Everybody loves the soft, impressionistic glow of fluorescent ceiling lights. Inspirational and calming, they remind us of a Renoir painting.

Or not.

Most of us spend the majority of our lives inside, under the unflattering light of cracked, yellowing ceiling light panels. Admittedly, they do provide us with enough illumination to get through the day without bumping our shins or shredding that document rather than copying it. Yet, we long for more.

Often referred to as drop ceiling lights, they are designed to evenly illuminate a room. While there isn’t much to be done about the angle of an overhead light, you might be surprised at what is available to improve the end result.

Basic Panels

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The ceiling light panel, which is designed to diffuse the light output, is commonly an acrylic or styrene sheet with a pebbly type surface. Cracked ice and egg crate are two other common styles widely used. These do exactly what they are intended to do, light an area.<>

Bringing The Outdoors In

A popular option is to replace the plain, boring ceiling light panels with an outdoor scene. Panels designed to look like skylights have brilliant blue skies with clouds or balloons; alternating the orientation of these panels in an office can really open up a room. Or if you prefer, some light panels make it seem as if you’re lying on grass, staring up into tree branches or grapevines with butterflies flitting about. There are even panels that look like you’re underwater.

An Artistic Bent

Homes with fluorescent light fixtures have a wide option of choices to suit individual tastes. From a stained glass look to geometric designs, marbleized glass to copper tiling, there are many choices to customize your look. You can even design suspended ceiling light panels with your own artwork or photographs. Wood or metal trim can be attached to the fixtures to give the appearance of a windowpane.

How Well Do They Work?

Ceiling light panels look so realistic; you might think you’re actually looking out a window or skylight. It has to do with the way our eyes and brain interpret light and color. If you had a photograph in one hand and the same image on your monitor, most people prefer the monitor. The backlight image of a monitor more closely resembles natural light than the reflected light of a photograph. That is also why before digital, most pros preferred slide film over prints.

Easy Installation

Ceiling light fixtures typically are 2’x2’ or 2’x4’. The ceiling lighting panels are designed to replace the basic diffuser that comes with the fixture. Just open the panel, pop out the old, and in with the new. There are some light fixtures, the parabolic style, which will require an adapter kit and some trimming of the light panels; these can be purchased at the same time as the light panels, and generally just take a few minutes to install.

Who uses them?

Doctor offices and dentists have found that simply changing the ceiling light panels provide a calming effect on patients. If you’re lying in a dentist chair, wouldn’t you rather look at the sky than stare into a white light?
Offices that have installed them discover an increase in employee morale. It helps to alleviate the feeling of being trapped inside all day. Plus, it’s cheaper than giving everyone a corner office with a view.
Homeowners love the fact that they can coordinate their ceilings with the décor of a room, to get that one of a kind sanctuary without remodeling everything.

We feel a need to be surrounded by beauty; photos on a desk, art on the wall. You don’t have to neglect your ceilings any longer.

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