You may be thinking that creating a lighting plan requires electrical qualifications mixed with interior design skills and a deep understanding of a lot of technical words. Sounds a bit complicated right? Actually, a lighting plan is something you can come up with yourself, just by understanding a few basics.
To make it easier for you, at ilite, we have come up with a handful of simple steps that you can take to create your first ever lighting design plan.
Creating a proper plan will be very useful as it makes searching for and buying appropriate light fittings and bulbs a whole lot less stressful, whilst ensuring the lighting you decide on will be the perfect fit for your space needs.
Begin by "walking through" your home, and in each room ask yourself the following questions:
What will this space be used for? Consider all possible uses of each room, i.e. kitchen/diner, spare room/study, etc.
Will there be pieces of furniture or architectural features such as fireplaces or artwork that you want to highlight in any of these rooms? This will determine accent lighting.
Who will be using this room? Interestingly, someone of 60+ years generally needs 15 times more light than a ten-year-old!
At what time of day will the room be used most? For example, you may want to install relaxing, ambient dimmers in rooms used mainly in the evening.
Where does natural light enter the room and from what direction?
Once you have the answers to these questions, draw a plan of the room to help you determine the best points for lights to be situated, and note the brightness required and type, i.e. dimmer/spot/pendant.
Let's break this down:
1. Create the Floor Plan
Room by room, draw a floor plan or sketch the shape of the space. This should be done to scale, so print out a graph or use squared paper to help you. Mark permanent fixtures such as windows and doors, alcoves, fireplaces and other heat sources such as radiators. If you know the furniture you'll have in the room, and where it will be positioned, draw it into the plan.
Markdown switch location, or in case of remodels or new home projects, draw where they will be most conveniently placed, concentrating around doorways, dark corners and at the top and bottom of stairs.
2. Define how you are going to use the space
Do you want the room to have the same level of light throughout or do some areas need different types, for example if you want to show off a feature or a suitable light for working. Or perhaps the room has different purposes at different times, for example, it is a study and a dining area for which you would like a different ambience for each activity.
Also mark the direction in which occupants of the rooms are likely to spend the most time facing, for example in a lounge it might be the television, or at a bathroom mirror. This way you can avoid putting lights in places that are likely to shine in people's eyes or cause distracting shadows.
3. Calculate how much light you need in the room
As every room is likely to be a different size and be used for different purposes, it is essential to calculate how much light you need for each of them. But how much light is enough? Let's do the maths;
Determine room square footage
Multiply the length times the width of the room to get the room square footage.
For example, if the room is 3m wide and 5m long, the room square footage will be 15m2.
Determine the lux level by room type or room purpose
A lux is how bright a light is one-meter square away from its source. For example, a bathroom or kitchen will require more lux than a living room or bedroom.
Areas for relaxation, such as your lounge or TV room, would typically have 120 lux. For a reading area, it would be advisable to increase this to 200 lux. A study or working environment could be illuminated to a level of 250 lux.
Note your lux rating could also differ on the age of the occupants (older people need more light) and the wall coverings, i.e. colour, texture.
Suggested Lux Needed By Space For Age 25 - 65
We will say that our 15m2 example room is a dining room, so it will require 200 lux.
Determine the Needed Lumens
A lumen is a unit measurement of light. To determine the needed lumens you will need to multiply your room square footage by your room lux requirement.
Using our example room above it would be:
15m2 x 200 lux = 215 lumens
Our dining room would need roughly 215 lumens
Keep in mind that this formula and numbers are for typical conditions. If you have mostly dark coloured walls and furniture, or if you're using fixtures with shades, you'll need roughly an additional 1 lumen per square meter. We based our calculations on standard 2.4 m ceilings. Finally, personal preference will play the largest part in your decision. If you like the room to be especially bright, you may want to add an additional 10 to 20% to our numbers. If you like a variety aim high and install dimmers to adjust to desired levels.
4. Decide on your lights
Now you know roughly how much light you need in each room you can decide how you want to implement this, for example, one powerful light or several smaller lights. At ilite we find more lights minimise shadows and give a more contemporary look.
Start browsing our wide collection, where you can find a vast selection of lights, suitable for many tastes and budgets. To avoid being overwhelmed with options start with what you know you want, such as the specific lights you identified earlier in your plan. Narrow down the search to reading lights , accent lights or head straight to a terrific chandelier to create the wow factor in your space.
If you need inspiration, have a look at our recent LED lighting ideas article where you will find great ways to add sparkle to your space.
Need help with your lighting plan?
If you have any questions or concerns on your plan, the experts at ilite are here to help you! Contact us for any advice, tips and support, and we can help you finalise your design.