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I was in a friend's home, and admired their skylight. They have one of those tubes that goes through the roof to bring natural light inside. The ceiling had a diffused circular lens to help disperse and diffuse the light.

I can't add skylights right now, but what type of fixture and bulb would give a similar effect? Prefer something that can be left on for long periods of time that doesn't use much energy or generate much heat.

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Skylights are pleasing because they fill the room with light which is reflected and diffused off all the surfaces in the room, whereas a typical ceiling lamp is somewhat unidirectional and lights the ceiling almost as much (or possibly more) than the room itself.

Uplighting from multiple sources is definitely a good solution for recreating the skylight effect. These could be floor mounted, or sconces hung on or cut into the ball. Uplighting on top of cabinets will cast light on the ceiling. You could also couple the uplighting with track-mounted wall wash bulbs.

Halogen lighting was often used for this sort of lighting but LEDs are becoming a better alternative as the prices drop. Good quality LED lighting strips and bulbs are much more low-heat and energy efficient than any halogen. In addition, most LEDs will last at least 10 years without replacement so they can be installed in areas that are hard to access. Traditionally, people consider the traditional yellow tungsten-bulb colors to be most comfortable, which is around 3000K (warm white), but this is not what you want to simulate sunlight. Actual sunlight is around 5000K and above and more of a bluish color (cool white). You will need LEDs around that color temp, or can be programmed to that. Approx 4000K can be a nice compromise. Ultimately everything depends on the existing color of the walls in the room, and the aesthetic you're going for.

As a note, the new lighting temp will probably be jarring at first as it's much colder than "normal" warm tungsten screw-in light bulbs. I would consider the LED uplighting as an accent to your existing lighting, so you can turn it off or dim the LED system so it won't be overpowering in the evening. Also, there are some LED systems now that are color-programmable and even controlled by a mobile app, so you can pick the white color temperature that appeals the most to you, or have it cycle though different color temps throughout the day, light real sunlight.

Experiment with some simple uplighting cans on the floor and in some uplighting and work from there... if you are thinking of spending "real" money, ask an interior designer or decorator for advice.

Good luck!

  • GREAT POST! Thank you! The color temp is something I've really noticed. Real skylights are around 5000K+, but as you mentioned, 5000K bulbs are very jarring. Your suggestions about that are very useful. There is one point that I don't quite understand. You mention that skylights fill the room but ceiling lamps largely light the ceiling... but then you recommended uplights (as opposed to downlights); can you explain this discrepancy? – RockPaperLizard Apr 20 '15 at 18:49
  • RockPaperLizard... The uplights are a way to get light reflecting around the room to mimic a "skylight" feel but a combination of uplights and ceiling lamps are needed to throw enough light around the room. Take a look at @Mazura's post. Another good point: Try to stick to LEDs as much as you can. Traditional lamps (especially halogen) throw off a lot of heat and consume a lot of electricity. You will be lighting a room probably 3x (or more) than you normally would. – ToolLab May 11 '15 at 12:49
  • Thank you! LEDs are indeed very cost-efficient and do not throw off all that wasted (and inefficient) heat. – RockPaperLizard May 11 '15 at 21:38
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I've had the pleasure of demolishing several printing companies (go figure), from which I'd made-off with the cool guy lights; 4' and 8' florescent red, yellow and black lights.

An apartment I lived in for years had the perfect spot for the yellow ones. Atop the upper kitchen cabinets and hidden by the crown molding. I had 3 shop lights spanning the entire 'L' shape.

It was a passable illusion to us vampiric collage kids. I still use yellow incandescents for my desk lamp and the important part is that it's turned to the ceiling, making it an up light, just like my projector-dungeon-of-old's kitchen.

I don't know if they make LED 'party' lamps yet and if they do they're probably not cheap. I'm also a fan of the classic, freestanding halogen lamps that have a full-range dimmer, to mimic any time of day.

Try any light you can use as an up-light, preferably dimmed. However there's no substitute for (natural vitamin D) the real thing: tubular skylights.

  • Keep in mind that it took me 240 watts of indirect lighting just to make it look like you're living in a video game. – Mazura Apr 13 '15 at 6:19

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