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6 questions to help find the best light fixture

There are thousands of light fixtures out there which makes it difficult to choose which one would be best for your home/office. Whenever I am helping a client choose a light fixture, I will run these 6 questions to help figure out what light fixture will be best suited for the area. There are still more considerations than what I am saying but these 6 questions are some of the biggest factors that some people may forget to ask.


1. What is the purpose of the light?

Something that can help decide what type of light you need is looking at what is its purpose. Light can be categorized into three different purposes: ambient, task, and accent. Ambient light is for filling a room with light, this is great for areas that does not need a lot of focused light such as the front entrance and living room. Task lighting usually focuses on an area you might be working on such as kitchen counter tops and craft areas. Accent lighting is used to bring attention to home décor or featured walls, this can be recessed lighting against a stone wall to show all the texture.


2. Does the light fixture match the theme/style of the home?

This may not be a deciding factor for some people but if you are getting a light fixture that is going to wow your guests then a great fixture can look terrible if it does not fit with the rest of your home/office. Here are a few things to help match the light to your homes theme:

Colour – If you have chrome finish hardware on your kitchen cabinets then it is recommended to get that same finish in your dining room chandelier. Usually lights will come in bronze, brass, stainless steel, black, white, and grey.

Shape – A modern styled fixture usually consists of straight edges and minimalist design where as traditional fixtures usually has curve and the appearance of it being hand made. Of course, you can get modern fixtures with curve and traditional fixtures with straight bold edges so also look around the home and try to sum up the majority of the shapes and then match that to your fixture.

Material used or appears to be made of – Any material you can think of, there is probably a fixture that looks like it was made from it. If you are choosing a dinning room chandelier and the room has a stone feature wall then that room would be considered earthy so I would aim for a fixture that has earthy or raw materials like wood and iron.


3. How much light do you need?

I usually just use my experience and do a judgement call but I did find a simple formula, based on the IESNA Lighting Handbook that can help the inexperienced. All you need to know is the square footage of the area and the lumen output of the bulbs you would like. Lumens is a way of measuring light given off by a light bulb. A standard LED bulb equivalent to a 60 watt incandescent bulb usually gives 800 lumens.


Floors – 20 Lumens per Square Foot

Tables and Raised Surfaces – 30 Lumens per Square Foot

Desks and Task Lighting – 50 Lumens per Square Foot


A standard living room is 250 square feet so 20 lumens X 250 square feet = 5,000 lumens needed for this living room. When we take 5,000 lumens and divide it by 800 lumens, we get 6.25, I would round this down to 6. This means we would need 6 LED bulbs to light this area. In this case I would choose one chandelier that can have 6 LED bulbs or 2 light fixtures that would take 3 LED bulbs each.


4. Does the fixture need maintenance?

In my opinion the light fixture that needs the least amount of maintenance is a flush mount dome light fixture because it has hardly any components involved and a common fixture that needs maintenance is fluorescents. Keep this in mind when choosing a light fixture because it can get costly to have an electrician come in every so often. The best way to know how long a light lasts is to ask the electrician about to install it and check out online reviews of the light fixture.


5. Will the electrical box support the fixture?

This is not a big deal most of the time but I like to let my clients know that if they choose a fixture that weighs over 50 lbs. then we should consider if the electrical box can support this fixture. If it does not then the electrician will have to find a way to support the electrical box better, in some cases it requires going in the attic which drives the cost up. This is usually a problem with ceiling fans and chandeliers.


6. Does everyone else in the home/office agree with the fixture?

If you are living with another person and you are not 100% sure if they will like the light fixture then it is wise to check with them instead of making presumptions. I experience this sometimes where the husband likes the fixture and after the light is installed, the wife gets home and has a nasty look on her face after she sees the new light. Getting a second opinion is also good because your getting a new perspective on the light fixture that you might have not thought of.

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