Lighting sets the stage

We all know that video and audio is important to home theaters.  But lighting.... when the movie is playing isn't the lights out?  So why is lighting so important?

Simple.  It sets the mood.  You want nice non-intrusive lighting to help set the visual mood leading into the movie, and leading out of the movie.   This can be something as simple as recessed lights on a dimmer.  To ceiling rim lighting with a star ceiling and all kinds of other bells and whistles.

For my home theater, I installed eight recessed can lights,  to which I hooked the front four to a "Lutron Mastro IR" unit and the back four to another "Lutron Mastro IR" unit. Both of these light controls are mounted next to each other on the wall.

These controls are great!  They are operated off a remote control, with automatic gradual dimming.  They can be purchased at a reasonable price from your local home improvement store. I have seen them at both Lowe and Home Depot.

Seeing that these two controller are identical, they can both react to the same remote control.  This is important, because each switch can be set to a different user preset default lighting.  What I did on the front four lights, is set this controller to complete off,  and the back four to a very low dim.  When I press the user preset button,  the front lights go out, and back lights go to a low dim.  This allows for the start of the movie without the room going totally dark.  After the movie starts, then I use the remote to finish turning off all the lights.  And after the movie is over, and the credits start to roll, I click on the user preset button and bring the room to a dim lighting, allowing for the eyes to start to adjust.  Then later, using the remote I bring the lighting up to full.  This always impress first time guests.

Scone side lights are also very nice, provided you can find scones that go well with the theme of your home theater.  And they too can be controlled by the same controls as the overhead lighting if you want.

If you have raised stadium seating, you might want to accent the raised platform with either rope lights, or LED strip lighting.   I have also mounted LED strip lighting under the theater seats to give the chairs a cool glowing effect.

Tip: If you are building your theater from scratch, and running your own electrical wiring, be careful not to run your electrical wire along side your speaker wire, because this can cause an unwanted hum in your speakers.

If your home theater is in a basement, and you want special lighting on the stairs, you might want to look at the following lighting kit. This not only looks real cool, but also helpful if someone needs to go upstairs while the moving is playing, and they do not want to turn on the room lights disturbing others still watching the movie.  See demo video below.

As you surf around the web and see what others have done with lighting for their home theater, you will start to see what nice things that can be done with lighting.  Though lighting is not the main event, it is the appetizer to it.  Keep in mind that your home theater is all about the total experience, this included the theater lighting.