Re: Lighting in Multi-Unit Common Areas - Posted by Frank Chin
Posted by Frank Chin on September 17, 2004 at 08:25:26:
I now use the screw-in flourescents the others mentioned.
These flourescents come with different lives, usually 7,500 hours and up. The more expensive ones last longer, over 15,000 hours, as compared to 750 hours for a normal incandescent. Home Depot has a decent selection of them nowadays. The problem is I can’t find the same styles in stock all the time. So I buy a few extra.
Not only do they last longer, but they consume less energy for the same illumination.
When I rehabbed my multi’s, I usuually install recessed “Hi Hats” in the common areas where I used the screw in flourescents. While you need two to three recess lights to cover one area, the big advantage is when one burns out, your tenants would not trip and fall in the dark resulting in lawsuits.
And the hi hats makes the place look classy, and I also avoid the problem of broken and missing fixture covers, loose and hanging fixtures that make rentals look like a slum. I still have a problem with missng smoke detector covers though.
I have used motion and light detectors to automatically turn the lights on and off, especially the the outdoor ones. But they’re more trouble than its worth as these switched don’t always work right, and have to be replaced every three years or so. I had less trouble with timers, though I have to reset them as days get longer or shorter.
I find the most efficent method is to give one tenant a discount for handling things like taking out the garbage, sweeping the common areas, and changing burnt out bulbs. I keep the bulbs in the utility room when this tenant would have access.
The multis I own has three way light switches where the lights can be turned on and off. The tenant in charge shuts the lights off at night before going to bed, and remind others to shut it off if they come in later at night.
As for supplying bulbs to tenants to change them, when I was using incandescents, I switched from 60 watt bulbs to 25 watt bulbs. Tenants have taken the 60 watt bulbs to use in their own units, and I find myself out of bulbs they burnt out. A neighboring landlord taught me this trick.
After I switched to 25 watt bulbs, one tenant had the nerve to complain that the 25 watts he swiped weren’t bright enough for him in his unit. Nowadays, I only keep one or two florescents in the utility room, and replace them as they’re used.
Hope this helps.
By the way, I graduated as an Electrical Engineer, and took “Lighting” as an elective. At least its good for something.