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General Advice

A lighting system includes lamps (light bulbs), luminaires (light fixtures), and controls (switches, dimmers, timers, and motion detectors). The advice found on this site can help builders and home owners select a luminaire, lamps, and the right control.
  • Use fluorescent lamps and suitable luminaires in rooms that are lighted much of the time. Fluorescent lamps are available in many sizes and shapes; some are shown on these pages.
  • Fluorescent lamps having color temperatures of 2700 to 3000 K provide a warm light similar to light from incandescent lamps. When a fluorescent lamp is labeled RE730, objects illuminated by its light appear much as they do under an incandescent lamp. Light from lamps labeled RE827 or RE830 renders the colors of objects in a room even closer to incandescent light.
  • Use at least a small window or skylight in every room to provide general lighting. In large rooms install windows on more than one wall if possible.
  • Light-colored walls and ceilings maximize the impact of light. Consider whitewash or light-colored stain for wood ceilings and walls.
  • Electronic ballasts minimize the flicker and noise often found in lighting systems with magnetic ballasts.
  • When a luminaire designed for incandescent lamps must be used, a screwbase compact fluorescent lamp may be the best choice. These compact fluorescent lamps fit in many luminaires designed for incandescent lamps. To maintain acceptable light output, select a compact fluorescent lamp of at least one third the wattage of the incandescent lamp being replaced.
  • When people look at an installed luminaire, they should not be able to see the lamp from usual seated or standing positions. Select luminaires accordingly to prevent visual discomfort from exposed lamps.
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