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12 Common Lighting Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

four-light-bulbs

Light affects health and mood, but it also plays a significant role in comfort and decoration. A poorly lit interior, dark rooms or neglected details can influence your appreciation of a room or your entire home!

We have listed 12 common lighting mistakes for you.

Mistake #1: Buy LEDs that cannot be used with a dimmer

LED bulbs use 80% less energy than regular bulbs and last 25 times longer. No wonder why they’ve overtaken the market.

LED bulbs come in all shapes and sizes and offer excellent colour accuracy to achieve the desired shade of white, from cool to warm.

However, not all LED bulbs or pot lights offer dimming capabilities despite their unique abilities. And nothing is more annoying than dealing with a single light intensity that cannot be adapted according to the time of day or the activity.

This common mistake can be trivial for single bulbs, but it can get expensive if it’s pot lights.

To avoid this mistake, the rule of thumb: make sure the LED lights you buy are dimmable. Always.

This information can be found on the product packaging and will save you a lot of trouble.

Mistake #2: Omit lighting in closets or walk-ins

Omitting lighting in a closet or walk-in closet should be illegal. The only reason to justify such an omission is that you have tinkered with said storage space yourself and are not an electrician.

Otherwise, it’s a must.

These storage spaces are full of crannies where clothes, jewelry, shoes and other ties can be piled up. 

When there is insufficient light, it is easy to lose these tiny items or misplace them for months or even years. The only way to find them will be by conducting a thorough cleaning. 

In addition, walk-in and closet lights add convenience as you will be able to get dressed in the morning without needing to turn on the bedroom light and wake up your loved one.

And speaking of walk-ins, here’s a free tip: add electrical outlets, even if you don’t see the need for them right away…

Maybe you’ll want to iron your shirt or dress in the walk-in closet. Or keep the electric toothbrush or shaver plugged in the bathroom closet to prevent these items from lying around on the counter. You’re welcome!

Mistake #3: Forget to add power outlets by the bed

The standard in interior design is to place the bed on the wall facing the door. Thus, when you enter a bedroom, this piece of furniture should be in the center of the room, in plain view.

With this information in mind, it is possible to plan and think about the present and future uses. In short, it’s easy to know where electrical outlets should go.

And electrical outlets, in a bedroom, you need at least one on each side of the bed.

bedroom-with-night-lamp

You may not be using a bedside lamp now, but it could eventually be handy. Those lights add flair or ambiance to the room, and they’re great if you ultimately want to read or do your crossword puzzles.

Plus, even though sleep experts don’t recommend having the phone in the bedroom, chances are you charge it (or would like to charge it) daily on your bedside table.

An electrical outlet on each side of the bed will come in handy sooner or later. How should you evaluate the distances between them? Calculate the space for a large bed in the master bedroom and a double bed in the other bedrooms (even if they only contain single beds).

This little detail will be very appreciated by everyone. In addition, it will save you from using power cords in the absence of electrical outlets nearby.

Mistake #4: Poorly plan your three-way switches

When it comes to lighting, here is what a three-way setup might look like.

What is a three-way?

Commonly called a “three-way” in electricity, this way of connecting the wires allows one light to be controlled by more than one switch.

We find this type of connection in the common rooms, such as the kitchen and the living room, and on both sides of a staircase so that you can turn on the light whether you are upstairs or downstairs.

Generally speaking, three-way connections are well executed by the electricians who carry out the lighting work in the house. But since no one is perfect, connection mistakes can happen, even in the most luxurious homes.

This error will not ruin your life but can certainly be an everyday irritant. A poorly positioned light that systematically forces you to cross a room or go down the stairs to turn it off or on is annoying, that’s for sure.

How to fix this

If you don’t want to redo the wiring, here’s a simple solution: smart light switches and dimmers that allow you to virtually create this type of connection.

How does it work? It’s simple. A good smart switch will allow you to set its parameters and choose for yourself what the physical product should do.

For example, you can create a device automation where you will select the device (a switch or a dimmer) and the condition (a single or double click) to trigger the desired action. Et voilà: your three-way will be created!

Mistake #5: Not enough three ways in the house

This common mistake echoes the previous one. Some three-ways can be deficient, but having too few three-ways in a house is certainly annoying.

The rule of thumb: large rooms (living room, kitchen, dining room, home theatre room, etc.), hallways and stairways should all have their own three-way installation.

Think about how you will move around a room. If a room has several accesses, make sure you can turn off the lights at the entrance to each access.

It is true that in some house configurations, the situation could look a bit crazy. Imagine the kitchen which has access to the living room, one to the veranda and one to the second floor… you would end up with an endless series of switches placed side by side.

The expert advice

To avoid having too many side-by-side switches, opt for smart light switches or dimmers on which you have programmed device automations. This way, you will be able to create all three ways virtually and only have one or two switches/dimmers to control the lighting in a room.

For example, a single click turns on one light, but a double click turns all the lights in the room on or off. Creating automations is simple; here’s how.

Mistake #6: Select poor quality dimmers

There’s nothing worse than conducting beautiful home renovations while using cheap materials. First, even though everyone tells you it doesn’t show, it does show.  Second, because lower-quality materials will degrade faster and last, you will feel it too after a short while.

Here’s an example. You decide to install pot lights and to make things right, you go for dimmable LEDs, which are both more economical and durable. But then you buy the cheapest dimmer available at the home improvement store.

That’s a mistake.

Why? Because regular dimmers cannot reduce the brightness. It is worse when controlling LED bulbs designed to provide better lighting precision. As a result, the light will flicker when at the lowest intensity, and crackling noise will come from the dimmer.

For the best lighting, especially if you’re using LEDs in your home, you’ll need an adaptive-phase dimmer. This product costs more than its standard equivalent, but the performance is there.

Slow decorating is the key.

A very fashionable strategy these days to avoid cutting corners during renovations? Slow decorating. This growing trend invites you to take the time to choose the objects, furniture and materials to recreate the perfect space for you.

Mistake #7: Install a switch too close to the thermostat

A common mistake in lighting is to install a light switch or dimmer too close to a thermostat.

The reason is simple: any electrical or electronic device produces heat. This is the case for appliances, computers, telephones… and for your switches.

When these are installed near a thermostat, especially if they are installed below said thermostat (since heat rises), they can lead to an erroneous reading of the room temperature and affect the performance of the heating. This is because the temperature sensor in the thermostat will receive heat from the switch rather than sensing the actual room temperature.

This will result in the actual room temperature not representing the temperature displayed on the thermostat screen. It will be slightly colder in the room because the temperature read by the thermostat sensor will be wrong.

Mistake #8: Install light switches instead of dimmers

The advantage of using dimmers lies in their ability to dim the lighting to add ambiance and to adapt the light required according to the activity and the time of day.

The lighting of a moment of relaxation at the end of the day will not be the same as the morning routine. In addition, soft lighting invites calm and peace, while bright light is ideal when you are in action.

Thus, the mistake often made is to install switches by default.

The ideal is to install dimmers everywhere (or almost) in the house. Even in the bathroom where you might enjoy some relaxation time.

Mistake #9: Have no ceiling lights or pot lights in a room

This classic mistake often observed in condominiums is painful since good lighting should always include several sources and formats of lights. This is especially true in dark rooms.

Provide multiple layers of lighting in each room: table lamps or floor lamps and a light fixture and/or pot lights.

This allows you to add brightness, ambiance and adapted lighting for any project or activity taking place in a room.

kitchen-with-a-ceiling-lamp

Mistake #10: Forget to install a device that turns the lights off automatically

Do you know a spouse or child who continually forgets to turn off the lights? The infallible remedy is to provide a device that automatically turns off the lights, such as a timer or a motion detector.

The rooms to prioritize are generally the following: the bathroom or the laundry room. Wardrobes, the garage and children’s rooms are also to be considered.

Motion sensor, physical timer or smart switch?

When you don’t know much about it, it’s easy to mistakingly select the wrong device for your needs.

The motion sensor is great if you walk into a room with your hands full (with the laundry basket, for example) or if a child gets up to go to the bathroom at night. The disadvantage is that the light will not turn on if you are not in the right place.

Several products offer the possibility of setting a timer directly on the device. While most are easy to use, others are complex. What is annoying is if you want to change the duration of the timer a few years later. Will you find the user manual…? Another disadvantage of this type of product lies in the limitation of durations. Few devices offer more than three or four options, as these are presented physically on the product.

Finally, smart light switches and dimmers offer the ability to program a timer. The advantage lies in the great simplicity of use since the programming is done in the application installed on your smartphone or tablet.

The flexibility of durations is also much more interesting. For example, it is possible to select a timer ranging from one minute to 3 hours. This makes this product very interesting in a wider variety of contexts.

The only downside: these smart devices will generally be more expensive than their programmable equivalents.

Mistake #11: Choose cold light in living areas

The colour temperature of a bulb or pot light influences the comfort and atmosphere of a room. In the lighting industry, we talk about warm, neutral or cold shades, and the warmth of these is measured in degrees Kelvin (°K).

Warm whites provide a comfortable atmosphere; neutral whites lead to clear and functional lighting, while cold whites provide powerful, bluish lighting.

The former is perfect for living rooms and bedrooms. The second one is best suited for kitchens, bathrooms, and the home office. The latter should only be used in the garage or basement.

In short, for the living areas, stay away from cool whites or whites ranging from 4600°K to 6500°K.

Mistake #12: Install your light switches on your own

Since lighting is connected to high voltage, it is strongly recommended not to carry out this electrical work yourself. It is best to contact a certified electrician, even to install a switch.

In addition to running the risk of being electrocuted, a person who does not have the appropriate skills could endanger their home since a poor electrical connection represents a fire hazard.

To find a competent person in the field, refer to available resources such as the Corporation of Master Electricians of Québec (CMEQ) website, which offers a list of professionals by region.

The conclusion

Lighting is one of the most essential components of a living environment. It will influence your mood, it will set the tone for the rooms in your home and enhance the decoration. These twelve common mistakes are common but can easily be avoided or corrected.

Which one (or which ones) do you commit at home?

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