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Guide to a Well-Lit Worship Space

Are people able to read the song books from which you want them to sing?

A well-lit sanctuary is a beautiful place. Effective lighting creates an aura of sanctity. Plus, it's easier to find a place to sit.

Lighting tasks vary widely and often conflict with each other. How can an effective level of light be achieved while still honoring the space to be lit? The answer is through careful balancing of aesthetics, architectural elements, purpose, energy efficiency, and maintenance.

First, the lighting, whether existing or new, should accent the décor. The fixtures are the source of the lighting effect and should accent the physical environment. You want the observer to focus on the environment as a whole, not just the fixture. The fixtures need to blend aesthetically into the space, allowing the effect to draw the eye to the selected physical elements.

Lighting should also help to create a space reflective of its purpose. Modern sacred spaces offer many different types of functions to all age groups. The only way to satisfy multiple functions and age groups is to provide flexibility in the lighting system as a whole.

Flexibility is made possible through the use of several different types of lamps, separate control of individual "lighting zones" and fixture types, and the ability to dim the light level put out by a particular fixture.

For example, if your church hosts a movie night for its youth group once a month, then the lighting may need to be able to dim for the presentation or have special settings allowing for the viewing of the movie, as well as enough light for people to move around safely.

Lighting should create a mood reflective of the occasion. With the technology of computer control and colored LED lamps, it is possible to brighten the church for a festive and happy occasion like a wedding or dim the church for a somber feel during a funeral.

With the continued national interest in energy conservation, energy efficiency is usually a top priority when selecting a new lighting system. Lighting designers and representatives are constantly evaluating new technology to design a lighting package that will provide years of service, as well as provide maximum energy efficiency. Sometimes these systems will include a computerized control system, a variety of fixture types and styles, and a mixture of different types of lamps (halogen, compact florescent, high intensity discharge, or LED).

When deciding what to do with your current lighting fixtures, you need to evaluate if it would be cost effective to modify your current fixtures or select new ones. Depending on style and size, it could be possible to retrofit the fixtures with energy-efficient lamps.

If the choice is made to go with new fixtures, both the LED and compact florescent lamp technology continue to increase in both its availability and versatility, which allows for the most effective lighting system available.

LED fixtures have a life span of between 50,000 and 100,000 hours of life, while compact florescent lamps have a life of about 10,000. Traditional incandescent lamps only have a life of approximately 1,000 hours, which makes LED and Compact Florescent technology a wise choice.

Maintenance is also a large concern because often the fixtures are hard to access. With a new lighting system, the lamps must be changed approximately every five years or so vs. every six months to a year with a traditional system.

With lamps lasting longer and longer, it means not having to find volunteers or contracting electricians with fancy lifts to replace lamps in every fixture once year. Having to deal with lamp replacement only twice a decade will save quite a bit of money in the yearly maintenance budget.

The money saved can then be redirected to additional programming or other building preservation projects that the church needs to address.

This information is courtesy of Frederick and Emily's Renovations, www.fredrickandemilys.com.

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Religious Product News