Wednesday, 30 May 2018

My Lumens are Hot

When I was a university student, I was a server at a prominent steak house. They set the mood by using dimmed lighting and the lighting was very "warm", bulbs that emitted more red and orange light. They told us it was intended to make people feel more relaxed, romantic and even look better. The warm colored bulbs make your skin look more natural and radiant.

You just bought a new pendent fixture from Stride Lighting with the purpose of creating a similar atmosphere in your dining room. What bulbs should you buy?

Well your choices are basically Halogen, CFL, LED or the retro Edison bulbs. Printed on the majority of light bulb packages are two numbers to help you decide: Lumen rating (light output) and Color Temperature. So lets take a look at how these two numbers will help you set up your lighting to give you the best end result.

Lumens are simply a universal way of comparing different lighting sources on an a even playing field. Prior to the need to be energy efficient in our society, light bulbs were sold based on their wattage, or total power consumption. More wattage meant a brighter light source. However with the rise of new technology (CFL and LED) that is no longer the case. Greater wattage does not equal greater light output (see our previous posts, No Love for Tungsten, and CFL Bulbs Explained for why they differ in efficiency). You can produce a brighter bulb with less wattage. That's where lumens come into play. Simply put lumens are the SI (Système international) unit of a measure of the perceived visible light emitted from a light source.  

Now, many people want to know how many watts are equal to a lumen. 

Well unfortunately that's not a question that can be answered. Watts and lumens are a measure of different quantities, energy consumed vs. emitted light. So for a LED vs. an incandescent light bulb it varies, 100 lumens/watt compared to 10-15 lumens/watt respectively. 

So what many manufactures do is simply compare a new product to an old product. A 100 W incandescent bulb. For example, a certain 26 watt CFL bulb may be equal to a 100 W light bulb, or they could simply give you the lumen rating ~1600 lumens. The lumen rating is a more accurate rating than a generalized comparison. 

Your basic goal is to find the correct brightness to meet your needs with the lowest wattage possible. Biggest bang for the lowest buck. However brightness is not color. This is where color temperature comes into the mix.

Color temperature is used similarly to lumens as an attempt to inform customers what they can expect when they buy that product. 

So you purchase  26 watt CFL bulb and the package says 6400 K on the front, what does that mean? 

This is the color temperature rating. The K value is a temperature measured in Kelvin, used primarily in the scientific community. As a reference point, the freezing point of water is 273 K. The number, or temperature, is used to indicate what color the bulb will glow/emit when operating. This is referenced to the color a black body object, see No Love for Tungsten, will emit when it is at a specific temperature. So the higher color temperature number, the more "cool" or blue the light produced will appear. The lower the color temperature, the "warmer" or more red the the light produced will appear. Daylight falls right around 6500 K with a standard incandescent light bulb closer to 2400 K, an open flame below 1900 K. Color emission starts at the red end of the rainbow and builds with temperature to the blues/violets.

Hence why cooler is warmer color and why hotter is a colder color. Color temperature values refers to the perceived colors emitted from the bulb (not necessarily the lumens, they are independent. You can have a high lumen but warm colored light). 

So how does this tie into your dinning room or any other location?

Consider what are the needs of the room you are placing this fixture in. If it is to be a relaxing, cozy area (living room, dinning room, bedrooms), look for bulbs in the lower K range. If you are needing good lighting to do work (kitchen, work shop) then perhaps on the upper end closer to a day light rating (6500 K). 

Keep in mind, different bulb designs have natural limitations. CFL bulbs may have similar color temperature rating however they are not equal with the actual light they are producing.

An LED 2700 K bulb vs a CFL 2700 K bulb may look similar in color but due to how they produce light ( see CFL Bulbs Explained)  CFL bulbs do not always produce a complete spectrum (rainbow) of light. Here you can see, this LED bulb produces true white light with a complete light spectrum (A diffraction gradient and a spectroscope where placed in front of the camera lens to capture the light spectrum).
However a comparable CFL bulb is missing the yellow portion of the light spectrum. Even though your eyes may perceive the bulbs to be similar they will create poorer light quality. 
That makes CFL bulbs a poor choice for art studios and bathrooms as the incomplete light spectrum tends to be unflattering. Incandescent/halogen bulbs will always produce a complete warm light. LED's are being manufactured that function across a broader color temperature spectrum as they can be manufactured to meet that specific demand. More to come on LED's.

I hope this helps you on your next shopping trip to pick the appropriate bulb for your design needs. 

Thanks for stopping by! 

Any questions don't hesitate to ask. Join us on Facebook @ to join in on more helpful information, support and discussion on home lighting. 

Subscribe to stay up to date on the most recent blogs as they roll out. Visit us at

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Renos - Where to Start #5 Create Effective Lighting

During my latest trip to the eye doctor, my optometrist recommended that I "perhaps pick up some of those reading glasses at the pharmacy".

I was like, 

"I'm only 38!" 

I do have my fair share of grey hair but I was less than impressed.

But his point was picking up a pair of low powered reading glasses, not that I need them, would simply take any strain off my eyes. They would simply make it easier for my eyes to work while reading. Less fatiguing and more enjoyable.

That, in essence, is effective lighting design within a room. You won't notice effective lighting. You will simply enjoy the room to its fullest. Poor lighting however, you most definitely notice. Rooms are too dark, its difficult to read, too hard to do detailed tasks or its over powering. 

I love lights! I know, that's weird, but it's the key aspect of a rooms design that highlights all the money and hard work you have put into a new renovation. It can bring out the colors within the flooring, highlight key design features or artwork and sets the tone/mood of the room. 

Think of an old Irish pub. 

I think of a warm environment defined by dark wood and warm low lighting. 

Think of an art gallery. 

I think of beautiful canvases silhouetted on the wall by spot lights. 

Lighting is how we show the room as we intended it to be. So how do you create the lighting design you desire? Today we will focus on the general aspects and get more specific as we move along. Lighting falls into basically three categories: Ambient, Task, and Accent. 

In any room you want at least two of the three as a minimum. Trying to light a room using only one will simply lower the overall quality and enjoyment of an area.

1. Ambient - General Lighting. 
    • If you think of an entrance area, these are often lite by ambient lighting. Usually a ceiling pendant or flush mount fixture of some sort.
    • These types of fixtures usually have a substantial shade, designed to diffuse the light creating ambiance and to highlight the fixture itself. This Gwen pendent is designed to bring attention to fixture itself while giving you some functional light.
    • Gwen Pendant
      • This type of lighting allows you to navigate the room with general lighting but adds to the style and decor of the room 
      • Ambient lighting is suitable for: 
        • ceiling lights in bedrooms, boot rooms, entrances
        • outdoor lighting
        • dinning rooms chandeliers/pendants
        • general kitchen lighting
        • hallways
    2. Task Lighting - as implied. 
      • Task lighting purpose is to provided specific lighting to one location for a specific task.
      • Depending on the room and your needs, you will often have multiple sources of task lighting in the form of floor lamps, table lamps, spot lights, over head lights, pendants and chandeliers. Having a floor lamp, such as this Gode Floor Lamp behind your favorite chair can provide the needed light to sit and relax for hours on end.
      • Gode Tiffany Floor Lamp
      • This can be a bedside table light, under cabinet lighting, office desk lamp etc. in order to give you the light needed to read, work etc.
      • Pendants and chandeliers, depending on the design, can provide a certain amount of task lighting for a kitchen/dining room table. In our small house, the kitchen table is home to homework, crafts, fine dinning, etc so the light fixture of choice is important for us to consider. 

      • A strictly ambient light fixture will limit the use of this area. So a fixture such as this can provide multiple roles. The down shades will cast light directly below for task lighting but also provides ambient light with the opaque glass shades.
    Belle Tiffany Mini Chandelier

    3. Accent Lighting - Highlights.

      • Accent lights are where you get to have some fun and highlight the unique nature of your rooms. 
      • Accent lighting most often is in the form of spot lights, track lighting, in cabinet lighting, back lighting and wall sconces. 
      • Some of the easiest ways to create a beautiful accent light is with wall sconces. These can flank a seating area or hearth and can cast light upward along the wall and the ceiling creating a beautiful indirect light that adds shape and form in the room.
      • Track lighting or spot lights can focus on pieces of artwork or unique features in the room such as a fireplace. 
      • This is where you can truly define a rooms purpose and feel. 
    So where do you start? Task lighting and accent lighting. In a large room such as below, it would be difficult to light the entire space with ambient lighting. The pot lights are trying to do just that. Focus on how and where the space will be used, start there. Remember, the larger the room, the more watts you will need to illuminate it adequately. Tough job for one light.
    Do you need the room to be flexible? Than lamps are a better starting point. If not then you can commit to installing wall sconces and ceiling lights. Otherwise in a large room such as this consider having floor outlets installed so task lighting can be used where it is needed, such as by the sofa.

    Take time to consider how you want the space to be used. Revisit Renos - Where to Start #4 It's Gotta Function, and ensure you have thought through this step. Then decided on what type of lighting will allow you to have the room you desire.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Any questions don't hesitate to ask. Join us on Facebook @ to join in on more helpful information, support and discussion on home lighting. 

     Subscribe to stay up to date on the most recent blogs as they roll out. Visit us at

    Thursday, 17 May 2018

    CFL Bulbs Explained!

    Well it took a little more than a week, but here it finally is. CFL bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps, are the second most efficient lighting choice right behind LED's. Why?

    If you have not already read No Love for Tungsten or A Halo of Tungsten, we have been working through the various light bulbs options that are still available in North America. Tungsten based bulbs are on their way out leading to a greater demand for CFL's and LED bulbs. But is this a good thing? 

    In the following video find out why CFL's are more efficient than the old Tungsten filament light bulbs. This might be a little heavy on the science but I tried to keep it light (I'm sorry, I couldn't resist :). Wouldn't you know, light bulbs are complicated. 

    I just happen to be a science guy that sells lights. 

    As you decide what lighting fixture you will need for your new kitchen, bathroom, bedroom or living room remodel, the bulbs you place into those fixtures can dramatically influence the amount and color of light that the fixture emits. Also, LED's and CFL bulbs are efficient but are not the best choice in all situations such as in cold outdoor areas or bathrooms.

    In the age of energy efficiency and high energy prices, it is important to choose a bulb that not only gives you the light you need but also will be efficient and cost effective to operate. In future blog posts we will look at how the bulb type determines the type of light that it produces. Fluorescent bulbs are cheep to operate BUT are also not the most flattering.

    Any questions don't hesitate to ask. Join us on Facebook @ to join in on more helpful information, support and discussion on home lighting. 

    Subscribe to stay up to date! Thanks for stopping by. Visit us at

    Friday, 11 May 2018

    Renos - Where to Start #4 It's Gotta Function

    If you have every spent time looking at new homes, open houses, etc, you will have undoubtedly came across floor layouts or unique designs that made you question the decision making process of the prior owners.

    I once came across a bedroom with a toilet beside the master bed.

    Not master bedroom, BED. 

    Not, “oh they just didn’t finish the walls for the ensuite”, 

    nae, nae…BED! 

    Like, “Oh this would could double as a side table as well”. 

    Whatever the outcome of your renovation, it has to function for not only the next several years but also for potential buyers. As much as you think you will own that property for ever, life can introduce some curve balls and all of a sudden you are listing your home. Dramatic floor layout changes and color schemes can make it very difficult to sell a home. Some design ideas may have good intentions, but with unintended consequences...
    Image may contain: indoor 

    When we built our home several years ago, we built it based on functional purpose. It was a 1.5 story farmhouse with a full basement. Each floor served a specific purpose.
    • The basement was for sleeping. Three bedrooms, full bathroom, 3 pcs ensuite, small seating area, laundry and utility room. 
    • Main floor, the living space: kitchen, mudroom, living room, dining room. 
    • Upper floor loft: Office space, lounging area, TV area, place to sit and relax. 
    • This design took into account functional use of the space, but also practical as well. Basements tend to be dark and cool. Great places for a quality sleep (are you a shift worker?). The basement was heated using in floor radiate heating. This kept it comfortable and allowed the heat to naturally rise up throughout the remaining floors, creating some passive heating. A wood stove took care of the upper two floors. Having bedrooms on the top floor would be too hot in the summer. Each floor had a distinct purpose and allowed the choice of materials to meet that need. We could enjoy the day light on the upper floors when they are in most use. 
    With that being said, the design made sense to us, we loved it, but it was certainly unique. Many people prefer to NOT have their bedrooms in the basement. To us, it makes perfect sense.

    When you begin your renovations, there are some key things to keep in mind:

    1. Functionality – It might be a great idea but is this a long term functional idea? 
      • I once had a neighbor that had a trampoline in the basement. They cut out the living room floor so they could jump on the trampoline and see out the living room window. I'm not joking. 
      • If you are choosing a lighting fixture, it may be the most amazing fixture, but do you need it to be functional (task lighting) or just a visual piece (ambient lighting)? If you need both then you need to search for a fixture that serves both roles or look for two different lighting options. 
      • Removing closet space of one room to gain space in an adjoining room. While this may work for how you are using the rooms currently, if you had to sell, how that would impact the perceived bedrooms or use of those rooms? 
      • Kitchen islands are great but is your kitchen large enough? 
      • Hardwood/engineered flooring: looks great, but if you have a large area it will change the acoustics of the room. Basement bedrooms, great idea. Hardwood flooring on the above floor…bad idea, stomp, stomp, stomp…
      • The one downside to opening up an area is it opens up the area. Our design was open, we loved the feel, but sound travelled easily. There was little to divide up the noise. We never considered that and it was frustrating at times. 
      • I built a Narnia fort in my house through a closet. It is very functional for my daughters but not perhaps for a retired couple. So I ensured to build it in such a way that it can easily be converted to a storage area in the future and still serve a purpose. 
    2. Resale – Will these changes increase or decrease your property value or selling potential? 
      • For me, any time I consider a change to my home, I consider how this will impact the property value. As homes tend to be peoples single greatest investment, ensure you are continually adding value to your investment. 
      • Consider any dramatic changes to layout carefully and seek out the opinions of those in the industry. 
      • See if realtor can do a walk through for a small fee and give you some advice as to what would and what would NOT add value to your home, not just for resale, but also to the increased enjoyment of your home. They see so many different homes and can look at it from both perspectives. 
    3. If you’re going to do it, do it right or else wait – I can use artificial vanilla extract instead of the real thing and no one is going to notice (at least that I know). However, if you cheap out on a shower tile job that could be an expensive mistake. 
      • Invest in your fixtures. Buy quality pieces, everything form bathroom fixtures to tile to lighting choices. They will stand the test of time and depending on the circumstance will give you the functional use you need. 
      • Cheap hardwood can dry and swell dramatically, the pieces are milled to low tolerances, the finishes are of a low quality and the overall product will not hold up well. In the end you would have been better off waiting to invest in order to get more enjoyment out of your investment. 
    Take the time to find what you like, find the right materials, the right color, the right contractor and ensure your final result was worth your investment.

    Share in the comments section. Subscribe to stay up to date on the most recent blogs as they roll out.

    Any questions don't hesitate to ask. Join us on Facebook @ to join in on more helpful information, support and discussion on home lighting. 

     Visit us at

    Thursday, 3 May 2018


    My wife and I designed and built a 1.5 story farmhouse style home that had an open concept design. We designed the house based on two things: Feel and functional purpose.

    For myself, when I walk into a room it is important for me that the room has the appropriate atmosphere. Our new home had ALL the bedrooms in the basement, for reasons I will go into in Renos - Where to Start #4 It's Gotta Function (to come). What that meant was that the upper two floors had a ton of space to fill. This was an open concept main to an upper loft floor. 

    We wanted to create a home that felt very warm and grounded. We wanted to come home from work, from skiing and feel like we just put on a warm blanket. A place to relax and just enjoy our family time together. With such a large space that can be difficult to do. There were four main aspects that allowed use to obtain what we were trying to create:

    1. Flooring type - We picked a character type maple flooring that brought a variety of earthy tones into the main and upper areas. 
    2. Wall color - With such a large space, it can easily feel too big with a lighter color. We went with a deep chocolate brown that played off the highlights in the flooring and created a warmth making the large space feel more grounded.
    3. Made use of the features of the room - We had a large, open stringer, Douglas fir staircase and a wood stove central in the room (with purpose). These two brought the key components to define this room and house. This often can be created by your furnishing. 
      • your dining room table set 
      • a beautiful sofa a granite top kitchen island  
      • a beautiful sleigh bed in the master bedroom. 
    4. Lighting - It was important to use layered lighting. We used a mixture of lighting throughout both floors to allow the rooms to serve the specific purpose that we needed them to at a given moment. Ultimately, the lighting choices can define how a room it utilized or underutilized.

    What is the atmosphere or feel you are hoping to create with this new room?
    Is this going to be a place to rest and relax, to get work done, and to be a family space, warm, cozy, modern, clean?

    This ultimately comes down to personal taste:
    • Are you looking for a rustic, modern or a contemporary feel? 
    • What style do you naturally gravitate towards? 
    • What features of the room can you can make use of? 
    • What current furniture pieces are you going to keep and will be a focus of the room? 
    • What colors are you considering for both the walls and ceiling? 
    • Floor type and color? 
    • Lighting choices? For example chandeliers can produce either up-light or down-light (indirect or direct light). Depending on what "feel" you are looking to create will determine which type of chandelier you may choose. 
    No single light fixture can cover all purposes of a room. We will look closer at some of the key features to creating effective lighting in any room in future articles.

    So, what feeling are you looking to create with your renovation? Pay attention to the homes, restaurants and business you visit. Pay attention to what you are naturally pulled towards and to what type of decor rubs you the wrong way. Look online and start collecting ideas and images to form your final idea. 

    Share in the comments section. Subscribe to stay up to date on the most recent blogs as they roll out

    Any questions don't hesitate to ask. Join us on Facebook @ to join in on more helpful information, support and discussion on home lighting. 

    Visit us at

    Wednesday, 2 May 2018

    A Halo of Tungsten

    "Are Halogen light bulbs better than the old incandescent bulbs?"

    In many ways yes, it depends on what you consider by "better". They are fundamentally the same. Halogen bulbs are actually Halogen-Tungsten bulbs and work on the same premise as ordinary tungsten bulbs, a black body object. That basically means the hotter the filament of tungsten becomes, the faster the atoms move, the more light they kick out.  If you have not yet checked out No Love for Tungsten, it is explained in more detail.

    "So what's the difference?" 

    Simply put they are brighter and can last longer than a regular bulb. 


    Think of it this way; imagine taking 20 kindergarten kids to a dinosaur museum with ONE supervisor. Very quickly, one by one, those little ones will be off running all over those exhibits, out of control with no way to get them back! That's a regular incandescent bulb. Now image the same 20 kids with 10 supervisors. As one pops out of the line to climb up the T-Rex's tail, there is a supervisor to get them back in line. The tour is more enjoyable, more efficient and will last much longer before you're kicked out of the museum. Well that is a halogen bulb; it has got some help to keep things running more efficient and longer. 

    Instead of just having an inert gas in the bulb to prevent the filament from burning up they have a halogen vapour (supervisors) as well, iodine or bromine. Halogens are the 17th group on the periodic table (ahhhhh, high school chemistry flashbacks!). As the tungsten filament heats up, atoms of tungsten will pop off the filament one by one. In a regular incandescent bulb this will eventually weaken the filament causing it to burn out so they have to operate at a lower temperature to slow down this process. 

    The halogen vapor creates a halogen-cycle. Essentially when the tungsten atoms pop off, the halogen causes a reaction that will cause the tungsten to redeposit and preserve the filament increasing it's life span, doubling it compared to incandescent bulbs. This allows the bulb to operate at a much higher temperature (the higher temperature facilitates the halogen-cycle in the first place). 

    Now this not only extends the bulbs life BUT also creates a brighter, more SUN like light. This is what makes halogen-tungsten bulbs so appealing in use in photography, automobile headlamps, and kitchen lighting. As discussed in No Love for Tungsten, as the filament gets hotter, the faster the atoms oscillate and the brighter the light is produced. A halogen bulb has a more complete light spectrum (rainbow) of light than a regular incandescent bulb because it operates at such a high temperatures, above 2750 °C / 5000 °F. It creates a much brighter and whiter light (more blues and violets), more sun like, but that means its more sun like. These bulbs do produce some UV light, which can be damaging to fabrics and artwork and so they are encased in quartz and not regular glass to absorb the UV rays. They are then also enclosed behind a second piece of glass to protect against the high temperature of the quartz glass, which can cause a fire.

    In the clip below, as the tungsten filament heats up the color shifts form a cooler, warm orange/yellow to a hotter brilliant white, enclosed behind the quartz glass. The external glass is simply for show and is far cooler than the internal quartz chamber.

    This intense light is perfect for driving at night or when you need more natural or high quality light like in a kitchen for preparing food etc. Halogen-Tungsten bulbs are more efficient than incandescent bulbs and can be manufactured in very small sizes to produce very bright light form an extremely compact design. Because of their need to run at high temperatures to replenish the tungsten filament, using halogen bulbs with a dimmer switch will shorten their lifespan if run for extend periods at a lower setting.

    Next week we will go spirally with CFL bulbs. Think of Kramer's levels, the key to efficiency. 

    Any questions don't hesitate to ask. Join us on Facebook @ to join in on more helpful information, support and discussion on home lighting. 

     Thanks for stopping by. Visit us at

    Renos Where to Start #8 Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid in DIY Renovations

    Join us on Facebook @  to join in on more helpful information, support and discussion on home lighti...