Digital Theatre

Room Lighting For Home Theaters - Control And Ambiance
by: Phil Taylor

Room lighting control is an important aspect for home theaters - especially if you have a front-projector and screen set-up. Video projectors often demand a controlled lighting situation due to the lower light output of their displays. Room ambiance is another important function of lighting during a viewing as you most likely not want your guests to sit in darkness (unless it is a really creepy horror flick). Reflected room lighting is a consideration as well as you do not want a glare on the screen -- whether it be ambient light from a window or merely reflections of a lamp within your room. Ambient window lighting is major when determining your living room layout or designing a dedicated viewing room. A dedicated room would of course be best without windows altogether -- if you have the luxury of designing a room from scratch.

Glare Control and Picture Enhancement
Room lighting control is relatively easy with a little planning. If you want to incorporate your home theater within your living or family room you will want to postion your video display so that any ambient light upon the screen is diminished or eliminated altogether. Each time we have moved to a new home one of my first considerations (much to the chagrin of my wife) is where we will place the TV in our living room. Since video is my profession I plan our living room layout around the TV and entertainment center (again to the chagrin of my wife). The TV is always placed at an angle away from the main window in the room in order to eliminate window reflections on the screen. Our living room lamps have shades that direct lighting downward and are not very translucent in order to minimize their reflections. Since I have a front projector and screen display in the living room -- in addition to the 32" Mitsubishi we use for normal viewing -- we have vertical blinds which do a nice job of darkening the room. We also have velour drapes which can pull to either side of the screen and do a great job of providing a controlled lighting environment for our projector. You will want to do much the same -- have your video display directed away from any windows and use blinds with drapes to control daytime lighting from windows.

Setting the Mood
Wall sconce lamps located along the walls for ambiance during viewing in a dedicated room is a nice touch and lends to the theater-esque atmosphere. Depending upon the overall decor and theme of your dedicated room sconces can be either plain or elaborately gaudy much like the movie houses of yore. Basic sconces can be found at a local Home Depot or lighting store. More elaborate theater-looking sconces are available at specialty stores. A dedicated room will benefit from remote controlled lighting - or at least it will add a "touch of class" to your theater. There are many varieties of remote controlled lighting which can be controlled either by their standard controller or be included within a macro-programmed command on one of the many all-in-one type macro-remote controls such as the Harmony H659 which I am quite pleased to own.

Regardless of whether you are incorporating a system into your living room or planning a dedicated room, the principles of home theater room lighting are the same -- no glare or reflection on your video display and sufficient ambient room lighting for your guests during viewing. If you have any further questions about home theater room lighting feel free to use the contact form at and I will be pleased to answer any of your inquiries to the best of my ability. You may also find more resources for home theater lighting and audio-visual components at -- from beginner's tips to theater design and acoustical considerations.

About The Author
Phil Taylor is a 27 year veteran in the Audio Video field and hosts which offers sound advice on selecting home theater system components and also includes room design and installation information.

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