lighting contractor

Bear with me, I have never done anything in the home repair area really. But I want to redo the lighting in my old studio apartment, because the lights are basically as old and cheap as you can get. Additionally I want to hang a ceiling fan/light, and maybe do some home automation stuff if it isn't too expensive.
I just want to tell someone my requirements, and have them help choose the lights and also choose people to install them. It's probably about 4 lights plus the ceiling one.
How would I go about finding someone to help me with this? After looking on the internet a bit, I saw that lampsplus.com offers a free consultation. Is this a reasonable way to go? Anyone have any experience with this?
I'm in Palo Alto, CA if that matters.
Andy
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check out x10.com
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Sounds like a job too small for an architect or a lighting designer unless you willing to pay for it. Lighting is very personal like buying a car unless you don't care about your ride. I suggest you review and approve the type of light fixtures and installation - endless possibilities - before you let someone run with it otherwise you end up with a lighting ambiance that rubs against your personality. Get a good electrician you could work with and review the lighting options before you give him/her the go ahead. Go see some of his/her installations to get some ideas first.
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It is personal, but that's why I figure that some sort of designer would be able to translate my needs into the best configuration. I'm willing to pay for getting it done right. Plus I definitely don't want to hang the ceiling fan myself so I'm going to have to involve a third party in any case.
Is it really out of the ordinary to do such a small job? I have researched the problem a bit and there are indeed a lot of options like you say, so I figure someone who knows the area could do a much better job choosing than I could.
I guess my question is that I'm looking for someone who has the aesthetic sense, knows the functional issues like energy efficiency and what kind of automation is available, and practical stuff like running wires (I happen to have wood paneling on all the walls which I imagine complicates things). When I think of an "electrician", I don't think of someone whose forte is aesthetics, I suppose. Is that not accurate? Do you typically get an electrician to do the lighting?
Andy
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Andy wrote:

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You might look for ceiling fan with a remote control for speed and lighting selections. Your electrician will determine whether additional physical support brackets are required for the weight of the fan at the ceiling. If your apartment is lacking safely wired electrical boxes at the end of the wire run to a light fixture he will fix it and make sure the wiring is safe at both the fixture and the circuit breaker panel. Energy saving, warmth or coolness of the colors of the lighting measured in kelvin, sufficient directed brightness in the reading and task areas, it's all for your future comfort.
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If an electrician has done many high end residential, night clubs, retail display lighting then he/she should be able to give you some directions. Typically they don't do high end lighting design but many do simple residential and simple retail lighting.
Ok this is what happens on a unique lighting design project: the architect got the project but sub the lighting requirements to an interior or lighting designer because its outside of his comfort level, the interior/lighting designer select the fixture types and location (could be one-of-a-kind high end custom fixtures from Italy, or wherever, without the UL label, etc.) but has no concept of California Title 24 or code requirements so the electrical engineer has to make everything work including Title 24, balancing loads, foot-candle requirements, ensure good visual comfort, design the circuits including interfacing to any automation system and insure its in compliance to codes and draws up the plans and specifications so the electrician could bid on it. In the end the electrician install the specified fixtures and wires up everything according to the project plans and specifications.
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Andy wrote:

Visit a lighting store that has lots of displays. Haven't been in the market for much, but when we bought a chandelier the shop had lots of different samples of fixtures and installations. Bring some pix of your apartment - a sales person worth their salt could give good suggestions. They could probably steer you to a good installer as well.
A lot has to do with your life style - work areas, mood or display lighting, etc. You can do a lot with a dimmer switch :o)
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Fly me out. I'll do it.

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Lamps Plus is a well-respected, long-time retailer and their folks are reasonably well trained. If you don't want to pay for expertise, such a retailer is a good option. The staff consultants will be limited to products that Lamps Plus carries, of course; but they do have an extensive line and you will likely be able to see what you're getting before you buy it. It's always a good idea to see a lighting fixture lighted if you can since it's easy to get one that's too dim or too bright. Glare is also a common problem.
I don't know if they are experts on home automation.
They may be able to recommend an electrical contractor or electrician for the installation too. If not, do you have "Angie's List" in your area? I've never been disappointed when I've followed their recommendations for service people.
TKM
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