All stained glass domes showcase the talent and creativity of the artists who crafted them. However, it is only when they are illuminated that their full depth and beauty are disclosed. Therefore, making sure these magnificent elements will be lit for at least part of the day so they can be fully enjoyed should be a priority for anyone planning to add one to an interior space. The three main illumination options for architectural domes featuring glass art work and the pros and cons of each are described below.
Illumination Option # 1: Natural Light
Overview: The dome is installed below a skylight that allows natural light to stream through.
Pros: This illumination option has several advantages. One is that it will not result in increased electricity costs. Another is that because the quality and intensity of sunlight naturally varies through the day, the dome will have a slightly different appearance in the morning, afternoon, and evening.
Cons: The obvious downside of relying solely on natural sunlight for illumination is that the dome can not be enjoyed at night. Also, the dome's appearance will be at its most spectacular when the sun is shining; it may be less brilliant and vibrant on cloudy days.
Illumination Option # 2: Artificial Light
Overview: LED, fluorescent, or incandescent lighting is installed behind the dome.
Pros: This method allows for installation almost anywhere, with no need to create an opening in the roof of the structure. The stained glass art work can be enjoyed day or night, and can be controlled with a simple light switch if desired.
Cons: This method will result in some energy costs, which could be significant if less energy-efficient forms of lighting are used. It's also very important to have a professional look after backlighting to avoid unsightly shadows and dark areas behind stained glass domes.
Illumination Option # 3: A Combination of Artificial and Natural Light
Overview: Art glass domes are illuminated using a skylight during the day, and with an artificial light source at night.
Pros: This approach allows stained glass domes to be expected around the clock while taking full advantage of natural sunlight whenever possible.
Cons: Like the second option described, this choice for lighting stained glass domes will result in some expense, although it will be minimized by the fact that a free lighting source (the sun) is being used during the daytime hours.
Ultimately, the decision about which approach to use is a personal one. Some feel that stained glass domes look best with natural sunlight streaming through, and they may want to avoid the expenses associated with energy usage. For others, however, the small amount of money needed to install and use energy-efficient backlighting so stained glass domes can be adjusted at any time and in any weather is well spent. Whichever option is chosen, all eyes will inevitably be drawn towards art glass domes the minute they are illuminated and their full radiance is revealed.