What are today’s top bar lighting ideas? As I mentioned before, LED lighting is “King-of-the-hill” in today’s lighting market. The lighting market has seen such wide-sweeping changes over the past couple of years that it’s shocking even to a design professional. If you’re a nightclub or bar owner looking to make lighting changes, I can share some of the latest design ideas that will enable you to save substantially. The photo at right, which depicts LED recessed can lighting by Con-Tech Lighting.
WHO ARE THE MAIN COMPANIES THAT MANUFACTURE LED LIGHTING FOR NIGHTCLUBS AND BARS?
Change can be good – especially if it saves you money! This is true with Chicago-based Con-Tech Lighting and Los Angeles-based Liton Lighting, the major players in the architectural lighting market here in the U.S. Con-Tech is the frontrunner, now offering an LED-version of virtually every conventional product in their catalog. Offering similar products, Liton appears to be in the midst of completing their product line. I’ll begin by reviewing each of my favorite fixtures for nightclub and bar design:
- Recessed can lighting is available with the LED format in 4” and 6” housings and a number of decorative trim options. I normally use recessed cans for house lights, bar lighting and wall washers. The difference in the applications is in the decorative trims.
- Track lighting with the LED format is as flexible as it always has been. I particularly like this form of lighting for displaying artwork, in lobbies and nearly anywhere you want imaginative lighting paths.
- Pendant lighting (depicted in the photo below), is similar to track lighting and adds extra creativity in group seating arrangements.
- Another player, Southern California-based Numinus, offers a line of specialty mini LED fixtures.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN ADVANTAGES OF ARCHITECTURAL LED LIGHTING?
In architectural lighting, LED lighting offer many advantages over traditional incandescent lighting. One of the things you’ll like about it is that you’ll never have to replace another bulb again! Unlike traditional architectural lighting, where the bulbs are changed by hand, the LED bulb is an integral part of the trim. Suffice is to say there are many reasons for this, but the bottom line is that the annual cost of running and maintaining LED lighting is less than half of its traditional counterpart.
Of course, if all of this is more than you want to handle, I am available to custom-design your free-standing drink rail. Simply contact us and we’ll provide you with everything you’ll need.
WHAT ARE THE OTHER ADVANTAGES OF LED ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING?
How about this for an over-the-top bar lighting idea – the LED backlit bar! LED architectural lighting is so efficient that we can place it behind a sealed bar front (as shown in the photo below) that we don’t have to worry about servicing it! Consider the following:
- First, the life of the average LED bulb is 50,000 hours. This means that if you operated it 12 hours every day, year-round, you wouldn’t have to change the trim (remember that the bulb is an integral part of the LED trim) for nearly 11.5 years!
- Secondly, illumination produced by LED lighting is nearly double that of its incandescent counterpart. The reason for this is because LED lighting is considered point-source lighting, meaning that the lighting it delivers a more highly-concentrated than an incandescent lamp, which utilizes a built-in reflector to amplify the light source.
- Additionally, LED lighting requires substantially less power to operate, it produces considerably less heat.
- For nightclubs and bars, LED lighting is the only way to meet or exceed the federal energy requirement of 1Watt / sq.ft.
- Because of its inherent efficiency, LED lighting currently costs less than half to operate and maintain than conventional lighting. This will continually improve, as the cost of LED lighting is constantly decreasing.
WHAT ARE SOME IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT PURCHASING LED LIGHTING?
Even though the light source is different with LED lighting, there are some things to know about lighting, in general. Here are a few things to know:
- As I mentioned earlier, every architectural lighting fixture consists of two components: 1). the housing (which sits above the ceiling), and 2). the trim (the part you see). There are generally four types of housings, but the best overall housing, in my opinion, is the remodeling housing. The remodeling housing enables you to locate the exact position of the fixture at the time you install the trim. The reason this is such an advantage is because if you use a “new construction housing,” or any of the other housings (all of which mount between framing members), you are wholly-committed to your position – and even the smallest mistake cannot be reversed without a “remodeling session”. I’ve never met an electrical contractor who doesn’t love remodeling housings.
- Just as with all forms of conventional lighting, LED lighting is manufactured in a variety of “color” ranges. That is, white light sources are described as “warm, midrange and cool,” and each has its place in a commercial setting. I describe this in greater detail in a previous post regarding locker room lighting and general bar and nightclub lighting design, below.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SOME TOP BAR LIGHTING IDEAS
Here are a few of my recommendations for LED lighting for nightclubs and bars:
- For track and pendant lighting, Con-Tech is my favorite, with numerous fixtures, shades and trims.
- I like using 4” and 6” recessed cans for the majority of nightclub and bar applications, and Con-Tech is my first choice.
- For a high-output recessed fixture, consider Liton’s new 1200 lumen 3” and 4” fixtures; the 19W option proclaims a lamp life 15X that of a traditional MR16 lamp. The cut sheet for this product can be downloaded below.
- For mini-LED lighting, try Numinus’ “Spectracan,” a 2” recessed RGB LED fixture (shown above, right). You can download the cut sheet below.
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