't broken ground yet but have already been to the lighting center and picked up numerous lighting mfg catalogs to figure out what lights will go where.
I quilt and some of my most cherished quilts will be displayed on the walls of our new house. My husband feels track lighting will best lighting the quilts, I dont want spotlights on them but more a light that glows over them.. if that makes sense... displaying fabric isn't like displaying artwork, there isn't the frame and glare to deal with and althought I want my quilts to be illuminated I don't want some bright light hovering above them...
Do you have ideas? Our lower level ceilings will be 9' so I'm not dealing with cathedrals or anything...
any ideas would be appreciated.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Mon, Mar 22, 04 at 7:17

Here is the way I see it. Track is one option as you said. Another way to light the quilts are with wall washers which are recessed cans placed fairly close to the wall. By washing the wall with light they give a more subtle light. You sound like you want them lit softly and one wall washing recessed can will probably accomplish that.

The advantage and disadvantages are with track you can move the heads to wherever you need them. So if you redecorate you can adjust the light. On the other hand track lighting can sometimes take the focal point away from where it belongs. I am not sure how many quilts you are talking about. If it is a few walls and you know an approximate average size of them, you can put recessed cans in advance in the ceiling.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: MrsBigE (My Page) on Mon, Mar 22, 04 at 11:52

Thank you!! Washing the wall with light sounds perfect. I have one large quilt that will hang as centerpiece in our great room and I want the focus on the quilt, not the lighting, your way sounds perfect!!
Thanks for your help!!

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: nancita (My Page) on Mon, Mar 22, 04 at 14:42

You have contributed to a very popular dilema we all have. Here's mine:
8" x 8" bathroom with 11" ceiling...pedestal sink w/recessed large oval medicine do we light this all up? Thank you.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Mon, Mar 22, 04 at 15:19

Couple of questions. How much room on either side of the medicine cabinet? Do you plan on an exhaust fan in the room. Depending on the room you have on the sides wall sconces may work. The reason I ask about an exhuast fan is you can get one with a light. In bathrooms I am a big believer in having a combination of both overhead and in front of you lighting. When using a mirror for makeup, shaving etc. A light overhead creates terrible shadows.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: Lynnski (My Page) on Wed, Mar 24, 04 at 14:44


Thanks so much for contributing your expertise to this forum. I've been avidly reading your comments here and in the Kitchens forum.

I, too, have a bathroom question. We're putting in a six-foot counter with two bowls. I'm considering have one long sheet mirror, but I'm not certain how to light it. If the "vanity lights" are bright enough (say 100 or 120 watts in each fixture), is it possible to light a 5-foot wide mirror adequately at the sides? Or do I need to go with lights above the mirror? (The bathroom will also have a central ceiling fixture and a recessed shower light, BTW.)

Also, can you recommend a source or brand for the slim line flourescents with good CRI?


 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Wed, Mar 24, 04 at 15:57

It sounds like you are talking about wall sconces, one on each side of the mirror at about 100 watts per fixture. If that's the case then yes, in my opinion you will have adequate lighting especially with an overhead ceiling light. I can understand you not wanting a light within the mirror area. I am not to crazy about that either.

Fluorescent undercabinet light brands. There are quite a number of companies that make these lights for UC use. GE makes a decent product and is reasonably priced. (they did have a recall of their 1999 UC lights on a side note) Kichler is good although I don't like the lens on that brand. Lightolier, good but expensive. Two things you want in whatever brand you choose other than quality of course. A thin, no more than 1" tall fixture and a lens that is wide so you get the maximum amount of light from the fixture. The type of light is dependant on the bulb and you can get bulbs to replace what they come with if your not happy ver easily. For instance if the fixture takes a 13 watt T-5 you could search the internet and find good bulbs to replace them with.

Chances are you will be happy with the bulbs that come with most fixtures. Today's fluorescents and bulbs are so much better than they were 10 years ago.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: nancita (My Page) on Thu, Mar 25, 04 at 12:52

Hello ltgnbolt,Sorry I did not return your kind reply to my question, but mickeyj2 just alerted me that you had replied. Thank you for your kindness, mickeyj2!
We already have a ventilation fan in the ceiling. DH wasn't big on the light/fan combo. As to the medicine cabinet, well, the current plan, which changes often, is to center the pedestal/medicine cabinet along the 8' wall. Toilet is to the left and nothing to the right at this time. We'll no doubt put some storage in that corner.
With 11' ceilings, what kind of ceiling fixture can be used? Thank you so much for your input.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: Mizzou_KX (My Page) on Thu, Mar 25, 04 at 15:24

ltngbolt - have seen this here for a while but just today took time to cruise through the whole thing. One thing you brought out earlier but is probably one of the most important and most times over-looked - 3 way and 4 way switches.

When I did my elec layout I mentally walked through the entire floor plan from every direction possible, stopping to figure where switches needed to go. It was well worth the time. Even put 2 3 ways at garage door so I could turn on garage lites from inside house or in garage or the hall light going in to kitchen from either location.

Yes it costs a little more - but not much in the whole scheme of things. I may have missed this - read kind of fast - don't forget wire for audio/video.

Hope this continues. Lot's of GOOD info here.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: okwriter (My Page) on Thu, Mar 25, 04 at 15:38

I had weeks to labor over the plans and figure out where we wanted switches. We forgot a VERY obvious one in the garage and overlooked a light fixture in the kitchen that should be on its own switch instead of with the rest. We are waaaaay far along in the process so I told DH that we'll let BIL finish everything per the plan first and then we'll spring the two change orders on him! LOL!

 o --- Careful ---

  • Posted by: Mizzou_KX (My Page) on Thu, Mar 25, 04 at 15:53

Yeah OK - and YOU may be the next one wearing a ladder.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: okwriter (My Page) on Thu, Mar 25, 04 at 16:38

Ouch ~
(donning my hard hat, knee and elbow pads, back brace, steel toed boots...)

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

Not sure if you were open to wall sconces on either side of the mirror. With high ceilings in a bathroom I probaby would go with a decorative fixture as opposed to recessed lights. It also depends if the look of the room is contemporary or traditional.

Mizzou makes a good point that we should repeat now and then. The use and placement of switching when developing the lighting plan.

I added something else tonight that I think is not given much thought. Switch and receptacle colors. The choices given are usually the basic white, ivory or almond. With some of the great finishes today in painting and all the color schemes for kitchens it is nice to have colors that match better. Most times these are not even offered to the customer. Check these colors out and let me know if you knew they existed.

Here is a link that might be useful: Special Colors for Devices

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: nancita (My Page) on Fri, Mar 26, 04 at 12:30

Hello Ltngbolt,
You are terrfic. Thank from all for keeping us up to date. Back to the 8' x 8' x11' bathroom, wall sconces are probably going to be used. As to overhead lighting, what is considered a decorative fixture? Something that hangs down? Or is it aglobe of some sort? Does that get centered in the room? The pedestal is going to be centered in the center of a wall, so would that be too much light in one place?
We started out traditional with subway tile in the tub and small black and white hex floor tile. Then we added a Toto contempory toilet and pedestal. But where we live, ANYTHING goes!
Thank you,

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

Hi Nancita,
I am familiar with the Toto contemporary look. My gut feeling would be to go with something deco, especially with the black and white tiles. Something semi-flush on the ceiling centered. Semi flush meaning it hangs down a little. The ceiling is to high to put a flush mount IMO. I would have the wall sconces and the ceiling fixture be of the same style. I wouldn't worry about having too much light and by having the ceiling light on a seperate switch that won't be a problem. Below is a link to a fixture that I envision. May not be your taste at all but let me know what you think.

Here is a link that might be useful: Deco Ceiling Light

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: nancita (My Page) on Fri, Mar 26, 04 at 17:05

Hello Ltngbolt,
Fabulous! We love the look. You're the best.
I'll be back and ask for your kind help in the kitchen after I order the bathroom fixtures. Thank you again.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: nancita (My Page) on Fri, Mar 26, 04 at 20:31

Hello again Ltngbolt,
Sorry to once again pester you. We did decide on the great light fixture for the bathroom. As for sconces, what was shown was a 13" wide sconce. Would that be more for a hallway? What can you suggest to coordinate with the ceiling fixture?
Thank you.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Fri, Mar 26, 04 at 22:29

Do you have a link to what your looking at? The width may be okay. How wide is the area of wall it's going on. If this is for both side of the mirror a vertical type fixture would be better than a horizontal type if you know what I mean.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

Ltngbolt to the rescue!
Am I the only still on this thread? Should I move onto part 2 next time?
Anyway, I do know the vertical look. We looked at the horizontal ones because they were listed as coordinating. There were no other sconces listed. We happen to be challenged in the decorating department, as you can tell. Can you suggest any other sconces that would go with the modern deco?
Thank you again,

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to sconces page

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Sat, Mar 27, 04 at 10:17

Take a look at these the 07942, 30453 and 30413. Any of those should fit the bill IMO. Let me know what you think.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

Good information that you are posting here.
I also read through the Light Up Your Life part 2
on kitchen fourm. It is amazing that you are
taking the time to address everyone's questions
with such detailed and specific information.

I have just one question (or two....)
Halogens, how much heat to they put out?
Comperable to what?
Overall will the heat gain to the interior of the
home effect the comfort?
I have heard a little about LED lighting, but have not
had time to do any research on them.
What are your thoughts on LED lighting?

One or two questions.. oh well..

I recommend C.F.'s less heat output, less energy usage,
and long life. However they are not the answer in all
lighting situations.
Thanks for taking the time to educate us all!!

Thanks for the education you are providing to all of

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: nancita (My Page) on Sat, Mar 27, 04 at 12:14

You've done it again. We went with the first, 07942 sconces. Thank you again.
May we move into the kitchen?
Trying to not be long in the tooth, basically we want a pendant over the sink. There are 11' ceilings there, too. The kitchen is U-shaped. It's a pretty strange configuration because when you face the U, directly behind you there is no wall except for a three-foo chunk on the left side.Probably have lost you already. The rest of the kitchen is open to the hall so there is no specific hall except for the three-foot section.
We decided on GE Profile undercabinet fluorescents and love them. With the crown molding, cove lighting is an option? What IS cove lighting? Would it replace a general light? Thank you so much and sorry for the hard-to-follow description.Nancita

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

Cove lighting is a great look, but don't count on it for general lighting. I have some questions I need to ask. Do you have room above the cove? If you look at these pictures first group Cove Lighting (
Cove Lighting Is it like that with room above? If so rope lighting is a great solution. It is very reasonable in price, easy to install but you need 2 strips of it to light well.

Energy Rater,
Halogen bulbs burn about twice as hot as incandescents at the filament. This is off the top of my head but if memory serves correct an incandescent burns at about 3000 deg F while a halogen is around 5000. In the case of a halogen though, the filament is enclosed in a small quartz capsule and then enclosed in glass. This is because if it were enclosed in only glass the glass would actually melt.

How much effect they have on the ambient temperature of a room is dependent on how many there are and how close they are to the floor. If there were enough, yes they would have some effect.

LED lighting is something that hasn't really taken off yet. I have not had experience with it other than some energy saving bulbs they make for exit signs now. It seems on the surface to be a good idea but I haven't seen it used in the recessed lighting application yet. Honestly I need to do some more research on this topic as well.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: nancita (My Page) on Sat, Mar 27, 04 at 20:28

Our cabinets are at a variety of heights so the cove or rope lighting probably won't work. Yes, that is what we thought it was.
I remember you mentioned you prefer recessed light over the sink rather than a pendant? Given the 11' ceilings, we thought we might be able to get away with it. When I ordered the bathroom lighting, the rep said to hang pendants 6' from the floor as a start and then play with the height. That would put the pendant just a little above the middle of the window.
We need ceiling fans living in FL with no AC. Could a ceiling fan with a light kit that points toward the ceiling rather than the floor work? Someone on one of the forums suggested it. I like the chandelier look as well. I wish I could send a picture but we currently have a dial-up and it would take FOREVER!
Thank you again.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

I think the pendant over the sink is a wonderful idea with 11 ft ceilings especially. I always keep an open mind. No one set way of doing a lighting plan is good for every situation. My belief is every situation is unique. I would however recommend that the pendant bottom be higer than 6 feet from the floor with an 11 foot ceiling. The bottom of the fixture could be 8 feet off the ground and still give you a 3 foot drop.

If you want to see an example of a fan with up lighting here is a link to one, but I am sure there are more types as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ceiling Fan Uplights

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

Again with the Halogen bulbs.
In homes where cooling days outnumber heating
5000 degrees??? Seems to me no matter how high
or low that these bulbs were located that they
would definately have an effect on not only
cooling costs, but on comfort of the home.

I have a friend who had a floor lamp with a halogen
bulb near her front door. One evening when guests
were leaving they smelled smoke and the heat from
the halogen had ignited some bugs that were inside
of the floor lamp.
After dumping the smoking bug bodies and laughing at her
bad housekeeping habits, she decided that it was a fire
hazard and got rid of the lamp.

Given the temp. of the bulb and this statement
"In the case of a halogen though, the filament is enclosed in a small quartz capsule and then enclosed in glass. This is because if it were enclosed in only glass the glass would actually melt."
would NOT that consitute a fire hazard?

Temperature of bulb MELTS thanks
I'll stick to C.F.'s anyday!!!

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Sun, Mar 28, 04 at 22:16

Hi Energy Rater,
I don't want to give halogens a totally bad rap. They certainly have their place. You did however mention something that is quite important. For a time there was a free standing halogen lamp that was very popular. They stood about 6 foot tall and had a dimming knob on the post. They were notorious for starting fires because the bulb on top was exposed. People would throw a coat or something over the top or a curtain would blow over it and then the lamp was turned on. If anyone still owns any of these I would urge them to toss them in the garbage.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: nancita (My Page) on Tue, Mar 30, 04 at 9:25

Wow, the fan is a thing of beauty. Here I go again with coordinating...what would think of a pendant to go with a ceiling fan that we probably choose in a nickel finish? Thank you for the hand-holding through all this.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: okwriter (My Page) on Tue, Mar 30, 04 at 9:32

A word of caution on the ceiling fans with uplights. Make sure you see it with the light and fan ON before deciding to buy. I first thought I wanted these, but when both the fan and light are on they "can" cast a shadowy appearance onto the ceiling that bothers some people. The light is on and the blades are going around and around - can be difficult for reading and can make some sensitive people downright dizzy.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: nancita (My Page) on Tue, Mar 30, 04 at 14:57

HHello okwriter,
Excellent point! I can visualize it. We were juse at Ace but there were none on display. What did you decide after seeing the fan in action? Do they have both up and down lights in one ceiling fan?

 o Dizzy Lights

  • Posted by: okwriter (My Page) on Tue, Mar 30, 04 at 15:11

Oddly enough, very few places we looked had the uplight/fan kits in operation so I can't say that I ever saw one. BUT after a salesperson at the light store mentioned the potentially dizzying affect and I posted the question here, it seems that others noticed it, too! I like to run our great room fans almost constantly on low speed and they are seldom used for reading (we are lamp people). But after hearing and reading the comments, I decided to go with the "traditional" light/fan combo where the lights point down. We are so pleased with that choice, especially DH (who gets motion sickness easily)!

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: nancita (My Page) on Tue, Mar 30, 04 at 16:25

It sounds sort of like that Casablanca deal where you see the fan blades slowly moving around. Hmmmm. Well, something to think about. Thanks for the heads up.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: Saltbox_NH (My Page) on Tue, Mar 30, 04 at 21:45

Threads like this beg for a "hall of fame" thread repository... some great advice in here.


 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Tue, Mar 30, 04 at 22:02

Good catch on that one. I couldn't agree more, it can be a problem. The good thing about fans with up and down lights is they are usually seperately switched which allows you to turn the top or bottom on or both. If that is the case you have the option of not having the lights on top on when the fan is running. Just a thought.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: nancita (My Page) on Wed, Mar 31, 04 at 16:39

That is EXACTLY what we were thinking. I like the look and will have to either swelter or get dizzy. Ltngbolt, what is your opinion? Can you recommend a coordinating mini or larger pendant for over the sink? Thank you.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Thu, Apr 1, 04 at 6:55

Which fan are you trying to match? I am a little off track and wasn't sure.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: nancita (My Page) on Thu, Apr 1, 04 at 8:40

Hello Ltngbolt,
Sorry for that vague post. The fan is the Casa Viega 54" Regent. It's copper with mahoganey/walnut blades. We have maple cabinets with a wheat finish so it may be too dark. We are looking into the Casa Viega turn of the century because the house is a 1880's with 11' ceilings. Nothing else in the kitchen is black, though.
I wanted to mention that I am visually impaired just so all of you won't think I am so really out there. I can't look through catalogues and in-person showrooms are difficult because the displays are usually so high. On the computer I use speech to "read" the screen and can do pictures somewhat. I appreciate all the help.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Thu, Apr 1, 04 at 22:00

No problem Nancita,
I have been a little out of focus this week. We had to put our dog of 13 years to sleep. It was kind of sudden so we are all a little out of it here. I like the fan you picked. You may want to contact them and see if you can get different blades that are more of a match to your cabinets. The better fan companies usually can do that. Here is a pendant I like to go with that. It's 6"W High Country collection 09318. It's simple and still classy. Let me know what you think.

I love old homes and would love to see your house.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: nancita (My Page) on Fri, Apr 2, 04 at 10:32

Ltngbolt,I am so very sorry for your loss. I have grieved over my cats' and it is not easy. Will you replace your pet? Our vet said it's the thing to do after a couple of days. We have done it and did not regret it.
I am about to look at the fan.
Thank you,

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Sat, Apr 3, 04 at 13:05

Hi Nancita,
Thank you, not sure if we will get another dog yet. In time perhaps.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Sun, Apr 4, 04 at 22:30

When your planning your new house there is some advance work you can have done that can save you money and heartache later on. Sometimes you have to make concessions by not being able to finish a basement or an upstairs room. Doing a few simple things in preperation can still be done for very little cost.

Some examples of these are having a 3 wire run from the switch at the top of the stairs for the basement, run into the basement for a future 3 way switch. If the electric panel is not in the basement, have a couple of circuits run down there for future use. The same goes for an attic or upstairs room that may be finished later. Think about having cable and telephone in those places as well.

Another idea is to place some outside receptacles on switches. This can be especially helpful if you like holiday lighting. Which brings another point to mind. Timers that take the place of a switch are very well made and not an eyesore as they once were. Smarthome technology is another venue to control the lighting. Not only can this technology provide convenience but safety as well. You pull into your driveway and it's late and the outside lights are not on. From your car you can turn on the lights both outside and in the foyer adding a whole new level of control. If your interested in this subject I can cover it more.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Sun, Apr 11, 04 at 0:28

A backup generator is something to consider when setting up your electric. In some areas where the wires feed the house overhead there is always the possibility of weather causing havoc. In a bad storm wires can come down and be that way for days. This past year we saw a grid problem that caused a power outage for millions of people.

There are a number of ways a backup generator can be addressed. There are portables which is the cheapest alternative. These still need a transfer panel of some sort and a plug and cord set. Another type of generator is an automatic setup. This would be a generator that turns on automatically when the power goes out. These can also run on propane gas from tanks.

Depending on the size of the generator, it can run just a few select items like the boiler, fridge, freezer and some key lights to everything to keep life as normal when the power is out. The price range is wide. Portables can run from $500 to $2000 while automatics can run from $4000 to $10,000. There is additional costs involved in the electrical work required. Anytime a generator is going to be tied into the electrical system it is imperative that it be installed by a qualified electrician. Doing an improper job could cause serious injury or death to Utility workers.

Even if your not going to install it at the building stage, a good idea is to set up some circuits for key areas to be seperate so later they can be controlled easily from a back up system.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: ltngbolt (My Page) on Tue, Apr 13, 04 at 23:14

I went to an estimate this week and the customer was very detail oriented. I may have mentioned this in a post before but it doesn't hurt to repeat it. It is so helpful to do an estimate when the customer has done their homework. Handing me a list with all the specs on appliances, air conditioning, heating and any electrical item that may need to be wired leaves little guesswork. If I am forced to guess you can only imagine that it's not going to be on the low side. It is too risky to go low when you just don't know.

This even goes for lighting fixtures to a degree. If a house has a lot of hanging pendants or chandeliers they can be very easy installations to very difficult. If I am forced to guess I have to go on the more elaborate side because some can be very time consuming.

The point I am trying to drive home here is by doing some extra legwork in the early stages you can avoid either an overpriced estimate or surprises with extras later on by getting a fairly accurate estimate. If you are getting several estimates this becomes even more important. It's impossible to compare apples to apples if everyone doing the estimate is using their imagination to price the job.

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: Happykate (My Page) on Wed, Apr 14, 04 at 9:33

ltngbolt, I'd love to have some more information on Smarthome technology, explained in your easy-even-for-me manner. Just starting to research the issue, and it's pretty hard to get a grasp. I'm assuming it's all pretty expensive?

 o RE: Light up Your Life: Some tips

  • Posted by: pmoore (My Page) on Wed, Apr 14, 04 at 10:14

Also could you please let us have some more info about wiring for the future, have been advised with the cost of wireless now it is the way to go but also realize you only get one chance to have walls open to run wiring before sheet rock is up (at least that is the plan) please let us know even if we can not affort to put in every thing we want what is most important and what can be run that can be added later, you have to be one of the most helpful posters on this thread because this is making me think about things I never considered before and not making me feel like I am in over my head. Especially loved all the kitchen infor, and will incorporate it in to kitchen. Thanks so much.