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Lighting can transform your new house into a home. Early planning about your lighting requirements can save a costly and inconvenient retrofit at a later stage.

As part of this planning process you will need to decide about the type of lighting you require. This decision is more than thinking about whether you want downlights, and if so, how many. You will need to think about lighting types such as:

Fluorescent – these types produce light when their internal coating glows. Fluorescent lighting is generally not as warm and intimate as normal globes although it is more efficient. Some of these lights are not suitable for dimming.


Halogen – these lights create an intense bright light that is suitable for highlighting feature walls, paintings or any other element of a room. They usually require a transformer, and have differing life cycles depending on the quality.

Efficiency is important. Lighting represents around 12 per cent of electricity usage from households, and around 25 per cent of the electricity used by the commercial sector.

Fluorescent lights are quite popular in kitchen and laundry areas due to their efficiency, brightness and reduction of shadows. Downlights are also useful in work or focus areas.

For family rooms or dining areas your lighting choices will depend on the atmosphere that you are trying to create. Make sure that you have a light over the dining table. Dimming switches are a good idea to allow variation in light intensity eg. when the television is on.

In bathrooms lighting should incorporate heat lamps and an exhaust fan to reduce condensation and mould. Additional lighting near the mirror is important to allow for shaving and make up application.

Considerable attention should be given to external lighting, including in the garden. Consider the use of motion-sensitive lighting or spotlights for aesthetic and security reasons. Low voltage garden lights can create a great atmosphere.

Like in all things, careful planning at the start with your lighting plan will ensure that you really enjoy your new home.

Make sure that your electricity plan which specifies the number of lights and type of lighting you require, the number and location of power points, whether your home will be “smart wired” and whether devices such as hard-wired security system will be installed at construction stage.

It is critical that a great deal of planning goes into this matter. Variations to a building contract during the construction process to include, say additional power points or dimmer switches, can be expensive. Many homebuyers with whom I have spoken experience inconvenience when they move in and realise that they have omitted electrical requirements for certain appliances or devices which then require a retrofit.

Home lighting is also a critical part of home decorating because it sets the mood of a room. Lighting can fit several categories:

Task lighting – This provides sufficient light for the tasks such as reading, shaving or washing. This type of lighting should not glare and should make things easy to see.

Natural lighting – This type of lighting comes through windows, and skylights and can vary depending on the season, the weather and time of day.

General lighting  – This type of lighting illuminates a whole room. Recessed, track lighting or some wall sconces fit in this category.

Accent lighting – This is focused lighting which can highlight a particular painting, or aspect of a room.

You need to think about each type of lighting that you require as part of your overall electricity plan.

Lighting can be very effective in making a room look bigger or smaller. For example if you have a small room which you want to make look larger, up lighting of the ceiling may prove effective. On the other hand if the ceiling is too high, you can create a more intimate feel by not allowing much light escape above the height of a light or lamp shade.

Lighting has a dual purpose in a new home. First there is the functional aspect of providing sufficient lighting in a room for the intended purposes of the occupants. Second lighting can affect the ambience and have desired aesthetic effects on the mood, warmth and intimacy of a room. You need to consider both these elements in your electrical plan.



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