Church Lighting Guide
Selecting the proper lighting for your place of worship is one of the most important decisions of any building or remodeling project. Your lighting should not only provide adequate illumination; it should also complement the architecture, be energy-efficient, and be easy to maintain.
This guide will walk you through the basic steps of selecting the appropriate lighting for your project, whether you’re planning a new building or considering a lighting upgrade.
Spacing between fixtures should be based not only on the light coverage desired, but also on the spacing of windows, ceiling beams, and other architectural elements. Different hangers and ceiling canopies are available to accommodate sloped ceilings, as well as cover both recessed and exposed outlet boxes for best appearance.
Generally, the higher a fixture is mounted, the more even the light distribution will be below. However, the higher a fixture is mounted, the more the wattage of the downlight must be increased to compensate for the higher mounting height. Care must also be taken to not place indirect lighting fixtures too close to the ceiling to avoid “hot spots” above the fixture.
Lighting Other Areas
Lighting the pulpit or lectern is best accomplished by two units to minimize shadows. Light on the speaker should be directed from an angle of 30 to 45 degrees forward from the speaker, and spaced so that the angle is 45 degrees or more above where the speaker stands. Areas above and below balconies should be lit with smaller fixtures that match the units in the main area. Foyer and hallway lighting should be selected by room proportions, using 11/2” fixture diameter to 1’of room width as a guide to proportions.
Many fixtures combine both indirect and direct lighting for the advantages of both. The proportion and size of the design selected will depend on the proportions of the interior, spacing between outlets, and the height at which fixtures will be suspended. In an interior where the height is greater than the width, fixtures of similar proportions are more compatible.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to choose a unit about one-inch diameter to each foot of spacing between units longitudinally. In interiors where the width is greater than the height, two inches in fixture diameter for each foot of spacing should be figured. Care should be taken that the size selected has sufficient wattage capacity to produce desired lighting results.
Most churches want the ability to control the lighting levels to suit different parts of the service or for special occasions or programs. A wide variety of dimming controls are available, from sophisticated theatrical systems to simple wall dimmers. Consider these needs when selecting a fixture and ask your architect, engineer ,or electrician to make sure the fixtures you select will meet your needs.
* Incandescent fixtures are still a viable option because they are inexpensive, can be dimmed easily, and need little in the way of special equipment to operate and maintain. However, because they are inefficient and have relatively short lamp life (generally 2,000 hours or less), they aren’t a good choice for spaces that are used many hours each day.
* Fluorescent lamps are efficient, have long life (up to 20,000 hours), and are now available in a larger range of color temperatures. The initial cost of the fixtures is higher, however, especially if dimming is required. And, fluorescent lamps may be inadequate to illuminate large spaces with high mounting heights.
* Metal halide lamps are also efficient and have longer life than incandescents. But they are prone to shifting in color over time, are more difficult to dim, and require several minutes to come up to full brightness.
* LED technology promises excellent efficiency and exceptionally long life before replacement.
Consult a Professional
This article is courtesy of Manning Lighting, www.manningltg.com.