Monday, August 22, 2011


Lighting is really difficult! Illumination is like sound; it has so many qualities that finding what you want is more luck on the part of the consumer than anything else. Lights can be more or less strong, more or less directional, and it simply isn't something you can work out in a lighting shop, surrounded by other light sources. Some spotlights, for example, are really for security lighting; others are less concentrated and will provide comfortable light for outdoor dining.

Lighting shops, in my experience, are usually filled with astonishingly ugly fittings. Some years ago we discovered Beacon Lighting. Their shops tend to be at least 60% attractive fittings, and even the unattractive ones aren't that bad, except maybe for this one:

How on earth could anyone think this was attractive? Let alone practical! But I digress.

We ended up with the following, all from Beacon Lighting:

Kitchen Triple LED spotlights on bracket, LEDS for under wall cupboards
Family Room LED downlights, stainless steel Typhoon fan
Study Laconia pendant
Entry Recycle a fitting
Kids' Playroom Rocket light
Stairs Project wall sconce
Patio Sentinel spotlights
HTML Tables

And here are the problems we encountered along the way.

Choice: it's hard to know exactly what you want, and whether it will provide adequate illumination. In some areas, like exposed outdoor lighting, the range is very small. This can mean you choose very quickly, or that you go away thinking, "None of the above!" Even without the returns we made, several shopping trips would have been necessary just to decide on fittings. On the positive side, Beacon were always very accommodating with returns and so on, and their staff are friendly and helpful (if occasionally short on technical knowledge).

Vue from Beacon, for our kitchen, was an easy decision. Few of these rail-type fittings have such clean lines:

The second was supply: lots of things had to be ordered in for us as the Beacon stores don't hold very much stock. And the most convenient Beacon store is 20-30 minutes away, down the motorway. We had to come back for these Sentinel lights for our patio:

Thirdly, we had a problem due to inadequate technical information. The LED downlights were 62mm, not the standard 80mm. The fact that they had no user-replaceable parts wasn't mentioned either. Seriously -- once the LEDs failed we were supposed to pay an electrician to remove the fitting from the ceiling and throw it away. This sounds very wasteful to me even if the fitting is supposed to last 30 years -- for one thing, what if one light fails long before the others? Is anyone going to gamble against Murphy's Law?

Of course we didn't know about the size until after our electrician had drilled the 80mm holes in the ceiling. He replaced the downlights with standard-size, user-replaceable LED fittings, which were cheaper than the ones we had found. Light fittings are expensive and it's worth seeing what your electrician can get at trade prices, especially things like downlights, which all look the same and which nobody will actually be examining closely.

Next, the Laconia pendant's glass shade was broken when the electrician opened the box. Bad luck, I suppose, but it meant a trip back to Beacon for another one.

Then we looked at the light fitting we planned to recycle, and discovered that the rod kit for the old fitting had disappeared during the building process, leaving us with the bowl. Our electrician, understandably, won't fit the bowl to a fitting it wasn't designed for, so we are waiting to hear back about a rod kit that will fit.

The Domus lights, which we bought from OzLighting, have a transformer which must be set 60cm above soil level. For most applications, this is fine: you attach it to the house wall and run the cables where you want them. This won't work on an island bed, however. Guess where we want it? Our electrician is getting a suitable transformer for us.

This is one of the fittings that didn't cause any dramas. Of course, we haven't tried putting a globe in it yet!


Rock rose said...

I agree, it is one of the hardest things to decide upon. I really do like those tiny spot lights in the ceiling. Halogen. We have lots of the big ones with dimmers. Your sconces are very nice. We have some sconces but I have never liked the light they give and never put them on unless necessary. We have side table lamps which give a much nicer light to the room although most would find it not enough. Not very keen on these fluorescent lights but they are phasing out 100 watt incandescent lights here with more to follow each year. Hope you manage to find the rod kit.
When's the party!!

Anonymous said...

Love Beacon lighting.
Nice choices.... especially the pendant.

Chookie said...

Glad you people like it! There will be a party, but probably not till we are quite settled in.

Charles said...

Great selection, hope it didn't blow the budget. It's always balancing what looks great and cost

Victor Wetherbee said...

Ugh! Choosing the right lighting for your house is really hard. But it's a good thing your electrician was there to help you get things done faster.

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Marko said...

the Lighting change the way a person looks at something but it is also important to see that one does not over expose things in there interior which shows the little flaws in other items.

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Lighting in your home makes a huge difference, so planning is key before installation.