The Top 3 Biggest Home Lighting Mistakes You Might Be Making (Quick Fixes and Suggestions) – Part 2

Use this decision tree to determine the recommended action steps.

*This is a follow-up post and is more relevant for South East Asian homes, particularly Malaysia. Check out Part 1 here if you haven’t for proper context.

Solution A

So you’re planning to rent out your place. Stick to using E27 and GU10 type bulbs, LEDs of course. If you go with Philips, get the Essential range (the best value version). My reasons for this:

  • Easy maintenance – you or even your tenant can swap them out without needing to call a professional. The drivers are built-into the bulb itself, so its super simple to replace or upgrade.
  • Extremely flexible – You can find all kinds of fittings that will house these bulbs. Take a look at the image G & E. As for color temperature, not all your tenants will agree with your decision to go warm. If they insist on having cool lighting, there’s no need to argue with your potential tenants, just swap the bulbs out to the color temperature they want, its simple! At less than MYR 15 per bulb, it’s not expensive. LED is a selling point as the tenant will pay the energy bills, and if you follow my advice you won’t have too many light points covering every square inch of ceiling.
  • Compatible with Hue wireless lighting – If for any reason you or your tenant want to upgrade their lighting to Hue, E27 and GU10 are fully compatible, just swap them out.
  • Have smaller groupings of lights to a single switch. For example, instead of having a single switch turn on all the lights in your living room, break it up into 2 switches to control 2 different sections of the space.
  • Create more electrical wall sockets near ground level all around the house. This can be used for floor lamps as well as phone chargers, wireless repeaters, robotic vacuums etc. etc.

Solution B

So you’re moving into a new place, nice. Stick to using E27 and GU10 type bulbs, LEDs of course. If you go with Philips, get the Master range (the high specs version). Longer lifespan and better performance in exchange for a higher price versus the Essential range. This range is typically not sold in a hypermarket or normal DIY shop. You should be able to get them from Lazada or from a professional lighting specialist such as JLL.

My reasons for using these are:

  • Easy long-term maintenance – you can swap them out without needing to call a professional. The drivers are built-into the bulb itself, so its super simple to replace or upgrade.
  • Extremely flexible – You can find all kinds of fittings that will house these bulbs. Take a look at the images below. Follow my advice and stick to a total wattage of around 10% of your sqft area. Philips also has a range of E27 and GU10 bulbs called SceneSwitch that have built in dimmers or color tuning. You control them by hitting the switch multiple times, no special wiring or installation needed. These are slightly pricier of course.
  • Futureproof – If you ever want to convert your lighting to a wireless system like Philips Hue, E27 and GU10 are fully compatible, just swap them out. E27 and GU10 type bulbs will stay in production at least another 15 years.
  • Have smaller groupings of lights to a single switch. For example, instead of having a single switch turn on all the lights in your living room, break it up into 2 switches to control 2 different sections of the space.
  • Create more electrical wall sockets near ground level all around the house. This can be used for floor lamps as well as phone chargers, wireless repeaters, robotic vacuums etc. etc. Thank me later 😉

Solution C

So you haven’t converted to LEDs yet. That’s fine, because now is the best time. LED prices have dropped considerably this past decade since they have achieved the economies of scale.

  • If you are using fluorescent tube lights, swap them out to a warmer color temperature LED tube. You can also remove some of the fittings to reduce the overall amount of light. Remember the 10% rule of thumb.
  • If you are using PL-C type fluorescent bulbs in the plaster ceiling, swap them out for a warmer LED version. You can also reduce the overall brightness by opting for a lower wattage LED version. Just note that there are specific replacement bulbs depending on your application – horizontal or vertical facing, dimmable or non-dimmable systems. Contact a professional lighting specialist if you’re not sure.
  • If you are using E27 type bulbs, it’s an easy and affordable upgrade to E27 LEDs. You can get something like the Philips Essential range for under MYR 15 per bulb.
  • Keep all your old lighting as spares for spaces like the storeroom or laundry room (you don’t have to upgrade spaces that are seldom in use). If you really don’t need them anymore, just donate them to your local school/community hall/orphanage/animal shelter. Don’t throw away perfectly good lighting.

Solution D

Since you are already invested in LED and your home is mainly Cool White/Cool Daylight (4000-6500K), there’s no need to modify your LED tubes. However if your total wattage is above 20% if your sqft area, you might want to remove some of the tubes and just keep them as spares.

  • Add some accesories like floor lamps, study lamps or this humidifier with a built-in LED light.
  • Use fixtures that support E27 type bulbs and choose SceneSwitch bulbs that can color tune.
  • Try to use only the accessories after sunset so as not to disrupt your circadian rhythm.

Solution E

You’re one of the rare ones. You’re already using LEDs and warm lighting, so you don’t have a lot of issues that many Malaysian homes have. Remember the 10% rule from Part 1? Well, if your total wattage is below 20% of your sqft area, then you don’t have to do anything. It’s not worth the effort since you’re already doing well.

  • If your total wattage is above 20% of your sqft area, consider reducing the amount of tubes that you are using. More so if you are adding accessories. You will probably need to patch up the screw holes and repaint some parts of your wall/ceiling.
  • To further refine your home lighting aesthetics, you might want to add some accesories like floor lamps, study lamps or this humidifier with a built-in LED light. Just make sure not to turn on your accessories together with the ceiling lights – use one or the other.
  • Since you already have plenty of warm light, your table lamp and floor lamp should support tasks like reading. Use fixtures that support E27 type bulbs and choose SceneSwitch bulbs that can color tune.

Solution F

Great, it’s almost perfect! You’re already using Warm White LED downlights. Unless your total wattage is more than 20% of your sqft area you don’t have to take any action

But if you want to keep going…

  • If you can work with less light, look at reducing the quantity of some of the pieces. Having lived in the space, you will be able to identify certain downlights that are not really needed. Just keep them as spares and plaster over the holes.
  • You might want to add some accesories like floor lamps, study lamps or this humidifier with a built-in LED light.
  • Since you already have plenty of warm light, your table lamp and floor lamp should support tasks like reading. Use fixtures that support E27 type bulbs and choose SceneSwitch bulbs that can color tune.

Solution G

Since you are already invested in LED and your home is mainly Cool White/Cool Daylight (4000-6500K), there’s no need to modify your downlights. Too much work or costs involved.

  • Add some accesories like floor lamps, study lamps or this humidifier with a built-in LED light.
  • Use fixtures that support E27 type bulbs and choose SceneSwitch bulbs that can color tune.
  • Try to use only the accessories after sunset so as not to disrupt your circadian rhythm.
E27 base bulbs are great for downlights, floor lamps, table lamps, pendants, and even outdoor fixtures that are water resistant.

GU10 bulbs are great for track lighting, downlighting, wall lights and surface mounted ceiling lights.

*Some additional notes and info

  • If you go see a lighting specialist retailer they will likely tell you that your lighting plan is too dim or they recommend you use Cool Daylight. This is like a doctor who feels compelled to give you medicine even though you don’t need it. It’s not their fault that many Malaysians like to get their money’s worth and will publicly complain if their frends or family feel that their home is too dark. The market demand has made them behave this way. Even Philips has played a role in this by limiting the availability of 4000K bulbs in Malaysia for years. What I’m trying to say is that in order to maximise profits and keep a customer satisfied, manufacturers, lighting specialists and contractors will often over-prescribe and over-design. I find that interior designers are the most sensible since they are responsible for the overall feel of the end result. But in the end they are also running a business and must look out for their own interests. Use your common sense and push back when needed, this is about you and your family’s long-term health.
  • A reputable lighting specialist shop is someone like JLL in Kuchai or Tong Ging in Damansara. Houses Lighting is the most famous budget option in Puchong.
  • European and cold countries don’t really have these lighting issues since their weather is cool. They prefer natural light and warm lighting which feels more cosy like sunshine. Just check out Scandinavian interior design, the lighting often looks minimal and is supported by floor lamps. What happens to their lighting indoors after it gets dark outside? It gets pretty dim inside too. Google for inspiration.
  • Write down the date of installation on the light bulb with a sharpie when installing it. This way you know the lifetime of every single bulb in your home. If there is an early LED failure, a large manufacturer like Philips will normally give you a free replacement even if you don’t have the receipt. Just make sure to contact their head office or showroom directly.
  • There are too many variables involved but if you are coming from the worst case scenario to implementing my recommended solutions, you may save as much as 20% of your monthly energy bill.
  • In Part 3 we will review if you should upgrade to a Smart Home lighting system.

*For transparency’s sake, if you purchase via my Lazada links, some of them will pay me an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support.

*The author has over a decade’s worth of home lighting experience during his stint with Philips Lighting (now known as Signify) He has been consulted by thousands of end users while growing the showroom sales from an average of MYR 15k per month to over MYR 1m in annual revenue. Also spent virtually zero on advertising or lead generation. These opinions are his own and do not represent the position of Philips Lighting or any other lighting company.

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