Find the right light

The way in which a venue is lit underpins its overall ambience

ESTABLISHING just the right ambience in an outlet depends on a wide range of factors – and the importance of lighting cannot be overstated.

Together with elements including furniture and music, the way an outlet is lit can make a huge difference in how it is perceived by customers.

“In many ways on-trade venues are very similar to stage productions, it doesn’t matter how good the set, the props, cast and plot are, if the lighting is wrong the audience will leave disappointed,” said Ian McCreadie, managing director of commercial lighting specialist North Star Electric.

While there are a number of functions licensees should look for as standard in their lighting equipment – such as energy efficiency and the ability to control lighting levels – McCreadie stressed that there is no “one-size-fits-all approach”.

Choosing just the right lighting for the venue is essential, said McCreadie.

He recalled the example of a Manchester hotel which had installed bright LED downlight lamps in its foyer, “with the result more reminiscent of a dental surgery than relaxing hotel”.

Licensees have a range of options when it comes to finding the right lighting and bulbs for their premises, with McCreadie stating that it is now possible to equip LED lights that have the warmth of halogen lighting, but at a fraction of the cost.

However, while looks are obviously important, it is vital that any lighting system is also practical.

“Far too often, architects and interior designers choose lighting solely for the look of the luminaires and leave decisions on lighting control to a general electrical contractor,” said McCreadie.

“I recall once seeing an installation where no less than 45 separate dimmer switches had been fitted in a cupboard at the back of the kitchen to control the lighting from where it was impossible to see the restaurant.”