Let there be light, dammit.

While I was growing up, we lived in several different houses overseas. Without fail, in each of these houses we had enough light.

Each square room had at least one ceiling light fixture, and each rectangular room had a minimum of two ceiling light fixtures. And, my paw to Vishnu, most of these light fixtures must have been bodged together out of discarded C130 landing lights.

When you flicked on the wall switch, you bloody well had light.

Might be the areas I’ve lived in States-side, but the lack of good general room lighting is really beginning to grate on my nerves.

Friend of moms in Amarillo has a house in which the living room has no ceiling light fixture at all. House I’m in now has one ceiling light at the back end of a rectangular living room.

And it’s not getting any better. Some folks are building a series of new houses and I walked in out of curiosity, just to look around. Told the crew boss he left out the ceiling lights in the living room.

“Nah,” sayeth he, “There’s plenty of electrical outlets for all the lamps they’ll need.”


I guess the folks who plan houses don’t figure anyone’s going to be reading books these days, so why bother putting in enough light.



Widow Six Seven

34 thoughts on “Let there be light, dammit.”

  1. Well, when they do put it lights, it tends to be of low optical quality or of some wavelength not found in nature.

    I’d be happy if they just left the J-box up there with a cover-plate.

    Leave me to choose the fixture and element, thankyouverymuch!

    And for daytime hours, it’s hard to be the Solatube. No link handy, but it’s google-able.

    One nod to the new stuff though, is the ability to use remotes, or control panels.

    Finally, halogen rocks for reading!

    Sloop New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

  2. I love living in a house that was previously owned by an electrician with a thirst for power consumption.

    We have only one need for a lamp in this house, and it’s right next to our bed. Everything else is overhead.

  3. Yep. When I had my current house built eight years ago (in Indianapolis) I had to pay extra for ceiling lights. I had ’em put in capped rough-ins, which were free, and installed the lighting myself after I moved in.

  4. I actually have less problem with the lack of overhead lighting (of which there is never enought) than with the lack of decent natural lighting. Do houses nowadays just not come with windows? So many places I’ve looked at recently were small square boxes with even more miniscule windows. Being slightly claustrophobic, if I can’t GET out, then I at least want outside light to get IN.

  5. I love living in a house that was previously owned by an electrician with a thirst for power consumption.
    Hey! I’m married to that guy!

    We’re currently updating the place we moved to in TX, and in the first room done, the office (16’x12′), there are SIX can lights in the ceiling.

  6. LawDog, you are officially my brother from another mother.

    You’re the first person I’ve ever met to question why there are no new houses build in the entire frickin’ country with any overhead lighting, except for the kitchen.

    Lamps? They put out light UP and SIDEWAYS, dammit. I want a 2,500 megawatt ceiling light that’s run on tungsten and the blood of hippies.

  7. Er, Dog- Do you also find that everyone is talking more quietly, positively MUMBLING these days?

  8. …and then there’s the cold, ugly light of those compact fluourescents- beastly. Or any fluourescent, come to that. Dim rooms for dim folk, I suppose.

  9. I recently moved in to a new abode and have 2 rooms in it that are completely useless after 5pm and before 8am. Not to mention the light in the master bath is so woefully inadequate that I had to hang a mirror in the closet to shave in the morning.

  10. LD, it’s really a Texas thing. The reading thing applies though…

    When I moved into my apartment down here, there was a 40 watt incandescent bulb in a ceiling fan fixture with a big opaque white cover in the living room. It was literally too dark to read by 4 PM.

    I took the shade off and put in a 120 watt equivalent compact fluorescent. Problem solved. Plus, if I get cancer again, I’ll know right away…

  11. I’ve got the opposite problem. Too much overhead light is painful. First time I flipped on the four-bulb overhead fixture in my bedroom ceiling fan, I was hissing & shielding my eyes like a hung over vampire at sunrise. Felt like I was looking into my Surefire…

  12. I don’t like how Walmart dims the lights to save money.

    I don’t like places that don’t turn the lights on, and try to use outside natural light, which ends up not being enough, so they look like they’re closed.

    I have a desklamp, but have never plugged it in. I always use the overhead.

  13. IIRC, at 50 years age, you require 3X the amount of light that you need at 20 yrs. Builders should be equipping housing for old eyes. You don’t have to turn them on if they’re not needed, but hard to use if they’re not there to start with.

  14. We now have a 50+ year-old house in Ohio we’re setting up for retirement. [“Yes, dear”, I said.]
    The kitchen has lights over the sink and more at the center of the ceiling. Between them are three “spots”, and no one -even the electrician – can find the switch.
    Son and Heir just called [after 2 am there] as a water pipe just let go above the kitchen and water is coming out of a cabinet. The simple joys of home ownership. OldeForce

  15. We moved into a hundred year old house that sports smallish, cozy rooms. It was immediately obvious that the previous tenants had been…getting on in years…how?

    All the 60 watt max fixtures held 100 watt bulbs.

  16. LOL!! That’s the one thing that drives my mother crazy – not enough light. I had extra lighting installed in all the rooms in their house when we had it built. I was NOT going to listen to her squawk about not enough light!!

  17. My apartment doesn’t have a ceiling fixture in the living room, or the bedroom. The only wired in lights are in the kitchen and the bathroom.

    Which is precisely why I invested in a couple of spiffy lamps when I moved in. The only problem is, the light switch in the living room has no function. I can set the lamp in the bedroom up to work on the switch, but there is no outlet in the living room that works with the switch.

    Yet another reason why I’ll be hitting the classifieds when my lease is close to up.

  18. Last Sept. I spent eleven days without being able to use the overheads in the foyer, living room, bedroom, bathroom and the fixture above the kitchen sink (LR overhead shorted out (80+ year old house, original fixture) and a really slow, stupid landlord).

    It is simply amazing how often I used those lights, and how miserable I was without them. A little table lamp is NOT sufficient light to shower by.

    For reading, Ott manufactures a series of nice (and expensive) full-spectrum lamps that are easy on the eyes (both to read by and look at).

  19. You READ by an overhead light? To each his own. I find that OH lights actually hurt my eyes. Not to mention the glare cast on the TV screen when I’m trying to watch a movie.
    As for reading, I’d rather have a 100 watt bulb right next to my chair or the sofa, than a buld 8′- 10′ away in the ceiling.
    But that’s just me.
    When I’m cleaning or cooking, the more light the better, but the rest of the time…give me lamp lighting or give me windows.

  20. I admit, I too prefer a lamp for reading or craft work. My office has a standard lamp and a desk lamp, and I never turn on the ceiling lights because they’re just too bright (I may be over 40, but the eyes are still really light sensitive – maybe by the time I’m seventy I won’t need sunglasses to drive on a cloudy day.) But I do like an overhead in every room so I can find the damn lamp!

  21. Let me tell you about ceiling fans. With “lights.” When my parents redid this house, my mother triumphed over my electrician father and although he put in plenty of outlets and lights, she got the awful ceiling fixtures that held two bulbs turned sideways under a semi-opaque cover, and lots and lots of the most expensive, ugliest lamps you’ve ever seen. I have a vested dislike of lamps.
    We took down the light covers (now, regretfully, lost somewhere in the depths of several storages)
    and I trundled over to Lowe’s, where the employee in the lighting department first ignored me, then ran from me, and finally hid from me-I kid you not.
    So, there not being a Home Depot (we have since parted company as well) in this area, I drove up to one in Amarillo where I bought seven Hunter lighted ceiling fans (recommended by my electrician), two area rugs, plus my gasoline for the round trip for less than the fans would have cost me at Lowe’s. (Pay attention, those of you who are WalMart/Sam’s/Lowe’s devotees)
    Came home and spent a year trying to get someone to hang the damned things (Dog and his brother are not conspicuously talented with mechanics, electricity, or manual labor).
    Finally got them up, only to find that the light fixtures are there for decoration only. We spent a season in a dim, dark, windy cave, and then the switches, one by one, crapped out on both the fans and the lights( So much for my electrician’s recommendation on the ‘best’ brand of ceiling fans). Ever try to get switches for these things, much less install them? It’s an exercise in futility.
    So now we’ve got these ghastly lamps everywhere, not giving out enough light to see your hand in front of your face, the place is murky, and although we have plenty of windows, in deference to the weather and the ghastly neighbors, we rarely open the curtains.
    I am considering pitch torches.

  22. Finally got them up, only to find that the light fixtures are there for decoration only.
    I’ve helped hang a slew of ceiling fans, and even had the hubby read the comment just to be sure.

    Something went hooey with the wiring for the light kit. Did the electrician try to wire it into the wall switch? Something’s not right.

  23. These things come and go in phases. My parents home was built in the late 60’s. It has overhead fixtures in every room except the bathrooms (those have wall mounts). Some time in the 70’s the style went to those wretched lamps and walls witches that attach to wall outlets.

    In the late 90’s it went back ot overheads. My 1997 home has overheads in every room except the bathrooms (again wall mounted) and the hallway, which has a wallmounted sconce.

    Newer homes in AZ all have overhead lgihts, as they have cieling fans/lights in just about every room. The 4-bulb fans provide plenty of light. Enough so that I have swapped the 60 watt bulbs for 40 W bulbs, and installed dimmer switches for the bedroom. (and both bathrooms)

    I hate reading with overhead light though. I always use a table lamp on an end table so that the light comes from over my shouler. This reduces specular reflections from the paper.

  24. My mother has a beach cottage that has wall switches but no overhead lights and it was built in the early ’90s. Drives me nuts, especially when it’s dark and I’m trying to find the dang switch!

    However, her house, built in the late ’60s, has a cross between wall switches and overhead lights. She’s lived in the house for 25 years and there are still some wall switches we never have figured out controlled what.

    Her house has extremely strange wiring in it, like the burgular alarm that was wired in such way that when you stepped on the 3rd step from the top of the stairs it would go off but that was the only thing that would set it off.

    Strange, strange house.

  25. Having wired a few homes and businesses I am glad i was trained by an ol’ guy “slacktrician”. When he bid a job he bid it as if wired for himself. Every room had an OH box even if getting a vinyl cover wired for fan/light operation. He did not do alot of homes but the ones we did wire were well done. It eats my ass to see one or 2 duplex outlets on a fifteen foot kitchen counter when the law says the cord can’t be over 6 foot long on an appliance and most are 2-3 feet.

  26. I guess I’m the oddball. I generally don’t want a bright overhead while reading. If it’s dark out I’d rather my reading be illuminated by the table lamp next to me. If it’s light outside I’d rather read by sunlight.


  27. My apartment is like that. Bugs the heck out of me, because I had to buy torch lamps in order to light the living room. I now have two lamps in that room, one with a 40 watt equivalent CFL bulb and the other with a 100 watt equivalent CFL bulb, and the room is STILL not lit all that well. I’m probably going to have to get another one if I want it bright enough.

  28. I like having area lights from lamps, but I would LOVE the option of having an overhead light. Our little mobile was built in the 70s (I am slowly eliminating ALL avocado green in it) and only has overheads in the kitchen, bathroom and part of the hallway with the washer and drier.

    The long hallway, front hallway, living room and neither bedroom has an overhead light. Hubby uses the 2nd bedroom for an office and finally installed an inexpensive two tube fluorescent light and suddenly you can see in there.

    We’re thinking of getting one more for the bedroom for those times we need serious light (the window is mostly sealed up in the winter with a big chunk of foam to keep the cold out and it gets seriously dark in there) and don’t want to have to wear headlamps while trying to clean out closets.

  29. My apartment is the same way in the living room.

    There’s one switched outlet, which is in the wrong spot.

    I had to walk through the room to turn on a lamp.

    Walking through the darkness isn’t my idea of fun, especially when the cats don’t seem to comprehend that us humans don’t see well in low light.

    But I discovered that on ebay, remotely switched outlets & a remote/receiver setup isn’t too expensive.

    The satisfying ‘clunk’ of the relay also scares the cats the first few times you use it.

    The rest of my apartment is pretty sane, with overhead lights and task lighting in the kitchen, plus lamps in the bedrooms.

    PS: As a “hippy”, I have to recommend the cheap Walmart LED nightlights. They are the perfect light level for the bathroom — just enough light to see for a late night trip to the bathroom, not enough light to wake you up. Their energy use is pretty low as well.

  30. Farmgirl,
    sometimes a wall switch controls both sockets in an outlet, sometimes only one of them. Plus, could be either top or bottom socket. Or, pull out the outlet and look for extra wires. Someone may have taken the switch out of the circuit, for some reason. Check the switch, they may have jumped it, or tied the wires together to eliminate the switch function. Check the switch first, that’s the easiest one to play with, so most likely. I am assuming that all sockets have power, yes?

  31. One thing about overhead lights: toddlers can’t pull them over and break them or start a housefire with them. They are out of the way and out of reach where they belong, they don’t take up floor space, and I wish my house had way more of them!

  32. Well, it is real nice to have a home that full of lights and it really attracts the ambience of the home. Same here I have different kind of ceiling lights in my home.

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