Littman Bros Lighting Blog

January 13th, 2014

by Littman Bros Lighting

LED Bulbs

So you think you’re going green? You recycle, eat organic, turn off your lights and even switched them to compact fluorescents (CFLs) to conserve energy. But are CFLs still the best choice when trying to conserve energy? Replacing fluorescent bulbs with LEDs is a good step towards the green direction.

A CFL equivalent to 60 watts saves about $55 a year in energy costs while an equivalent LED bulb saves $185 – even the best CFLs only last 15 thousand hours and when they burn out they require special care. CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, which is toxic and bad for the environment. Still think you are green? Most LEDs last 50 thousand hours before losing intensity; this is adds up to about 27 years when it is on for an average of five hours a day. No maintenance, no trash and lower energy costs – LEDs are the light source of the future.

Remember when switching from incandescent or compact fluorescents to LEDs, make sure you look at the lumen output of the LED bulb you are switching to; often times LED bulbs, depending on the lumens, don’t provide a sufficient light output compared the CFLs or incandescent bulbs.

January 7th, 2014

by Littman Bros Lighting

Size of Chandeliers

Figuring out the size of chandeliers and pendants to put in your space can be tricky but there is a general rule of thumb to calculate these dimensions:

Start with adding together the length and width of the area you want to hang your pendant or chandelier in feet; this number is the width of the chandelier needed for the space in inches. For example, if you have a 12 by 18 foot foyer with 20 foot ceilings, your chandelier or pendant should be 30 inches wide. How do you figure out the appropriate length for you fixture? This will vary greatly depending on the height of your space; the higher the ceiling the taller the chandelier or pendant. Your fixture should be 2.5 inches to 3 inches tall for every foot of ceiling height. If you use the same dimensions as the above example, with the 20-foot high foyer space, the chandelier should be 50 to 60 inches tall by approximately 30 inches wide.

December 31st, 2013

by Littman Bros Lighting

Outdoor Lighting Checklist

Using different light sources to layer your exterior lighting is a key component when lighting your outdoor space. Layering your outdoor lighting design, from outdoor wall sconces to path lights and spotlights add depth and interest to your home without appearing like a landing strip. No single light source can perform all the lighting functions needed around your landscape. Here is a checklist to assist in creating a lighting scheme for your landscape that provides safety, security and style:

1. Plan the lighting for your exterior patio, kitchen, water features or sculptures first. An effective lighting design accentuates your landscape and provides useful lighting for you to enjoy your space.

2. Try to get everyone involved in planning the lighting scheme for your exterior space; this would include the homeowner, contractor, landscape professional and lighting designer. If you are a DIY type of person, keep all hats in mind, this will ensure a cohesive design where all elements work seamlessly with one another.

3. Create a lighting plan that works from all angles; when you are in your garden, looking at your house from the street, or inside your house enjoying your landscape.

4. Your exterior coach lights flanking the entrances to your home should be the only light sources that are seen. Everything else should be soft washes of light that create a calming environment without blinding your guests. Shielded light fixtures with light directed up or down will create this effect.

5. Be mindful of the color quality of light on your plants – incandescent fixtures create a warm light that becomes even warmer when they are dimmed. This can make your plants look sickly, so try a daylight blue color correcting filter to eliminate the amber quality. You can also opt for LED landscape fixtures which do not change color when dimmed and will save you money in operating costs.

6. Locate light switches by all major entrances – front door, garage, etc. A “panic” switch in your master bedroom is also a great security measure for you outdoor lighting.

December 30th, 2013

by Littman Bros Lighting

Do you have light fixtures or recessed lighting that are off-center from your furniture or cabinet layout? The correct but tedious way to center fixtures is to re-route your electrical through new electrical boxes or cans and remove the old one and then follow-up with a drywall repair and re-paint.

How do you correct the locations without having major electrical and drywall repair? If the electrical is not re-routed the old boxes or cans must remain accessible; you cannot drywall over these eyesores. If you want to slide a chandelier over a bit, you can hide the old box with a ceiling medallion around the base of the light. Make sure to match the medallion style with your chandelier, otherwise it will detract from your fixture and leave people wondering why you used that medallion. A contemporary fixture needs a very simple and white medallion that blends into the ceiling while a crystal and rod-iron piece calls for an intricate and hand painted medallion.

What if you are moving a can or a flush mount? Speaker covers can be used to make them disappear – they are the same color as the ceiling and will be looked over by guests or they will just think you have a speaker system.

December 27th, 2013

by Littman Bros Lighting

Design Pro LED Kitchen

LED tape lighting is an excellent product for both accent and task lighting applications in various rooms within your home. It is roughly only one quarter of an inch wide and about an eighth of an inch long; the size allows the tape to be hidden practically anywhere that you want to create a glow of light without showing a fixture. LED strip lights can be used as accent lighting, which adds drama to a space by creating visual interest. Accent lighting draws attention to specific objects or areas in a space like shelving, nooks, and glass cabinets.

LED tape lighting is very easy to install – all that is needed is a hidden power source so that you can store the driver out of sight. The low voltage wire that runs from the driver to the starting point is so tiny and inconspicuous; it is barely noticeable. The low-voltage wire can also run from one lit space to the next should you have a break in areas. The tape itself is a peel and stick application, just make sure to dry fit the tape before installation.

When installing LED tape lights, make sure to get high quality LED tape like Kichler’s Low Output LED Tape in order to get both the energy savings and longevity of the diodes; lower quality LED strips have been known to have diodes burn out prematurely. The great benefits of LEDs are that the power consumption is a fraction of incandescent and there is no maintenance with bulbs that need to be chained out. Take advantage of both benefits and get a system that will last.

December 26th, 2013

by Littman Bros Lighting

Outdoor Ceiling Fan

It is absolutely possible to keep your outdoor areas cool and comfortable even under the hot summer sun with outdoor ceiling fans – your outdoor patio, porch or gazebo can be cooled with a ceiling fan much like your indoor rooms. But you must first be sure to find out that the UL listing on your fan is compatible with your intended location.

There are three possible ratings for ceiling fans – indoor, damp and wet location. Indoor ceiling fans should never be used outside; the fan’s motor is not built for the humidity found even in a covered location. Humidity can affect the motor’s life and performance. Most interior blades will warp and droop when exposed to moisture over time and warped blades will not only look unsightly but they will be off balance causing the fan to wobble and shake. Damp rated fans are suitable for covered exterior locations where they will not come in direct contact with water coming from above. A room with an open ceiling, like a pergola, requires a wet rated fan. These motor housings are completely enclosed and protect the fans motor from moisture. A properly sized and rated ceiling fan will extend the use of your outdoor space well into the hottest days of summer.

December 23rd, 2013

by Littman Bros Lighting

Light Bulbs

The question is brought up more and more as light bulbs change with the times and growing technology; which light bulbs are best for my home? Picking out the best light bulb for your home begins here:

Incandescent bulbs have been used in our homes since the 1800s and they have changed very little since then – they produce a nice, warm light that we have come to recognize with a cozy and inviting home. However, they are very inefficient; 90 percent of the energy they produce escapes as heat and only 10 percent of the energy consumed actually emits light. They are inexpensive but only have a life span of 1 thousand hours. The competition for incandescent bulbs is slowly creeping up and their lack of evolvement is leading to extinction.

CFL and LED bulbs are becoming increasingly popular as their color temperature lowers into the 2700k to 3000k range and they slowly have become more affordable. What is the difference between these two types of bulbs? And what is best for your home?

Compact Fluorescents or CFLs use one-fifth to one-third the electric power and last eight to 15 times longer when compared to their incandescent equivalent. Their lifespan is significantly shortened when they are turned off within 5 minutes of turning them on. CFLs are more expensive than incandescent bulbs but can save an average five times their purchase price through their life span. These bulbs are now available in 2700k to 3000k ranges but are typically non-dimmable. LED bulbs on the other hand are usually made dimmable and are also found in the 2700k to 3000k color range. They are made of light emitting diodes or computer chips instead of mercury like CFLs. They also have a lifespan of 30 thousand to 50 thousand hours, or approximately 25 years regular usage, making LEDs a better environmental decision. LEDs are far more efficient than incandescent bulbs; 1 watt from an LED is approximately seven to 10 watts of a standard bulb. They are however much more expensive; a 13.5 watt LED bulb, which is equivalent to a 100 watt incandescent, sells for $28 versus $1 for the incandescent. It typically takes three years to recover the cost of the bulb in energy savings. Both LEDs and fluorescents will save you a significant amount on your energy bill – LEDs have a bigger upfront cost but will save you more in the long run and will not need to be replaced. They are also perfect for those hard to reach fixtures.

December 18th, 2013

by Littman Bros Lighting

Living Room Lighting

Lighting is no longer just about brightening up a space, it has become so much more than that; it is about layering and balance; positioning your light source. You can have a room filled with all different types of lighting and still be missing the mark. Some rooms would benefit from lighting that draws attention and creates style within a space, while others need subtle fixtures that are restrained and delicate. There are also the different types of lighting that help to develop the layers within a space – ambient, task, accent and decorative lighting.

Ambient lighting is the most general lighting, creating the overall, general light within a space. This general lighting can be accomplished with sunlight, cans or lamps. Another common type of lighting is task lighting, which would be lamps on a desk or pendants over an island. The next two types of lighting create depth and interest in a space, accent and decorative lighting; accent lighting is used to accentuate an object or element in a space, think picture lights over paintings or puck lights in glass cabinets. Decorative lighting is purely ornamental; one of the most common applications is cove lighting above cabinets or in tray ceilings.

Getting a feel for the different layers of light is one thing – but how do you use them in a space? This all depends on what room you are trying to light as well as the look that you want to create. Here are some general guidelines for each space:

Dining Room Lighting

In a living room or family room you will want to light three of the four corners of the space, this can be accomplished using a combination of table and floor lamps, wall sconces and overhead lighting. Shaded lamps will create good reading light for the direct area while torchiere lamps will light up more of the room. Wall sconces and overhead lighting should be put on dimmers; this gives you more control over the mood and function of the room.

In a dining room the main source of light is over the table and should be put on a dimmer and lowered for entertaining purposes; this dimmer light promotes socializing because it is calming and flattering. Additional lighting should be placed on the edges of the room using torchiere lamps on a buffet table or accent wall sconces.

Ambient and task lighting are most important in the kitchen to assist with cooking. Many people congregate in the kitchen while entertaining and that is why accent and decorative lighting really help accentuate the space. Recessed lighting or an overhead semi-flush mount can create a great amount of ambient lighting; be sure to place these on a dimmer so that they can be nice and bright while cooking and dimmed while entertaining. Pendant and under cabinet lighting create additional lighting where tasks are performed, these can also be dimmed down while the overhead lights are off creating a backdrop while the party is perhaps eating in the formal dining space.

I have been asked if recessed lighting is sufficient in a bathroom – the answer is absolutely not. While you will want recessed lighting in your shower (and if the bathroom is large enough throughout the space), it is not good lighting for applying makeup and is far from flattering when you look in the mirror. Wall sconces are the absolute best for a bathroom; they create a warm flattering wash on your face. When wall sconces are not possible, a vanity light is the next best thing.

December 17th, 2013

by Littman Bros Lighting

Kitchen Lighting

The real estate collapse has caused more people to stay where they are and renovate instead of going on the hunt for something totally new. Whether people are renovating to make their house into their dream home or prepping to sell when the market turns, there is no doubt there is a rise in updating and renovating the home. Today, we find that the most common rooms for renovation are kitchens and baths; they are the selling features of the home and therefore create the most equity and return on investment.

Lighting is an important part of any renovation project – many older spaces, especially kitchens do not have enough lighting and a dark and shadowy space can make a home feel dated, cramped and dirty. Enhancing your home with the right amount of both task and ambient lighting can add to the perceived square footage by brightening and lightening up a space. Recessed lighting is a great way to create even ambient lighting; recessed lighting in a kitchen should be placed around your cabinets and workspace and should be placed according to their size. For example, six feet apart for 6 inch cans, five feet for 5 inch and so on. Smaller, more modern recessed lights should be placed closer together because Halogen and LED bulbs have a narrower spread. Under cabinet lighting is also a great addition for task lighting and eliminates shadows created by the upper cabinets; self-adhesive LED strips are a great under cabinet solution as they are indiscreet and smaller in size. Energy efficient LED lighting draws four or fewer watts per foot and has an average life span of 40 thousand hours or 15 years of regular usage. Task lighting is also needed over any islands or peninsulas and can be achieved easily by using hanging pendants or mini pendants and doing so will also create some visual interest.

After adding additional lighting you will want to update your original fixtures: Dropping your center light fixture slightly (within 16 inches on an 8 foot ceiling) will allow a cast of up-light on your ceiling, which creates a softer ambient light that will combat any shadowing from the addition of the recessed lighting. Up lighting has also become the more desirable type of lighting over the kitchen dining area; you can achieve this through simple bowl fixtures or a chandelier, and don’t be afraid to dress up your lights with newer, elegant designs.

December 12th, 2013

by Littman Bros Lighting

Pergola Outdoor Lighting

Summer is fast approaching and as you prep your outside space for the warmer months ahead you should definitely take a look at your lighting – does it highlight your landscaping? Create a safe environment to walk in? Offer enough light for grilling and entertaining? Outdoor lighting is much softer than its indoor counterparts and harsh lighting is not needed for exterior tasks; remember that less is more. It is important that you create stylish outdoor spaces with the proper outdoor lighting.

The most basic of exterior lighting for your stylish outdoor spaces are the coach lights that light up the entries to your home. The second most popular are spotlights – these can shoot straight up the corners of your home and the blank spaces between windows. They create architectural interest and provide security for your outdoor areas as well as highlight trees and shrubs in your yard. Typically 35 watts to 50 watts are the norm, depending on the height of what you would like to light. Landscape lighting is more decorative but provides safety and easy access to passages for you and your guests. Path lights are spaced along walks every 6 feet to create small pools of light along the path and they come in several varying styles from simple mushroom lights to decorative flower sculptures.

Landscape Lighting

Do you have a deck, pergola or any other outdoor entertaining spaces? Deck lighting offers soft indirect lighting that’s perfect for a relaxing conversation or a romantic evening. These lights can be mounted to posts or the underside of railings. If you have a pergola, soft overhead lighting can be created by shining spots up the supports and into the trusses. An outdoor chandelier or large exterior hanging light will create more direct lighting for the space as well. Exterior lighting, just like interior lighting, benefits from layers and balance.