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General rules for light spacing

The following guidelines are based on practical rules of thumb and can be helpful in planning how to position your lights.

For general lighting in the home, downlights with the equivalent of a 100-watt incandescent are a good option. New downlights have been designed for compact fluorescent lamps that can save up to 80% of the energy required by a conventional incandescent bulb. If fluorescent lamps are not suitable for any reason, halogen lamps are available as a replacement for conventional bulbs that save 30% energy and are dimmable.

The spacing of these recessed lights should be approximately three quarters of the ceiling height, for example if the stud height is 2.4 meters, space the lights 1.8 meters apart.

An attractive, albeit more expensive, alternative is to use a combination of single and multiple low voltage downlights.

These distances are conservative and do not take into account the design of the luminaires. The data sheets for most lights give an SHR figure. This is the maximum gap to height ratio for the spacing of that light. To find the spacing, multiply the SHR by the height of the light. eg 8ft stud, SHR 1.25, spacing would be 8 x 1.25 = 10ft.

Halogen lights are used to illuminate work areas such as kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms due to the quality of light they produce. One advantage of 12-volt halogen recessed lights is the variety of bulbs available.

Halogen lamps are available in 20 watts, 35 watts and 50 watts and special fixtures take 100 watts, but the advantage is that each is available in 10, 24, 36 and 60 degree beam angles. This means you can change the bulb to get a narrow beam or to spread the light.

The spacing of the 50 watt halogen lights should be about half the distance from the bench to the ceiling. for example, if this distance is 1.4 meters, the lights should be approximately 0.7 meters apart, or half the distance from floor to ceiling for general lighting.

Highlighting a wall can make a room appear larger, or used in an entryway can make a hallway appear inviting.

Typically, 50-watt halogen lights are used and are spaced about a quarter of the way up the wall to the outside of the wall. The lights are spaced about the same distance along the wall and angled to shine about a quarter of the way down the wall.

If a wall has an interesting texture, brushing it with light is a popular option. In this case, the 50W halogen lights are installed about 300mm from the wall and spaced about 450mm along the wall.

The lighting of a picture is usually done with a halogen light of 50 or 35 watts. If the light is recessed into the ceiling, position it in line with the center of the painting. The distance from the painting should be approximately two-thirds the distance from the center of the painting to the ceiling. Make sure the halogen bulb has a UV filter or the light will whiten your paint.

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