Archive for the ‘Lighting Tips’ Category

Minka Aire Kewl Ceiling Fan $99

Minka Aire Kewl Ceiling Fan $99

Just like with the purchase of a car – you do get what you pay for when you choose a ceiling fan.

The Porsches of ceiling fans are made of high quality materials and have strong precision motors that can move some air without noise and wobbles.
So, How do you determine which fan is better than the other?

Here are five things to look when choosing a ceiling fan:

Motor size

Blade pitch
Blade size
Ceiling Height

The airflow of a ceiling fan is measured in CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute)
More is Better.
It is more important to buy a fan with higher CFMs than it is to buy a fan that uses less electricity, since it moves more air and cools you down more, allowing you to set the thermostat higher.
For average size rooms, we like to see ceiling fans that move at least 6000 CFM.
Larger rooms need more (or multiple fans.)
Smaller rooms can get away with less.

Motor Size
Choosing  a high-quality motor will eliminate the noise, wobbling, and shaking found in lower-end ceiling fans.
Motor sizes are identified by the diameter and the height of the motor. The measurements range from 153 x 10 millimeters up to 212 x 25mm. Bigger is better.

Blade Pitch
Cheap fans generally have fan blades that have a low pitch, since the motor can’t handle more.
A higher blade pitch (13 – 15) degrees will generally move more air, but the pitch of the blade and the power of the motor must fit together so the motor won’t burn out or the fan won’t be wobbly or  noisy.
Be careful of judging the quality of the fan based on blade pitch alone.
It is all about the ideal combination of motor size and blade pitch.

Blade Size
Small Room ( up to 75 sq. ft.) = 36″ diameter fan

b. Small/Medium Room (76-144 sq. ft.) = 42″-50″ diameter fan

c. Medium Room (144-225 sq. ft.) = 52″-54″ diameter fan

d. Large Room (225-400 sq. ft.) = 54″-72″ diameter fan

e. Great Room (400+ sq. ft.) = more than one 54″-72″ diameter fan

Ceiling Height

How High do I hang my Ceiling Fan?

How High do I hang my Ceiling Fan?



Factoid: Ceiling fans do not change the room temperature. They simply create a wind-chill effect that makes you feel pleasantly cool.
So, leaving the fan on when you leave will not cool the room.  Just like leaving the lights on will not make the room brighter.




Hudson Valley Lighting Haverhill Pendant

Scenario: Brand new kitchen.

You chose the most beautiful counter top or island surface with lots of color and drama. You spent more on it than you spent on your first car. It is a dream.
So of course it would be a crying shame, if you could only fully enjoy the beautiful colors and feel of the exquisite materials during the daytime.

So, now the question is: How to light your kitchen surfaces.
For the work areas undercabinet lighting is a great way to light the counters. Pendant lights over the island add the light that is needed for food prep and meals.
Pendants add a atmosphere in comparison to using just recessed lights, and in rooms with high ceilings they bring the light down to a level where it is needed as task lighting.

Please note: You can find all the fixtures you need at Form + Function.

LBL Bonn Pendant-


If you are using good old Edison bulbs in the fixtures over your counter they have a warm tone of light (2700K, as in Kelvin, to be nerdy) that works well with warm colors. This type of light and this color temperature (the 2700K) is what we are all really familiar with. It has a warm tone, makes its surroundings look cozy, inviting, just like candlelight.
Incandescent lighting might, however, not quite have the punch to bring out the colors and pizzazz in your materials.

LBL Volo Pendant -

Halogen provides excellent task lighting and really brings out the sparkle in  granite and many other unique stone surfaces. The clean, white light offers illumination that just can’t be beat by incandescent or fluorescent lamps.
The drawback of halogen under cabinet lighting is the heat it produces. It might actually make the surfaces warm to the touch, not ideal for cooking and entertaining on a hot summer day and therefore most likely will increase the cooling cost.

Fluorescent under cabinet lights have a bad rep.
Most of us still remember the cheap garage lights that flickered and hummed, and made us look sickly.
If you haven’t changed out your fluorescent lights since those old days you are in for a surprise.
Recent advances in the technology of fluorescent lights have made this an excellent option.
The color temperature ranges have improved and so has the CRI (Color rendering index), which measures the the ability of a light source to reproduce colors.
What I like about fluorescent lighting is the even distribution of the light without hot spots. They don’t give off much heat and are energy-efficient.
I am, however, worried about the recycling aspect and the mercury they contain.
Fluorescent under cabinet lights can generally not be dimmed. I don’t see this as a huge turn-off. I’d just get the wattage needed for the workspace based on the distance from the bottom of the cabinet to the work surface and not worry about using them as mood lights. But that’s just me.

Xenon lights are very similar to halogen lights. They do not give off quite as much heat as halogen  but on the other hand they don’t provide quite as bright a light.
Xenon is a a good choice if you are not after the extra sparkle that halogen produces and don’t want the heat produced by halogen..
Another advantage is its longer lifespan. The average Xenon bulbs last 2-1/2 times longer than their halogen counterparts.
One last selling point for Xenon: Xenon bulbs do not require that special handling you are asked to use when you deal with halogen bulbs. It is sometimes tough enough to exchange those tiny bulbs. Now holding onto them with a tissue while contorting yourself under the cabinet light adds to the excitement. We have seen grown men cry!
Xenon bulbs are not this sensitive. You can eliminate that one obstacle from the procedure and just hold them with your bare hands. Yeah.
But, then there’s the sparkle……    Guess, you can’t have it all.

Cool, long lasting, super energy efficient. What is there not to love about LED?
When LED lighting was first introduced into the residential market cove and under cabinet lighting were some of the first applications it was used for.
Well, LED was obviously not where it is now, and the light output was not quite strong enough for other uses in the home. This has of course changed a lot just over the last few years.
LED has so much to offer. The main advantage is the incredible savings in energy and the long life of LED.
Unfortunately many manufacturers jumped on the LED bandwagon without going all the way with their design. A lot of inferior products have hit the market and we now see a lot of LED under cabinet lights with horrible color reproduction, hot spots where you see the reflection of the individual diodes on you counter top, multiple surface shadows, you name it.

But, there are also excellent choices out there like the Tech Lighting Illume. They are expensive, but worth every penny in the long run.

lease note: You can find all the fixtures you need at Form + Function.


Can LEDs be Dimmed?

This entire morning I have been surfing the web looking for in-depth info on LED lighting for the home.

LED Step lights by WAC Lighting

We get SO many questions from our clients, and even though I have attended many sales meetings and demos from pros in the field, I am still digging, since I want to know more and be able to translate it all into terms we all understand.

I really liked this article that American Lighting passed on from James Broderick, Electrical Construction and Maintenance.


The LED Dimming Dilemma

Solid-state lighting (SSL) differs from conventional lighting in that it uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) instead of filaments, plasma, or gases. Although still relatively early in its development, SSL has become competitive in many markets and is expanding into others as the technology continues to improve. But in the process, it’s encountering a number of important issues that need to be addressed, one of which is dimming.

Many people think of SSL as being fully dimmable, an expectation that gets reinforced to varying degrees by manufacturer claims. In theory, LEDs are easily and fully dimmable, because — unlike some other kinds of light sources — there’s nothing inherent in their makeup that would impede the dimming process. On top of that, LEDs typically maintain their efficacy when they’re dimmed, and sometimes even increase it — whereas incandescent sources become less efficacious when dimmed.

Acting up instead of dimming down

However, as we all know, theory doesn’t always hold up out there in the real world — where the rubber meets the road. When installed, the actual dimming behavior of many LED lighting products (their reputation notwithstanding) leaves a lot to be desired. While dimming performance varies significantly across many types of commercially available LED sources, less-than-ideal behavior shows up most frequently when integral LED replacement lamps are installed on circuits controlled by phase-cut dimmers.

This misbehavior runs the gamut of quirkiness. Some products won’t dim at all — a limitation that may or may not be clearly disclosed on product packaging. Others may exhibit what’s known as “dropout,” where they only dim part of the way down to zero light output — say, to 60% of maximum — instead of all the way from 100% down to 1% or below, the way incandescent lamps do. Still others may dim in an abrupt or “staircase” fashion, instead of dimming smoothly and continuously as most of us are used to. In the worst case, users may experience the exasperating phenomenon known as “dead travel” — where the dimming slider or knob moves a certain distance without any noticeable change in light output at all.

And that’s not the end of the possible shenanigans. Some LED lighting products may also demonstrate a “pop-on” phenomenon, whereby a light source that’s been turned off in a dimmed state doesn’t “remember” the dimmed setting. Instead, it initially reverts to full light output when it’s turned back on or, worse yet, requires the user to raise the dimmer setting above some threshold before the light will “pop on.”

Then there are the distracting noises that can accompany the dimming of LED light sources, not to mention the perceptible flicker that can also occur. Even the most basic function a lighting control performs — turning the light source on and off — is not immune to unwanted effects. When some LED light sources are put in the “off” state by some phase-cut dimmers, they may exhibit a variety of unexpected and unwanted behaviors, including: “flashing,” where the light source flashes repetitively; “ghosting,” when the unwanted light is faint but steady; or even “popcorning,” in which different lights on the dimmed circuit flash randomly and asynchronously.

Believe it or not, there is method behind the seemingly random madness of these various dimming problems. Ghosting, for example, occurs mainly with more advanced phase-cut dimmers, where additional functions involve microprocessors or other energy-consuming elements that require a tiny but steady source of current flowing through the light source, even when the lamp is off. While that small amount of current isn’t enough to make a filament glow, it can “fool” some LED lamps into emitting light — an unwanted effect that’s much less likely to occur with dimmers that have a neutral third wire instead of just two live wires.

A question of compatibility

Can LEDs be dimmed?

Figure. Phase-cut dimming, which modifies the input voltage to a light source, was developed for incandescent lamps.

All of these dimming problems can be disconcerting, to say the least. Nevertheless, it’s important to keep in mind that they’re not caused by any shortcomings of SSL technology. Rather, they’re due to the fact that almost all of the existing dimmers in this country were designed for another kind of lighting rather than for LEDs. That is, nearly the entire installed base of traditional line-voltage (phase-cut) dimming controls was designed for incandescent light sources (Figure). Therein lies the rub — there can be compatibility issues between these controls and an LED light source’s “driver,” which converts AC power to low-voltage DC power and maintains a constant current in the LEDs to keep them emitting a steady level of light.

But LED sources are more complex than incandescent bulbs. Incandescent filaments vary only slightly from one product to another, which allows them to interact consistently with different dimmers, all the way down to very low light levels. What’s more, those filaments don’t cool down right away when a phase-cut dimmer removes part of the input AC voltage waveform. As a result, the light they emit doesn’t vary much over the 60-Hz cycle. LED drivers, on the other hand, show considerable variation from one product to the next. In addition, the LEDs themselves react very quickly to changes in current. So even a slight incompatibility with a dimmer — or, for low-voltage circuits, even slight incompatibility with the transformer as well — can significantly affect the light output.

So you can see why it’s so hard to make LED drivers compatible with a wide range of line-voltage dimmers. This difficulty is only compounded by a lack of industry-wide dimming standards. For example, even the term “dimmable” has no universally accepted definition. To fill the void, the industry has adopted “dims like an incandescent bulb” as a de-facto substitute.

The industry is very much aware of the problems associated with dimming LED light sources and is addressing them in a number of ways. For example, for the last four years, DOE has supported efforts led by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) to develop manufacturer dimming guidance and standards for SSL. Most recently, this has focused on the development of NEMA SSL-7, a multi-part global standard for phase-cut dimming of LED lamps. Part A of SSL-7, which will cover compatibility requirements and associated test procedures, will pave the way for the development of Part B, which will cover performance requirements and their associated test procedures.

SSL manufacturers are also looking into the intriguing possibility of bypassing phase-cut dimmers by using alternative approaches to dimming, such as wireless communications networks. Dimming via wireless networks is already addressed by a new standard called the ZigBee Light Link, which was developed by an industry group called the ZigBee Alliance.

See for yourself

At this point in time, however, the most reliable way to tell how an LED light source will behave when dimmed is to actually test it. Otherwise, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise. But to be accurate, such testing should include the whole circuit, not just a single LED source with a single dimmer — because all dimmers have a minimum and a maximum number of LED sources they can effectively operate, and these limits can vary with the make and model of the LED source, the remote driver (where applicable), the dimmer, and (for low-voltage systems) the transformer. What’s more, variations in any part of the system can affect dimming performance, which means that substituting a different lamp, driver, transformer, or dimmer for what was originally specified can lead to dimming problems.

If extensive testing isn’t practical, you should at least test one or two LED light sources before you install more. While not infallible, this will give you a rough indication of how the products are likely to dim. Another option is to consult the database of DOE’s LED Lighting Facts® program, which recently began allowing manufacturers to provide optional links to dimming compatibility information for their products. A growing number of manufacturers are putting together dimming compatibility tables for their products, and including links on LED Lighting Facts will make that information easier to access. (See “Dimming LEDs: A Work in Progress.”)

Although this article focuses largely on what can go wrong, the truth is the outlook for dimming LED light sources is much better now than it was even a year ago — and it’s getting better all the time. For one thing, an increasing number of dimmable LED sources are finding their way onto the market, and manufacturers are also developing new dimmers that perform better with LED products. During this transition period, the best policy with regard to dimming LED lighting is to proceed with caution, ask lots of questions, and do as much testing and verification as you possibly can.

Brodrick, Ph.D., is the solid-state lighting portfolio manager for the U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, D.C. He can be reached at


MonoRail is made for mixing and matching heads and pendants on one rail, getting the light where it’s needed.
It doesn’t always have to be used over a kitchen island, as you see in this photo. In this photo two Tech Lighting Savoy pendant lights  act as a bedside reading lamp, saving valuable table space .


Good home lighting makes a tremendous impact on how we feel.
Although it’s often treated as an afterthought, lighting seriously influences how  you, your family and your company feel about your home.
The right home lighting can make your surroundings feel spacious, clean and welcoming. It is instrumental in setting the mood of any room in the house.
Warm light makes people want to linger, slow down, move closer together, just like around a camp fire.  (No wonder Fast Food restaurants have bland, bright, even illumination. They are anti-lingering!) More »

Flos Fucsia 12

Flos Fucsia 12

The dining room chandelier is the place to create a Wow! experience.
Make this centerpiece a strong focal point.
Allow yourself to splurge  on a designer piece or hang the crystal chandelier you hauled all the way back from the Paris flea market. Get it rewired and just do it!!
Caution: You want this piece to stand out and “make” the room, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the workhorse that does it all.
Add buffet lamps, candles, indirect lighting to the illumination over your dining table.
One light source by itself creates too harsh transitions between the areas of light and shadows. You want to create several layers of light throughout the area and you want to be able to dim all lights to fit the tasks or mood of the moment.

Dining Area as seen in "Skona Hem"

Balance is key.
It is proven that the even, bland light of fast-food restaurants make people hurry up and leave sooner.  High end restaurants , however, deploy a variety of sophisticated subtle lighting schemes to create a comfortable atmosphere that make guests want to linger. We look and feel a whole lot better better in good lighting and it’s usually so easy to achieve with a few simple adjustments.

Light up Your Dining Table with Indirect Lighting

Want to add interest to a room, highlight your collectibles, and add ambient lighting:  try lighting your cabinets or – like here – add  illuminated niches.

One  way to take away from the harshness of the main light source in a dining area is to use additional  lighting around the edge of the  room.  This diminishes the strong contrasts between light and shadow in the room and makes it possible to dim  the main fixture, usually the pendant light or chandelier over the dining table to a comfortable, more intimate level.
Buffets and hutches  can be illuminated from within and light up your collections of china or treasured pieces .
Look for the color temperature of the bulbs you use for your display. In order to get the effect shown here you need to look for bulbs (lamps) close to 3000K (Kelvin.)
Most quality halogen and fluorescent lamps give you the color temperature as well as the  CRI (Color Rendering Index.) If there is a choice, look for a CRI as close to 100 as you can get.

My comments to this beautiful dining area: I love how the illuminated niches stand out and add architectural interest to the space. They fill the room with warmth and make the art pieces “pop”.
That said, I find that  the pendant light / chandelier looks kind of lost way above the table.  Is it even centered? – It looks like some kind of afterthought.  Lowering it would do a world of difference.

Rule of thumb for mounting height of a pendant of chandelier : 30″ above the dining table.

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At first I did a double-take when I saw the price for this light string .  Then I realized that there’s no comparison to run-of-the-mill Holiday lights. This is fun, whimsical – and actually functional illumination for a room. Designed by Patrick Townsend
Drape String 19 across a room, add a String 10 to a dark corner and enjoy!

At first glance, the String Light 10 and 19 look industrial and exposed, with their variably sized light bulbs protruding from powder coated aluminum casings, dangling at random from a 60 or 84 inch cord.
Plug in this dimmable light fixture and the String Light assumes a wholly new aura. The 17 white bulbs and 2 red bulbs (9/1 in the 10-light version) glow with a whimsical and refreshing energy. Illuminating a room has never been so interesting.


bulbThis morning when I picked up my latte at my favorite cafe  I noticed that something had changed: The place was really gloomy. Why? Well, several track light spots had burned out and had been replaced with squiggly CFLs!  Not a pretty sight!

A spiral compact fluorescent lamp is not designed to be used in a recessed can or a closed track fixture. It doesn’t do well with the  heat build-up and will just not last as long.

It also doesn’t really produce enough light, so there goes the energy saving concept.
Cans generally need bulbs with built-in reflectors that push the light out into the room instead of illuminating the inside of the can.

If you want to use CFLs in your recessed lights or track heads, there is actually a solution: CFL PAR lamps. They look like a reflector lamp, but are compact fluorescent. We of carry them in our showroom, but you can find them many places now.

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60So, you are stuck with a single fixture over the mirror and one utilitarian ceiling light.  Make the best of it!

You can use lighting to make your bathroom look larger and elegant,  serene, or comfortable and cozy. Add a small table lamp on a counter, a cheap portable uplight on the floor behind a plant or a Soji screen and voila! Instant added atmosphere.

A linear fixture above the mirror or a fixture with several shielded bulbs will give sufficient light for grooming. Granted, it’s best with the light coming from the sides, but if you use a mirror that’s as large as possible over the vanity area, a long light strip will give a good amount of light and make the room appear larger.

Depending  your personal style the ceiling light can be replaced with anything from a contemporary spotlight cluster to an ornate mini-chandelier.