How to Hang a Picture Light in 3 Simple Steps
Picture lights offer an intimate way to add drama and illuminate the artwork on your walls. Whether attached to the frame or fixed onto the wall, picture lights exist in various finishes, hanging over your artwork and drawing all the focus to your paintings.
How to Install Picture Lights
Picture lights are very easy to install. However, as with everything in life, there are a few guiding principles that you may need to follow to attain the perfect result. If you’re wondering just how to install picture light fixture for your artwork, here is step-by-step guidance to get you started:
1. Selecting your Picture Lights
There are a lot of picture lights in the market, and you will certainly be spoilt for choice. So, how can you figure out which picture light is best for your art? The following are a few factors you should consider when selecting your picture light:
· Electrification System
Depending on the method of electrification, you can either hardwire your picture light directly to a junction box, fix it to a recessed outlet behind the artwork, or simply plug it into the nearest power outlet. A plug-in picture light offers the utmost flexibility when it comes to repositioning your artwork, allowing you to place your artwork at any position in the room with a socket. Customizing cord length and plug and click switch access is only possible for lamps made in America, such as House of Troy picture lights. A minor upcharge on custom cord length will maintain your warranty and get you the cord access you most desire for your space.
If you are working with a hanging lamp with an extension cord, you may need to find a way to conceal the cord by dropping it behind your artwork. You can then place a piece of furniture below your artwork, or install a decorative cord cover with an adhesive strip to conceal any unsightly cords.
Another great alternative is the battery-operated picture light, which comes ready to use and with ease of installation in any location, no power outlet requirements, or any visible cords.
· The Size of the Picture Light:
Perfect Picture Lights offers a picture lights size guide for illuminating your artwork. The basic principle for a traditional picture light is that your picture light should be 1/2 to2/3 of your artwork, excluding its frame. This applies mostly to landscape format paintings. For artwork in portrait format, the picture light should be approximately half of the width of the painting, exclusive of the frame.
When lighting artwork, you can get customized pieces for larger paintings if you need them. It is crucial to hang picture lights that are the right size for your frames, allowing an even spread of light upon your entire artwork. Again, customization is truly only possible with American based lighting manufacturers, and again, House of Troy, the preeminent picture light manufacturer in the world, is based in Vermont.
· The Light Source
Picture lights come in different light source options, which include incandescent, fluorescent, halogen (no longer available except in very limited series), and LED light sources. While incandescent lights offer warm, yellow lighting, halogens are bright white and crisp. However, halogen bulbs generate a significant amount of heat, which may eventually damage your paintings. LED lighting is the most commonly preferred light for hanging pictures, mostly due to its energy-saving capabilities but also because it does not emit any heat.
· Light Specifications
When it comes to the best specifications for lighting your artwork, a high Color Rendering Index value of over 90 will boldly bring out all the colors and intricate details in your artwork. LED bulb comes in a wide range of color temperature options. A color temperature of between 2700K and 3000K will emit warm accent lighting for your artwork. Additionally, opt for a dimmable art light with a light output that is at least three times higher than the ambient lighting in the room. This will ensure that the focused lighting generated by the picture lighting certainly draws attention to your artwork.
2. Positioning your Picture Light
How high should a picture light be above a picture? You want to position your picture light at a point that allows the beam to spread to the center of your painting, therefore avoiding any hot and cold spots. Ideally, the standoff of your picture light should be greater than the thickness of your picture frame to avoid any obstructions. The picture light mounting height should then be fixed at a height equal to the standoff.
When in doubt, go for a 1-inch standoff, placing your the bottom of your picture light shade as well as the bottom of the backplate about an inch from the top of your artwork frame, which positions the bottom of your light bulb at about an inch above the picture frame. You can then aim it at a 30-degree angle to avoid glare on your artwork, focusing the light beam to the center of your painting.
For an unusually taller artwork or painting, you may need to go for a picture light with a greater standoff. Again, customization of arm depth and downward angle is possible when you work with a domestic manufacturer.
3. Installing your Picture Lights
The method of installing your picture lights will depend largely on the mode of electrification and whether it is wall-mounted or frame-mounted. Therefore, it is prudent to follow the instructions on the installation manual depending on the type of picture light fixture you have purchased. Generally, there are a few principles that you can follow to install your picture lights like a pro.
Place your artwork at eye level, with its center located 57 to 60 inches from the floor, depending on your height. Use a spirit level to ensure that it is evenly positioned, then trace around it with a pencil or mark the position with a painter’s tape.
Frame-mounted picture lights often use hardware brackets for installation. However, if you’re mounting onto a brick wall, concrete wall, or drywall, you can use the backplate of your picture light to mark and screw it onto the wall. For drywall, ensure you locate the position of the wall studs; using drywall anchors, or a toggle bolt where it is not possible to drill into a stud. You can then drill the screws into the each wall anchor, leaving a ¼-inch projection for hanging your backplate.
Place your picture light onto the backplate and plug it in to test if it works perfectly before hanging back your artwork. Proceed to use a hanging system for your pictures according to how you want them displayed. This includes stringing wire between two nails on either side of the wall for clotheslines, using thumbtacks as bookmarks, a monkey hook, a sawtooth hanger, a picture rail, or even an adhesive hook for lighter and smaller artworks.
If you need to light art on a wall, picture lights are a great alternative to track lighting, recessed lights, and other art light fixtures that are often ceiling-mounted. Available in black, bronze, antique brass, golden brass, and many other finish options, a picture light is the ultimate picture frame light for the illumination of artwork. Perfect Picture Lights offers a wide range of high quality Incandescent, Fluorescent, and LED Picture lights and track light fixtures, for your art lighting solutions.
Winny Okoth is a practicing Construction Project Manager and Interior Designer. She is also currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Construction Project Management. Winny Okoth has a great passion for every form of design and has the mastery of principles of design, as well as 3D visualizations skills for architectural and interior design renders.