High ceilings

jasperdogNovember 16, 2011

Anyone have lighting suggestions for 14 foot ceilings in a living room?

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Cove lighting would work well. The light output has to be fairly high since cove lighting is indirect - the light bounces off the ceiling. The eW Powercore series led bars from Philips work quite well.

Other alternatives/ supplements
LED recessed lamps (if the recessed cans have already been installed)
Some builders put in standard recessed cans which don't work well with the typical bulb (incandescent or CFL) as too much light is trapped within the can. However, LED recessed lamps (CREE CR6, LR6, Sylvania RT6) do work well and can be fitted into most recessed cans.

Torchieres to provide indirect lighting


    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 11:10AM
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Thanks. We are still in the planning stage but are almost ready to start getting GC bids. We meet with the architect again tomorrow. Hopefully we are ready to move forward.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 12:25AM
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Aesthetically, It's mostly about scale, I think. We have 10-foot ceilings, and our lighting fixtures need presence. Chandeliers are metal or wood, not the sparkly kind, and in the kitchen so far we've just had 3 industrial 2 bulb fluorescents (um, 20 years). Problem with replacing those has been that they just work well - the fixture size is good for the room and the height, and the light has been good. The fixtures are just starting to fail, and it is tough to find something as "just right" but prettier. Bit of a long story, won't bore you with details. But just to say, you are right to start thinking about it. Chandeliers are fairly easy to find, but flush fixtures with good scale and attractive, very tough.

Practically, one issue is seeing bulbs. You will be looking up at your fixtures more than most people might, and so you should think about if you want to be looking directly at bulbs or have them screened from below. Recessed cans for that reason seem like a bad idea to me, although it's possible my imagination is not encompassing all the options that exist; don't know that kind of lighting at all.

Karin L

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 1:38AM
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If the 20 yr old kitchen fluorescent lamp fixtures are starting to fail, you probably just need updated ballasts. 20 years ago they were still using the old T12 magnetic ballasts, which are heavy, make humming noises, sometimes flicker, and use thick 40w four foot tubes. It's fairly easy and inexpensive to replace those obsolete ballasts with modern T8 electronic ballasts, which have none of the aforementioned problems and use thinner 32w T8 tubes which often give off better light quality as well as being more efficient. You can keep the rest of the existing fixture.

For recessed lighting in very high ceilings you may want to consider metal halide HID lamps as well as bright LEDs, halogens, or fluorescents.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 11:26AM
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Thank you Lee, and sorry for the hijack, Jasperdog. You've pretty perfectly described what our old fluorescents are doing, Lee. We are going to look into new fixtures as we are also looking at these and asking ourselves why we live with such ugly fixtures anyway! But I appreciate the option you've suggested, as it will be a problem replicating the light level.

One issue that Jasper might also consider, and that plagues us, is that light really only does its thing when it bounces off something, and as such the size of the room and the placement of the fixtures really matters. Any fixture near a wall will have more impact that the same fixture hung in the middle of open space. Our kitchen is 10-16 and the three fixtures are placed crosswise at about 4, 8, and 12 feet of the 16 foot dimension, so there is light reflection off the end walls. Also, because they have translucent sides they beam light off the adjacent ceiling as well as directly down. The end effect is a really nice ambient light from, of all things, these industrial-looking fixtures. It maybe helps that the ceiling is warm colour, sort of a peach tone.

So if you are at the planning stages of a large room, you might already consider how you will arrange furniture and thus whether you can put fixtures somewhere other than in the middle of the room - over conversational groupings for example. Otherwise you can always swag the lamps from wherever the boxes are installed, of course.

With recessed fixtures I think you would lose all the advantages of ambient light.

Karin L

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 3:01PM
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If the recessed fixture is the traditional "light source fitted inside a deep enclosure", the amount of light exiting the enclosure would be significantly reduced. The spread of light would also be constrained.
Examples include recessed light boxes containing T8/ T12 tubes, CFL and incandescent recessed light cans.

The traditional recessed fixture has other disadvantages when installed in a high ceiling
1. Lamp replacement would be challenging.
2. The "spotlight" effect could be more visible.

Lights such as the Cree LR6 have the light source close to the surface and do not have the characteristics of a recessed light can (- more light output, ambient light, not glaring to look at - due to the diffuser). The "bulb" itself (LED array) is not visible and is not glaring to look at.

Cove lighting will work well with 10 ft (or higher) ceilings. However, higher light output will be required as the light is reflected off the ceiling.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2011 at 4:07PM
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We have halogen recessed cans in our current home and are working on the lighting for the new house. One of the things our lighting designer stressed on the recessed cans was the spotlight effect, with light pooling on the floor. Nothing seems to do that like halogen, but I've been trying the LED PAR30 replacements and they seem to work pretty well in the kitchen. I looked at the Cree cans at our local store, and I wasn't impressed; I like the LED lamps better in our Juno cans than what I saw from the Cree.

In the new house I have some 13' ceilings too, and I'm wondering whether the recessed can lighting with LED lamps will reach the floor. Does anyone know?

I do plan to use cove lighting as well, along with some general lighting. Compared to my experience when we built our current home 16 years ago, I feel as though I'm caught in a sort of technology limbo where lots of new ideas are emerging but not proven yet.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 12:45PM
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If you are expecting spotlighting from Cree CR6/ LR6 type lights, you'll be disappointed as they behave more like diffuse surface mounts (with minimal spotlighting). There are higher output deep recess Cree LR6 lamps (LR6-DR1000) which should behave more like recessed cans for taller ceilings as the beam angle is ~ 74 degrees).

Cove lighting provides indirect lighting which is directly opposite to the spotlighting effect seen with PAR lights in recessed cans.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 9:38PM
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Here is a link I just came across that might be helpful. It is from Osram Sylvania and provides information on light output from their line of LED replacements for PAR20, PAR30 and PAR38 halogens. Their "Professional LED" line seems to have the best specs for color quality and lumen output.

The chart on Page 4 of the document shows the radius of the pool of light various distances from the light source for the different lumen output ranges of the LEDs.

Here is a link that might be useful: Osram Sylvania LED Technical Information

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 12:59PM
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Davidtay, you are right, that is what I didn't like about the Cree. It was mounted in a lighting store in a 9' high ceiling. The light just dispersed and didn't reach the floor at all, and the area overall looked dim. Our current home has 9' ceilings and when I turn on one 50w PAR38 halogen it provides not only a bright 6' circular pool of light on the floor but also more general light than the Cree. The Cree did look like a wide flood, though, so I will ask about the higher output LR6 and see if it has a different effect.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 4:18PM
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Davidtay and Hilltop55, thanks for letting me know that this is another thing I must look for since I want the light to hit the floor as well as spread out so my tiles will look pretty.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 5:58PM
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The deep recess high output Cree LR6 lamps are quite pricey compared to the CR6.

Try polar-ray.com.

A kitchen typically requires higher levels of lighting than a family room. If the kitchen space will be used for other functions than food preparation (or if it is really part of a large contiguous space), you will need to employ layers of lighting - 2 or more sets of light sources on different switches (probably dimmers - to alter the mood, avoid over-lighting).

If you live in a jurisdiction with energy efficiency laws (eg title 24 in CA), finding the appropriate compliant lighting may be the main challenge.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 10:49PM
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