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  • Narrator: Yeah, you recognize this.

  • Do you have one in your home?

  • Do you have more than one?

  • I have four in my one-bedroom apartment,

  • including this one that's now home to a dead roach.

  • If I can be honest, I hate them.

  • Call it Freudian if you want, but they just collect dust,

  • they're an insect graveyard, and they're just ugly.

  • So I'm gonna start replacing them, and along the way,

  • I'm going to find out,

  • why boob lights are on the ceilings of so many homes.

  • Why are they everywhere?

  • Why are they designed like that?

  • And with all of your options when it comes

  • to how to light your home, why?

  • Just, why?

  • I don't get it.

  • All right, let's be fair.

  • We're gonna call it by its G-rated term

  • which is a flush mount dome light fixture.

  • but speak to any lighting designer or a contractor,

  • and then they're gonna call it exactly what you think.

  • In pursuit of answers, I spoke with Charles Brill,

  • co-founder of designer lighting manufacturer

  • Rich Brilliant Willing.

  • Brill: 'The boob light', it has a really simple construction

  • It's usually a plastic or opaline glass sphere

  • with a little threaded nut in the middle

  • that kinda holds the glass in place

  • and allows you to easily re-lamp the light fixture.

  • That style of fixture, a sphere,

  • a dome, with a perimeter metal

  • is basically the bare-bones construction

  • method of a flush mount.

  • Narrator: The term for materials like these

  • is builder grade, an inexpensive construction solution,

  • as long as you're not the one living with it.

  • Flush-mount fixtures are super-popular in construction

  • because then you don't have to deal with

  • hanging chandeliers or worrying about

  • how low lights are gonna hang in a room.

  • There are thousands of flush-mount designs

  • from hundreds of companies.

  • The lighting industry in general is booming,

  • reaching $43 million in revenue in 2019,

  • and boob lights are some of the cheapest,

  • especially if you're buying in bulk.

  • Look, I can get a pack of six for $40.

  • But frugality can't be the only answer, can it?

  • Who designed this and decided this looks great on a ceiling?

  • To find out, we have to go back in time...

  • - or to your local craft bar.

  • You recognize these, though: Edison bulbs!

  • They're the trendiest thing now, but before 1904,

  • they were the only name in the light-bulb game,

  • and they kinda sucked.

  • They were powered by a carbon filament

  • that wasn't very bright but burned hot.

  • Not a great thing to enclose in a diffuser

  • and shove in the ceiling.

  • Fire inspectors would not have approved.

  • Builders usually hung them from ceilings but kept

  • them low, in pendant lights.

  • Then as cities grew, builders looked for ways

  • to light smaller rooms with shorter ceilings,

  • and their prayers were answered by the improvement

  • and mass-production of the incandescent light bulb,

  • in the early 1900s.

  • Invented in Britain and developed by William Coolidge,

  • these bulbs swapped the hot, dim carbon

  • filaments with a tungsten filament.

  • The new bulbs burned much cooler and were bright enough

  • to be installed right next to the ceiling.

  • Builders also loved installing flat-mount light fixtures

  • newfangled concrete-based homes

  • because they didn't have to install hardware

  • in the concrete ceiling.

  • Designers like Virden, Beller, even Sears and Roebuck

  • created fixtures in this new style.

  • Early flush mounts played around with the design,

  • often relying on screws around the edge

  • to keep the diffuser in place.

  • Finally, around 1930, perhaps as a result of some

  • new technology making hardware smaller,

  • an anonymous light-fixture designer discovered

  • that the finial could be placed at the center of the dome.

  • This secured it in place, making it easier to swap out

  • bulbs, and changed history forever.

  • After that, it was game on for the boob light.

  • The growth of the suburbs during the '50s saw a

  • surge of construction and secured the light's position

  • on hardware store shelves.

  • Through the decades, styles came and went,

  • but one thing stayed the same:

  • This was the cheapest option.

  • If you were building a house on the cheap,

  • your ceiling had a boob light.

  • "So what", you may be thinking - and you're right.

  • Besides being distracting, there's nothing

  • wrong with relying on a boob light.

  • The targeted lighting for a 100-square-foot living space

  • is 2,000 lumens, which a flush-mount will do fine,

  • but it's one source.

  • From a lighting-design perspective, they're kind of basic.

  • Brill: When you start with a room with only a flush-mount,

  • the ambient light is created through the flush-mount.

  • To really define a space,

  • you want to be able to wash the walls,

  • to define the perimeter of the space.

  • Work with floor lamps or other track lighting

  • that have a focal light to feature textiles

  • on your sofa or an area rug.

  • Narrator: At the end of the day, it's not that I have

  • anything against boob lights, it's that lighting,

  • like everything, is an art form.

  • It should serve as both form and function,

  • and it's fine to design a light that

  • stands out or blends in, but this does neither,

  • which just makes it so much more confounding

  • that they're everywhere.

  • It's impossible to talk about lighting

  • in 2020 without mentioning LEDs.

  • They've been changing the game since the early 2000s.

  • As of 2018, LEDs own 76% of the lighting market.

  • As more new homes are built,

  • the slim, barely-there profile of low-power LEDs

  • will inevitably push out the bulky boob light

  • as the default ceiling light in newer homes.

  • If you live with boob lights and you like them, you do you.

  • But don't be afraid to consider alternatives.

  • See what your local lighting shop has in stock.

  • If the wiring is intimidating,

  • there are even diffusers and shades

  • that can fit easily over the existing fixture.

  • But if you're feeling HGTV vibes,

  • swap it out, even if you're in a rental.

  • Just remember to turn off the breaker.

  • It does wonders to individualize your living space.

  • Just store the boob somewhere safe

  • and swap it back in if you do end up moving.

  • Chances are, you'll probably be swapping out

  • a boob light again real soon.

Narrator: Yeah, you recognize this.

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B1 boob lighting flush mount fixture ceiling

Why 'Boob Lights' Are So Terrible

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/01/04
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