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What are the Different Types of Fiber-Optic Ceilings?

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  • Written By: Mal Baxter
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Fiber-optic ceilings open up a realm of creative lighting interior design possibilities. Using these heat-free, color-shifting lit fibers lets professional and amateur designers add an easy and striking dimension to interior space. Besides direct and indirect functional lighting, the use of fiber optics illumination permits other effects, such as spotlighting, neon-style glows, and shifting color variations. With simplified installation techniques, kits, low cost components, and minimal maintenance, this lighting solution piques viewers with lighting moods both dramatic and subtle.

Side emitting fibers can be run along edges, rails, or corners. End-emitting fibers might be used as pinpoints for overhead dome starfields. Light fibers might be jacketed into cables that run the breadth of some fiber-optic ceilings. Patterns are left to the imagination; from abstract rainbow curves to spot arrangements, designs can present creative opportunities.

Some fiber optic systems can indirectly illuminate materials such as glass panels or tiles for soothing effects; these elements can be clustered into chandeliers, show off swirling or geometric patterns, or create halos around other design elements. The lighting is sometimes used for sculpting images in two or three dimensions. It may be used as indirect mood lighting for home theaters and adds numerous reflective effects around indoor swimming pools. Color-enhanced edging can create a perception shift between spaces or rooms.

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Glass fiber requires professional equipment and splicing, while plastic fiber can be field cut to length and bundled on site, which saves much time. Double-pumped, side-emitting plastic fiber, or cable that loops back to the source, provides more performance. Twice-yearly maintenance is recommended to ensure no melting points, dirt accumulation or improper venting.

Kits and components available for fiber-optic ceilings can provide designers, installers, and do-it-yourselfers information they need to create unique lighting spaces. Some aspects of installation include component factors, such as intensity, color, and pattern. Other technical considerations involve power source, controller, and maintenance. While communications networks rely on industry standards and interoperability, property lighting installation kits do not necessarily do so. This makes research, manufacturer's information, and experience a valuable resource in any design and installation process.

Other accessories may include tools such as special snips for cutting plastic cables on site. Digital multiplex (DMX) controllers allow push button or programmed patterns of variable lighting to illuminate fiber-optic ceilings in many ways. Cables made from thousands of strands of glass are lighter and more bendable than plastic, and since glass does not discolor like plastic, fibers tend to last longer. Site characteristics such as location, accessibility, and desired effect may be the most important factors for consideration of lighting components and fiber types.

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