Monday, August 16, 2010


Lights are the bane of my life. I never realised how much I loathe most lights. Maybe that says I don't really notice them. Hmm. That is worth thinking about, because right now, I am in a Lighting Pickle.

So our journey to now has consisted of:
  • a consultancy with the Environment Shop, which was a great place to start. We got all kinds of great ideas - many of which we have retained.
  • a spreadsheet in which I worked out that our lighting plan was going to cost us $4,500 (admittedly including quite a few LED globes)
  • visits to half a dozen lighting shops and several online shops in which it became clear that nothing, NOTHING is easy when it comes to lights. Oils, as they say, ain't oils.
Good news first. Things that appear to be working out:
  • routing the bottom of our bannister and placing a line of LED strip lights so that we get a lovely wash of light down the wall and onto the stairs
  • embedding another line of strip lights into the bedhead in the master bedroom
  • simple pendant lights fitted with LED globes in downstairs bedrooms, lounge and dining room (latter two rooms with dimmers).

What's not working? Everything else.

I can't remember if I've written about our upstairs studio/work area. It comprises two adjoining open plan rooms, with curved ceiling (arcs up to about 3m), heaps of natural light and marmoleum floor. I make felt, so we've chosen a floor product that can withstand a fair amount of water sploshing around. It's also very good environmentally. Read more at

So anyway, the lighting challenge starts here.
* Halogens will be too hot in summer (our temperature graphs show this will be the hottest part of the house in summer)
* Fluoros give off awful light and are altogether too officey (we will spend a lot of time in this space)
* Tracks with compact fluoros can't be dimmed and there's no guarantee that the fittings will be able to accommodate LED globes, even if they do have GU10 bases
* Tracks with LEDs are too expensive
* Pendants might not give us enough light for our artistic endeavours.

We are using halogen downlights in the kitchen and a couple of other strategic spots downstairs. Even though I know they are not too bad an option in our scenario (the insulation between the floors serves accoustic as well as thermal functions but is unlikely to be greatly affected by 9 downlights), I still feel that somehow I am breaking one of the golden rules of sustainable housing. I daren't confess to the folks at the ATA.

I'll spare you the details on the bathroom lighting. Suffice to say that the lights I liked most started at $365 for one light (plus globe).

Of course, it doesn't help that so many light fittings are fugly. We chose a whole suite of lights on Saturday afternoon, and then I turned around and informed Rodney that I hated them all. Lovely person that he is, he simply said, okay, let's find others. I have never appreciated him more!

Sigh. It's therapeutic to vent. Yesterday I submitted the electrical and lighting plans to the builder for the rough in. We hedged our bets by providing for four spotlights (on two switches) and two wall lights in the studio, latter with dimmer. I now understand why people just put in halogens every square meter.

So that's it for lights. For now. We are yet to choose a single fitting ...


Anonymous said...

I am getting LED lights from Ascent Lighting

Speak to a guy named Ashley.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks Anon, I'll have a squizz. Right now, I am in denial, but I guess I'll have to start looking again soon ...

Anonymous said...

HI Elizabeth - love your blog. I know EXACTLY how you feel about lights ... i have the same problem. I am shipping mine from various sources in Germany as you can get decent looking LEDS ... it is just the carbon footprint thing. I ease my conscience with the knowledge that they will be made in Germany and not some sweat shop in China.
I have been exploring the okios paint business - how does it compare in terms of cost?

Elizabeth said...

Hi Kay

Thanks for reading. Are you AndyKay from Homeone? If so, I keep forgetting to pm you to say that I posted the details on the Ecotech tiles on your thread rather than pm them so everyone could see them. For some reason, I'm no longer getting notifications about posts to my threads and I have been worried that you might not know the details are there!

Anyway, to Oikos, it depends on what you are painting. Inside, the coverage is supposed to be so good that it ends up costing less than the low VOC Australian alternatives. Martin has a big poster in his shop with cost per m2, and on that basis, it appears that Oikos is cheapest.

Outside, I can't really tell. The timber is taking it up at a huge rate, but whether we're using more of the Oikos product than we would of any other, it's impossible to know.

We have definitely blown our paint budget, I know that. :(

Elizabeth said...

Oh, and on lights, I wouldn't worry at all about importing your LEDs from Germany. As you point out, almost all of the alternatives are from China, so they have miles too. And in any case, LEDs are relatively small, weigh little, and are generally quite well packed. I doubt the miles are that significant.

I may well look at German options myself, but it would be a challenge to convince Rodney to buy without physically seeing the actual product. Unfortunately his brain finds it hard to imagine a 3D object from a 2D picture. That has been one of our greatest difficulties in the house design process - it's only been quite recently that he's been able to picture where the stairs will be! :)

Dave said...

Hi Elizabeth, great blog and I'll be following it.

I've blogged our own renovation, including my search for LED lights (see Our builder's electrician has apparently put LED lights through his house, so I hope it is a positive sign of his attitude and experience. We meet him this week, for the first time.

Could you and Kay provide links to your preferred German suppliers?