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How to Buy the Right Lights, According to Lighting Experts

In collaboration with Sol Luminaire

It involves MUCH more than just picking out the brightest lamp in the shop.

Despite what you may think, shopping for the right lights can be a surprisingly in-depth experience. For instance, you may have to choose between track lights and recessed fixtures or decide whether to outfit them with button switches or dimmers. And that’s not even taking more complex factors – like warmth, colour accuracy and glare – into account.

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Feeling clueless? Don’t worry, because we asked Joseph Ho, co-founder of homegrown lighting store Sol Luminaire to break down the entire selection process by sharing 5 shopping tips that’ll let you achieve a brighter, better home.

1. Take note of the design features you want

If you’re short on space, one tip that Joseph has would be to purchase lighting fixtures that are more compact in size. “Because Singapore homes are quite small and have short ceiling heights, having too many bulky fixtures will congest your home and make it look cramped,” says Joseph. “But at the same time, it’s possible to downsize these fixtures in your home with smaller ones that don’t compromise on performance.”

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Though it has an ultra-slim body comprising of individual units that measures only 3.2cm wide, the Line Mini offers exceptional output performance, just like its predecessor the Line

Even though size matters, it isn’t the only design-related factor that you should be keeping an eye out for when picking lighting fixtures for your home. To create more stylish settings or the right ambience, Joseph recommends paying attention to “shapes as well as materials”, which can have a “huge effect on how lighting fixtures, and light itself, look within your space.”

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Lighting fixtures, such as the SiO (left) and Al203 (right), possess unique components. The former has a cylindrical glass-blown dome that’s tinted, whereas the latter features a curved aluminium housing which minimises direct glare.

2. Figure out what controls work best for you

While you can trust traditional button switches to work well for your home, how about switching things up with toggle switches or dimmers instead?

“These options aren’t just alternatives to button switches,” says Joseph. “Some of these controls are made with stylish materials, like powder-coated black on steel and polished brass. That presents another opportunity to introduce industrial-style or luxe design accents to interiors.”

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Featuring diamond-cut knurled switches and metallic panels, these lighting controls from UK-based brand Buster + Punch pack a stylistic punch.

However, if you’re planning to install dimmers for your home, it bears remembering that compatibility is a key factor for consideration. “There are two main types of dimmers, leading edge and trailing edge,” says Joseph. “Trailing edge dimmers work better with lower-wattage lamps such as LEDs. So, what this means is that you’re less likely to encounter issues like flickering if you were to use them in conjunction with LEDs that consume less power.”

3. Take note of warmth and colour accuracy

Unless you’re a lighting expert, it’s unlikely that you’re familiar or have even heard of Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT) and Colour Rendering Index (CRI). But if you’ve heard of these terms and aren’t too sure what they entail, Joseph has a layman explanation.

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A room with lights at 2000K (left) and 3000K (right). Note the difference in lighting temperature.

“Basically, CCT is a lighting characteristic that determines how warm or cool a light source is,” says Joseph. “It’s measured in Kelvins or K in short, and you might have seen this unit of measurement in the white balance settings of your DSLR or smartphone cameras. Generally, warmer lights are around from 2000K – 3000K, whereas cooler lights, with a more bluish tone, appear when the CCT is over 5000K.”

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Both the Voli (left) and Isa (right) feature dim-to-warm technology that allow users to adjust their CCT to create ‘relaxing’ (3000K) or ‘sunset’ (2000K) settings.

On the other hand, CRI as how Joseph explains it is “a measure of how accurately an object’s colours are rendered”. In addition to that, CRI also plays a role in determining visual crispness or “how sharp an object, like the details of a painting, will be to your eyes”.

For optimum lighting, Joseph recommends having your CCT consistent throughout at 3000K and CRI at a high 90: “With these two settings, you’ll be able to achieve a suitably soothing ambience as well as optimum clarity.”

4. Ensure there isn’t too much glare

“Beyond aesthetics, there’s also a functional aspect to lighting which you should take note of,” says Joseph. “Glare is an important part of that, especially since excessively bright lights will reduce your productivity and comfort at home,”

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Aside from a more compact design than its predecessor, the Halo Mini also features greater performance as it has a UGR of <9, which means the glare it emits is almost non-existent.

Other than visiting a showroom and testing out a lighting product in person to determine how comfortable it’ll be on your eyes, Joseph suggests asking for the Unified Glare Rating (or UGR in short) as well.

“Knowing this will give you a rough idea of how comfortable a light source is based on numerical figures,” says Joseph. “UGR values range from 5 to 40. The higher the value, the greater the glare. So, take note!”

5. Consider getting a smart home setup with the right components

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Smart home systems are known for bringing convenience and enhanced functionality, but these setups come with their fair share of challenges too.

“Common lighting issues that you might encounter with a smart home are flickering lights and unresponsiveness when you’re dimming them. This can be due to poor network quality or compatibility issues between your smart lights and control systems,” says Joseph. “But these issues can be remedied with the right components.”

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AEON light fixtures are compatible with popular smart home control systems, including Google Home, Control4 as well as Lutron, which allows dynamic control of LED lights through both smart devices as well as manual switches.

One example would be none other than Sol Luminaire’s line of in-house developed AEON lighting fixtures. “AEON products come with the latest Chip-on-Board LED technology that maximises compatibility with smart home systems, and they also have greater energy efficiency because of their higher lumen-per-watt ratio,” says Joseph.

“Essentially, what this means is that you’ll get the best of both worlds with these lights.”

For more information about Sol Luminaire and AEON lighting products, visit their website or drop by their showroom at 395 Guillemard Road, Singapore 399793.

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