Lighting Can Dramatically Affect the Usage, Look and Feel Of Your Conservatory
Conservatory lighting is one of the most effective ways to change the feel or ambience of your conservatory and to create a comfortable and relaxing living area.
A conservatory is an inherently light and airy place to be during the day, but when the nights draw in and the light fades the type of lighting present in your conservatory will greatly affect its ambience and usability.
Conservatory lighting is often most effective when used in conjunction with conservatory blinds as these will reflect some of the light back into the conservatory that would otherwise be lost through the large glazed area that provides so much light during daylight hours, in addition to adding a degree of privacy. There are times however when you may wish to open the blinds, turn the lights off altogether and admire the moon and stars and make use of the light from the night sky – such is the versatility of a conservatory!
Conservatory lighting can be typically divided into 3 different categories;
- Primary Lighting is the main source of light, whether it be a ceiling light or one of more individual lamps such as standard lamps or wall lights.
- Task Lighting is lighting designed or employed to perform a specific purpose, such as to aid reading or to perform other hobbies and tasks.
- Accent Lighting is decorative lighting that is employed to highlight specific features, such as furnishings, specific architectural features or pictures
It is desirable to add a facility to dim your ceiling lighting if possible as this allows you to change the light output to suit different uses – for example you may wish to create a more subdued effect for dining or relaxing over drinks inside your conservatory with friends, while requiring a good deal more light while catching up on work with a laptop. Being able to control your lighting in this way can make your conservatory an even more versatile space.
Care should be taken with the location of light switches as it would be far from ideal to have to traverse the conservatory in the dark to turn on your lighting. Timer switches can be used to turn table lamps or standard lamps on and off at certain times of the day.
A good conservatory lighting setup will typically make use of more than one type of lighting, giving best performance in all desired lighting scenarios. There are a number of different conservatory lighting options falling across one or more of the above categories and these are covered below.
As most conservatories will utilise at least one exterior wall of your property, wall lighting is a popular choice given the inherent fixing limitations for ceiling lighting and there are certainly a wide variety of lighting options for wall lighting.
Conservatory wall lights are available in practically any colour, material, style and type you can imagine, the main types being:
- Uplighters – designed to emit light in an upward direction toward the conservatory ceiling.
- Downlighters – designed to emit light downward, towards your conservatory floor.
- Spotlights – designed to give you a light source that you can direct as required.
- Flush fitting lights – designed to fit close to the surface on which they are mounted, typically with a low profile.
- Picture lights – wider lights designed specifically to illuminate a small area and highlight a picture or other wall-mounted item of interest.
- Step lighting – low-level, predominantly LED-based lights fitted flush or recessed at the base of the wall to provide a gentle light that can be used to accentuate steps or obstructions or simply for aesthetic purposes.
Due to the construction of a conservatory the choices of ceiling lighting are a little more limited than they would typically be in any other room of your house – for example recessed lighting is not a practical option due to there being no ‘ceiling’ as such to recess them into.
In reality the choice of ceiling lighting is limited to surface-mount options, such as fluorescent lighting or pendant lighting hanging from a standard ceiling rose and dressed with a suitable shade or fitting. Surface mounted halogen units can be used to provide a modern, clear, crisp white light.
Ceiling fans are another option for conservatories as they can be obtained with integrated lighting (sometimes known as ‘fanlights’), allowing you to light your conservatory and also increase air circulation at the same time and from the same fitting.
Despite the limitations, there is still a good deal of scope for variety in conservatory ceiling lighting through the use of different fittings , shades and bulbs, including a good many energy efficient options. Ceiling lights and shades can be used to create uplighting, downlighting and spotlighting effects.
Floor lighting has increased in popularity in recent years, particularly since LED-based lighting has become widely available. ‘Walk-over’ floor lights are recessed into the floor and finish flush with or very slightly proud of the flooring surface itself, creating an integrated light source that shines upwards. Whether this is suited to your conservatory will depend on the type of subfloor you have and your choice of flooring material.
Floor lights are useful for highlighting walkways and steps and are sometimes also used in external timber decking.
A ‘standard lamp’ is the term given to a floor-standing light and these provide a versatile lighting option since they can be moved to any area of the conservatory that is within range of a standard mains socket. They are available in a practically limitless array of designs and styles from the traditional style with fabric shades and conventional bulbs to contemporary designs incorporating materials such as metal and glass and a variety of bulbs such as halogens and energy saving units.
The choice of lamp will likely be affected by the ambience that you wish to create as much as the style of the lamp itself and also whether it is to provide the primary light source or augment existing lighting. You may require a strong, crisp light that is suitable for reading or simply a diffused soft light that creates a cosy feel inside your conservatory or accentuates specific features.
Standard lamps are also available as uplighters, downlighters and spotlights. Many units may feature a dimmer switch allowing you to vary the light output to suit. They can often be used with timer switches to automate their operation.
As with the standard lamp, a table lamp can be positioned wherever there is a mains socket and a suitable horizontal surface. They can be viewed as essentially being a small version of a standard lamp and the information above applies to table lamps as well as standard lamps.
If you’re a keen gardener and like to admire the fruits of your labours, or even if you pay someone else to do it for you, your conservatory is a great place to sit and admire your garden all year round and thanks to the proliferation of garden lighting options available, you don’t have to stop when it goes dark.
Ranging from self-contained individual solar garden lights to fully-wired low-voltage systems that can be controlled from the comfort of your conservatory, along with pond lights and external wall-mounted lights, there are a large number of ways to light your garden and enhance the view from your conservatory once darkness falls.
Choosing a conservatory – next steps
After having perused our comprehensive conservatories section, it is likely that you will want to start evaluating conservatory prices and the various styles available so you can make a more considered decision.
The best way to get started is to select around 3 different FENSA registered specialists and arrange for them to come to your home and show you the range available, and advise you on how best to make use of the space in which you are planning to erect your conservatory – they may be able to offer size or layout options that you hadn’t even considered as well as specific conservatory planning permission or building regs information relevant to your particular project.