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Buying Guides - Industrial & Commercial Lighting

Published: July 26, 2011

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Lighting is a key component in the design of any industrial and commercial building; helping to achieve the desired effect and function. Whether it's in the restaurant or a shop, appropriate lighting products will encourage customers to relax and linger a while.

Functional Light Fittings

In office and on the factory floors lighting is an important consideration when helping to create a pleasant and productive atmosphere. Obviously depending on the specific environment, function and design aspects differ greatly.

Decorative Commercial Lighting

In a hotel for example, decorative lighting is an important feature of interior design, underscoring the desired mood and shaping the hotel's identity. Similar considerations also apply to buildings designed to perform a public service, such as a library or a hospital. A suitable lighting design will work in harmony with the form and function of the building.

Public buildings and Health & Safety

Buildings occupied by public authorities and institutions providing public services to a large number of people involve a wide range of lighting requirements. There are also significant Health & Safety issues to consider. Designing the right lighting system should take into account how the illumination can affect both the identity and mood of a building as well as its primary function.

Lighting Public Buildings

The size, style and function of public buildings vary enormously - each fulfilling its own particular requirement. The use of lighting in these buildings is primarily driven by the needs of the people who occupy them. A successful lighting solution will satisfy both the demands of the task being undertaken and address the ambience of the building, thus resulting in an environment that is illuminated appropriately for all those within its confines.

Health & Safety

There are a number of issues to consider relating to the well-being of the staff and visitors that occupy public buildings. As far as visitors are concerned, it is primarily a matter of balancing safety with openness. For staff, it is necessary to provide appropriate illumination for the task being accomplished while taking into consideration such things as colour rendering and flicker.

Office Lighting

Office lighting design must be integrated with the architectural design to ensure an optimum working environment that is both comfortable and productive. The most commonly installed types of office lighting are recessed direct lights and ceiling or furniture mounted indirect lights.

Recessed Direct Lighting

Recessed direct lighting is an attractive solution because firstly, fixtures are easy to install and secondly they are relatively inexpensive. They also come in a great variety of sizes suitable for numerous different ceiling conditions.

The downside of recessed direct lighting is the glare on computer screens which can be caused even when shielded by lenses or louvers. However, it should be noted that this is much less of a problem than it used to be as screen technology has dramatically improved in recent years.

Ceiling-Mounted Indirect Lighting

Indirect lighting systems typically conceal unattractive light sources. Sometime, this method of lighting an office can create a slightly disorienting feeling, so an indirect solution that provides a minimal sense of the light's origin at the very least is preferable. On many fixtures, this effect is produced using diffusers, lenses or perforated metal panels.

Furniture-Mounted Indirect Lighting

When fixtures are attached to a wall or partition systems at a height of 150cm for example, a reasonable light distribution is produced without creating 'hot spots'. In addition, this solution provides the ultimate in flexibility, allowing each individual user to arrange their own lighting set up. The potential difficulty with furniture-mounted lighting is that safety regulations typically require such fixtures to be hard-wired, thus limiting their flexibility.

Retail Display Lighting

Lighting plays a crucial part in extremely competitive modern retail industry. In addition, retailers are recognising the significant operating cost of lighting and are looking for effective ways to reduce their expenditure.

Lighting for Diverse Outlets

The bottom line of retail lighting is that it is designed to attract customers and encourage them to browse the merchandise around the store before finally make a purchase. Generally speaking, there are three types of retail environment, each with a different lighting arrangement to suit a particular requirement.

  • Basic Retail Environments including discount stores that usually require simple ambient lighting systems to deliver high illumination levels for a high customer throughput
  • High-end Establishments including exclusive boutiques that rely on low ambient lighting with additional accent lighting to provide a tasteful, calm atmosphere
  • Intermediate Category The majority of stores fall into this group which requires a combination of ambient, task and accent lighting approaches

Grocery Store Lighting

A typical retail environment from the wide ranging 'intermediate' category is the large grocery store or supermarket. Such retailers are increasingly aiming to bring the lighting closer to the merchandise.

Decorative T5 or T8 fluorescent fixtures can be placed above produce bins and linear fluorescents can be located close to the shelving to create a pleasant wash of light over the products.

Industrial & Factory Lighting

Like all workplaces, industrial buildings require well-designed lighting systems to satisfy the needs of the various activities taking place inside. As well as the quantity of the lighting, its quality is also important. High quality lighting supports the well-being and productivity of the personnel and improves their safety, especially where moving machinery is concerned. In particular, glare, brightness and flicker (strobe effect) must be a prime concern to ensure safety and security in any industrial workplace.

Contrast Reflection

Contrast in lighting is what allows people to see detail. If the contrast is too low, details will blend in with the background and make it difficult to see what you are doing. If the contrast is too high, workers may experience discomfort when moving their eyes from a bright surface to a dark surface.

Brightness & Glare Control

When brightness goes beyond maximum recommended levels, disturbing or debilitating glare can occur. There are a range of efforts which can be made to minimise glare:

  • Use larger numbers of low wattage fixtures rather than fewer high wattage ones
  • Locate control panels and PC monitors away from windows or bright fixtures.
  • Elevate high wattage fixtures above the normal field of view and aim some light toward the ceiling to disperse any glare.

Educational Establishments

Creating a pleasantly illuminated environment in which staff and students can work comfortably can be difficult in a large school or college. Even buildings that make the maximum use of daylight require suitable electric lighting to compensate for inclement weather, dark winter mornings and afternoons and classes held in the evenings.

Different Lighting Requirements

Recent approaches to education recognise the individual ways that students learn. This has led to an architectural flexibility in classroom design which has in turn seen a growth in highly versatile lighting arrangements. In addition to the classrooms, an educational establishment will typically include locker rooms, sports areas, staff rooms, offices, event rooms and hallways and each location will have its own distinct set of lighting demands.

24 Hour Lighting

Many areas of schools and colleges are increasingly being used beyond the typical school day, thus making the running costs even more crucial. Consequently, triphosphor fluorescent tubes are becoming a popular choice throughout educational establishments. Triphosphors offer 20% more light than conventional tubes, longer life (in the order of 20,000 hours) and excellent light quality (95% light output maintained throughout tube life compared to a typical 30% light loss over the lifetime of a conventional tubes).

The latest generation T5 tubes are only 16mm in diameter and have the highest luminous efficacy of any fluorescent tube offering 30% energy saving compared to conventional tubes when used with electronic control gear.

Hotel Leisure

Arranging the right type of lighting to cater for the needs of customers that want to be simultaneously comfortable, safe and entertained can be a daunting task. However, there is an extensive range of innovative lighting solutions available to bring any environment to life.

Atmospheric LED Lighting

Recent LED lighting products have set new standards when it comes to creating a mood for a venue. With products ranging from basic downlighters to rope lights, from wall washers to LED nets; LED lights can transform a room into an attractive venue in minutes and at a reasonable cost.

Disco Lights

Sophisticated dancefloor lighting is available off the shelf, starting with basic effects such as small scanners, barrels and moonflower lights that operate in time to the music. For that authentic John Travolta effect, illuminated dance floors are now available using the very latest in LED technology.

Health & Safety Lighting

Wherever you require a lighting system from hotels to nightclubs, you need to take into account Health & Safety as well as the purely aesthetic aspect of the lights. As an example: any venue containing a number of people must be able to rapidly switch from 'entertaining' lights to 'emergency' lights should the need arise.


The hospitality industry involves many different environments, each requiring its own lighting arrangement restaurants, bars, guestrooms, hallways, receptions and backhouse spaces (from kitchens to storage to office space).

Cost-Effective Lighting

Due to the changing needs of both business and consumer energy efficient compact fluorescent lighting is now a hugely popular choice of fitting. CFLs are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes for practically every possible use. Therefore, careful planning is required when choosing the most suitable fixtures and fittings.

Creating an Atmosphere

A well-planned lighting arrangement can give a hotel its distinct identity. Effective lighting will combine with the architecture and decor to create a suitable atmosphere; welcoming guests and providing a feeling of calm and security. Guestrooms, on the other hand, need lighting that is both functional and aesthetically pleasurable in order to provide guests with a relaxing atmosphere in their personal space.

Highlighting Effects

Dramatic spotlighting effects, such as those often found in lobbies, restaurants and lounges, can be created using halogen light sources - particularly MR16 and MR11 bulbs. Large scale highlighting effects - such as floodlighting - can be created through the use of compact fluorescent flood fixtures.

Health Authorities

A hospital incorporates a broad range of functional elements in an environment that is more like a complex and dynamic community than a workplace. Therefore, the lighting needs to meet the needs of numerous individuals, and often conflicting, needs of staff, patients and visitors. Many areas of a hospital are in use 24 hours a day, seven days a week, thus making the use of electric lighting to extend the working day a great deal more common than in normal commercial and industrial premises.

Healthcare-Friendly Dimmers

Abrupt changes in lighting levels can be disturbing to patients and staff alike. The use of dimmer switches is becoming more popular as it gives the user control over their own light.

The light output of fluorescent tubes compared to its power consumption is almost linear. That is, dimming the lighting will reduce electricity costs. Filament bulbs, on the other hand, lose a lot of light output with just a small decrease in power, thus making dimming less cost-effective. You should also take into account that basic resistive dimmers transfer power consumption from the lamp to the dimmer itself, not saving any energy at all.

Triphosphor Fluorescents

Triphosphor fluorescent tubes have many advantages over conventional tubes. They offer 20% more light, have a longer life (around 20,000 hours) and provide exceptional light quality throughout the life of the tube.

With a diameter of just 16mm, T5 tubes boast the highest luminous efficacy of any fluorescent illumination. When used with electronic control gear, T5 tubes offer energy savings of 30% compared to traditional fluorescent tubes.

Why not take a look at our range of commercial light fittings.

You will find all your lamp requirements within our Commercial and Industrial Bulbs section.