How do I make sure a residential condominium has good and proper lighting?

Question

How do I make sure a residential condominium has good and proper lighting?

Asked by JC Soriano

Theres a boom in condo construction where i live, and want to make sure i get the best and most efficient especially in terms of lighting. Usually they just have a couple of bulbs installed but i cant complain since i dont have any basis or expertise on what im asking them for.

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Answers

David Bergman's picture

We're a little light on the details here, so let me try to come up with some very general observations onwhat to look for in terms of lighting when evaluating a potential home.

1. Efficiency of the built-in fixtures.There are two general types of light fixtures: built-in (or hard wired) and plug-in. Most of thetime, a home will be sold with the former but not the latter. If there are recessed lights, they willbe included, and surface mounted ceiling and wall lights may be included as well.

The relevantpoint here is that recessed lights are hard to change so it is important to check out what types ofbulbs they can handle. If it is an incandescent recessed light, are there CFL or LED bulbs that canfit it?

Surface mounted and pendant lights can be changed once you move in, but that of courseadds an expense that you may not want to incur amidst the flood of other costs of buying andmoving. So you may want to check on the energy efficiency of those lights as well.

2. Electrical outlets. Hard-wired lighting, outside of bathroom and kitchens and other utility-type spaces, doesnot need to provide all the light.Especially in living spaces like bedrooms, livingrooms and home offices, portable plug-in lighting will provide much - or maybe even all - ofthe artificial lighting.

In those locations, the main criterion in evaluating the space will be thelocations of outlets because you will be providing your own (presumably energy-efficient)lamps.

3. Occupancy sensors. Even better than energy-efficient lights are lights that are off when not needed. How oftendo you (or your kids) forget to turn off lights when leaving a room?

In some states, occupancysensors are now required for the primarylighting in bathrooms, and they can be a good idea elsewhere as well. As with surface mountedlighting, sensors can be installed to replace switches after you move in, but it's an added task.

If you're going to be using incandescent or halogen lighting, make sure you have dimmers so youcan reduce the amount of light, thereby both reducing energy consumption and extending thelives of the bulbs.

4. Daylight. Don't forget that lighting includes both artificial and natural light. And what could be moreenergy-efficient than daylight? (Added benefit: it's free.) See what directions the rooms andwindows face. Will there be enough natural light that you can use less - or no - artificial lightingduring the day?

Make sure you look at the nearby trees, too. A heavily shaded house will obviously require moreartificial lighting. Are the trees evergreen or deciduous? Trees that lose their leaves in the winterare great at providing shade in the summer (when you probably don't want as much direct
sunlight coming in) while allowing more light in in the winter when you need both the light andthe solar heat.

5. In a related vein, look at the colors of finishes in the condo. Dark colors on floors and kitchencounters and the like will necessitate stronger lighting.

I've probably left a few things off this quick, basic list. Feel free to add to pointers in the commentsbelow.