Lighting Primers? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews

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post #1 of 15 Old 09-24-2015, 07:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Lighting Primers?

Are there any threads here or links that you know of that give guidelines on home theater lighting or interior lighting in general?

I'm not worried about electrical/wiring... just the number, placement, and type of lights.

I have skimmed the Graphik Eye sticky, but what I am looking for is more of the lighting design element... how many lights should be used, where should they go, what type of lights, size, trim, etc.

Thanks for any help.
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post #2 of 15 Old 09-24-2015, 08:12 AM
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Are you thinking of doing anything cool like LEDs in a soffit, or are you just going to add some sconces/recessed lights in the ceiling.

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post #3 of 15 Old 09-24-2015, 08:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Primarily I am looking for layout guidelines for recessed lighting.
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post #4 of 15 Old 09-24-2015, 09:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PerryH View Post
Primarily I am looking for layout guidelines for recessed lighting.
me too... been wondering this same type of info for my basement project...
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post #5 of 15 Old 09-24-2015, 04:22 PM
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If you want even lighting you start by making sure that none of the lights are more than the height of the room apart and that whatever that distance is no light is further than 1/2 that distance from the wall. So with an 8 ft ceiling start with lights 4 ft from the wall and 8 ft apart. Then you address any task lighting you need.
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post #6 of 15 Old 09-24-2015, 04:52 PM
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Check out the " Show me your completed theater" thread. Have a peek on potlight layouts. If you have measurements on where your acoustic panels are/ door entrance openings/ movie posters etc...make sure your lights aren't landing off center of these items. A bad result would be a light shining down on the edge of an acoustic panel instead of dead center or uneven spacing of your soffit lights shining down on your screen. Do you want 3 or maybe 4 potlights shining down on the screen etc. The list goes on. I've " dry fitted" my acoustic panel on my walls to help where I am cutting potlight holes in my mdf soffits. Hope this helps.
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post #7 of 15 Old 09-24-2015, 05:07 PM
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I think you first need to understand what type of situation you're in .. ie. is it a 'true home theater' or is it more of a 'media room'? If it's more of a media room where you have people over to watch sports, then you might want some central 'task lighting' for snacks at half time or something like that. True home theaters tend to want to avoid too much light and often go more with LED uplighting on the ceiling or valences for downlighting/downwashing a wall or the side columns that hold surround speakers.

I went with 50W halogen downlighting for the side walls but I'm glad I put them on a dimmer so that I can adjust things. This is especially important if you are using a projector as too much room light may reflect onto the screen and affect the contrast. I've also seen a few people do LED downlighting near the bottom of the wall which can look pretty cool but you need some side wall trim to make that work.

It's easier to downlight from a valence because they tend to be larger and can easily handle potlights in the 5-6" range .. although the newer LED models are considerably smaller and don't give off as much heat. If you're planning to dim any LED lighting, make sure it can dimmed; check the box .. some LEDs can't be easily dimmed. The other thing I find about downlights is that if the light is flush or near the bottom of the can, you're going to see it and it's going to be distracting. Better to get one where the light is recessed in the can so you can't see the light source when you're seated. Sometimes you can tilt the fixture so that it's facing more toward the wall which can help. My advice is to temporarily wire up one light to an extension cord or something and hold it where you plan to put it so that you can see what kind of shadow it casts

If you have a 'true home theater' with projector scenario, most people also put some pot lights over the stage .. which I've never really understood since you'd never have these on while watching a movie .. and if you're not watching a movie, they're just lighting up an uninteresting while screen. I don't have any lighting anywhere near my screen.

Just my $0.02 worth. Check my link for an example of what I did.

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post #8 of 15 Old 09-24-2015, 05:35 PM
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The potlights shining on the screen creates the " wow factor" when new guests see your theater for the first time. ( also lights up the front area until you or your guests are seated before the movie starts)
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post #9 of 15 Old 09-24-2015, 07:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 69glamboy View Post
The potlights shining on the screen creates the " wow factor" when new guests see your theater for the first time. ( also lights up the front area until you or your guests are seated before the movie starts)
No that's what the pot light grid in the center of your room are for. Your guests shouldn't be "wow'd" by a white screen with nothing on it. They should be wowed by the layout of the room; the wall treatments; maybe the cool seating; maybe a cloud ceiling. They're going to be wowed once you have some video on the screen .. not when it's blank. I still don't get it.
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post #10 of 15 Old 09-24-2015, 08:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 69glamboy View Post
Check out the " Show me your completed theater" thread.
This is a good suggestion. Specifically these threads:
Soffits: Show me your Soffit
Sconces: Show Me Your Sconces
Rope lighting: Show Us your rope lighting
and Completed Theaters: Show me your COMPLETED Theater!

But someone really does need to do a sticky thread that summarizes the styles.

On my earlier comments, I focused primarily on downlighting .. but many people choose to have wall sconces that uplight as well .. and some do both uplighting and downlighting. If you aren't already planning on building some soffits to hide air ducts or to hide other things in the ceiling, sconces are definitely an easier alternative. I haven't seen any specific guidelines on how many 'side lights' you should have .. it is usually more tied to other room design elements such as the number of vertical enclosures you have for your surrounds. Then the lighting is typically centered in the intervening spaces. Soffit downlighting is more flexible because it's more independent of wall items. Of course, if you're planning some kind of coffered ceiling design, then the pots get centered in the sections within it.

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post #11 of 15 Old 09-25-2015, 08:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IanR View Post
Your guests shouldn't be "wow'd" by a white screen with nothing on it. They should be wowed by the layout of the room; the wall treatments; maybe the cool seating; maybe a cloud ceiling. They're going to be wowed once you have some video on the screen .. not when it's blank. I still don't get it.
I get it and I do it in every theater I build, theaters are normally dark, even with a bunch of other lights, bouncing light off the screen is the easiest way to brighten the room between features.







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post #12 of 15 Old 09-25-2015, 02:32 PM
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+1. Beyond the wow factor....It helps to place some ancillary lighting ( sconces) for when you are NOT entertaining. i.e. Vacuuming/ changing speakers/ wiping up the spilled drinks on your carpet. Come to think of it, I don't remember seeing a build on AVS without lights shining down on the screen...
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post #13 of 15 Old 09-25-2015, 02:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post
I get it and I do it in every theater I build, theaters are normally dark, even with a bunch of other lights, bouncing light off the screen is the easiest way to brighten the room between features.
Jeff .. it may be one of those personal taste things .. and I certainly wouldn't infer that your theaters aren't very well done. But the two latter examples you gave don't have any pots in the ceiling over the seating area for general lighting. Seems odd to me that you'd want to try to indirectly light an area when you could do a better job by just installing those 3 or 4 potlights over the area you want to light. Besides, I have seen many examples where the lights aren't all installed exactly the same distance from the screen and the shadows end up with different shapes and starting and ending points and ruins the effect. If you're wanting indirect lighting between features, why wouldn't you just leave the projector on and loop a video or screen saver of some nice, bright outdoor scenes like they do in the big box stores. That way you get indirect lighting AND get to show off your video/screen capabilities.

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post #14 of 15 Old 09-25-2015, 04:18 PM
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the brown theater has about 10 ceiling cans all in backer boxes. You can't show off video capabilities with the lights on. Any light on in the room washes out the screen.

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post #15 of 15 Old 09-25-2015, 04:55 PM
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I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree on the whole "lighting the screen thing" .. but the brown theater that you just posted is an excellent example of the point I was trying to get to in post#10 above, that the OP should start by figuring out if he's going to have any vertical features (like surround enclosures) and then put sconces or pot lights in between them (plus allowances for doors); then create a grid of pots above the seating area; plus a couple over any 'bar seating' at the back as you have done. It appears to me that you're maybe using smaller ones (maybe 3-4") to downlight the walls and larger ones (maybe 5-6") in the seating area .. don't know if that's correct or if there's a reason. It seems that some of the LED lighting is integrated in the enclosures and smaller .. although you can still buy the screw-in PAR stuff for traditional cans. Halogen tends to be smaller but hotter so LEDs are probably better. Might also be able to string more of them on a circuit .. although you need to keep dimmer requirements in mind.

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