Commercial lighting – the basics explained

Ivela High Bay Light - Translucent/Black

Every designer and electrician whose work brings them into contact with commercial lighting will be well aware of the vast range of suitable fittings and equipment available to them. They will also be conscious of the importance of choosing the right commercial lighting fittings for the project in hand. Similarly proprietors of businesses commissioning such work will have their own quite clear ideas as to what they need and expect from their new commercial lighting.

Lighting contractors will naturally have kept up to date with the exciting developments seen in recent times in lighting systems. Their customers may not however so it may be helpful to highlight some of the benefits they bring to users of commercial lighting.

Better lighting, better economy

Low energy lighting has been with us for some time now with its benefits of lower consumption of electricity and longer bulb life leading to improved economy in use. These benefits were achieved by the use of compact fluorescent bulbs but they were frequently criticised for being bulky, unattractive and producing light of lower intensity than expected. These lights still suit many situations but awareness of the other options that have become available more recently is essential if the right decisions are to be made.

With the advent of energy-saving halogen bulbs, metal halide lights and LED systems, light of greater brightness and intensity than was ever available from traditional incandescent bulbs and fluorescent tubes comes with dramatically improved economy. Every business needs to keep costs to a minimum and energy bills can account for a considerable proportion of overall operating costs. The high energy efficiency of these new forms of commercial lighting can bring about a significant improvement in the bottom line.


To show you exactly what we mean we have selected lighting examples from four broad categories of commercial lighting (retail display, high bay lighting, low bay lighting and including flush fittings) that suit all locations. We recommend suitable fittings for each situation.

Retail Display

The lighting here needs to clearly illuminate all areas of the sales area to enable customers to see everything clearly, move around safely and to deter thieves. The goods on display should be highlighted so that they are shown off to best advantage.

Metal halide lighting is perfect for this. Its bulb produces up to 115 lumens per Watt of electricity consumed compared to 35 for a traditional incandescent bulb. It lasts 20 times as long too, so economy comes as standard. These lights can light up a very large area or they can provide high intensity light on a small area.

A fine example is the Zeta Metal Halide Display Light from Robus in cast aluminium. You get a lovely crisp white light which really brings the display to life and showcases the products to best advantage.

Also ideal for situations such as shops are flush fitting. Flush mounted on either ceilings or walls they will illuminate large areas. These lamps use low energy bulbs for economy. For ultimate economy, LED versions are available.

High Bay Lighting

Here we are looking at lighting installed at heights of 20 feet (6 metres) or more above floor level, which may be in a warehouse, a sports hall, or maybe a large restaurant, even a pub or large retail sales area.

Recommended light fittings for these installations would include the 100w LED Linear High Bay Light. These high efficiency lights with their excellent economy are equally at home in High Bay situations where they are extremely effective.

Also extremely versatile and particularly suited to high bay installations are Solid Slim 200w LED Circular High Bay Lights. These are IP65 rated so they can be used where dry conditions cannot be guaranteed.

Low Bay Lighting

LowBayis required in situations where the lights are to be installed 3 to 7 metres or about 10 to 23 feet above floor level. Dextra’s Low Bay Lights – Metal Halide 250W are designed for just this purpose.  These lights provide all the benefits of the latest metal halide technology as highlighted in the high bay lighting section plus a hinged gear tray which makes them quick and simple to both install and later maintain. The time thus saved represents a further saving in overall cost. Their robust construction makes them ideal for commercial lighting purposes particularly in factories, hangars, warehouses and loading bays.

Flush fittings like the Carina Flush Fitting LED White provide an excellent alternative in a low bay situation. The more limited the headroom available the greater the benefit of using flush fittings. We take a look at flush fitting lights next.

Flush Fitting Lights

Flush fitting lights are the maids-of-all-work of commercial lighting. We have two examples which show you just how versatile these lights are. Carina Flush Fitting LED White is the LED version of the Carina flush fitting mentioned under retail display. It provides all the advantages of flush fitting in that it protrudes very little from the surface it’s mounted on and can be wall mounted or ceiling. It is IP65 Rated which makes it ideal for hotel bathrooms, shower- cubicles and pub toilets or outdoors exposed to the elements.

On top of all that it is an LED light. LEDs produce beautiful white light, with the lowest of all energy consumption and the LED arrays outlast every other type of light source except the sun! Installing LED lighting is one of the few things a business can do which reduces costs whilst actually enhancing quality.

The other example is actually another version of the same light. The Carina LED Flush with Microwave Sensor – White. Here you get all the benefits already described plus the microwave sensor.  The light can be mounted outdoors to light up walkways, steps or other areas either for safety or convenience. It can also be a security light.

Its microwave sensor detects movement and turns the light on only when needed. It can be adjusted to become active only when the ambient light falls below a pre-set level and its sensitivity can be varied between 1 and 10 metres so that it only detects movement in the relevant area. The time the light remains on when activated can be pre-set to between 10 seconds up to 30 minutes.

Indoors these are the ideal lights for rooms or passageways that are not in constant use. As someone enters the area the lights obligingly turn on. One extremely useful benefit of the microwave sensor when compared to the PIR type of movement detector is that the microwave sensor can see through doors! One advantage that gives is that when someone approaches a closed room the sensor inside the room detects their arrival outside the door and turns on the light ready for when they enter the room.

All LED lights cost very little to run. These only come on when needed and remain turned off and costing nothing the rest of the time.

Update to save

It’s not only new business premises or those undergoing extensive refurbishments that can benefit from these developments in commercial lighting. All businesses need to be alert to changes that can reduce trading costs and in many cases the cost of updating their lighting installations could be repaid many times over in the long term by the savings in running expenses.

Take a look at our full range of Commercial Lighting

For more advice, inspiration and news take a look at our Lighting Advice section.


Charles Barnett Managing Director

Charles started Lyco in 1995 with just 4 enthusiastic employees and has grown it considerably over the past 25 years. Charles is also the Managing Director of Lighting Direct and newly acquired Online Lighting. He now has a team of 50 lighting experts working on growing Lyco Group to be the UK leader in lighting for both businesses and homes. Away from the office he is a keen cyclist and is proud to have cycled 1017 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for a new residential centre for adults with multiple learning difficulties.

Spa lighting solutions

spa lighting solutions

The word ‘spa’ is sometimes erroneously said to be derived from a Latin acronym, but is actually stolen from the Belgian town of Spa – a veritable ‘water city’ known for its healing cold springs since the 14th century. Spas became fashionable in England during the 18th and 19th centuries when the upper classes were finally convinced of the benefits of bodily cleanliness, but by the turn of the 20th century they’d dwindled in popularity again, with seaside resorts such as Blackpool, Brighton, and Margate being more fashionable places to splash about!

The carnage of the First World War created a brief though ill-gotten resurgence in spa popularity, as innumerable maimed and afflicted soldiers ‘took the cure’. By that time, though, many disused spas had already been commandeered as military hospitals. It wasn’t until the 1990s that spas truly made their comeback, and they continue to thrive today, perhaps fuelled by our frenetic lifestyles, longer working lives, greater stress levels, and a general disconnect with nature and our own well-being. There’s a need to occasionally detoxify, reboot, get more in touch with who we are, and be shamelessly pampered!

Types of Spa

The various types of spa are many, but they can be primarily broken down into two categories: hotel spas (also known as resort/destination spas) and day spas. The former is a spa with stay-over facilities, or indeed a hotel with spa facilities, whilst the latter specializes in treatments that can be administered in just a few hours.

Services typically offered in either type of spa include: saunas, steam baths, bathing, hot springs, mud baths, body wraps, massages, hairstyling, manicures, pedicures, makeup application, facials, skin treatments, waxing, and aromatherapy. Many spas offer ‘signature services’, comprising of complementary combinations of these and other treatments.

Spa Style

When planning to open a spa you’d generally be well advised to engage the services of a spa consultant, who will lend expert advice on specific markets, viability of services for your area, physical layout, and often interior design. Depending on the services you intend offering, you’ll need equipment such as a reception desk, computer system with scheduling software, massage tables, salon stations and stools for hairstyling, manicure tables, pedicure chairs, facial equipment, linens, mirrors, pillows, plants, slippers, robes, and heating.

To help create exactly the ambience you require, and one that accentuates the style of your spa, particular care should be taken when choosing light fittings. Spa styles can vary considerably, with themes such as glamour, contemporary, traditional, organic, wood, and Zen. Remember that spa customers tend to gauge their experience as much by the way they feel as they do by the services themselves, so it’s vital that you create an experience that customers will want to return to.

Spa lighting areas


As your customers enter into the reception of your spa, so they’re also gaining a first impression of your establishment and its ambiance, so lighting can be a mixture of task-oriented and decorative. The Endon Harmony Wall Light fulfils the role of decorative lighting perfectly, with its diminishing geometric pattern very restful in its effect and ideal for contemporary or ‘Zen’ settings. Also contemporary in its appeal, the stunning Aperture 65 Shade by award-winning designer Claire Norcross is a great centre-piece pendant that’s guaranteed to steal attention. With its adjustable apertures you can modify the output of this paper-made lightshade to provide just the right amount of light for your needs.

With the Ultra Slim Dimmable Downlight from Integral you get a practical downlight with relaxing warm white output, ideal for putting customers at ease whilst also providing directional light for reception desks. Compatible with dimmer switches, you can control the output of these lights to create ambience and simultaneously make them even more economical to run. With an IP20 rating this light is suitable for the dry areas of a spa, but being fire rated it safeguards the integrity of a ceiling in the event of a fire.

Swimming pools

Pool areas in spas are sometimes outdoor, often indoor areas where discreet downward lighting is ideal. With an IP65 Ingress Protection rating the Dimmable Spotlights is ideal as over-pool lighting; the dimmable light provides plenty of scope for setting mood, with the warm white version particularly good for a relaxing evening swim. Choose cooler lights for an enlivening feel closer to daylight. These lights are fire-rated, and comply with Part B (Fire Safety) of UK building regulations, so in the event of a fire the intumescent filling within the fitting expands to help prevent flames immediately taking hold.

Use of colour in a spa is vital – as it helps customers to relax. Coloured lighting is especially effective in conjunction with water, so you might like to consider the  LED Flexi Strip. Resistant to jets of water, these low-powered strips are suitable for poolside use and are colour-switchable and dimmable when used with a separately available controller and amplifier.

The Garland LED Walkover Lights are great for illuminating decking, but with an IP68 rating can also be submersed around the edges of a swimming pool or used in conjunction with water features. Use of LEDs in these lights makes them extremely tough, so they can be walked over and are shock resistant. Please note: the accompanying transformer is weather-resistant but is not submersible.

Changing rooms

Ideal for conserving energy, the Carina LED Flush with Microwave Sensor only switches on when it detects movement, and unlike a PIR sensor the microwave sensor is unobtrusively concealed within the fitting. With its IP65 rating this wall or ceiling-mountable light is suitable for installation in areas exposed to water, so it’s ideal for pool changing rooms, for instance.

An alternative offering ideal for changing room installation is the Carina 17w Colour Selectable LED Flush Light from Eterna Lighting. With an IP65 rating this fitting is suitable for wet changing room areas on either walls or ceilings. The Carina is constructed with polycarbonate and a polished chrome bezel. This bulkhead is also easy to install and comes with an integrated LED lamp.

Another Lyco recommendation is the Mirror Light from Eterna. One of the particular advantages of this product is that it provides balanced illumination for the face, and avoids the harsh, unflattering shadows that can occur with more directional lighting. This stylish mirror-light is also IP44 rated, boasts an LED lifespan of 50,000 hours, and integrates a convenient on/off pull cord.

Treatment rooms

Ideal for enhancing mood in a treatment room whilst also being unobtrusive and discreet, the Hove Wall Light from Dar Lighting casts an attractive up-and-down pattern of wall lighting. Finished in white plaster, this fitting comes complete with two G9 halogen capsules for a crisp yet warm and relaxing output of light.

The Edit Rise Uplighter Floor Lamp delivers strong upward illumination for reflecting off a ceiling for a softened overall spread of light. It comes in a smooth plaster finish so would suit an array of rooms and areas.

For those task-oriented treatment rooms and salon areas of a spa, a halogen downlight is ideal. The illumination is bright and crisp, and despite a typically warm output halogen is inherently colour accurate with a continuous spectrum of light. The Eon Directional Downlight with its 15° swivelling head is ideal for tasks such as hair styling and makeup treatments whilst also being attractively priced. An IP65 rating means this light is also suitable for wet areas (unsuitable for submersion or steam rooms) whilst its fire rating tells you it will protect a ceiling against flames for up to 90 minutes. The Eon comes complete with a 35W mains-powered GU10 halogen bulb.

Form and function

When designing and equipping a spa it’s worth considering what it is exactly that visitors want from such a place. Of course they are interested in the services and facilities, but more than anything else frequenters of spas are looking for a sensory experience through sound, sight, smell, touch, and perhaps taste. The five senses.

Our motives for visiting a spa have altered. Around the year 1800, Bath in Somerset became one of the largest cities in England, largely through its association with good health and habitation by a comparative legion of pharmacists, doctors, and surgeons. Nowadays we live in a different, more secular society; we’re longer-lived and likely to be seeking spiritual refuge rather than a miracle cure.

Lighting has an invaluable part to play in creating all-important atmosphere in a spa. If you think of Chinese yin-yang philosophy where all things in the universe are perfectly balanced by their opposite component, so it is with lighting. Shadow cannot exist without light, and contrasting areas of light and dark create ambience — just watch a film noir movie for proof!

With that in mind, wall-mounted uplights, downlights, and bi-directional up-and-down lights are great for accenting décor and creating mood. Discreet recessed ceiling downlights – often tiltable – can be directed onto the many embellishing features of a spa, such as plants, urns, tables and chairs. You can use light to define space. Dimmer switches are great for setting the overall mood of a room; it might be said, somewhat pretentiously perhaps, that this creates a canvas or foil for subtler, gentler effects from decorative lights such as candles.

The colour of white

It’s also worth considering the colour temperature of light, which causes an emotional response in humankind. Calling upon the Kelvin scale of a theoretical black body radiator, a traditional wax candle has an extremely warm temperature of 1800K, which has a wonderfully calming effect on us. A cosy log fire has similar soothing appeal.

Slightly cooler in colour than a natural flame is an incandescent light bulb, with a typical temperature of 2700K. This is also considered a warm light, more suited to relaxing than lamps with cooler temperatures of 4000-5000K. But in areas where you might like to induce a feeling of invigorated alertness, a cooler light may suit, and will blend more harmoniously with ambient light.

Steam room lighting

Unfortunately Lyco do not stock any products suitable for lighting a spa steam room or sauna. This is a very specialist area owing to the sheer pervasiveness of moisture and extreme fluctuations in heat, with dedicated vapour-proof, low-voltage downlights and fibre optic systems being typically required. We advise consulting with an established sauna and steam room supplier for your needs in this area.

For more options, our indoor lighting section offers a few alternatives to the above selections.

For more advice, inspiration and news take a look at our Lighting Advice section.


Andrew Evangelidis Head of Buying

Andrew is an experienced buying professional who takes an entrepreneurial approach to identify new lighting solutions and ensure Lyco have first-to-market ranges for our customers. Having previously worked for well known brands such as Wickes, Carphone Warehouse and Toys R Us, Andrew has now turned his hand to sourcing commercial lighting and ensure our customers receive top brand quality products at marketing leading prices. He manages a team of commercial and decorative buyers who travel the world finding new products that our customers don’t even know they need yet.

Coloured bulbs – when to use them

The coloured light bulb is hardly a new technology. Indeed many people might remember them from teenage years, as they are perfect for customising your room, being cheap, easy and quickly reversible, so they wouldn’t make your parents scream. While there is a lot more to coloured bulbs than simply popping in a purple one in so you can listen to Pink Floyd, there’s still an undeniable truth in there. Coloured light bulbs are a cheap and convenient way to completely change the look of a space.

Coloured bulbs for all purposes

The classic coloured GLS bulb is still available, in a wide range of colours, not to mention energy-saving and G9 halogen variants. But rather than blitzing the entire room with one colour, like an 80s nightclub, why not use the palette available to you creatively? For a peaceful sanctuary of a room, mix up green and blue bulbs, while a games room or bar would suit bright, vibrant reds and oranges. Interestingly, if you’re planning on a bit of poker, red lighting apparently encourages people to gamble more boldly.


Coloured bulbs are also great for seasonal celebrations – deck out a Valentine’s Day party (or a small girl’s bedroom) with pinks and reds, while greens and reds are great for truly festive feeling Christmas, and blue and green light will create a suitably monstrous Halloween.

Change the context

Don’t just limit yourself to using coloured light bulbs on their own. You can achieve amazing results when combining them with more traditional white lights, to add context and life to a room. This works particularly well when you’re trying to make a dull-looking room really pop. If you have a hallway, bathroom or other area that could best be described as ‘institutional’, replace the central lighting with coloured bulbs, and then use white spotlighting or table-lighting to create smaller, more intimate pools of light.

To break up long expanses of plain coloured wall, use splashes of colour to make the room interesting and break it up a bit, again using brighter spotlighting if you want to create smaller, more cosy feeling areas. At the other end of the scale, make a small room seem larger by shining coloured lights into every corner of the room.

Coloured spotlights

For subtle splashes of colour, spotlight bulbs, available both in halogen GU10 and LED GU10 types for standard spotlight fittings are perfect for adding a delicate flush to surroundings. Spotlights in particular are great for highlighting ornamental items, architectural features and art, as you can pick a shade that will really bring out the colours in whatever you’re illuminating. Best of all, spotlights can be recessed unobtrusively, so you can achieve some startling effects. Mount spotlights in narrow alcoves in an otherwise brightly lit room, for striking red or green features to break up the space. And if you can’t decide what colour you want, just get colour changing bulbs that change colour between red, green and blue.

Festoon finale

Finally, don’t forget those festoon lights. Yes, draping multi-coloured ones all the way round a garden or patio can make it look like a 70s holiday camp, but there are ways to use them strikingly. One of the most effective is to use just a single colour, such as all red or all white. This works particularly well with golf ball or pygmy bulbs, but is effective with coloured GLS bulbs too. Also, don’t just leave them outside.

Stringing up festoons around a living room or dining area can give it a bit of a festival bodega feeling, which works well if you have a basement living area. Don’t feel bound to string them up in the traditional fashion either – a great alternative is to wrap festoon lights around a pillar or beam, something best done with LED bulbs, as they hardly heat up.

If you’re looking for a different type why not take a look at our full range of coloured bulbs.

For more advice, inspiration and news take a look at our Lighting Advice section.

Charles Barnett Managing Director

Charles started Lyco in 1995 with just 4 enthusiastic employees and has grown it considerably over the past 25 years. Charles is also the Managing Director of Lighting Direct and newly acquired Online Lighting. He now has a team of 50 lighting experts working on growing Lyco Group to be the UK leader in lighting for both businesses and homes. Away from the office he is a keen cyclist and is proud to have cycled 1017 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for a new residential centre for adults with multiple learning difficulties.

New build home lighting part 3 (Kitchen / Diner)

A new build represents a blank canvas – a chance to set the tone for the whole house from the ground up. Your choice of lighting for new builds is a major part of what that tone will be, and is the filter that so much of the rest of the house will be viewed through.

So far our series on lighting for new builds has focused on the living room and hallway and then bedrooms and bathroom upstairs, Now we return downstairs to finish off the interior of our imaginary 2-bed starter home by stepping into the kitchen/dining room.

Choosing your lighting: the basics

Obviously one of the key factors in choosing lighting for any room will be the size and scale of the room itself. It might be the deciding factor, for example, in just how grand a chandelier centrepiece is in the dining room, or how extensive a set of cabinet downlights is in the kitchen.

However, that is a universal principle that applies in any room, and so doesn’t need special consideration here. Suffice to say, the larger and more attention-grabbing a lighting fixture is, the more space it needs around it – ignore that rule of thumb and you’ll overpower the room instead of illuminating it.

The same counts for brightness, although with the kitchen being typically one of the brightest rooms in the house you’ve got more room for error. That said, it’s a cardinal sin to under-illuminate a kitchen, so especially if you’re thinking of cabinet downlights make sure they’re close enough together and there’s enough of them (if there’s no other lighting in the room) to light up the entire kitchen.

New home kitchen / diner lighting ideas

There’s a wide range of kitchen / diner lighting products to choose from in the Lyco range. Here we highlight some of the most popular options available, and some of our personal favourites, to give you a sense of the choices available:

Retro style pendant: timeless class

Elstead Provence Rise and Fall Ceiling Pendant Light – Polished Nickel

This classic adjustable rise and fall pendant is the perfect multifunctional kitchen/diner light, bringing together old-world charm and class and contemporary styling complete with polished nickel finish.

Dimmable LEDs: high-tech kitchen lighting

View range here

Nothing gives a new build kitchen that ultra-modern look like LED spotlights, and the Fireguard LED7 range comes in various colour/warmth combinations so you can create just the right look for your kitchen. They’re available in fully dimmable form, and are IP65-rated and fire-rated for both commercial and domestic applications. Plus, the high-performance LEDs mean just 7W of power output matches of a 50W halogen for light output, but with an 80% energy saving.

Cabinet downlighting: low energy, little effort

View our range of cabinet lighting here

Cabinet downlights provide focused illumination on a specific area and are really simple to install, so it’s easy to see the appeal. In the case of the Aurora Mica LED Cabinet Light, you get the added advantage of a white light that’s rated for 50,000 hours and uses far less electricity than any standard light bulb. These LED lights can be surface mounted or recessed and come with 2m of cable included. You will however need an LED transformer, which is sold seperately.

Flexi striplighting: fun, decorative and versatile

View our range of cabinet strip lights

If you’re willing to put in a bit of effort and apply a bit of creativity, flexible striplighting is a clever and highly versatile way of lighting your kitchen – or any other room in the house, for that matter. Each 5M Flexi Strip incorporates 300 LEDs, and can be cut every 3 LEDs to suit just about any application. The strips are flexible and the LEDs come with a 120-degree beam angle, making it an ideal discreet lighting solution for shelves, alcoves, kick boards, cabinets… just about anywhere you can think to put them, in fact. We’ve chosen to highlight the “daylight” colour option here, but strips also come in warm white, and blue, as well as an RGB colour changing option.

If you’re connecting multiple strips together, or want your Flexi Strips to be dimmable, you’ll also need an Inline Amplifier. Last of all, a pack of Link Leads will come in handy should you wish to reconnect your cut LED strips.

The right lighting for new builds

New builds come in all shapes and sizes, which means specific lighting requirements for the kitchen/dining room area can vary greatly – and that’s not even accounting for the vast spectrum of personal taste.

The options we’ve shown here represent some of the more popular new build lighting options available, but of course you could also go for fluorescent or LED solid striplights, as well as halogen or other variations on the lighting types we’ve covered here.

Just remember that while room size might be the first thing you notice about any home, the right lighting to showcase that room is equally important, whether you’re looking to have a house valued for selling or renting, or are fitting a property out ahead of moving in yourself.

For more advice, inspiration and news take a look at our Lighting Advice section.

Charles Barnett Managing Director

Charles started Lyco in 1995 with just 4 enthusiastic employees and has grown it considerably over the past 25 years. Charles is also the Managing Director of Lighting Direct and newly acquired Online Lighting. He now has a team of 50 lighting experts working on growing Lyco Group to be the UK leader in lighting for both businesses and homes. Away from the office he is a keen cyclist and is proud to have cycled 1017 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats to raise money for a new residential centre for adults with multiple learning difficulties.