In the dark about darkness?
“At the theater, when you’re only focused on the screen, your eyes will adapt to that particular level of light,” Rey-Barreau explains. “When you’re watching TV at home, you’re not usually that focused. Your eyes will move around and you’ll probably get up once in a while. If you don’t have at least a little bit of light, your pupils will constantly dilate up and down to adjust to a multitude of light levels. It can be disorienting.”
Mary Beth Gotti, director of the GE Lighting & Electrical Institute, a customer education facility in Cleveland, says effective lighting design in any room, including media rooms and home theaters, must take into account tasks needing handled visual comfort and overall ambiance.
“In a multipurpose home media room,” she says, “a good lighting design will integrate various layers of light that can provide pleasing and variable light patterns for more casual and flexible viewing conditions. It’s a bit different than a commercial theater setting where the room is used for a singular purpose.”
Pay attention to location, “layers” and dimming capability
- Halogen PAR38 or PAR30 floodlights operated with a dimmer;
- Smaller-sized Precise MR16 floodlights run on a low-voltage dimmer;
- Dimmable 15-watt R30 and 20-watt R40 GE Energy Smart® CFL floodlights; or
- Recessed fixtures equipped with low-wattage GE Vio™ LEDs, the latest in efficient, infinitely dimmable lighting.
For a more theatrical-themed look in coves or architectural reveals, use halogen lights or LEDs, which provide white light, a variety of colors and even a color-changing capability.
Rey-Barreau agrees with Gotti’s assessment and product suggestions. He emphasizes that using a minimum of two lighting concepts is crucial to media room and home theater lighting design: variety of lighting (layers of light) and lighting controls. “Remember that you’re not finished preparing for the ultimate TV viewing experience until you’ve addressed your lighting design,” he remarks.