5 Ways to Artfully Light up a Small Apartment With Energy-Efficient LEDs


LifeEdited graphic looking across the dining room into the kitchen

This LifeEdited rendering looks from the bedroom and living room to the dining area and in to the kitchen.

In a small apartment, lighting is of the utmost importance. A regular stream of high-falutin' eco lighting ideas have always graced TreeHugger's pages. Yet apart from the CFL (which has its many detractors and environmental drawbacks), environmentally-friendly lighting technology hasn't exactly gone mainstream...until now.

The promise of LEDs is truly astounding, and since they are on the cusp of hitting the sweet spot between design, availability and affordability, TreeHugger founder Graham Hill is using them for the 420-square-foot New York apartment he is renovating as part of the LifeEdited project.

Here are five choices that combine adaptability with clean design.

The Goal

In the LifeEdited apartment -- which boasts good windows yet no skylights -- spaces flow into each other and are necessarily multi-purpose. So lighting must work well in different moods and times of day. The LEDs will help keep the apartment's low footprint ideals.

How do you think we did? Are there other affordable choices we've overlooked? Let us know in the comments.

1. Home Depot EcoSmart E26 LED Downlight

LED canned light in a living room photo
EcoSmart E26 LED Downlight. Photo credit: Home Depot.

In one prize-winning rendering for Graham's apartment, the kitchen ceiling is a wonderful skyscape of twinkling lights on a pale gray background -- a feat not easy to achieve without custom building, but perhaps not impossible either.

Home Depot has entered into the LED act with a number of LED bulbs to choose from. What makes the E26 special is that the entire lightbulb is designed to replace traditional "can" lighting.

So Graham can have a ceiling that traverses the apartment fitted out with lots of EcoSmarts ($40 each), using standard-sized cans and regular light bulb sockets. Then the EcoSmart E26's can be screwed in to each one of the cans. Since LEDs don't generate heat, gray cloth or a form of plexiglass can be used to achieve the starry night effect in the kitchen or anywhere else.

Since incandescent can lights can run up to 100 watts each, these 10.5 watt EcoSmart's can save a bundle in comparative lighting costs.

2. Philips luminous panels

Lumalive panels photo with two people in it
Luminous panels. Photo credit: Philips. Philips is teaming with Danish company Kvadrat Soft Cells to create luminous LED-embedded wall panels that are also sound absorbing. This would be ideal for a LifeEdited privacy wall that helps separate living areas.

The smaller luminous panels will be rated at about 65 watts -- not bad for a wall of light! Pricing for these panels has not yet been announced, so it's possible getting the panels in time and within the budget may be an issue.

3. Pablo Link Floor Lamps

Pablo Link floor lamp in orange
Pablo Link Floor Lam. Photo credit: YLighting.

The Pablo Link Floor lamp is versatile, adjustable, and streamlined in design. Using a ring of LED lamps, the Pablo can train a strong light anywhere needed. It comes in multiple colors (including white and silver), is fairly affordable at $440 each, and as a Cradle-to-Cradle certified lamp, is designed for disassembly and recycling. The Pablo works equally well beside a sofa for lazy reading and transitions to a bedside lamp.

4. GE Tetra AL10

Shelving with GE Tetra LED lights
GE Tetra AL10. Photo credit: GE.

Thus far the Tetra has seen more commercial than residential applications, but it is the type of under-counter and inside-cabinet lighting that the LifeEdited apartment will have great need of.

The Tetra panels produce brilliant white light and rate 4.5 watts per piece of panel. Tetra panels are also dimmable, a big plus in kitchen and mood lighting, and a feature that CFL lights have had a very difficult time getting right. At $77.50 per panel and with an estimated 50,000 hour lifetime, Tetra AL10's will come in handy in a tiny home.

5. Philips Ambient A19

Philips Ambience A19 LED light bulb photo
Philips Ambient A19. Photo credit: Philips.

In the package, the Philips Ambient looks bright yellow-orange, but when switched on, it gives the soft white light that has been the special province of incandescents.

Thought the Ambient is priced at about $40, it is expected to save money with its predicted life of more than 20,000 hours -- that's 15 years of four hours of usage each day. The Ambient A19 is a 12-watt LED light that is equivalent to an 60 watt incandescent.

For areas such as the bathroom and perhaps around the bed where a soft light is desired, the Ambient allows LifeEdited a wider range of fixtures to choose from while retaining the eco-efficiency benefits of LEDs.

Like this story? Follow A.K. Streeter on Twitter.

More on LifeEdited
5 Space-Saving Cabinet Solutions For A Tiny Apartment
LifeEdited: Home Electronics and Entertainment
5 Energy-Efficient Induction Cooktops For Small Kitchens
Winners Selected in LifeEdited Competition To Design New York Apartment
10 Ways to Monitor Power In A Tiny Apartment

5 Ways to Artfully Light up a Small Apartment With Energy-Efficient LEDs
This LifeEdited rendering looks from the bedroom and living room to the dining area and in to the kitchen.

Related Content on Treehugger.com