Last Updated on April 2, 2020 by The Tutor
Top 50 Lighting Questions
These are the top 50 lighting questions asked by consumers online. At Lighting Tutor, we will answer them all for you in one place and in no particular order. You can as more questions in the comments below and we will answer those for you as well.
- What Are Lumens?
Lumens is the unit of measure that determines how much light a bulb or a fixture (that includes a bulb) will give off. Years ago, light output was measured in watts simply because we purchased light bulbs based upon the watts needed to power it. We would have an idea as to how bright a bulb would be based upon how many watts it consumed. Now that there are many more bulb options which require different number of watts, we are correctly measuring them in lumens.
- What are watts?
A watt is a unit of electric power equal to one joule per second. The watt is a measurement of how much power is used per second. So, for a 60 watt bulb, it uses 60 watts or 60 joules per second. This is power consumption.
- What is the kelvin scale?
Kelvin is how light color is measured. We now it as the Kelvin temperature scale. The warmer (more yellow) the light, the lower the kelvin temperature. The colder (bluer) the light, the higher the kelvin temperature. It is important to understand and select the correct kelvin temperature when purchasing light bulbs.
- What is an incandescent light bulb?
Incandescent bulbs are the traditional light style that was invented by Thomas Edison a long time ago. There is a thin filament that carries the electric current and when it gets extremely hot, it lights up. Incandescent bulbs tend to have a lower or warmer kelvin temperature. These bulbs do not last as long as LEDs and are slowly being phased out of production.
- What is a halogen bulb?
Just like incandescent bulbs, halogen bulbs also have a filament. However, they also have halogen gas which makes them brighter and a bit more efficient. Due to their brightness, they have traditionally been used for automobile headlights. The one downside is they get extremely hot. In fact, you can burn your hand badly if you touch a light fixture that has a halogen bulb.
- What is a fluorescent bulb?
Fluorescent bulbs use gases rather than a filament. They are much more energy efficient than incandescent and halogen bulbs and were thought to be one of the ways to reduce energy costs in the home. The negatives are that there is a slight delay for the gas to heat up and come to full brightness and also the use of mercury gas in the original bulbs has been met with criticism.
- What is an LED Bulb?
LED means “light emitting diode”. It is a semiconductor that emits light when current flows through it and electrons within that semiconductor release energy in the form of photons which is the light. LED bulbs are the most energy efficient and longest lasting bulbs that you can buy.
- What are O-LED Lights?
O-LEDs are organic light emitting diodes. They are thinner than non-organic LEDs and are more fragile. As a result, O-LEDs do not last as long as LEDs.
- How long to LED bulbs last?
LED bulbs can last up to 25,000 hours or more depending upon the situation and how you use them. If you keep the lights on constantly, they will not last quite as long. If the lights get knocked around like Christmas lights outside on your house, then those too may not last as long. If the LED is exposed to extreme temperatures or high current levels, then that too will reduce its life span.
- Are LED Lights considered Green technology?
LED bulbs or lights are considered to be green because they use less energy versus the other lighting options. They also do not have harmful components such as the gases that you may find in fluorescent bulbs. Finally, they need to be replaced less often which means fewer light bulbs sitting in landfills.
- Do LED Lights reduce CO2 Emissions?
When you consider that power plants create CO2 emissions when generating electricity and LED lights consume less electricity, then yes LED lights do help to reduce CO2 emissions.
- Do LED Lights Burn Out?
LED lights do burn out eventually and that is typically based upon how they are used and the environment in which they are exposed to. Using the right light fixture, having the right amount of current and not exposing LED lights to extreme elements will help to keep them from burning out too soon.
- What are LED filament light bulbs?
LED filament bulbs are designed to create that retro old-style bulb look while having the benefits of today’s LED technology. They have a string of small light emitting diodes connected to each other in a linear shape of a filament. To achieve this look, these bulbs use much smaller diodes with less output. They are also not as long lasting as traditional LED bulbs. The light you get from an LED filament bulb will be warmer and not as bright. These bulbs are used for aesthetics.
- Should I change my light bulbs to LED?
If you currently have incandescent bulbs, then switching them now to LED bulbs will make sense due to the energy savings you will realize. However, if you currently have fluorescent bulbs, then the cost of replacing with LED will most likely exceed the energy savings benefits. Replace these bulbs with LEDs as they begin to fail.
- Why do LED lights cost more?
The diodes and other components such as the drivers cost more than the components found in the cheaper bulbs. However, although LED bulbs may cost more during the initial purchase, they will cost you less over time than all of the other options due to the energy savings and replacement cost savings.
- What is a Dry Rated Light Fixture?
A dry rated light fixture is one that is primarily used indoors and in an environment that will see no moisture at all. Examples are those used in your living room or kitchen.
- What is a damp rated light fixture?
Damp rated light fixtures are used in areas where there may be some exposure to moisture, but not exposed to water. This could be the light above your shower where steam will likely get into the fixture but the water from the shower will remain out. Other damp rated fixtures may be outside under your covered porch. There, you will have exposure to the elements without rain hitting the fixture.
- What is a wet rated light fixture?
A wet rated light fixture is one that will be exposed to water. This will be an uncovered entrance light, lights on your deck, your front lamp post light if you have one, even lights that are around your pool should be wet rated.
- What is the Energy Star Rating?
Energy Star is a voluntary program run by the EPA. It was developed to help saving money and protect the environment. It was initially developed to create awareness and to promote the products that were most energy efficient. Products that have the energy star rating are at least 10% more energy efficient than other products that do not have the rating.
- Which is the Best Light Bulb?
The best light bulb will likely depend upon where you plan to use it and in what type of fixture. In general, LED bulbs are the best bulbs but there are so many different options. Read how to choose the right light bulb for more information.
- What is Task Lighting?
Task lighting is any light for which the purpose is primarily to accomplish a particular task versus for aesthetics. An example of task lighting is the reading lamp next to your recliner or the light that you use to apply makeup.
- What is Accent Lighting
Accent lighting is any light for which the purpose is to highlight or accent something in particular. Examples of accent lighting are lights angled towards a fireplace mantle, lights up behind crown molding or in a tray ceiling, and small decorative lamps. Accent lighting is rarely considered to be task lighting with the exception of possibly landscape lighting when you are illuminating your home but also want the light to provide some security.
- What Happens if a Fluorescent Bulb Breaks?
Older fluorescent bulbs have mercury gas contained within them. If the bulb breaks, leave the area and wait for the gas to dissipate. The newer CFL fluorescent bulbs have very little mercury gas and are not harmful. Your local home improvement center will likely have a free collection box for you to drop off old or used bulbs.
- What is Smart Lighting?
Smart lighting was created primarily to add energy efficiency by automatically controlling when the light turns on and off as well as the brightness. An example is one that turns on and off based upon motion or if it senses a human in the room. Smart lights can also be controlled with an app or your mobile device which is where the additional benefits come in. Smart lighting systems can be expensive so this may be more about an efficient lifestyle versus energy savings.
- What is WiZ lighting or WiZ bulbs?
WiZ lighting is smart lighting that is paired with your Alexa device.
- How high over the dining room table should I install the chandelier?
If you have 8 foot ceilings, then you should install the chandelier anywhere from 30”-36” above your table. Any lower than that and it will either start to block your view or the glare will become a problem.
- Are LED Lights Dimmable?
LED lights are dimmable, but you need to make sure that you are using an LED compatible dimmer and that the bulbs are also made for dimming. If you do not use an LED dimmer then you may get humming or a buzzing sound from your LED bulbs. Keep in mind that LED lights cannot dim as low as incandescent bulbs. They simply do not have the same range.
- Can You Use Ceiling Lights on Walls?
Ceiling fixtures are made for ceilings but there is no mechanical reason why you cannot use them on your walls. It is recommended to use the fixtures in the manner in which they were intended.
- How Many Watts Should a Bedroom Ceiling Light Be?
Lights are no longer about watts. Instead, you should be looking for how many lumens you need to light an area or a room. In general, you need 20 lumens per square foot of living space. So, if your room is 12 x 12, that is 144 square feet X 20 = 2,880 lumens for the entire room. Then, plan to add 4 recessed ceiling lights with at least 720 lumens each. You can add more ceiling lights and each one can have fewer lumens as long as they total at least 2880.
- How High Should Pendant Lights Be Over a Kitchen Island?
Pendant lights should be installed a minimum of 30” – 36” above the kitchen island. That will prevent your view from being obstructed and will also allow the pendant to provide the light needed across the entire kitchen island.
- What is an IC Recessed Lighting Fixture?
An IC recessed lighting fixture is one that is rated to be covered by, and indirect contact with insulation. It has the ability to absorb or trap the heat that may be created by the bulbs without posing a fire danger. Non IC rated fixtures combined with an incandescent or halogen bulb can result in a fire if insulation is close by.
- How Much Light Does a Room Need?
Each room should have 20 lumens per square foot for general lighting purposes. For a bathroom or a kitchen, you may want to add more fixtures with additional lumens to bring more light to work areas such as a center island.
- How to Space or Layout Recessed Lighting?
It is not difficult to layout recessed lighting but there is a particular method that you should follow. Read how to layout recessed lighting for the full tutorial.
- What are The Benefits of LED Lights?
The benefits of LED lights are energy efficiency, cooler temperatures, environmentally friendly, and long lasting.
- What Bulb is Best for the Eyes?
LED light bulbs may be the best for your eyes in a 3500k temperature. Fluorescent and incandescent bulbs produce the most UV rays and can cause damage to your eyes.
- Which Light Temperature is Best for Reading?
For reading, it is not about the light temperature. You should make sure that you have enough lumens so that you can see what your reading. The amount of light is more important than the color temperature
- Are LED Lights Good for Growing Plants?
If you plan to use LED lights for your plants, then buy LED grow lights. They will provide the type of light needed for pant growth.
- Are Solar Landscape Lights Worth it?
Solar landscape lights are much less expensive than the low voltage hard wired versions. Although they will cost less, they will likely work half as well. If you have a budget to stay within, then these will likely provide you with the landscape lighting that you need.
- Do I Need an Electrician to Install Under Cabinet Lights?
Under cabinet lights can be installed by the homeowner if you follow the instructions and take all of the appropriate precautions during the installation process. If you are not comfortable working with electricity, then absolutely hire a professional.
- Can Lighting Increase the Value of My Home?
Lighting is often overlooked and can absolutely add value to your home. It is one of those special touches that can make a room look cozy and welcoming. If not done right, lighting can also be a big turn off.
- How Can I Hide Under Cabinet Lighting Wires?
There are a few methods to hide under cabinet lighting wires. Strategically placing them under the cabinet using clips or running the wires behind the wall are just two examples. Read more about how to hide under cabinet wires.
- Do Low Voltage Landscape Lighting Wires Need to Be in a Conduit?
The wires used for landscape lighting are insulated and do not need to be used with conduit. You can have the wires a few inches below the ground or even lay them on top. However, it is important to be careful where you place the wires to be sure that you do not accidentally cut them later.
- Can Recessed Lights Cause a Fire?
Recessed lights can cause a fire if you are using bulbs with hot temps such as incandescent or halogen and the fixtures are placed up against the insulation. One precaution to take is to install IC rated recessed light fixtures which are made to with stand the heat. However, if you are going through that trouble, you should just replace your current bulbs with cooler LEDs. That should take care of your problem.
- What is the Best Under Cabinet Lighting?
The best under cabinet lighting is an LED hard wired fixture that has multiple color temperature settings as well as a dimmer. See our recommended under cabinet lighting fixtures here. We have tested multiple types and have reviews from consumers to come up with what we believe are the best options.
- Are Puck Lights Effective?
The benefit of puck lights is that they are easier to install versus other light fixture options. Some of them also come with batteries and do not require wires. However, the light they deliver is uneven especially when used under your cabinets.
- What Kelvin Temperature is Best for Garage Lighting?
For your garage, you want the coldest temperature possible. Kelvin temperatures of 5000k or more are what we would recommend.
- What Lighting is Best for the Shower?
For the shower, we recommend using a recessed LED light with a softer Kelvin temperature of about 2700k or 3000k. Make sure you are using a damp rated light fixture.
- Does Rope Lighting Burn Out?
Rope lights will eventually burn out especially if they are not using LED bulbs inside. If this happens, it is just best to get new rope lights. Trying to repair rope light simply is not worth the effort.
- How Long Can an LED Flashlight Run on Batteries?
LED flashlights will last longer than others, but the true answer will depend upon which brand of batteries you are using and how much power your flashlight draws.
- Is Under Cabinet Lighting Worth the Money?
Under cabinet lighting will add so much to your kitchen. It is absolutely worth the money if you stay within a reasonable budget. You have various under cabinet lighting options that can fit just about any budget. It is a highly recommended DIY project.