Lighting Research Center

Advancing the effective use of light for society and the environment

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Architectural Fixtures
Architectural fixtures are generally installed to provide uniform, general illumination to a living space. They can also be used to provide light in transitional spaces. They can be built-in systems, mounted horizontally on the wall, ceiling, or on top of cabinets; a shielding board (also referred to as fascia) should conceal direct views of the lamp. These fixtures usually contain high-quality fluorescent tubes. It is important to emphasize that not all fluorescent tubes buzz, provide poor color rendering, or cause headaches. To ensure satisfactory results always select, what is termed, a T8 fluorescent tube that is operated on an electronic ballast. Contact a major light bulb manufacturer for more information on high-quality fluorescent tubes (see below).

Architectural fixtures include:

  • Soffits direct light downward from the ceiling-wall junction. Soffits wash walls and provide general lighting in rooms with low ceilings. Soffits can be used for direct lighting over a counter or a table in many work areas placed close to the wall.
  • Valances direct light upward and downward from walls and should be mounted at least 12 inches (in.) below the ceiling. Valances provide general lighting and wall-washing. Use valances in rooms with ceiling heights of at least 8 feet (ft).
  • Coves are built into the wall and direct light upward to the ceiling. Coves fit well in rooms with high ceilings and above kitchen cabinets. Coves should be mounted at least 12 in. below the ceiling.
Soffits direct light downward. Hide direct view of the bulb by using baffles. Valances direct light upward and downward. Hide direct view of the bulb by using a fascia. Coves direct light upward to the ceiling and use the light-colored ceiling as a reflector to distribute light throughout the room.

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