Lighting 101: Part 2- Lightbulbs

I am so excited to talk about this subject! I know that this sounds like a ridiculously boring topic, but when was the last time you stood in the lightbulb aisle of a home improvement store? There are so many different options out there it can be totally overwhelming. If you were married to my husband, you would be even more overwhelmed. I remember when we were engaged he asked me to run to the store to pick up some lightbulbs. I called him at the convenience store asking him what kind to get and THIRTY minutes later after he asked me a dozen questions and had me tell him every single kind they offered, I realized that the complexity of the lightbulb choice went far deeper than I ever realized. Jonathan, my husband, is a lighting guy. The light fixtures, lightbulb type, dimmer switches, lightbulb warmth, etc. all mean a great deal more to him that I ever knew to be healthy. However, after living with this man for 10 years, I am a convert. LIGHTBULB CHOICE IS SO IMPORTANT.

It is important to be open-minded when thinking about the lighting for your home. As a real estate agent, I walk into so many homes that show poorly because of their lack of good lightbulbs in the fixtures. It is such a simple fix, I wish someone would just tell them! Homebuyers want to walk through a space that feels like it lets in good light and isn’t dark and dingy. You know, bright and shiny like the listing photos showed (thanks editing software). More importantly, as a homeowner, you want to live in a well-lit home. So I brought in a lighting expert through the firm my husband works for: ZH Commissioning in Florence, Kentucky. Tama Wagner was so generous with her time in answering my questions for you all. Here is the interview:

Tama Wagner, my friend and local lighting expert at
ZH Commissioning in Florence, Kentucky
  1. What makes you a lighting expert? What is your role at ZH Commissioning?

I wear many hats at ZHCx, but related to lighting, I am a Commissioning Technician (CxT) and I specialize in testing lighting and lighting control systems. Although I wouldn’t call myself an expert, I do have extensive on-site experience with observing and testing lighting in commercial settings. Hopefully this will translate to providing advice to homeowners purchasing light bulbs.

  1. What is the one thing you wish homeowners would know about the lightbulbs they’re buying?

A little bit of research can go a long way. Many articles have been written to assist in simple lighting design for the home as well as to help homeowners choose lightbulbs that not only enhance the space, but also help them save money. Each space throughout the home requires different types of lighting depending on the intended use of the space. The “mood” of the room can shift dramatically depending on the type of lighting in it.

One blog that I follow is called “The Language of Light” written by a lighting designer named David Warfel (https://languageoflight.blog/). He also has articles on Houzz.com. He does a great job of illustrating the impact of lighting through various spaces. Homeowners should look through information like this as part of the design of the space. Once the lighting is done, continue to buy the bulbs that fit the design.

  1. What is a common mistake when it comes to the lightbulbs homeowners use?

Buying the same type of lightbulb for all spaces throughout the home or buying light bulbs without reading the package (see above). The information regarding the lightbulb is printed directly on the package. This information will help decipher what type of bulb he or she is buying, how bright it will be, as well as the best application for it.

  1. What kind of lightbulbs are out there to choose from and how do we decide?

There are different types of lightbulbs such as incandescent bulbs, CFLs, LEDs and halogen bulbs. Each of these bulbs consume different levels of energy.

  1. What are your top recommended light bulbs?

I recommend LEDs because they save a ton of energy and last a long time (this could be a blog in itself). I hear people saying, “they’re too bright/I don’t like the way LEDs look” or “they’re too expensive.” LEDs come in many different sizes, colors, color temperatures, and brightness levels (lumens) with options such as dimming/non-dimming. Do not be overwhelmed by the options – many resources are out there to help pick the right LED bulb from articles to online quizzes.

Because I come from a world where the control of the lighting is just as important as the lighting itself, I am now choosing light bulbs for my home that I can control in more ways than just a flip of a switch. So, one particular lightbulb that I use at home is by Wiz Connected. These lightbulbs each connect wirelessly through Wi-Fi, and I use their app for control of the lighting through my mobile phone and Alexa. They can also be controlled in many other ways, but this is the way I personally use them at home. What do I mean by control? I am to view the status of each lightbulb from my phone, so if a light is on when it shouldn’t be, I can turn it off from my phone (whether I’m home or away on vacation). I can also group the bulbs together as different rooms throughout my home and schedule them to turn on, off or brighten/dim, change colors, etc. at different times throughout the day. For more information on this specific lighting check out the site: https://www.wizconnected.com/en-US/consumer/

  1. Why is this so much more complex than it was 20 years ago?

As described in question 4, there are SO MANY options to choose from when picking a lightbulb – this can be very overwhelming.

The introduction of LEDs provides homeowners with energy saving potential, but also more options – which may seem more complex but doesn’t have to be. Usually, the information the purchaser needs is right on the label of the LED bulb package. Once the bulb is chosen, one benefit is that the purchaser will not need to purchase another bulb for a long time. LED bulbs last much longer than incandescent bulbs.

Complexity may now be added with how the lights are actually controlled. 20 years ago, lights were turned on with a switch, whether a wall switch or on the fixture itself. Now, with some light bulbs/fixtures, apps can be used to schedule when lighting goes on/off and even the color temperature each bulb is set to.

  1. Would you recommend different types of bulbs for different rooms and areas in the home, or would you streamline it throughout?

I would recommend that at the least the color temperature of all lightbulbs in each space be consistent. But each space in the home has different uses, so it’s okay to have different color temperatures per space depending on the tasks completed in that space. For example, if you have multiple fixtures in your bedroom, and you use this space for relaxing, I recommend going with a warmer color temperature (2700K-3000K which appears more orange), and I would recommend all fixtures contain the same lightbulb. But, in the bathroom, you’ll likely use this space to wake up and start your day. You’ll need to be able to see while shaving, applying makeup, etc. So, in the bathroom, it would be important that all fixtures have a brighter level and a color temperature that is meant for energy and tasks (3000-5000k which appears truer white and is in the neutral range).

THANK YOU, Tama, for the awesome advice and great resources. Your gift card will be in the mail, lady.

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