Make Efficient Lighting Work at Home turns to three award-winning residential lighting designers to share some of the obstacles that efficient lighting can present. And provide their tips and tricks to doing it right.

Gregg Mackell, Principal of 186 Lighting Design Group, Inc.

Some CFL and LED lamps do dim effectively and provide flexibility to create different scenes and moods. But homeowners are used to incandescent, with smooth dimming from 100% all the way down to 0% light output. Even when the dimmer and efficient lamp work well, the low end of the dimming range may be 10%, 20%, or even higher.

Solution: Make sure that the chosen lamps dim down low enough to suit your application. For instance, choose an incandescent or halogen source for a home theater where you would want a very low bottom end. A more-efficient lighting source with limited dimming range would work in an exercise room, closet, or stairway.

CFLs are tricky to dim and have difficulty maintaining color quality. And with today’s LED technology, I don’t see many reasons to dim compact fluorescent. Look for newer, third-party LED drivers that give greater dimming range. Check out


Randall Whitehead, Principal Randall Whitehead Lighting, Inc.

An intense tasklight on a desktop, countertop, or workbench can aid productivity and even prevent eyestrain or injury. And sleek LED tasklight designs are becoming ubiquitous. But where a group, or array, of LEDs are used for tasklighting, they may also create a multiple-shadow image that makes it difficult to write, draw, or perform other fine work by hand or with tools.

Solution: A tasklight with a good translucent lens, or diffuser, will minimize multiple shadows and shed more-uniform light on the task. Alternatively, a single high-output LED would also resolve the issue, acting like the single-source incandescent tasklight we are used to and casting a single shadow. Check out


Ann Kale, Principal of Ann Kale Associates, Ltd.

“Residential-quality” lighting equipment is often not of good quality, and energy-efficient lighting hasn’t changed that. For instance, a fine, polished-granite countertop in an upscale kitchen can reflect the many tiny LEDs now used in undercabinet lights.

Solution: A diffuser, or translucent lens, on an LED strip light will create a single linear reflection – cheaper tapelights won’t come with a diffuser. Tablet computers, like iPads, are being used on many kitchen counters, upscale and down, making even the uniform, linear reflections annoying. The solution is to push the undercabinet light 2 to 5 inches from the back wall, so the reflection will be out of the primary work area. Check out


Contributing writer: Lois I. Hutchinson