Ambient lighting: what is it and how can you use it in your lighting projects?
Ambient lighting refers to using certain levels of lighting and colour temperature. Correct ambient lighting should include features such as luminaires suspended from the ceiling, wall lamps and recessed spotlights. Projects should also take the space itself into account because, depending on where that space is or what time of day it is, there needs to be just the right amount of light to create a comfortable and relaxing environment that does not hamper functionality.
In this article we will talk about...
- What exactly is ambient lighting?
- Using ambient lighting
- The right types of luminaires for the job
- Ambient lighting in just the right place
- SECOM luminaires
What exactly is ambient lighting?
Essentially, the concept of ambient lighting refers to the main source of light in a room. More specifically, it is the framework for illuminating a space and its general purpose is to provide enough warmth, depth and clarity to create different atmospheres and levels of ambience. This means installing soft and dimmed illumination sources, although it is possible to combine this illumination with more localised light if a specific space in a room needs it.
Using ambient lighting
Some of the general considerations that lighting project designers need to keep in mind when working with ambient illumination include avoiding flicker and glare. Ambient lighting projects must also guarantee safety and ensure that there is enough light for people to transit around an area and have a good view of the room at all times.
This almost always means installing a central source of light. Therefore, creating a comprehensive and balanced project entails including a central luminaire and/or other complementary lights in certain areas at the right time of day to suit the type of activity going on in the space.
Human centric lighting is a concept that has recently gained ground and this can be explained by the fact that lighting techniques of this kind can create areas that are adapted to circadian rhythms and simulate natural light. The upshot is an incredibly comfortable space and an overall feeling of well-being.
The space you are illuminating
When undertaking an ambient lighting project, the first step entails carefully studying the space; the principal and secondary uses to which that space is put will shape the design and outcome. For example, a dining room may need basic lighting accessories such as LED strip lighting, recessed luminaires, table-top or standard lamps and fixtures on the walls or ceiling.
The main source of light in the rooms in homes tends to be a single central luminaire emitting a bright, white light right around the room. This helps people to see clearly and avoid eye fatigue.
The situation in bars, restaurants and industrial buildings, such as factories or laundries, however, is quite different. On the whole, lights in restaurants are dimmed to give a feeling of depth and warmth, which helps clients feel at ease and relaxed.
Working with colour temperature is a very effective way of creating a specific ambience. Intimate and inviting rooms, for example, can be created by selecting warm white LED luminaires that emit a slightly orange or yellow light because this tone encourages people to sit back and relax.
Light warmth is measured in Kelvins and it ranges from white at 1,700 k to cold and blue lights at 6,000 k. LED technology with a colour temperature ranging from 2,000 k (white glow) to 3,000 k (warm white) is recommended for ambient lighting because it is ideal for creating relaxing environments while providing sufficient illumination in order to perform basic tasks.
Glare and flickering are a fixed consideration in all lighting projects and the aim is to achieve maximum visual comfort. In fact, mitigating or avoiding glare and flicker entirely is a challenge for any project designer. It is sometimes possible to avoid glare by using diffusers on luminaires. However, there are some lights, wall lamps and spotlights with optimum technical characteristics that decrease the effects of glare and flickering.
The right types of luminaires for the job
The key luminaires for ambient lighting include:
- LED strip lighting, which gives an aesthetically-pleasing look that combines modernity with visual comfort and a feeling of wellbeing. The strips are long and flexible and have a number of lights all along them. They can be positioned creatively in all kinds of rooms.
- Pendant lights, which are the most traditional option and an absolute must in most lighting projects of this kind, particularly ones that are aiming for a more classic look. They are generally used in conjunction with LED strip lighting and wall lamps in order to achieve optimum results.
Wall lamps which, in addition to being very functional, are perfect for creating a great look and feel in large rooms with several zones.
Ambient lighting in just the right place
The visual, practical and functional considerations of any room are all important factors when it comes to creating the right kind of lighting for any space. The colour rendering index (CRI) of selected luminaires is a key factor in this process and it refers to the light source’s ability to display the colour of objects ‘naturally’ in comparison with how they look under natural light. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 100 in which a CRI of 0 is deficient and a CRI of 100 is optimum.
- A CRI in excess of 80 is recommended for homes. Of course, the greater the value, the more faithfully the colours in the home are reproduced.
- A CRI of 90 is recommended for restaurants and commercial establishments so that the colour rendering is as close as possible to how the colours look under sunlight.
- In hotels, there are a wide range of areas in which to relax, eat, work and so on. Therefore, the lighting needs to be adapted to the needs of each space.
The success of ambient lighting projects is, to a large extent, underpinned by luminaire choices. SECOM has a wide range of products that come in a variety of designs and incorporate the latest LED technology. They illuminate spaces in exactly the right way without compromising on quality, durability and energy efficiency. We have ceiling and wall lights, LED strip lighting and pendant lights to suit all kinds of projects in all kinds of spaces.More in our blog