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Lighting Buying Guide

What is Lighting?

Lamps and lighting serve a practical purpose but also offer opportunities for decorating your home by creating atmosphere and ambiance in various rooms and spaces. Lighting is essential to the look and function of any room and today there are more options in lighting your home, office, or personal space than ever before. This buying guide will cover typical household lighting and what to think about when making a lighting related purchase.

Selecting Lighting

There are several considerations to think about when selecting lighting. The most important are placement, function, and the technical specifications of both the fixture itself and the area where it will be installed. There are also many different manufacturers you can select when purchasing lighting, such as Aztec Lighting, World Imports, Heath Zenith and Lights of America.

Lighting Types

Some of the most common lighting types are ceiling lighting, wall lighting, and exterior or outdoor lighting. Below are a few examples of each.

Chandelier, Chandeliers, Ceiling Fixture Chandeliers are always an elegant and interesting lighting option, chandeliers are not just for the dining room, they should be considered for the hallway, foyer, and even a bedroom.
Ceiling Fixture, Ceiling Fixtures Ceiling Fixtures as the name describes attach to the ceiling. You can find ceiling light fixtures which are primarily used for general lighting purposes in many styles, shapes and in both flush and semi flush configurations.
Pendants, Pendant, Pendant Lighting Fixture Pendants are a crossover between a chandelier and a ceiling fixture. A pendant light typically hovers over your dining room table, game table, kitchen counter or provides light for an entry or hallway. Because they hang low, pendants usually have shades or globes to prevent glare.
Island Fixtures, Island Fixture, Pool Table Lights, Recreational Room Lights Island Fixtures are very similar to both chandeliers and pendants but are made to create direct light above a certain area. These are great for use in the kitchen, with tables and above recreational areas.
Ceiling Fan, Ceiling Fans, Ceiling Fan Lighting Ceiling Fans not only offer relief from the heat, many ceiling fans also come with lights, providing a dual function. Typically fitting into any room ceiling fan units can be much more efficient than their conventional fan/light unit counter parts.
Recessed Lighting, Recessed Lights Recessed Lighting is placed directly in the ceiling. Recessed lights can be effectively used in all rooms both for providing light and accenting or highlighting an area.
Track Lighting, Track Lights Track Lighting offers versatility and multiple lighting options, track lighting consists of a light or series of lights mounted to some kind of track. Just move, swivel, or rotate a light to suit your immediate lighting needs.
Wall-Mounted Lighting Fixtures, sconces, Wall Brackets Wall-Mounted Lighting Fixtures include sconces and brackets attached to walls, creating a dramatic effect by illuminating the surface of the wall and space around it.
Outdoor Ceiling Light Fixtures, Hanging Lanterns, Outdoor Chandeliers Outdoor Ceiling Lighting Fixtures often providing lighting by the front door, patio or gazebo, exterior ceiling light fixtures can include both exterior flush, semi flush, hanging lanterns, chandeliers and pendants.
Outdoor Wall-Mounted Lighting Fixtures, Sconces, Lanterns, Wall Brackets Outdoor Wall-Mounted Lighting Fixtures typically hang on the wall next to the front door, or on either side of the garage to add a decorative touch. Exterior Wall-Mounted Lighting Fixtures can include sconces, lanterns and wall brackets.
Post Lanterns, Post Lantern Post Lanterns mount on a post and usually provide light to a front yard, back yard, garden or outdoor area.

Lighting Specifications

There are several specifications that lighting uses, make sure that the particular fixture and area it's being installed into meet any necessary requirements.

Certifications: Lighting can be certified for many different uses; some of these uses are interior, exterior, interior/damp, interior/wet, exterior/damp or exterior/wet. Be sure to make note of what kind of uses the lighting you are interested in is certified for so that you don’t damage the fixture, the area it’s being installed at or void the product warranty.

Hanging Length and Weight: Some lighting like Chandeliers might hang from the ceiling, in this case the length of the chain, cord or wire need to be properly accounted for along with the hanging weight of the fixture.

Wattage: is the electric power required by an appliance or device which is also the amount of power, especially electric power, expressed in watts or kilowatts. Watts = Amps x Volts, (amps is a measurement of electrical current in a circuit and volts is a measure of force, or pressure, behind the current)

Light Bulbs: How well your lighting performs often depends on the bulb. Different bulbs provide different light. The most common light bulb types are incandescent light bulbs which create light by heating a filament inside the bulb and compact fluorescent light bulbs which create light by gas that is excited by electricity which creates ultraviolet light that is changed by the coating inside the bulb into light we can see. Compact fluorescent light bulbs have a longer rated life and use less energy than incandescent light bulbs.

Light Bulb Wattage and Lumens: Most of us associate the brightness of electric light with the wattage of the familiar incandescent, pear-shaped bulb. You may know, for example, that a standard incandescent 60-watt bulb provides the right level of light in that lamp next to your bed, so that's what you buy every time the bulb burns out. But you will get even greater light output from an 18-watt compact fluorescent. It's the light output you really want and that is measured in lumens, not watts. Lighting manufacturers must now label packaging with the number of lumens as well as the number of watts. It may take some adjustment at first, but look for the number of lumens you are getting per watt. Both the 60-watt incandescent and the 18-watt fluorescent give off about 1000 lumens. But the incandescent produces only 15 lumens per watt, while the fluorescent produces over 50 lumens per watt. It's not hard to tell which one is more efficient. A good rule of thumb is to choose a compact fluorescent that is about one-third the wattage of the incandescent you would normally buy.

Bulb Base: A-bulbs are the standard. That's a regular light bulb. It can have either a little base, called a C or candelabra base or a bigger base called either an E or Edison base or an M or medium base. There are also intermediate or European base sockets.

Lighting Accessories

Shades: If you want a lot of light in a room, transparent shades work best. In contrast, opaque shades will help focus light downward and provide more directed lighting.

Chains and Wires: If more length is needed or there is too much length on the lighting fixtures chain or wire extensions and hooks can be added to adjust the fixture to the appropriate height.
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