Types of Church Lighting Technology
Churches need well-lighted surroundings that are also aesthetically pleasing. This lighting may be produced by a variety of technologies. Types of lighting used for churches are incandescent lamps, fluorescent lamps, and LED (light-emitting diodes), halogen lamps, and high-intensity discharge lamps.
The most common, but least efficient, lamps are incandescent bulbs. While they offer warm light, they have a shorter life span, require more maintenance, and cost more to replace. Dimming the lights may increase the length of time they last, therefore lowering the cost somewhat. On the other hand, historical churches may prefer incandescent bulbs because their light resembles traditional candlelight with the lower intensity light.
Fluorescent lamps are energy efficient and have a long life, therefore cutting down on maintenance and cost. They have traditionally been used for offices or other utilitarian locations due to their whiter color. This light works for church classrooms, but sanctuary use has often required other light systems to provide color quality. However, as fluorescent lights have developed over the years from the early lamps, color has improved and they provide a better ambience. Dimming capability has improved as well, which has increased their use in sanctuaries.
Two other light technologies are halogen and HID (high-intensity discharge lamps). Halogen lights are "instant on" lights. Stage lighting often uses halogen technology. Halogen lamps get hotter than other lamps, so safety must be considered. HID lighting is often used for large halls with high ceilings. These bulbs produce a greater amount of light than halogen lighting and use less power. HID bulbs have a gas capsule rather than a filament. However, these bulbs need time to warm up.
LED (light-emitting diode) lighting is being used more frequently in church settings. LED, energy-efficient lights not only produce improved lighting but also reduce the heat emitted from bulbs that burden HVAC systems. These long-lasting bulbs have no filaments to break or burn out. A semi-conductor chip, which is contained in a plastic bulb, is used to run the LED light. Some advantages of LED lighting are that LED lights are dimmable, "instant on" lights with a slow failure rate and shock resistance. Therefore, they have lower maintenance costs than some other types of lighting.
Any of these technologies will produce light, but there are other considerations that need to be addressed for a church setting. An older congregation may require brighter light than a younger congregation. A mix of lighting types can help improve various functions of the worship space: reading text, observing or participating in the service, quiet meditation, and safety lighting for entering and exiting during the service. Installing sufficient controlling devices for any of these technologies will help to produce the desired light.