We've been spending quite a bit of time worrying about lighting for the building alterations we're doing. It used to be simple, back in the seventies in the UK: if you wanted light you typically a 100W incandescent bulb with a Bayonet mount twist/lock fitting, and you were done. These days (2010) there's a bewildering array of lighting technologies, lamp caps, and light colours available, and building regulations and environmental concerns to go with them. Here I'll jot notes about my understanding of these issues and the coices we made.


We're extending a kitchen, enlarging a living/sitting room, adding a bedroom/bathroom/hallway, reworking a pantry, re-roofing a lean-to sideshed and adding a back hall. This affects the rear half of the house, the front rooms and facade remain as-is. New rooms, or rooms that change use, are subject to different building regulation requirements than existing ones.

The kitchen had 2 recessed PAR38 fittings (initially with incadescent bulbs, later with CFL), 3 recessed R80 fittings with incandescent, and 2 triple GU10 Halogen spots. The living room had 2 fittings with 6 G9 Halogen capsules. The bathroom had 7 recessed GU10 Halogen fittings.

Energy efficiency has been an important aspect of this building work: We have heavily invested in insulation (6 inch Celotex) and heating (Air source Heatpump and underfloor heating). Similarly we want to consider energy use of the lighting.

Lessons in lighting terminology

Lighting Technology

For indoor lighting technology the main choices are:

  • Incandescent lamps. Warm yellowish, flicker-free, instant-on light. They are not very energy efficient, typically using 100W. The bulb is round, fairly large, but not too long. Fittings are typically Bayonet (BC), or screw (ES). These are being "phased out" /banned.

  • Halogen Lamp. Bright yellowish light, flicker-free, instant-on light. Bulbs are small G4/G9 capsules, and GU10/MR16 multi-facetted reflectors. They get very hot, and don't seem to last long. Typical 30-50W. These were marketed as "greener" initially, because 50W < 100W, but they're not very efficient. We have quite a few of these: GU10 spots, 12v MR16s in recessed fittings in the bathroom, and G9 capsules in decorative lighting fixtures in the living room.

  • Compact Fluorescent. The long fluorescent tubes typically used in commercial or institutional buildings used to flicker and produces a cold white light. These days Fluorescent lamps are controlled by high-frequency electronic ballasts, which reduces the flickering, and they are available in compact sizes, called CFL. The first generation of CFL's were painfully slow to warm up and reach full brightness, but the technology has improved. And crucially, they are now available in all sorts of bulb shapes and sizes, various lighting colours, and various fittings. CFLs less energy, typically between 9-18W. Lifetime up to 20.000 hours. We were using a few of these, mainly in corridors and utility rooms.

  • LED Lamps. The old and small LED's produced insufficient light for general lighting, but the new high-power LED lamps produce a lot of light, and are the most energy efficient yet, between 1-3W. The LED lamp light used to be very cold and bright but these days warmer colours are available. They have also have a long life (50.000 hours)

Lamp Fittings / Caps / Bases / Socket

See My Green Lighting's overview of the most common types, or Lightbulbs Direct's Fittings overview for more.

Dons Bulbs is also a good resource, see for example the G24d/G24q datasheet.

Light Colour

The colour of light is called the Colour Temperature. See Lightbulbs Direct's Colour Temperature overview or Saving-light-bulbs.

Luminous Efficacy

Light output is measured in lumens, and light power use is measured Watts. The Luminous Efficacy is lumens-per-Watt, the higher the better.

Building Regulations

Note: This is my personal interpretation -- if you want guaranteed advice consult a paid professional.

In the UK, domestic lighting falls under Part L Building Regulations, in particular L1A New Dwellings and L1B Exiting Dwellings. The specifications can be downloaded freely. The 2006 Edition is current, with a 2010 Edition being valid from 1 Oct 2010.

Given that our building project involves an existing dwelling, I believe Part L1A applies, even for the new extensions.

In L1A (2006), section 43-47 deal with lighting. It demands that "reaseonable provision should be made for ... efficient electric lighting". It specifically talks about achieving 40 lumens/watt, and 1/4 light fittings needing to be energy efficient. Infamously, it says "A way of showing compliance" would be to have fittings that can only take energy efficient lamps. This has lead to development of new fittings, with some building inspectors insisting they get installed. This has turned out to be counter-productive: there is so little choice in lumaires and lamps for those restrictive fittings, that people rip them out as the building inspector's back is turned. Furthermore, these days there are so many energy efficient lamps available for existing fittings, that there is no need special fittings. But I digress.

In the 2010 Ed, Part L1A refers to the Domestic Building Compliance Guide where it says in Section 12, Page 123, Table 40, that the new values are 45 lumen/watt and 3/4 light fittings. And interestingly, standard fittings are now OK, as long as they are supplied with low energy lamps. Also, light fittings <5W are excluded from the count, presumably targetting floor level lighting systems and kitchen under-unit lighting, and to prevent people adding LED light fittings to articilally increase the overal count. But, this appears to have an unfortunate consequence: if you're considering say 20x 3W high output LED Lamps are your main lighting, then you get no credit for that. The workaround would probably be to choose a fitting that would take CFLs, and later switch out the CFLs for the LEDs.

It also refers to the Energy Savings Trust, who have some generic lighting info.

LED Lamp Experiments

Back in 2008 I read about the new Cree LED Lamp on RE UK and in June 2009 I bought some from ledlights4you (was solarwindpowercentre.co.uk, part of Coemi Wind Turbines): 12V, MR16 fittings, 1W (£12), 3W (£17), and 9W MR16 Warm White (£32), in warm white and cool white, with a 180W power supply (~£40) to drive them. My conclusion was:

  • the 9W produce about as much light as you'd want out of an MR16 size fitting.
  • The smaller wattage lamps may have uses for task lighting.
  • the warm white in a pleasant colour.
  • there doesn't seem to be a light of light spill, it is very directional, making it not a great choice for general lighting in a large kitchen, unless you use lots of them, which then defeats the energy saving purpose.
  • the "three dots" look is a bit strange. My wife disliked that quite a bit.
  • they're expensive

So now in June 2009 we experimented with CFLs. There seem to be a lot more types on the market than a few years ago, and more light fittings that support them.

Kitchen Spots

We started with some spots, for the new extension, where a sloping roof makes recessed lights less appealing.

We went to the Norwich Lighting Centre (website is content-free), and found a single and double spot we liked: the WOFI PAZ SC SPOT SINGLE S/W 496301640000 (stock code LE199) and WOFI PAZ SC SPORT TWIN BAR 7963.0264.0000 (sock code LE200) in Matt Nickel with Alabaster glass.

These lights are also available online at KES.

The supplied box suggested it was made by ACTION, or perhaps that's the range and it is made by WOFI (warning: horrible web site with unsollicited audio, and all content hidden in PDFs and online flash viewers).

They take 8W mini spiral CFLs with a SES fitting and were supplied with IMEX 8W/E14 2700K 240V 350 lumen, 8000 hours, which produce a warm bright light and start fast.

We're delighted with both.

Kitchen Recessed

Next we had to tackle the recessed lights in the low, beamed ceiling.

First we evaluated GU10 CFLs (Kosnic 11W, warm white). That started orange, and took about a minute to come to brightness; not what you want in a kitchen.

Next, we found a nice recessed light fitting from [JCC Lighting](http://www.jcc-lighting.co.uk/), the JC5081 [Coral Matrix](http://www.jcc-lighting.co.uk/products/interior/downlights/compact%2bfluorescent%2bdownlights%2b%2528cfl%2529/coral/jc5081). Typical recessed lights of this type are 20-24cm, which would be a problem with the beams on our ceiling, but this one was small, at 123mm, and shallow. The construction of the fitting is well done, and the finish is nice. The ballast is in a separate metal box, which looks messy, but makes fitting quite flexible. The bulb, listed as "included" on the box, was actually not included. And we discovered that it uses a very unusal bulb type: the very short Matrix PL-T2, which appears to be only manufactured by [MEGAMAN](http://www.megaman.cc/) as the T3G24Q218, which is only available in limited colours, and appears hard to obtain. All in all not appealing.

Then we tried the ASD Lighting Mini Atom AT1/FSW113E. This is a commercial-style recessed fitting with integrated ballast, at about half the cost of the Coral Matrix. At 146mm it's a little bigger than the Coral Matrix, but still much smaller than the normal 20cm+, and it's just about 12cm deep. It comes with a white and brushed chrome bezel. Construction feels a little plasticky, but the ballast is internal and it comes pre-wired, so it's a neat package to install. It takes a 13W TCT 4pin bulb in its GX24q-1 fitting, and comes supplied with a cool white bulb. We bought them from TLC Direct (order code GLAT113E) who were very helpful and delivered next day. We've been very pleased with this fitting, and installed it in the kitchen, the pantry, and the back hall.

We also got 2 with emergency pack from Tradesman Electrical Distributors http://www.buy-electrical.co.uk/. No stock, special order item with a 10 day lead time.

To match in with the spot lights, we will replace the supplied bulbs with warm white ones: General Electric Biax Long Last T/E 13w GX24q-1 4-Pin Colour: 82 - 13PLT8274PIN - F13TBX/827/A/4P - DTE132 - 900lumen, 20000h, 2700K from The Lamp Company, stock code PLT134P-82. The 830 color version (3000K) also matches well.

Living Room

In the living room, we have re-used the existing decorative G9 halogen fixture on the ceiling. In addition, we have added alternative lighting that will probably mean the ceiling lights will be little used.

We added torch-shaped alabaster glass wall lights, from the Norwich Lighting Centre, GLOBO TORCH WALL UP-LT SW SC 44100-1, order code WB532. Made by Globo-Lighting (another content-free website). It came with a 40W halogen in a E14 fitting. We replaced with a CFL (LiLUCO 08979 E14 / 9W / 3.000K.), which takes a little while to reach full brightness, which is OK in a living room. This model is a little wider and shorter than the mini spirals we use in the kitchen, to stop them protruding above the glass. These lights can be individually turned on/off.

We added some (separately switched) spotlights (the same type as in the kitchen), and one halogen picture light, which unfortunately will only take a 40W halogen.

With the wall and spot lights on, that adds up to (59) + (49) + 40 = 121W, compared to 2*(6*40)=480W before. Let's hope that the practice works out like that.


Paulman Colmar 150 4x35W, 12V Halogen, 150 VA transfo 971.82 http://www.paulmann.com UK reseller http://www.lightsourceeurope.com/ colmar 01905 24152 jessica jones lighting

5x20 colmar 105 £145 4x35 colmar 145 £145 10m run +++

105 5x20 would have been ok

Upstairs Hall

http://www.screwfix.com/app/sfd/cat/products.jsp?id=95841&ts=48396 Recessed Maintained Emergency Bulkhead 8W

2xEnergy Saving Small flush fitting finished in nickel matt with opal glass diffuser http://www.thelightingsuperstore.co.uk/product.asp?productid=39168 wofi 9311.02.64.0340 suzuka 2xe14/11w


thelightingsuperstore http://www.thelightingsuperstore.co.uk/product.asp?productid=30536 Product Code = TP2114 LISBON BATHROOM SPOTLIGHT Description = IP44 Rated low energy modern style bathroom spotlight with 4 adjustable spots, finished in chrome with a frosted and clear glass shades.