Electric Installation Remodeling: Case Studies

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Cutout rendering of the interior of a house in San Antonio Texas, prior to electrical installation remodeling, elevation view from front yard. © 2024 All Star Electric San Antonio

Bringing Light Where Your Electrical Installation Falls Short

As electricians in San Antonio, we face almost every day situations where the builders of a home didn’t design its electrical installation with a very long-term view. As a result, some rooms can be much darker than the rest of the house. But how do we help you remodel your electrical installation to make your home totally enjoyable?

Older Electrical Installations: Calibrated for a Lower Power Demand

Clearly too, homeowners did not have the same electrical power requirements yesterday as they have today. Back in the 50s and 60s, the big appliances were smaller washing machines and dryers, and people did not always have a dishwasher.

Illustrative view of an American kitchen with a low-power electrical demand © 2024 All Star Electric San Antonio

They also did not use as many bulbs as contemporary households either. When families had a (power-hungry) tube TV, they only had one: not one in every room! Cell phones did not exist: a typical household had a stationary landline phone powered by a separate circuit from the mains. And no one had personal computers and tablets.

As a result, older homes are short on outlets and sockets, and often require a service panel update to bring them up from 100 amps or less, to 200 amps.

All of these factors combined explain why rooms in older homes receive less natural and artificial light than their current owners would like. This creates a need to bring up an electrical installation to new level of power and to offset the deficit in natural light.

Type of Electrical Installation Work

In this context, we thought you might enjoy reading about a few case studies explaining how we propose to overcome the lack of luminosity of specific rooms, hallways, and staircases. This is applicable to any home, not just to old construction.

Case Study #1 – A Dark Hallway

Illustration of a hallway after All Star Electric San Antonio performs electrical remodeling work to brighten up the space. © 2024 All Star Electric San Antonio
Hallway post-electrical remodeling

Our first case study is that of period home with a long, relatively dark hallway separating the house in two parts, like a split floorplan. The hallway is darker towards its end, opening on a bedroom and an office.

The owners refloored it with a blond hardwood, and this helped increase its luminosity. But the lack of skylights and direct wall openings limits the amount of light coming in when the doors of these 2 rooms are closed.

This is what we recommended:

  • LED Strip Lighting: LED strip lights on the ceiling along the length of the corridor. The house has a recessed ceiling, and strip lights have the perfect form factor to be installed inside the recess. The bright LEDs provide a continuous light reflecting on the white ceiling, and this indirect lighting has a very soft look.
  • Accent Lighting: We also suggest using wall-mounted fixtures at intervals along the corridor for accent lighting. These fixtures receive LED Edison bulbs which helps compliment the architectural style of that home. Their on/off switch is on a separate circuit, so the owners can turn them on and off independently of the main strip lighting for an even softer illumination.
  • Motion Sensors: By integrating motion sensors at both ends of the corridor, the homeowners only activate the lights when they walk towards these end-rooms, and when they come back to the main area of the house. The sensors turn off the lights 30 seconds to 1 minute after no more motion is detected, saving energy around the year. The homeowners can adjust the timings.
  • Dimmer Switches: Dimmer switches control the intensity of the lighting. This enables the owners to adjust the brightness lower in the evening.
  • Color Temperature Control: Most LED manufacturers propose products with adjustable color settings. This feature sets the lighting to a warmer or cooler luminosity, depending on the taste of the users.
  • Reflective Surfaces: In a dark area, incorporating mirrors and reflective surfaces (e.g., frames with glass panes) creates surfaces on which light can bounce to distribute luminosity more evenly throughout the area. This is an elegant way to add light without increasing power demand on the electrical installation

Case #2: A Blind Study Room in Dire Need of a Re-do

Rendering of a blind study room AFTR electrical installation remodeling work by All Star Electric San Antonio: Shelves and recessed ceiling feature LED strip lights, ceiling also features recessed LED cans. © 2024 All Star Electric San Antonio
Study room post-electrical installation revamp

Our second case study is about a home that features a blind room. No window, no skylight, just a 75W light bulb and olive drab walls (yikes!). This space is so unappealing that it has been used for a long time as a storage room.

The owners are obviously not thrilled by the waste of space, and have decided to reconvert it into a study room.

A study room obviously need bookshelves, and they already set their minds on a wall-wide bookshelf. The hardwood floor was dark, and they decided to re-floor it with light-color engineered flooring. They will keep the hardwood to refloor some other parts of their home where the flooring had taken a beating.

These were our recommendations: 

  • Ceiling Lights: Obviously, the existing 75W incandescent bulb has to go. We advise replacing it with indirect lighting, i.e., LED strips on a recessed ceiling. The homeowners would have to bear the cost of installing the recessed ceiling. Their decision to refloor with engineered wood instead of matching hardwood frees up the funds necessary to tackle the recessed ceiling project. We also recommend mounting recessed LED lights in the new ceiling. We think varying the type of lighting gives the room a more interesting vibe, and recessed LEDs will brighten up the space even more.
  • Task Lighting for a Reading Area: We suggest a floor lamp with an LED bulb with adjustable brightness. Positioned near an armchair, this task light is great for bringing additional light to a reading or writing session, without flooding the whole room with light. It also creates an intimate lighting propitious to focusing.
  • Accent Lighting for Bookshelves: The bookshelves being obviously the centerpiece of this room, they deserve special design attention. We recommend mounting LED strip lights under the shelves, not only as a way to highlight the horizontal lines of the structure itself and the books it holds, but also to bring additional indirect light into the room. These lights are mounted on a separate circuit and can be controlled independently from the rest.
  • Wall Sconces: We suggest adding a couple of modern wall sconces on the wall opposite the bookshelves, to even out the light intensity across the room. Note however that even without these sconces, there is already enough light in the room to achieve the desired luminosity.
  • Repainting: This is a must. The homeowners settled on an off-white, creamy color paint that helps bounce the light off the walls. Visually, this new color opens up the space even more. Gone is the olive drab, hello beautiful Scandinavian-style lighting!
  • Dimmer Switches: Finally, we recommend installing separate dimmer switches on all lighting fixtures. In the new electrical installation, each circuit has its own dimmer, so each lighting zone is controlled independently from the other.

This room is sure to be one of the favorites of the owners, and in use every day!

Case Study #3: A Risky Staircase Made Safer

Illustrative view of an open staircase showing how LED strip lights highlight the step risers and the stairwell to make the staircase safer. Electrical work by All Star Electric San Antonio TX © 2024 All Star Electric San Antonio
Modern staircase after installation of LED strip lights

The hero of our case study #3 is an L-shape staircase that connects the first and second floor of a modern duplex. Situated in a slightly darker area of the apartment, the staircase does not receive much natural light. Only indirectly.

Ceiling lights are located too high in the stairwell to illuminate the steps in a practical way.

These steps are made with a low-contrast brown oak, and the stairwell is open on one side with no bannister. The homeowners find it unsafe at night.

To enhance its brightness and safety, we proposed a creative approach to the electrical installation:

  • LED Step Lights: We recommend installing small LED step strips on each step. These strips illuminate each step, showing the riser and the start of each new step. LED strip lights are subtle enough they can’t blind anyone at night. They are small enough that they preserve the aesthetic of the wood.
  • Handrail Lighting: The staircase has a wall-mounted handrail. We propose to use this architectural fixture to integrate LED strip lights into the rail and alongside the baseboard. This set-up provides a continuous lighting guide along the staircase. It also highlights the modernity of its design.
  • Wall Sconces: We suggest to mount wall sconces or recessed LED lights along the wall of the staircase. Recessed lights will be spaced evenly to mark the path up and down. If the owners decide not to go with this option, the strip light along the baseboard is enough for the purpose of the project.
  • Motion Sensor Activation: We propose to incorporate motion sensors at the top and bottom of the staircase. They trigger the LED lights when detecting nearby motion, and turn off the strip lights automatically after one minute to conserve energy. The homeowners can adjust the on/off timing based on their natural walking speed.
  • Accent Lighting at the Turn of the L-Shape: At the corner of the L-shaped staircase, we propose to install a decorative accent light. This illuminates the darkest area of the stairwell. It also serves as a focal point in a section that is not so interesting visually.

All in all, the remodeled electrical installation improves dramatically the safety of the staircase without compromising in any way its modern aesthetics. On the contrary, the LEDs added a level of sophistication well-adapted to the beautiful architectural centerpiece.

Case Study #4 – A Vintage Restroom With No Natural Light

Post-electrical remodeling work illustration of a Victorian-style bathroom with period-appropriate sconces and chandelier. © All Star Electric San Antonio Texas
Victorian bathroom after electrical remodeling work

In an old Victorian home, one of the restrooms is lit with just a regular light sconce mounted on the ceiling. The homeowners hate it. They want to remodel the place and its electrical installation to carry the Victorian look & feel from the rest of the house into the restroom.

They want a spectacular vintage looking design which will not cost an arm and a leg.

To remodel the lighting while preserving the historical charm of the house, this is what we recommended;

  • Ceiling Fixture: The first order of business is to replace the single light sconce with a period-appropriate chandelier. This central light piece provides ambient lighting filling up the room and become an eye-catcher in the restroom. Bland fixtures do not give a great vibe to anything: the sooner you get rid of them, the better.
  • Vanity Lighting: We recommend to install wall-mounted sconces on both sides of the mirror above the sink. These sconces must be selected with a Victorian look. The owners can fit them with LED Edison bulbs for warmth and to match the period.
  • Accent Lighting: We add accent lighting on each side of the toilet bowl which the owners want to replace with a great vintage-looking bowl. An inexpensive option, it definitely helps carrying out the Victorian vibe of the home into the restroom. The vintage-looking sconces on each side receive LED Edison bulbs to match the look and feel.
  • Fan: Old houses don’t always have fans in bathrooms. Most often, just a vent. If there are no windows to work with, then we recommend installing a ceiling fan.
  • Color Temperature: Edison vintage LED bulbs are fantastic to set a warm tone to any room. They also look great. Back in the early days of electricity (the Victorian days), light bulbs were low-intensity and very yellow. The warm light of Edison bulbs is in keeping with the period, and definitely lends the right vibe to this restroom. It also marries well with the darker green paint.
  • Period-appropriate Materials and Finishes: We suggest selecting sconces and chandelier made with brass, bronze, and frosted glass. This type of finish was popular during the Victorian era. It contributes to the “historical” feel of the restroom.The rest of the fixtures (toilet, sink, sconces) can be sourced inexpensively from manufacturers. On the walls, the owner will put paintings collected over the years. No extra money needed for decoration. The new paint isn’t very costly either. The hardwood floor can be refinished and stained for less than $150.
  • A limited electrical installation remodel: In this electrical installation project, the only new work is to bring new wires to the sink, the backwall, and the fan. Each circuit is commanded with a separate switch for a total of 3 switches installed near the door.

The illustration above gives a pretty good illustration of how the room will look like when done. From a very bland, very unpleasant toilet experience, the owners can now spend time on a throne fit for Queen Victoria!

Case Study #5 – A Child Bedroom With Little Natural Light

Illustration of a young girl's bedroom after electrical installation remodeling showing LED strips in recessed ceiling, task lighting, and undershelf LED lighting © 2024 All Star Electric San Antonio
Girl’s bedroom after electrical remodeling

Our final case study. The homeowners want to redecorate the bedroom of their 8-year old daughter. The main problem is that the room only has one relatively small window: natural lighting is not very bright.

The family wants enough artificial light to make the room cozy for all practical uses.

We need to revamp the electrical installation to accommodate the future needs of their daughter in terms of electrical devices, such as desk lamps, electronic devices and computers, TV, etc.

These were our recommendations:

  • Electrical Outlets: We propose to install additional electrical outlets around the room, especially near the desk and entertainment areas. The room needs enough of them to accommodate current and future electronic devices: computers and cell phones, a desk lamp, a TV and a game console. Maybe even a play/vanity station where the owners’ daughter will play with dolls for instance.
  • Overhead Lighting Upgrade: We suggest replacing the existing ceiling light with a brighter, energy-efficient LED fixture. This will provide ample light for playtime and activities with friends. We can help parents select fixtures with a fun design to match the decoration, appeal to the tastes of a young child, and create the right level of brightness.
  • Task Lighting for the Desk Area: A dedicated LED desk lamp with adjustable brightness and direction will help the owners’ daughter study or read. A focused light reduces eye strain during activities that require concentration.
  • Ambient and Accent Lighting: Our recommendation is to add LED strip lights to create ambient lighting. They can be placed in various areas around the room. For example: around the baseboard; under shelves; up along the wall in the corners of the room; or on top of a crown molding. Led strip lights cast a soft light in any space.
  • Dimmable and Color-Changing LEDs: Children love colors, and in our experience , they are excited by the possibility to change the color of their room. We suggest incorporating dimmable LED bulbs in the main lighting fixtures and choosing LED strips with color-changing capabilities. This will also help parents setting the right mood and light temperature when it’s time to study (cooler lighting) and time to go to bed (soothing colors).e
  • Night Light: As you know, children can be wakened up by vivid dreams, and can be afraid of the dark then. In our electrical installation, we install an outlet nearby the bed to add a night light, either a plug-in type or a small wall fixture.
  • Smart Lighting Controls: To the parents, we advise considering smart lighting solutions that they can control via a smartphone or voice commands. This technology enables them to control lighting when they hold their child in the arms or are busy cleaning up the room before bedtime.

How All Star Electric San Antonio Helps You Remodel

When you call us for an electrical installation remodeling project, we listen carefully to the result you want to achieve in your home, your budgetary constraints, and your deadlines. We’ll propose a detailed plan and budget on how we will help you carry out your vision.

As a San Antonio electrical contractor with a very long experience, All Star Electric San Antonio can do absolutely every type of electrical work inside and outside your home. Whether you only need a simple repair, a partial electrical remodel, a new backyard illumination system, or a full-blown electrical installation overhaul, we will help you refine the desired outcome very clearly, then implement it with diligence inside your budget, and complete it on time.

We work with your architects, your general contractor, and also directly with you, the homeowners. Our company serves all areas of San Antonio, with many clients in Castle Hills, Selma, Alamo Heights, and Helotes. Call us at (210) 391-0274 to discuss your project and get a quote.

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