If we can paint with light within an interior, then accent lighting represents the very brush strokes that we use to enhance the scene. Accent lighting covers many types of light source, table light, wall light, pendant but here we will look at where LED has reinvigorated the category most. The opportunity to highlight features or pick out key architectural structures has never been so possible in this era of LED. Longevity and miniaturisation have both contributed to enabling the placement of concealed and remote access lamps and luminaires throughout an interior. This week we focus on the use of marker and in-ground uplights that effectively produce an additional layer of light to shape the 3D reliefs of a space.
Here we focus on two key tools for accent lighting; the in-ground uplighter and the wall floor washer. Both are used effectively by sending light up from low to high – (typically the job of the in ground uplighter) AND washing onto the floor i.e. washing surfaces with specified amounts of light.
The Role of an Accent
Essentially, accent lighting is used to produce interest to the eye. It is illumination that is there to be seen rather than produce a general ambient light which is ‘invisible’. It’s the mark of a good designer to consider using accent light as a vital ingredient for every scheme, as the viewer’s eye is hungry for visual interest. Look to highlight repetition and rhythm – a theme we often touch on. Here we concentrate on the core products we regularly use in projects – there are many other variations available of course, just ask!
Uplight and Marker Light: Tips
All the key points to consider are listed here because it is a continual wonder how the most obvious can be overlooked in the bustle of managing a lighting scheme.
What floor surface material or wall fabric are fixtures going in – this can affect the suitability of a choice. For example, a wooden floor would usually need an overlap on the front of the fitting to allow it to suspend and be silicon sealed into place. Screed floors may need a canister to cast into the floor at first fix, ready for the fitting to slot into at 2nd.
What depth will the floor or wall allow for a fitting to recess into? Typically 150mm before a screed meets insulation and avoid underfloor heating! Brick walls or plasterboard stud walls have to be treated differently.
Wire in series allowing for the positioning of a remote power supply. The majority of LED marker lights fittings require a constant current driver.
If you cannot find space anywhere for a remote power supply, consider two options.
Some fixtures will allow a very small driver to fit through the cutout hole and lie underneath. Bring mains power to each fitting rather than wire in series.
There are some 230V mains powered LED in-ground uplights that do not require the power supply. There is a small choice out there but we can source them for you.
The distance of the fitting from the surface you want lit to spill up is determined by the beam angle you choose or is available. When choosing a fitting with an undisclosed beam width and a frosted lens, assume it’s very wide.
IP rating needs to be high to allow for water spillage and floor washing. IP65 or more, typically IP67.
Glare. A light fitting you can walk up to or even walk over is going to cause glare to the eye if looked at directly, however this can be minimised. A tight beam will focus light to where you want it to go and not out into the viewer’s field of vision. It’s the same principle occurring in the difference between the dazzling light from a car’s full beam compared with a dipped headlight. In domestic lighting, we use a fixture with the LED deep within the barrel of the fitting whenever possible and only widen a beam if deemed essential.
New solutions to accent lighting are arriving weekly, so call us for an update or to discuss your forthcoming project. Notably, niche light is closely associated with accent lighting so you may like to review that topic on the Orange Lighting website – please click here.
Andrew Orange, the owner of Orange Lighting qualified and worked as an interior designer in 1993 before specialising in lighting working on high profile projects based in London. Since starting Orange Lighting Ltd in 2003 he has been sharing his knowledge and unique teaching style mostly to his designer clients, offering practical real life advice born from running a busy consultancy and lighting supply business. Launching in 2020, his blog has evolved into Quick & Easy Lighting, curating some 25 years design experience into making the lighting choice and design process achievable and easy to understand for all.