Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Recessed Lighting Test

I know, to some, this probably sounds really mundane and boring.  But, think about what goes on behind closed doors at an architect's office.  Believe it or not, they do consider how light is going to fill a space when the sun goes down.  They concern themselves with all angles of the environment they've created.

I actually wanted to be an architect in high school, but I really don't do well with math.  So, that was the end of that fantasy.  I don't do well with theory and measurements, either.  I need to see it and touch it and assemble it the wrong way before I can figure out how to do it the right way.  And besides, look at all the cars that get torn up in crash tests before the auto manufacturers finish building them.  Research and development is a very important part of the process and I knew that if wanted to get a professional quality out of this build, then I'd have to act like a pro.

The Test

I pored over the literature -- graphs and tables describing actual luminosity, beam angles, light spread and lumens at a given distance.  Yikes.  I got scared.  I am trying to adhere to a strict budget for this build, but for a definitive answer on what light would be best for each application, I had to throw down and buy a couple of sample fixtures -- yep, R&D.

The lamp on the left has about 10 elements in the fixture and a frosted lens, and the one on the right has a single 1watt bulb with no lens. 

So, at about 3.5 feet from the surface, the 1 watt fixture is pretty darned bright, but blueish in color.

The fixture on the left is warm in tone, very soft and not very bright.  It's suitable more as an accent light than as a task light.

So, here's the 1 watt fixture with some color added.  There's a little light reduction, but it's not bad. 

A Little Trick

In the entertainment world, much of the lights used for concerts and movies often have some element of color added to the fixture.  Able to withstand very high temperature, these thin sheets of plastic come in an infinite variety of colors. 


I tried adding a bit of warm color to the bluish 1 watt  fixture, as I'm not entirely fond of the blue light for accent or ambience.  But the punch is great for tasks such as reading.  So, here's the color I chose for the sample test.     

And, here's how the light changed.

Still bright but now warm in feel.  It looks like it may be a little green, too.  I'll have to work on the final selection once the fixture is in place and working in its environment. 

Since the single 1watt fixture is pretty harsh, once I install it I'll try adding a softening agent such as this frosted plastic sheeting.  I think I'll go with the 1watt fixture for the task areas since it's brighter, by far.  The other fixture I'll use for the central ceiling application, just to bring up the general ambience of the interior. 

I'd call the test a complete success -- a time and money saver in the long run.      



  1. I really like what you are doing, similar to what I have considered myself.
    I am confused though on why the priority of a vanity when you also have a kitchenette.
    Also, you might give thought to trying to keep all of your plumbing together with minimal runs to simplify construction, reduce water use, and simplify freeze protection.

  2. Hey Berechah,

    Thanks for the note. I like to have my spaces divided when it comes to a bathroom and a kitchen. It's much more sanitary to have two sinks and it also enables two people to conduct their business more efficiently. The plumbing will be mostly together, except for the fresh water holding tank.

    I don't expect to do any extreme living in cold climates, as I do love life here in California.

  3. Really very much impressive picture and content is also useful, for more information about Recessed Lighting at VGK Lighting.