Many people avoid turning on the lights at night when they wake up and head to the toilet or go to the kitchen. This is a rather dangerous habit. Maybe you have a superb built-in capacity to orientate yourself, but a small, unobserved obstacle on the floor can have disastrous effects.
Example of indirect orientation lights that prevent blinding. (Source photo: Deltalight)
Well-placed orientation lighting in hallways and on staircases increases safety inside the home for children, older people, and yourself.
In the past, fixtures with small halogen lamps were used for this task. Today, there is a wide choice of both direct and indirect lighting systems using the more efficient LEDs. There are fixtures built-in into traditional in-the-wall boxes, or fixtures that are placed on the wall. In addition, there are LED strips to create a long line of light. As you no doubt know, LEDs combine low energy consumption with a long lifetime.
It is obvious which areas are best suited for orientation lighting: corridors, hallways, and staircases. Sometimes, an orientation light is advisable in the bedroom, as a nightlight, underneath the bed so that you see your slippers when you get out of bed.
In hallways, orientation lights are best placed 20 to 30 cm above the floor, with 1 to 2 m separating each light. There are also fixtures that can be integrated into the floor. The disadvantage of these is that the light can temporarily blind you when facing straight down. Such blinding effects also need to be taken into consideration on staircases. There is no standard rule, but make sure that you cannot directly look into the lights when you walk in the hallway towards the stairs. In the case of stairs, orientation lights are best placed along the open part of the stairs, or use indirect lighting fixtures or LED strips.
Do not spoil the effect—indeed the usefulness—of orientation lights by relying on a switch to turn the orientation lighting on or off. Orientation lights should be activated whenever it is dark in the hallway or on the stairs. It is better to connect them to a light sensor. In that case, each time the light level drops under a certain threshold level, the lights will guide you safely along your way. A clock can work as well, but has inherent disadvantages. In wintertime, it is dark longer than in the summer. For this reason, a seasonal clock is advised. It will automatically adjust the on/off time each day. On a dark, winter’s day, a light sensor will respond correctly when it gets too dark, whereas an ordinary clock timer will not. For staircases, there is an alternative solution. Connect a pressure sensor underneath the first and last steps. When climbing the stairs, the orientation lights will go on immediately, and they will automatically switch off after a pre-defined period. Just as safe and easy.