Having a home theater creates special demands on room lighting arrangements. A good home theater lighting design can contribute to the convenience, comfort, and function of your room. There is a variety of lighting solutions, practices, and ideas to enhance your home theater environment.
To come up with the most effective home theater lighting plan, you need to determine what the main function of your space is. Is the room going to be used solely to watch movies? Are you going to play video games in it? Will it be a spot for your friends and family to get together? Envisioning the activities that will take place in the room will give you an idea of your home theater’s lighting requirements. You also need to take note of the natural light that comes in the room – incorporate plans to reduce or completely eliminate it so as not to interfere with your viewing. Natural light will ultimately have an impact on the number of lighting fixtures you need and where to place them.
Wiring can make or break the performance of your home theater systems. When you’re designing and pre-wiring your home theater, carefully consider lighting. The main thing to remember when pre-wiring your home theater lighting is to separate the control of lights in every lighting circuit in the room. There are three home theater lighting classifications:
• Area lighting – the home theater’s main lights, area lighting illuminates the whole room. Area lighting can be arranged in two or three rows.
• Task lighting – these are dedicated lights for a specific activity or task in your home theater.
• Accent lighting – these lights give theater-like ambiance in your home cinema. They give just the right illumination in the room without overpowering the projector.
Once you know what the primary function of the room is, you will have an idea of the proper placement and layout of the light fixtures, blinds, and curtains to achieve good lighting. A common home theater area lighting layout uses 4-6-inch recessed can lights arranged in two or three rows. Pre-wiring and planning the location of your light fixtures go hand in hand as you need to know where to install the lights that will be integrated into a single switch.
You know that feeling of excitement when you’re sitting in a theater and as the movie is about to start, the lights dim dramatically? You can have the same experience in your home theater by installing a remote-controlled lighting system. The right equipment and proper setup will give you the power to control your home theater lighting right from your favorite recliner. Remote-controlled lighting design is a relatively cheap and cool effect you can add to your lighting design. You can get remote controlled dimmer switches. To further impress your guests, install voice-controlled modules to manage your home theater systems, including lighting. Voice-controlled lighting controllers replace your wall switches and can be programmed to respond to voice commands.
The lighting control should be distributed in muted, soft levels across the entire room to prevent glare and extreme contrast between the lighting and the surrounding surfaces. Excessive lighting can ruin the theater-like ambiance you are aiming for. However, it is important to note that a bright screen in an extremely dark room may appear very bright due to too much contrast – resulting in eyestrain. In this case, you should incorporate low ambient light in the room; this will not interfere with viewing, reducing contrast and increasing visual comfort.
There are several types of home theater lighting fixtures you can choose from:
• Wall sconces – if you want to mimic the feel of a movie theater, home theater wall sconces give just the right soft backdrop lighting. They come in a variety of shapes, styles, and sizes, and you can use as many sconces along the wall as you like. Wall sconces create a mellow and subdued lighting effect with the use of translucent glass, plastic covering, or metal shell – this makes the light crawl up the wall in a small radius.
• Recessed lighting – this type of lighting fixture is usually placed on the ceiling. Recessed lighting directs light in strategic spots in the room such as the ceiling, directly onto the floor, towards a wall, etc.
• LEDs – also called halogen lights, LEDs or light-emitting diodes, are bright enough to be used as an alternative to normal, everyday lights. LEDs come in custom, multi-color accent lighting for a vibrant and wide angle.
• Rope lighting – rope lighting is easy to install, inexpensive, and can be cut to size. It is usually set up with stadium-style seating, running around the perimeter of the room to give just the right glow to the space.
• Three-way bulbs – this affordable solution to home theater lighting allows you to adjust the levels of lighting in the room. The two filaments (one with a lower wattage than the other) in each of the bulb will give you the ability to alter between distinct levels of light. For energy-saving lighting, you can use CFL bulbs.