Light globes

Let there be light

There’s more to lighting design than aesthetics, and we’re seeing ever-increasing product variety for builders when it comes to improving the energy efficiency of a house.

Image supplied: Beacon Lighting Commercial

If the best things in life are free, then Australia has endless complimentary bounty – diverse stunning landscapes from coast to mountainous terrain, often accompanied by blue skies and an abundance of sunlight. Research has shown that sunshine does more than brighten our lounge rooms and warm our bones, it also improves immunity, eye sight, bone density and even our mental health. It stands to reason then that Australian homeowners want to let in the light.

Understandably, homeowners want a build that makes the most of views and sunlight. In the past, windows facing into a natural light source has been the go-to solution – but more and more, architects and builders are asking for solutions beyond wall-framed apertures.

Australian-owned and -operated daylighting expert Solatube, whose innovation and advanced technology have kept it at the forefront of the industry for 30 years, is keen to shine a light on the issues. 

‘Using natural light to lower energy ratings is a key focus for Solatube – but it’s important to understand the difference between a tubular skylight and the relatively new market of tubular daylighting systems, which are fitted with tubular daylight devices (TDDs),’ says Solatube general manager, Brett Dickson. ‘The confusion lies in the fact that until recently, architects have been restricted to using natural light as a feature through glazing, roof windows and other products due to issues such as glare, lighting consistency, energy efficiency and impact of UV on a space.’ 

Brett explains that ‘architects and owners are requesting these products to meet minimum light levels or to meet 85 per cent of lighting required for the building, [and] as a result, many builders are being left out of pocket by quoting products which will never meet these lighting requirements’.

However, there is a clear solution: architects are now able to overcome these issues and incorporate TDDs into energy-efficient buildings.

‘Solatube offers a special lighting design service,’ Brett says. ‘This enables us to take a room’s dimensions, put it into our lighting design calculator, along with the required levels of lights governed by what activity is taking place in that room, and we then produce an IES (photometric) file. This file can then be provided to a lighting engineer for sign off as a working source of light, which is what artificial light suppliers offer.’

Skylight
‘Using natural light to lower energy ratings is a key focus for Solatube’
Image supplied: Solatube
Skylights
The modern home needs rooms to perform alternative functions during different times of the day
Image supplied: Solatube

Once the desired amount and source of natural light has been established, there is often the parallel need to control the light that has been artificially installed. 

A growing body of research in photobiology (the scientific study of the interactions of light and living organisms) shows that our artificial lighting goes far beyond aesthetics; it actually enhances human health and function by mimicking natural daytime or night time conditions.

Daylight – or sunlight – is the benchmark that electric lighting needs to imitate to optimise circadian health and wellbeing. However, as the colour and intensity of sunlight changes throughout the day – from warm amber light at sunrise, to cool bright light during the day, and back to amber light at sunset – electric lighting also needs to reproduce these changing colours and intensities to maximise human function.

Circadian lighting – or electric lighting based on our bodies’ circadian rhythms – has been proven to increase productivity in the work environment, while in healthcare environments it has been found to help patients heal faster and boost the performance of medical staff. It only makes sense that a home, the place where your client will spend as much of their time, needs to continue to provide balanced circadian lighting.

Even outside of the need for our circadian rhythms to help us to adjust and moderate our activity/rest phases, the modern home also needs rooms to perform alternative functions during different times of the day. Our living spaces, for example, may need strong overhead lighting when they are used as a work space requiring focus, such as homework or office work, and then need the light to be lowered when the same area is used for relaxation in the evening. The ability to raise or dim lighting in these areas then is essential.

Overhead light

Lux levels 

The lux (symbol: lx) is the SI derived unit of illuminance and luminous emittance, measuring luminous flux per unit area. It is equal to one lumen per square metre. In photometry, this is used as a measure of the intensity, as perceived by the human eye, of light that hits or passes through a surface. 

Kitchen

General 300 lux

Countertop (dinner party, cooking prep) 750 lux

Bedroom (adult) 

General 100–300 lux

Task 500 lux

Bedroom (child)

General 500 lux

Task 800 lux

Bathroom

General 300 lux

Shave/makeup 300–700 lux

One solution may be to source products that can raise and dim lights, offer colour change solutions, be user-friendly and offer a desirable design-led aesthetic. The use of dimmers is an ideal way to control the level of lighting. There are many different types now available, from the traditional rotary to the more modern ‘push button’ types.

There have been solutions in the past that offer ease of lighting control but a new product on the market now focuses on functionality with an unexpected Brit-cool aesthetic. One brand offering innovative customisability in lighting design is Buster + Punch from Beacon Lighting Commercial.

Buster + Punch is a London-born home fashion label – treating functional residential product solutions with a design-led focus. The company’s story started in a garage in East London, where the founders discovered a passion for making everyday items out of rare, solid materials. From lighting and hardware to custom motorcycles and items for whisky bars, they started to make forward thinking, elegant interior products, and their fan base grew.

The Buster + Punch range includes a new innovative toggle, dimmer and switch system that is highly functional, with the company’s signature urban appeal.
With Buster + Punch, building professionals can customise the look clients want with an electricity details kit. Brass and black conjures a bold industrial impact, while mixing chrome detailing with the matte white base plate makes for a crisp, clean look.

Available in standard Australian sizing, the range makes it easy to update existing switches and power points to bold designs with black and white matte finishes; or include the stylish boards throughout a new build, providing a solution to lighting control, ease of use and the all-important designer edge.

Lamp
Photobiology shows artificial lighting enhances human health by mimicking natural daytime or night time conditions
Image supplied: Beacon Lighting Commercial
Track lighting
Our living spaces may need strong overhead lighting when they are used as a work space requiring focus
Image supplied: Beacon Lighting Commercial

When it comes to performance, it is essential that the dimmer units are suited for use in Australia and can be matched with energy-efficient lighting sources, such as LED luminaires and lamps. Not all LEDs are dimmable, so it is worth checking with the supplier to see if a product is compatible.

With product affinity in mind, Legrand Australia offers a wide range of dimmer modules designed for use in Australia and that are compatible with LED lighting. The dimmers are not only easy to install, but also come in a variety of finishes, from a basic white through to the architectural finishes found in the Arteor collection. 

A key player in the home automation space, Legrand’s Arteor collection also features a series of smart products which can be integrated with lighting, audio-visual solutions, thermostats and home security systems, allowing for control of multiple actions with just one touch. Arteor comes with Netatmo connected technology, allowing for complete control of the home from anywhere, with a mobile device. Users are able to turn lights on remotely, control individual appliances, use voice commands via Siri or Google Home, and monitor energy consumption on the go. 

Most importantly, lighting an Australian home has become more about innovation, energy efficiency and versatility. By providing your clients with intelligent, easy-to-use, cost-effective solutions they can be assured that the home will work for their ever-changing needs for many years to come.

Dimmer switch
The use of dimmers is an ideal way to control the level of lighting
Image supplied: Legrand
Dimmer switch
Legrand offers a wide range of dimmer modules designed for use in Australia and that are compatible with LED lighting
Image supplied: Legrand

Kelvin – Colour temperature

Common colour temperatures and their typical uses:

CCT (K)           Colour designation      Appearance   Typical uses
2700-3200      Warm white          Similar to incandescent      Household rooms
4100      Cool white  Neutral light         Offices, garages
5500-6500      Daylight          Cold, harsh light          Bathrooms, laundries


This article has been compiled with contributions from Solatube, Beacon Lighting Commercial and Legrand Australia.

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