Does it cost more?

IMG_6289 smallOne of the reasons that light in our homes and workplaces is not good for us is that our primary considerations are 1) how cheaply can we get lighting and 2) how few watts can we use.  I am often asked “will good lighting cost more than regular lighting?”

Yep.

Let’s say you hire a Christmas Tree grower to deliver a tree and they offer 1000 watts of lighting for just $10.  You’re in a hurry, you don’t have time to research it, you figure the person who grows a tree probably knows best how to light a tree, so you sign the contract and turn your energy to a million other decisions.  What kind of tree topper will you get?  What type of tree skirt?  Will you add garland?  Ornaments? Tinsel?  Before long, you don’t even remember that hiring the tree grower to do lighting was a decision you made.

Christmas arrives.  The tree arrives and is set up.  Just before leaving, the tree grower places a 1000-watt halogen work light underneath the tree and points it out into the living room.  Done.  The grower delivered lighting for less money and did it on time.  There is just one problem.

It’s blinding, ugly, and just plain useless.

So you turn off the halogen work lights.  The tree is already decorated, so you’ll have to strip all the ornaments off, take off the garland, put away the tinsel, go out and buy new lights, install them, and start the decorating process all over again.  Ugh.

When we build homes, we leave lighting to the builders and electricians.  Some give us LED disc lights, ceiling fan lights, and cheap surface mounts because they are inexpensive and appear bright and are super easy to install.  There is just one problem.

It’s blinding, ugly, and just plain useless.

If you don’t like it, you have to rip out the drywall, rewire the home, replace the drywall, re-paint, and clean up the mess.

You have a choice: pay less money, get bad lighting, then pay more money to fix it than if you had done it right in the first place.   The second choice is to pay less money and live every day of your life with lighting that does not give you the gift of light.  The final choice is to do it well the first time.

I wish I could make good lighting cost less, but it won’t.  10 strings of Christmas Lights require more wiring, more bulbs, and more installation labor than a couple of halogen work lights.

But the results?  They’re worth every penny.  If we do it for a dead tree we stick in the corner of our living room for a month, why don’t we do it for our homes we use every day of the year?

MA Observatorium-3

I chose to feature a few photographs from my other life as a lighting designer for non-residential spaces.  Good lighting usually costs more, no matter what the project.  Good lighting design, however, can save you from wasting money on bad choices that cause headaches, sleep disruption, and a colossal loss of enjoyment.

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