Your choice of lighting will play a significant part in the usability of your garden office so don’t just dismiss it form your list of design choices.
Many modern garden offices are designed to maximise natural light, and this is great as natural light is very easy to work with. The problem is that natural light is effected by the time of year and time of day, so you need a good articiial source for times when the natural light needs some help.
Generally garden offices come equipped with an ambient light source, that generally lights the room, the most common options are recessed down lighters, spot lights, track lighting or if you are going for a more industrial look florescent tubes.
Ambient light systems like this will light the room well, and you can control the type of light produced with your choice of bulb, more of which later, but as you are planning to use your new building as an office space you will want to consider some task lighting too.
Task lighting is lighting specific to an area in the room designed for the task in hand, this may be as simple as adding a free standing light to your desk, or a floor light beside the chair where you will sit and read.
Of course task lighting is something you can add to your garden office at a later date, but your supplier will be able to help you too. If you plan to add a desk light your supplier could ensure there is a socket in the right place to plug it in. They may also have specific lights systems for the workstation area of the room – we have seen suppliers add track lighting over the desk area which works independently to the rest of the lighting.
The structure of your garden office may dictate your lighting choice
As we have said the most popular garden office lighting choice is recessed down lights, but with some garden office structures its not possible to fit this style of lighting, because there is no room to recess the light fittings and cables.
This is commonly a problem on garden office designs which use prefabricated roof paneling systems, where the internal lining, insulation and external covering are one piece, rather than a build up of layers as you find in timber frame roof systems.
In these instances surface mounted spot lights or track lighting is suggested.
Think about external lighting too
The interior of your garden office isn’t the only place to think about lighting, exterior lights can not only be very useful when accessing the office on dark nights but can play a part in the design of your building, particularly when viewed from the house.
There are lots of different exterior lighting systems available from floodlights fitted with movement sensors, to down lights and coloured LED lights, each creating a different light pattern.
Control the lights remotely
Many garden office suppliers offer the option for you to control your garden office lighting remotely, this can be as simple as a key fob which allows you to switch the lights on and off from within your house, to more sophisticated systems which allow you to control which lights and the colour of the lights from your smart phone from anywhere in the world.
Common garden office light fittings
Recessed down-lighters are the most common style of garden office lighting, they come in several fitting styles – fixed, eyeball, gimbal and wall washer. With fixed down lights the light is directed downwards. Gimbal down lights can be rotated to direct the light. Eyeball lights can also be directed but through a greater range than gimbals allow, and wall washer lights lights although fitted in the ceiling are designed to direct light at the walls.
Down-lights come in two powers systems mains voltage and low voltage. It is a misconception that low voltage systems are an environmentally friendly option as they actually consume more energy per wattage than the mains solution. Mains voltage down lights can be fitted with either halogen or LED bulbs and can have a dimmer switch attached so you can dim the lights, with low voltage options you can’t dim the light, but the light is considered crisper, and lower voltage bulbs can be used for the same output and bulbs tend to last longer.
Spot lights are normally surface mounted and can be fitted singularly or in groups on plates or tracks. Spot lights normally have a swivel fitting which allows you to direct the light where you want it which could be useful to direct the light over the desk area.
In more industrial garden office designs fluorescent tube lights are often specified, we are talking about the type of light you might have had in your kitchen in the 1980’s and that you find in commercial buildings, the simple design is considered chic! Fluorescent light is good for a work environment as it is very clear.
Task lighting is maybe something you will consider once you have moved into your office, but additional lighting where you will work, and in areas where you may read such as by an armchair should be part of your garden office design process. There are some great task lighting solutions out there, you could make a real design mark on your garden office space!
How many lights will you need?
Its difficult to give you an exact figure because we don’t know the size of your garden office, but there is a rule of thumb for specifying down-lighters. Generally the down lights should be about 1m from the walls, and then evenly spaced between 1.6m and 2m apart. If you are opting for LED lights your spacings will be slightly closer at 1.3 – 1.7m apart.
Types of bulb
The fittings used in your garden office will generally dictate the bulbs you use, here are the most popular options used in garden office design:
Halogen bulbs electricity is passed through a tungsten filament enclosed in a tube that contains halogen, the tungsten filament gets very hot so care needs to be taken where halogen bulbs are used so they don’t come into contact with flammable materials. Halogen bulbs are quite expensive, but fairly efficient energy wise; they also last a long time, typically 3000 hours.
Fluorescent tubes are popular in industrial garden office designs, one bulb can light a large area and they give off very little heat. Fluorescent tubes work by passing a current through argon and mercury. Fluorescent tubes have ballast components which provide the right voltage, there are two types of ballast magnetic and electronic, electronic ballast overcomes the problem with humming and flickering that used to be associated with fluorescent tubes. Fluorescent tubes last approximately 10000 hours.
Compact fluorescent lights
Known as CFL’s they are the modern low energy light bulb, they work on the same principle as a fluorescent tube and give off little heat and are cost effective to run. CFL’s fit in most standard light fittings and have replaced the incandescent bulb in many situations. Compact fluorescent bulbs have a typical lifespan of 8000 hours
LED stands for Light Emitting Diodes these are a different type of lighting to those described above, a LED produces light when electrons move around within its semiconductor structure. A LED light is very efficient it is typically 85% more efficient than an incandescent bulb and around 5% more efficient than a CFL. As well as being energy efficient to run LED bulbs last much longer at around 45,000 hours, the down side is that they are much more expensive to buy than other types of light so you will probably only find them on high spec garden offices.