With the addition of some accessory lighting, you can improve the picture quality, see your equipment without turning on annoying room lights and enjoy your system more. In fact, it might look so good you will submit it to the next CEDIA contest and take first place! We’ve all seen the addition of soft, reflective lighting behind the TV, but why? Beyond the cool effect, is some visual science that says ambient light improves viewing by reducing contrast and eyestrain. Studies show that ambient light helped reduce difficulty in focusing and eye strain. A small amount of soft room lighting, ideally splashed on the wall behind/around the video screen, also goes a long way to improving the picture quality.

How to use lighting to increase the value of an HT system

Dave Hochendoner | Sima Products Corp.

The future of Home Theater is brighter (and cooler)
How to use lighting to increase the value of an HT system

Use Lighting to Increase Value of HT SystemAuthor: Dave Hochendoner, Sima Products Corp.

With the addition of some accessory lighting, you can improve the picture quality, see your equipment without turning on annoying room lights and enjoy your system more. In fact, it might look so good you will submit it to the next CEDIA contest and take first place!

We’ve all seen the addition of soft, reflective lighting behind the TV, but why?  Beyond the cool effect, is some visual science that says ambient light improves viewing by reducing contrast and eyestrain. Studies show that ambient light helped reduce difficulty in focusing and eye strain. A small amount of soft room lighting, ideally splashed on the wall behind/around the video screen, also goes a long way to improving the picture quality. 

You just completed the installation of a new home theater system. Congratulations. You have that new, big HD plasma TV mounted on the wall. You integrated all the A/V components into a seamless, automated, remote controlled, user-friendly system. The room is loaded with all the amenities that give it that high-end movie experience which looks so satisfying in the magazines. But something is missing. It just doesn’t look and feel like you thought it would. What’s the difference? 

Take a close look at those pictures. Look at the lighting!  Good lighting adds a high degree of professionalism to the appearance of any home theater system.  Effective lighting increases both the perceived value of the system and the actual video quality. An accessory lighting kit, that allows you to add lighting strategically to an existing set-up, is one worthwhile investment where you can really see the difference!

To begin with there are three primary types of lights, used for accessory lighting – incandescent, fluorescent and light emitting diode (LED).


Type

Efficiency

Heat

Color

Life (in hours)

incandescent 

low

hot

white

hundreds

fluorescent

high

cool

white

 thousands

light emitting diode (LED)

high

cool

White plus multi-color  (R, G, B )

tens of  thousands

Each installation has its own set of factors that determine what areas to illuminate and where to put the lights. You will want to consider several factors before deciding what is right for your installation.
First, consider overall appearance. Accessory lighting should been seen but not noticed. The intangible presence of light sets a mood or draws attention to an object. The ability to control the brightness and color are critical to getting the effect you want. LED and incandescent lights are most effective at creating the effects you want. Where LEDs really shine is that they give you great control over brightness and color. Using a palette of red, blue, green plus white, an LED accessory kit will provide thousands of color combinations. Brightness or dimming control allows you to adjust for daylight, nighttime and special occasions. 

Secondly, the small spaces you have to work in may be poorly ventilated. In some cases, you might be forced to locate lights close to components. Therefore, low heat is an important consideration. Incandescent lights have a hard time being cool. The harder they try, the hotter they get. LEDs and fluorescents are a much cooler option.

With respect to minimizing interference, high efficiency / low noise operation should be considered. Fluorescent lights tend to be electrically noisy and might interfere with audio or video signals. LED’s are low power, high efficiency and quieter than fluorescents.

Many times, in adding to an existing set-up, space is at a premium.  Almost by definition, add-on lights must fit into narrow places, such as under shelves, behind components and on the sides of cabinetry.  You may find that you have to attach to a glass shelf or that getting a screwdriver in there is difficult. A good accessory lighting kit gives you multiple ways to mount such as screws, clamps and adhesives.

Finally, power and operation, such as dimming and color adjustments, should be remote-controlled or automated for convenience. While there are applications for each type of light technology, LED’s emerge as a superior choice.

Lighting can be used to good effect in many places. The following approaches to accessory lighting can be used to improve your system.

Ambient lighting while watching a video. 

We’ve all seen the addition of soft, reflective lighting behind the TV, but why?  Beyond the cool effect, is some visual science that says ambient light improves viewing by reducing contrast and eyestrain. Studies show that ambient light helped reduce difficulty in focusing and eye strain. A small amount of soft room lighting, ideally splashed on the wall behind/around the video screen, also goes a long way to improving the picture quality. 

One way to do this is to buy a TV with ambient light built in, such as the Phillips AmbiLight TV. These sets cost between $2,000 to $5,000. If you have one great, but what if your TV is not equipped with an ambient light source?

Another simple method is to attach the light modules, such as the LED-TV1 from Sima Products to the backside of your existing TV.  The light from the modules will bounce off the wall, providing a soft light that really enhances the viewing experience.  Some people want a neutral soft white background color and others will want a more dramatic statement, as shown with the green color on the picture below.

Sima’s LED accessory light kit works by mounting an IR receiver which receives commands from an IR remote. This allows you to control the brightness and color. Mounting the light modules can be as simple as some double-sided tape and voila, you have an ambient light TV.

Room lighting - Were you ever in the middle of a movie, when someone turned on the room lights? When the lights come on, the movie magic is gone. Turning on a room light can really affect the mood and the atmosphere in a room. Once again, a remote controlled lit module allows you to activate the lights you want tot he brightness you want without affecting the movie experience. In addition, the ability to have the exact color and brightness of light exactly where you want it is a great feature. 
Also, how many times are you working on equipment in the back of the rack and can’t read the inputs and outputs due to lack of light?  Having a few lighting modules in the back of the rack goes a long way to impressing and may eliminate a few service calls because something was plugged into the wrong connector. Being able to light just the control panels when needed is an important function that maintains the integrity of the moment during entertainment.

Display lighting - It is a point of pride to be able to show off your new system to your friends.  What is better that having it lit to perfection?  The ability to light it blue, purple or what ever color at the touch of a button is a real plus.

Under Cabinet Lighting – The low height of the LED modules are ideal for adding lighting under a shelf – right where it is needed.  For most applications, it is desirable to have the light modules flush or hang out slightly from the end of the shelf.  It is also handy to have a button on the module to be able to turn the lights on and off if you are in front of the system without having to find the remote.

Below are two shots of the same cabinet, the one on the left with the lights off and the one on the right with the shelf lights on.  

  

What kind of product gives us the ability to control the brightness and color remotely?  There are newer LED lighting solutions on the market that address the above needs.  The Sima LED-1 Shelf Light modules are a very affordable approach . The kit includes a remote control to make life a little easier. The Sima solution provides for all the modules in the kit to connect with a single cable that provides both power and communication.  Each module can be controlled individually or in groups for ultimate and simple control.  Options like RS-232 control, IR remote and additional light modules give lots of options to optimize the lighting in the system. In fact the Sima kit can also be integrated into a home automation system using the RS-232 connection.

With the addition of some accessory lighting, you can improve the picture quality, see your equipment without turning on annoying room lights and enjoy your system more.  In fact, it might look so good you will submit it to the next CEDIA contest and take first place!

For questions or pricing on the Sima lights visit www.simaproducts.com


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