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A Beginner’s Guide to Industrial and Workplace Lighting

Estimated reading: 13 minutes


Proper lighting in industrial settings and workplaces is not just a matter of illumination—it impacts productivity, safety, and energy efficiency. By understanding different aspects of effective lighting, whether for industrial or workplace environments, businesses can create safer, more productive, energy-efficient, and operational environments. Nevertheless, incorporating creative outdoor lighting ideas can seamlessly extend the ambience of your interior lighting design, enhancing both the beauty and functionality of your living spaces.

This beginner’s guide aims to cover different aspects of two broad categories of lighting, industrial and workplace lighting, exploring their types, benefits, regulations, and best marketplaces for buying your specific lighting fixtures.

The Significance of Adequate Lighting in Industrial and Workplace Settings

Adequate lighting in industrial and workplace settings is crucial for several reasons. It directly impacts safety by allowing workers to see hazards and operate machinery clearly. Proper office lighting standards and illumination reduce eye strain, accidents, and fatigue, all of which can improve productivity and worker well-being. Additionally, well-designed lighting complies with regulatory and safety standards and can even boost mood and morale, creating a more positive work environment.

Understanding the Basics of Lighting

Lighting refers to the physical fixtures that produce artificial light from various lighting sources, including lamps, bulbs and LED panels. Energy-efficient lighting is an essential aspect of both functional and aesthetic design, serving a variety of purposes, from illuminating workspaces to enhancing the ambience of a living area and complying with lighting standards. Let’s understand the fundamental aspects of lighting:

The Four Common Types of Lighting

Lighting is categorized into four fundamental types that are used to create a layered lighting scheme in a room or space. These lighting types include:

Also called general lighting, ambient lighting provides overall general illumination for a space. It uniformly lights the area to carry out general activities like moving around safely and creating a comfortable atmosphere. Common ambient light fixtures include chandeliers, ceiling lights, sconces, and recessed lighting.

As the name indicates, task lighting refers to the set of lighting fixtures specifically designed to focus on specific areas where intensive tasks are performed. These fixtures are typically positioned directly over the workspace and include desk lamps, under-cabinet lighting, and pendant lights. Task lighting is significant in terms of providing the necessary brightness for detailed work in various settings

Accent lighting can highlight certain features or areas for aesthetic purposes or to draw attention to critical elements in the workplace

Smart lighting refers to lighting systems that can be controlled beyond just a simple on/off switch. They typically use bulbs, strips, or fixtures that connect to wireless network technologies, including Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and Bluetooth. Smart lighting solutions can be controlled remotely using a smartphone app, voice commands, or even pre-programmed schedules

Fundamental Types of Lighting Technologies or Sources

Lighting technologies refer to the types of lighting fixtures that have evolved significantly and are categorized based on how they generate light and by their application. The following are the main types of lighting sources, each with unique benefits and characteristics:

Incandescent Bulbs

Incandescent bulbs are the oldest, traditional, and simplest type of lighting. They work by heating a filament (usually tungsten) to a high temperature until it glows white hot, producing light. Incandescent bulbs are inexpensive and provide warm light, but they are very inefficient, wasting most of the energy they use as heat.

Fluorescent Lights

Fluorescent lights use electricity to excite mercury vapour inside a glass tube coated with fluorescent phosphor. The excited mercury atoms emit ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is then converted into visible light by the phosphor coating. Fluorescent lamps offer much more efficiency than incandescent bulbs and last longer, but they can contain harmful mercury and may flicker.

LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes)

LEDs are solid-state devices built to emit light when an electric current passes through them. They are very efficient and long-lasting and can be dimmed or controlled to produce a wide range of colours. LEDs are becoming increasingly popular for numerous applications, from general lighting to task lighting and decorative lighting.

High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Lamps

HID lamps produce light by passing a significant amount of an electric arc through a gaseous metal halide or xenon compound. They are very efficient and produce a bright, white light, but they can take time to reach full brightness and may not be suitable for dimming.

Plasma Lamps

Plasma lamps contain a mixture of inert gases, such as argon and neon, that are ionised by an electric current. The ionised gas produces a coloured light, often blue or purple and is mainly used for decorative purposes.

Halogen Lamps

These lighting sources provide brighter, whiter light than incandescent bulbs. They are more energy-efficient but produce more heat and have a shorter lifespan

A Brief Overview of Industrial Lighting and Workplace Lighting

Industrial and workplace lighting are two broad categories that encompass illumination for multiple work environments. Both industrial and workplace lighting are significant in their respective domains, but their design and functionality are tailored to meet distinct needs related to their environments. Let’s delve into each lighting type in detail.

Industrial Lighting: Purpose and Features

Industrial lighting refers to lighting solutions designed for large, often industrial, hazardous environments, such as manufacturing plants, warehouses, and large commercial spaces. These environments usually require high-intensity lighting, ensuring the operations are carried out safely and efficiently. The fundamental purpose of industry lighting is to light industrial facilities and provide ample illumination to ensure worker safety, visibility, and productivity. Key characteristics of industrial lighting include:

Industrial tasks often require good visibility for details and hazards. Therefore, lighting needs to be bright enough to meet recommended industrial lighting standards for the specific task.

Industrial fixtures must withstand harsh environments, such as extreme temperatures, dust, and moisture.

In areas with heavy machinery, lighting fixtures should resist shock and vibration.

Since industrial facilities operate for long hours, energy-efficient lighting is crucial to keeping operational costs down. LED lighting, especially, has become a popular choice for its energy savings and long lifespan.

Workplace Lighting: Purpose and Features

Workplace lighting applies to a broader array of professional settings where people spend extended periods. Workplace lighting includes office lights, lights for retail spaces, and even some lighting fixtures for healthcare facilities.  While safety is still important, workplace lighting considers factors like employee comfort, mood, and productivity. The primary function of installing workplace lighting is to optimise a comfortable environment for employees and enhance productivity and energy efficiency. Key features of workplace lighting include:

The lighting needs will vary depending on the specific task performed in a workplace. Areas with computer work may require lower levels of light to reduce glare, while areas with close-up detail work may need brighter light.

Proper workplace lighting reduces eye strain and fatigue, making it a crucial aspect of ergonomic workplace design.

Dimmers and task lighting can allow employees to adjust the lighting to their preferences.

Modern workplace lighting solutions often include options for adjustability in brightness and color temperature, catering to different tasks and personal preferences.

In addition to functionality, lighting in these settings also contributes to the aesthetic appeal and ambience of the workplace, influencing mood and morale.

What are the Different Types of Industrial Lighting Fixtures?

Industrial lighting comes in various types of lighting fixtures, each serving different functions and being suited to particular environments within the industrial sector. These varied options emphasise the importance of choosing the proper lighting to improve efficiency and ensure worker safety. Some of the different types of industrial lighting include:

High Bay Lights

These are used in spaces with high ceilings, typically above 20 feet, such as warehouses, factories, gymnasiums, and large commercial spaces. They are high-powered fixtures that provide broad lighting designed to illuminate large areas evenly.

Low Bay Lights

These lights are similar to high bay lights but are used in spaces with lower ceilings (typically 12-20 feet high). They are designed to provide brighter light over a smaller area, including showrooms and workshops. The key difference between a high bay light and a low bay light is their intended mounting height and resulting light distribution.

LED Panel Lights

These are energy-efficient, rectangular lighting devices that provide a clean, modern look. They are commonly used for general lighting in offices within industrial facilities and in manufacturing areas for detailed work where good visibility is crucial.

Flood Lights

Floodlights are high-intensity lights designed to illuminate outdoor industrial areas like loading docks, parking lots, construction sites, sports fields, and building perimeters. They provide powerful, wide-ranging light and are durable against weather conditions. Additionally, flood lights can also be used indoors in warehouses, factories, and other industrial settings.

Strip Lights

Often used in assembly lines, warehouses, and service areas, strip lights provide continuous, even illumination and can be linked together to cover large areas. These flexible circuit boards are embedded with LEDs and are available in a variety of colours and colour combinations.

Vapor Tight Lights

These are heavy-duty lights sealed to protect them from moisture, dust, dirt, and chemicals. Vapor-tight lights can withstand harsh environments, making them ideal for damp or dirty environments, including warehouses, car washes, chemical plants, parking garages, and food processing facilities.

Emergency Lights

Emergency lights are important safety lights in industrial settings, providing illumination when the main power supply fails. They are reliable and long-lasting, helping ensure the workers can safely evacuate the area or continue operations during a power outage or other emergencies.

Explosion-Proof Lights

Explosion-proof lights are used in hazardous environments where flammable gases, vapours, or dust may cause explosions. These industrial lights are designed to withstand explosions and prevent sparks from igniting surrounding materials.

Track Lighting

While popular in retail and exhibition spaces, track lighting can also be used in industrial settings to highlight specific areas. These lights comprise spotlights attached to a linear track for adjustable, directional lighting in places like tool shops or design studios within larger facilities.

What are the Different Types of Workplace Lighting?

The term “workplace” refers to any location where work is performed and includes offices, factories, workshops, retail spaces, and outdoor environments like construction sites. The design and type of lighting used in a workplace are crucial because they affect visibility, safety, productivity, and the overall employees’ well-being. The following are the main types of lighting typically used in different workplace environmentsg

Office lights are lighting devices designed to be used in various offices. These lighting fixtures include lights mounted in different places within offices, such as

  • Ceiling Lights for Offices

Ceiling lights are the most common type of lighting used in offices. They are installed on the ceiling and provide general ambient light to the entire room. Ceiling lights come in various designs, such as flush mount, semi-flush mount, and pendant lights.

  • Troffer Lights

Troffer lights are a type of ceiling light specifically designed for drop ceilings. They are rectangular or square fixtures that fit into the ceiling’s grid. Troffer lights are a good option for general lighting in open-plan offices, reception areas, and hallways.

  • LED Flat Panel Lights

LED flat-panel lights are another popular type of ceiling light, ideal for general lighting in a variety of office spaces. They are thin, panel-shaped fixtures mounted on the ceiling. LED flat-panel lights are energy-efficient and provide good-quality light.

  • Wall Lights for Offices

Wall lights, as the name suggests, are mounted on the wall and can be used for general lighting or task lighting. Similar to industrial wall lights, office wall lights are a good option for offices with limited ceiling space or for creating a decorative accent. Wall lights are available in a variety of styles, including sconces, picture lights, and track lighting.

Warehouses depend on well-designed lighting systems to ensure efficient operations and a safe work environment. The type of warehouse lighting depends on various factors, including the ceiling height, performed tasks, and budget. LED lighting, in particular, is gaining significant traction due to its energy efficiency, longevity, and brilliant illumination. Other warehouse lighting includes:

  • Metal Halide Lighting
  • High and Low Bay Lights
  • Wall Pack Lights
  • Troffer Lights
  • Industrial Strip Lights.

Laboratory lighting goes beyond just providing illumination––it’s about creating a functional and safe environment for experiments and scientific research. The lighting design for a laboratory needs to adhere to relevant authorities’ safety standards and guidelines. Depending on the laboratory type, suitable lighting fixtures include:

  • General Lighting Devices (LED Lighting)
  • Ultraviolet Lighting
  • Safety Lighting
  • Task Lighting
  • Emergency Lighting
  • Infrared Lighting.

Workshops often have limited natural light, and installing workshop lights is necessary to provide good visibility and ensure safe and productive work environments. LED lights, general lighting, task lighting, sky lighting, headlamps, and fluorescent lighting are the best options for workshops, ensuring safety, productivity, and comfort for workers.

Construction sites require good lighting to ensure safety and productivity throughout the day, especially during night shifts. The most common types of construction lighting include:

  • Light Towers
  • Work Lights
  • Flood Lights High-Mast Lighting
  • Equipment-Mounted Lights.

Hospital lighting is crucial for both staff and patients to provide a balance between functionality and creating a healing environment. The type of lighting depends on the areas of hospitals, such as patient rooms, examination rooms, operating rooms, and corridors or public places. The most common types of lighting for hospitals include night lighting, emergency lighting, ultraviolet lighting, and phototherapy lighting.

Expert Tips for Choosing the Best Workplace and Industrial Lighting

Choosing the proper lighting for workplace and industrial settings is crucial not only for enhancing productivity but also for ensuring safety and energy efficiency. Some of the expert tips to consider when selecting the best lighting options for such environments include:

  • Lighting Type (LED, Fluorescent, Halogen, HID, etc.).
  • Brightness and Light Quality (Lumens and Colour Temperature)
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Energy Ratings
  • Durability and Maintenance
  • Safety Standards
  • Emergency Features (backup power)
  • Flexibility and Control
  • Smart Lighting Systems
  • Environmental Impact
  • Cost Effectiveness
  • Brand and Availability.

Finding the Best Industrial and Workplace Lighting on Online Platforms

Industrial and workplace lighting needs to be functional, providing adequate illumination for the specific tasks performed in space. All these characteristics correspond to buying these lighting solutions from a reputable supplier, manufacturer, or online retailer. If you are having difficulty finding the best industrial and workplace lighting on online platforms, consider the following leading and popular retailers and brands (depending on your location) who supply the most affordable yet quality-class lighting solutions, including:

  • Amazon
  • Enrgtech
  • Phillips
  • Armstrong Lighting
  • Toolstation
  • Screwfix
  • Farnell

Concluding Remarks

Whether you’re a seasoned lighting professional or a novice exploring the world of industrial and workplace lighting for the first time, our comprehensive guide has provided you with valuable insights and practical knowledge. By understanding and implementing the valuable considerations outlined in the document, you can make informed decisions about illuminating your workspaces. Remember, the initial investment in superior lighting technology can have significant long-term savings and a more efficient workplace. Embrace innovations in lighting to create environments that are both safe and conducive to productivity.

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