Articles

The Ultimate LED Picture Lights

The Ultimate Cordless Dimmable LED Picture Light is a great example of brilliant simplicity. In fact it’s so good it’s proving to be one of our most popular products ever. It delivers just about everything you could ever want from a picture light; perfect control, great flexibility, fantastic versatility, beautiful looks and surprising longevity. However you may simply want to check out our full range of picture lights.

Why Is It The Ultimate?

Picture Perfect

The Ultimate Cordless Dimmable LED Picture Light is perfect for showing off your paintings and photographs. Because it uses LED technology there’s no risk to your pictures. Unlike standard fluorescent or incandescent bulbs LED’s don’t produce heat or UV light both of which can age the images on display. Fluorescent lighting is particularly bad for pictures as they generally emit an even higher level of UV than their incandescent counterparts. Ultimately it’s best to avoid both if possible.

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Effortless Control

Thanks to its remote control you can adjust the level of illumination that your Ultimate Cordless Dimmable LED Picture Light provides, allowing you to set the ambiance for your display. A single remote can control multiple lights, so you don’t need a number of different remote units for your picture lighting.

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Looking Good

Not only will these lights make your pictures look their best but they’re extremely good-looking as well. We’ve just added the new Satin Nickel finish to our existing range of Antique Brass or Polished Brass options so whether you’re looking for something traditional or more modern we have a choice of styles that will work with any decor. And as we’re the exclusive UK stockist of the Ultimate Cordless Dimmable LED Picture Light you know where to come to get everything you need.

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Easy To Install

Using the word install is a bit misleading as there is little installation required. All you need to do is select which picture or feature you want to show off and then screw the picture light to the wall, that’s it! So you no longer have to think about calling an electrician to wire in a new fitting, or have the location of your pictures dictated by an existing light fitting; you have complete control over where they go.

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Long Lasting Light

The running costs of this Picture Light is very low. Powered by 4 standard D batteries for the light and 2 x AAA batteries for the remote each light will run for over 100 hours or more if you don’t have it on the brightest setting. It’s completely up to you what setting you have the light on and a simple touch of a button will allow you to restore it to full brightness.

 

These picture lights are great for illuminating paintings and photographs up to 3 feet wide but they are also ideal for smaller pictures as well and will fit conveniently where needed.

When it comes to lighting artwork and pictures the Ultimate Cordless Dimmable LED Picture Light really lives up to its name!

Why not view our complete range of Picture Lights?

Looking for more inspiration? Try our Lighting Ideas section.

Andrew Evangelidis Head of Buying

Andrew is an experienced buying professional who takes an entrepreneurial approach to identify new lighting solutions and ensure Lyco have first-to-market ranges for our customers. Having previously worked for well known brands such as Wickes, Carphone Warehouse and Toys R Us, Andrew has now turned his hand to sourcing commercial lighting and ensure our customers receive top brand quality products at marketing leading prices. He manages a team of commercial and decorative buyers who travel the world finding new products that our customers don’t even know they need yet.

Articles

Fine art lighting – display and preservation

If you’re investing in fine art, which might include a painting, print, photograph, or sculpture, some thought needs to go into how it’s displayed and where it is located. The things that would destroy art sometimes hide in light. Click here for picture lights.

Colour temperature and heat

The kelvin temperature scale is used to numerically label different colours of light, ranging from red to orange, to yellow, white, blue-white, and finally blue. For example, a warm-coloured incandescent bulb of yellow hue usually has a 2700 kelvin colour temperature, whilst a bluer LED light might be 4000K. Confusingly, a higher temperature refers to a cooler-looking light. Note that colour temperature is a reflection of actual heat in an incandescent or halogen bulb (e.g. 2700K = 2426.85°C).

Colour rendering index (CRI)

The Colour Rendering Index (CRI) is a rating applied to bulbs and fittings that defines their ability to display colours accurately. Sometimes the CRI score is prefixed ‘Ra’. The closer this score is to the maximum CRI 100 score the more reliable a light source will be at displaying colour.

What to avoid – The enemies of art

Where you place your art and how you light it is vital. The enemies of art are often unseen, so it’s as well to know about them:

  • UV light accounts for 40% of all damage to art by fading. Ultra-violet light is invisible, and too much exposure has a harmful effect on all organic substances, including materials used in paintings, photos, and prints. Sunlight is the major source of UV light, though it also exists in fluorescent lighting.
  • Heat causes 25% of all damage to art by fading, drying out, warping, buckling, and cracking it. A heat-damaged oil painting will usually begin to crack. Removing infra-red radiation from a light source reduces its capacity to damage art.
  • Visible light causes 25% of damage to art, and here you are stuck unless you keep your art in a box. However, you can ensure your pictures aren’t lit for too long, and use window shades where possible to avoid relentless light.
  • Miscellaneous causes amount to 10% of damage and are mostly unrelated to light, including damp, humidity, and floating grease or dust.

Choose a technology

Unfortunately, no ideal light source exists for art. Daylight is the best light for looking at art, but it’s not so good at preserving it. Here are the main choices in artificial lighting:

  • Incandescent: renders colour reliably, but with a red bias that is better suited to warm-coloured artworks. Its main downsides are inefficiency and heat.
  • Halogen: exceptional colour rendering and a better-balanced light output than incandescent, often seen as a pure white. Drawbacks include extreme heat and energy inefficiency (the heat problem is reduced in ‘cool beam’ low-voltage halogen spotlights).
  • Fluorescent: an economical light source seen in some art galleries, but inadvisable for use with any high-value artwork because of UV radiation. However UV protective frames can help to reduce the damaging effects. Fluorescent products produce a much cooler light than incandescent or halogen. A greatly improved technology in recent years.
  • LED: Produces little or no heat or UV. Extremely energy-efficient, long-lasting and available in warm Kelvin colour temperatures. Drawbacks include initial cost and quality of colour rendering can vary between products.

Halogen is often judged the best lighting for art because of its crisp, white light and superb colour rendering. Negligible heat and UV radiation in LED lighting makes it a good choice when used in close proximity to delicate oil paintings, watercolours, and textiles. The Louvre Museum uses LED lighting!

What to buy

Let’s assume you’ve chosen a good position for your art, avoiding direct sunlight. With some art forms you may have fitted a UV protective frame. A picture should hang with its centre at eye level. Now you’re ready to light your art.

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Halogen & incandescent

The Gainsborough Large Picture Light is a good choice for lighting traditional art. Two incandescent candle bulbs in the Gainsborough will accentuate any warm colours in a picture. Halogen will also give you strong warm hues, but with better violets and blues. This classic fitting is available in a range of sizes and finishes.

To choose the right size of picture light, the light fitting should span roughly half of your picture or painting (not including frame), or slightly less.

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The Teetoo 350 Picture Light is a contemporary alternative to the Gainsborough, using halogen capsules to emit a crisp, white light and give your art plenty of punch. A choice of sizes and finishes are offered.

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Halogen spotlights & sculpture

Switching to 3D art, the Toronto Corner Uplighter is a great choice of floor lighting for sculpture. By casting its light upward, this fitting will emphasise contours and texture, and lend drama to any indoor statue.

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Another choice for sculpture is the Sunbeam Wire Light System. You can focus its small low-voltage lights onto your statue or carving from several points to add visual interest at every viewing angle.

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LED & low-energy fluorescent

Ideal for modern artwork, the Goya 760 LED Picture Light can light a picture of at least 1.5m width. With its adjustable light head you can fine-tune its effect. Using built-in LEDs this smart fitting will last you for years. It is available in other sizes and in a low-energy fluorescent version.

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For a minimalist look, the Vermeer 40 LED Picture Light is tough to beat. Extending further from the wall than most picture lights, this model gives good light coverage from a slimmer light head.

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Another choice is track lighting. The Acorn LED 3-Light and Track Kit includes three LED spotlights and one metre of track. The lights can be sited anywhere along the track for versatility, and the track length can be extended to 30 metres by adding extra tracks and lights.

Why not take a look at our full range of Picture Lights.

Alternatively for more inspiration try our Lighting Ideas section.

Charles Barnett Managing Director

Charles started Lyco in 1995 with just 4 enthusiastic employees and has grown it considerably over the past 25 years. Charles is also the Managing Director of Lighting Direct and newly acquired Online Lighting. He now has a team of 50 lighting experts working on growing Lyco Group to be the UK leader in lighting for both businesses and homes. Away from the office he is a keen cyclist and is proud to have cycled 1017 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for a new residential centre for adults with multiple learning difficulties.

Buyers Guides

Picture lights – things to consider when buying

Oscar Wilde once wrote that “all art is quite useless”, although he was referring to sheer lack of intrinsic value rather than its ability to stimulate, create mood, or embellish. We fill our lives with things that challenge or make us happy – useless things, often, but they are things that please us and even define us, nonetheless.

When we display artworks within our homes our motives for doing so might vary. Perhaps the aim is merely to enliven or adorn surrounding décor, to accentuate ambience, or to provoke thought, whilst creative types might only seek an outlet for their art. But how do we best display our pictures, or paintings, or photos? How best to light them? Click here to go straight to our picture light section.

Positioning is vital

Having acquired or perhaps created your piece of art, where should you position it? Our primary concern here is lighting, but if you’re looking for advice on physical positioning then you should aim for the centre of a picture to be at eye-level, which is typically somewhere between 145-155cm from the ground.

A common-sense piece of advice is to avoid hanging art near to radiators and heaters, and we’ll accompany that with some aesthetic advice: allow sufficient space between sizeable artworks for them to breathe, and not jostle for attention. Complementing – not competing – is key. With smaller pictures and paintings a more confined layout can often work, especially where the subjects are cohesive.

As a rule of thumb and where the fitting allows, aim for a 30° lighting angle between fixture and artwork to minimise any likelihood of glare. Slightly less acute with larger pictures and a little more acute if you’re looking to accentuate texture.

Daylight and UV radiation

When it comes to lighting, daylight is impossible to beat for sheer quality. It enables us to see all colours accurately by its continuous spectrum.

Daylight is great for viewing art, but there’s a king-sized caveat: it emits UV radiation as part of its electromagnetic spectrum. You don’t need to know the science, but UV light has a harmful and irreversible effect on organic materials, which includes paper, paints, dyes, inks, pigments, and your skin and eyes! In all cases excessive exposure is not advised, so you should only consider hanging art in direct daylight or sunlight if the art is repeatable, which is conceivably the case if it’s an inkjet print or derived from a digital file. Equally, if you have UV protection in your picture frame or windows you can afford to be a little more blasé! Click here for a guide to preserving your artwork.

Unless you live in a cave, of course your artworks are likely to be exposed to some level of ambient light, but you should at least avoid hanging unprotected art anywhere exposed to direct sunlight. If you produce your own art you may be able to extend lifespan through your choice of materials, e.g. inkjet prints achieve greater longevity by use of pigment inks on porous paper, or by the use of dye-trapping polymer printing papers with regular inkjet inks.

At the end of the day – artificial lighting for art

Having weighed up the slings and arrows of daylight illumination, what type of artificial light is best for artworks? All of the main lighting technologies have inherent advantages and disadvantages.

Halogen

Often revered as the undisputed king of museum and art lighting, halogen lighting is crisp, bright, very pure and white, so it’s ideally suited to showing off your pictures, paintings, and photos. Being an incandescent light source, halogen is inherently colour accurate, with a CRI rating that unwaveringly measures at the maximum 100 or thereabouts. The only drawback with halogen is its lack of efficiency in todays energy saving terms.

Our stunning Gainsborough Picture Lights are available in a choice of sizes and finishes, using halogen candle lamps (available separately) for great-quality art illumination. A built-in on/off switch on the back plate allows independent control, and the light is dimmable through an existing mains dimmer-switch should you want to modify its output or usage of power.

Fluorescent

Fluorescent lighting itself emits varying levels of UV radiation, so you’d be unlikely to see it in close proximity to a priceless work of art, yet it is often to be seen in museums as a means of overall illumination and sometimes includes a built-in UV filter to increase its suitability as a picture light. As well, fluorescent lighting offers something like a 40-50% energy-saving advantage over modern-day halogen lamps and approximately 70% over original incandescent lighting.

Lifespan is also impressive in fluorescent lighting, with picture lights typically using efficient T5 tubes with longevity of up to around 15,000 hours (model dependent). Only bettered in this respect by LED, fluorescent models are often a little more affordable up front.

The Rembrandt Picture Light is an elegant art-lighting solution drawing just 14W of power with its supplied T5 tube. The modern-looking Rembrandt has an adjustable light head for optimum positioning and an independent on/off switch on its back plate, and you can select from a range of finishes to best complement your picture and décor.

A pleasing alternative to the Rembrandt is the Goya 365 Low Energy Picture Light, which comes in fluorescent and LED versions in a choice of finishes and sizes. Both height and angle can be adjusted with this fitting, so perfect illumination is easy to achieve.

LED (and choosing colours)

LED offers distinct advantages as a picture light, not least of which is its super-economical use of power, which is something in the region of 90% less than old incandescent technology and 60-70% less than typical energy-saving halogen. Since LED saves energy by staying relatively cool, it is also inherently useful as a means of illuminating art in close proximity. And let’s not forget, they now use LED lighting in the Louvre Museum!

One of the historical disadvantages in displaying art with LED has been in colour accuracy – it lacks the continuous spectrum of daylight or an incandescent light source, which in turn makes it less dependable for displaying all colours well (violet and aqua hues are often a little problematic, for instance). The Kelvin temperature or CCT of a lamp is always worth considering when lighting art, too: a warmer light will complement reds or oranges in a picture or painting, whilst cooler lamps are better for accentuating cooler colours.

For most of our purposes, LED is a great means of displaying our art economically and effectively, and it’s a light source that literally lasts for years.

Lighting Direct offers a selection of LED picture lights for your consideration. The Goya 460 LED Picture Light, for example, is beautifully contemporary in appearance with a style that enhances your artwork rather than competing with it. In addition to the usual angle adjustment of the light head, the Goya also uses a height-adjustable bracket for extra fine-tuning of illumination. This is also a particularly wide picture-light ideal for illuminating larger objets d’art!

For the ultimate in easy installation, our specially selected LED Battery Operated Picture Lights fully exploit the power-efficent nature of LED and require no connection to mains. Better still, these lights come with a remote control and are dimmable, so you can alter output and consequently mood, whilst also preserving battery life. The supplied remote control can adjust multiple lights, so this is a particularly well-oiled solution to creating a home gallery.

Colour, finish, and style

You might ask yourself what colour of picture-light fitting you should buy. Well generally you’ll match the finish of the fitting to match the artwork, which may or may not already blend seamlessly with the décor. Think about complementary colours when selecting a finish: a brass or bronze finish might pair nicely with a warm-coloured picture, whilst chrome or nickel might partner well with cooler colours.

Then there’s style, and here you might look at the nature of the artwork and its frame or presentation. Modern-looking picture lights tend to be sleekly designed and often a little minimalist, whilst the traditional style tends to be a more rolling, elaborate affair. A ‘classic’ style is often reminiscent of a particular era, although the distinction between that and ‘traditional’ is often never made.

The dimmable Teetoo 350 Picture Light is typically contemporary in its design, and uses an integrated transformer and low voltage halogen capsule (available separately) to provide superb illumination for your art.

Examples of traditional design might be the Elegant Iron Picture Light in black/gold, and the Onedin Picture Light. The latter uses halogen lamps for crisp, bright white illumination.

Size and type of lights

As a rule of thumb, picture lights should have a width that is at least half that of your picture, although slightly less will often suffice. You might note that the wider of these fittings tend to use fluorescent or LED tubes or strips, as opposed to multiple money-burning halogens. LEDs also have the advantage of being very small, which in recent times has given lighting designers extra scope in producing compact and very slim housings and fittings.

The focus of this article has been on individual picture lights ideal for household purposes, but of course there are other ways to light pictures. If you’re in the habit of moving your photos, prints, or paintings around – as commercial galleries might be for instance – you might like to consider a track lighting system. This also works if you’re exhibiting pictures either of or on a grander scale. Lighting Direct stock expandable track lighting systems such as the Acorn 3 Light and Track Kit, which can be upsized from the initial 1-metre, tripled-lamped length to an impressive 30-metres maximum.

You may need to call in an electrician to install it, but once installed a track lighting system allows you the freedom to move your art around and ‘track it’ with movable spotlights. In this kind of set-up you need to pay careful attention to the beam of the lights, which should provide adequate coverage for each piece rather than burning a hole into the middle of your paintings. The pros often use a mixture of flood and narrow-beamed spotlights for precise effect.

A final flourish

In choosing a picture light or set of picture lights there are several things to consider; narrow your search on Lighting Direct by using the handy set of search tools to the left of screen.

If you have any desk or table lamps dotted around your home you might quickly try out their effect on your pictures, as a very rough idea of what to expect from particular technologies and hues in a picture-light. Remember: warm lights for warm subjects and cooler for cool. For black and white art you can take your pick, with cooler lights more closely resembling our perception of neutral daylight and warmer lights creating a cosier, more relaxing ambience.

Here is a second, thought-provoking quote from the one novel of Oscar Wilde: “It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors”.

To view the full range of lighting options for your artwork please take a look at our picture lights section.

For more inspiration try our Lighting Ideas area.

Andrew Evangelidis Head of Buying

Andrew is an experienced buying professional who takes an entrepreneurial approach to identify new lighting solutions and ensure Lyco have first-to-market ranges for our customers. Having previously worked for well known brands such as Wickes, Carphone Warehouse and Toys R Us, Andrew has now turned his hand to sourcing commercial lighting and ensure our customers receive top brand quality products at marketing leading prices. He manages a team of commercial and decorative buyers who travel the world finding new products that our customers don’t even know they need yet.