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Subject: Game Room Lighting rss

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David Sparks
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Kentucky
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We are getting ready to convert our garage into a game room/family room. I have been searching for weeks on tips for lighting in this room, and I am not having any luck. Any search for "Game room" brings up a lot of arcade or console rooms, but not much in the way of board game rooms. I'm sure there are some people out there with good ideas, so lets hear them.

I would like to have the lights provide great overall illumination WITHOUT casting weird shadows on the table. right now it seems my best bet is to go with track lighting around the room and let the light bounce off the walls. I had originally thought I would go with overhead recessed lighting, but the shadows seem very harsh, and I would like to avoid that.


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Jim Cote
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My gaming/dining area has 480 watts of lighting (2x150 halogens + 3x60 incandescent) on the ceiling over the table, and sometimes I don't think it's enough. The problem is that the light sources are 5 feet above the table. You actually get better lighting having smaller bulbs on a hanging chandelier that's only 2.5 - 3 feet above the table.
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Darren
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I'm in the same boat where I'll be renovating the area I'm putting my games table (not yet built) next spring/summer. I've had some thoughts as to the best way of lighting the room... I'd love to bounce ideas off you and everyone else to figure out the best solution.

You would think that a completely diffused ceiling would be the best bet as spot lights directly on the board should be too harsh.

If we think of this in regards to outside: The sun is a spot light and on a clear day it lights up everything but leaves a very strong shadow. Add a few more suns up there and you reduce the shadows intensity but you have those darn suns reflecting off of every shiny surface blinding you constantly.

Now have a cloudy day where the sun can't be seen. You can still see everything but with less intensity but since the whole sky is diffusing the light, you cast essentially no shadow. You also don't have the harsh reflections of the sun off the shiny surfaces so over all I think it is nicer.

Transition that to a game room... You could cover the ceiling with spot lights shining down on the table. You can lessen the shadows a degree but I think the spot light reflections off of glossy cards/boards would be an issue. You could direct the spot lights against the walls and bounce the light for a more diffuse effect but now everyone sitting at the table will block some of the light which is bouncing off the wall and heads back towards the table. I think there could be issues with having too dark a table with this idea but it would be great for certain non board type games.

Maybe the optimum solution for board games is to some how have the whole ceiling above the table a giant diffuser so that it acts like a cloudy day. I'm not sure of what type of lighting can do this... maybe those new dimmable led panels that act like the old 4' x 2' fluorescent rectangles used in every office building? Put those on dimmers so you can control the intensity and have them above the whole table and you should have no issues for board games. This should give you a nice area to play in but doesn't give you get ambience for those games where you don't have a board game. To get really fancy you could put different panels on different circuits so you could have 1 or 2 panels in the very middle on one circuit followed by a ring of panels around it on a separate circuit. Then you could control the intensity of the light directly above the board and control the intensity of the light directly above the players.

For ambiance games, you want more moody light (mentioned above already) which could be done with the idea of multiple spot lights/sconces bouncing off the wall/ceiling sections/corners (put these on dimmers as well). This way you can darken the play area but still have light around the room with less glare since they are not spot lights shining directly at the table.

So my idea is a bunch of dimmable led panels directly above the table on one circuit, followed by a bunch of dimmable spot lights/sconces around the room on a separate dimmable circuit. This is what I've been leaning towards but I am very curious as to what others can suggest. Are you looking for this amount of light control within your garage? Or is this over the top?
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Timur Tabi
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You might want to consider cove lighting.
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Dwight Stone
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Not an expert on this, but I work in film lighting(grip) and I also spend a lot of time thinking about stuff like this.

You want two things:

Large, soft overhead light for the playing surface
and
Bias lighting around the walls

Dealing with the second first... Bias lighting is lighting the area around/behind what you will be focusing on so your eyes won't be strained by the contrast.
See: http://www.howtogeek.com/213464/how-to-decrease-eye-fatigue-...
This means lighting up the area around the edges of the room but beyond that can look like almost anything. The key is that you want the light shining on the actual surfaces and objects around the room and not towards the play area.
Ideas include:
Track lighting illuminating wall art(or just walls)
Recessed lights doing similar
Standard table lamps with shades
Uplighting from the floor

The large, soft overhead light part is pretty straight forward but there are some key factors you want to look out for. For your main playing area lighting you obviously want something overhead so you don't cast shadows, but you also want something large. Bigger source equals softer light. Anything that is indirect or otherwise diffused will work great. Bouncing will work for this purpose but it has the downside of making a hot spot that can reflect off of cards at the wrong angle.
See:http://setlighting.tumblr.com/post/61331318555/the-leko-bounce
Also note that large doesn't apply to all dimensions... you want a large source relative to the surface you are lighting.
This is what I currently use and you'll see that it has a very large diameter while not being very tall. Also great because you don't have to hang anything.
See: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/60103854/

Hope that helps.
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Dan Ridge
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Martinez
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LED lighting systems. Bright, lots of color/temp choices now, low energy use, very low heat output, and they will last a long time.

Take your pick with Lithonia lights as an example.
http://www.lithonia.com/pt/led+lighting/c/led+lighting+produ...

Dimmable systems are great, you can adjust the intensity to a level appropriate for your use.
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David Sparks
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Thanks Darren and Dwight. These are the same sorts of debates I have been having in my head since we decided to start this project.

My original idea was to have recessed LED lights on a dimmer so that I can control the overall light in the room. Track lights on dimmers so that I can control the "fill" light bouncing off the walls, and then maybe a light right above the table.

The one right above the table is the one I am most worried about since I didn't want it to shine on the glossy boards and cards. That IKEA lamp looks like a good solution.

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Chris Miller
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Katy
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In my old game room I had a few of Ikea foto pendant lights hanging from the ceiling (they were on long cords that ran over to and down the wall - I had a few hook eyes in the ceiling so I could move them around to be centered over tables or moved to avoid shadows which never were an issue really)
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Darren
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To me, that IKEA lamp is still like a point source when looking up at it. From the side, the paper will diffuse the light and make it look like a large light source but looking from underneath it (i.e. where the board sits) the paper is not used (large hole) so the light source suddenly becomes a point source which will cast shadows (imo) when an arm or head leans over the board. It would need some sort of diffuser to cover the hole in order to make it large in reference to the board.

You could bounce the light off the ceiling using spot lights to make the large diffuse source but you would have to be careful that the spot lights are not visible by the sitting players or else it will be annoying.
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Dwight Stone
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The hole in the bottom of the Regolit(or any other "china ball") is only five inches in diameter when compared with the whole unit which is over two feet. Yes, you will get a "spot" from that hole but if you're using any normal frosted bulb it won't be that bad and can be fixed with any diffusion material(paper, white cloth, wax paper)
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David Sparks
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I talked to the guy that is building my room for me, and without tearing up the ceiling, I will basically be going with track lighting.

I will get the track lighting installed to go around the perimeter of the gaming area for now and I will look for other options to add later.

I like the idea of LED panels, I may see if I can find some that I can install without tearing out the ceiling.

Thanks for all your ideas, hopefully we can keep this thread going so that other people having the same issues will get some ideas.
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Darren
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desparks wrote:
I like the idea of LED panels, I may see if I can find some that I can install without tearing out the ceiling.
The LED panels I saw at HomeDepot are less than 1" thick so could easily be mounted directly on the ceiling. I recently mounted one of these in a friends house for her home business and it was quite easy. She bought it from HomeDepot.

A quick search brought these up:
Pixi LED Flat Lights
I don't think this is the same brand I used but they do show up at the USA HomeDepot right now...
Pix Lights at Home Depot
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