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When we define light levels for an application, we typically talk about foot candles or lux. This is the amount of light at a specific plane. Foot candles (fc) and lux are different calculations but provide the same information.

Note – 1 foot candle = 10.752 lux. Conversely, 1 lux = 0.0929 foot candles.

Below we will provide recommended foot candle guidelines for common areas and applications, like offices and factories. We will provide guidance that’s important on how you get to these projected measurements.


Understanding Photometrics – Lighting Plans

A Photometric Study, or Lighting Plan,  is a report detailing light levels and light distribution for a location, either indoors or outdoors. Its done by software that’s designed to do light studies. The software allows you to design an area, import fixtures and set mounting heights. The software runs and produces a report showing average, max and min foot candles.

For this discussion, the numbers we discuss are the average recommended foot candles. Just as important are the max/min ratio the study calculates. The higher this number is, the more spotty the lighting. So its one thing to hit the recommended average. Its another to design a lighting solution with even light distribution. A photometric study will provide you with this information.


Understanding Lumens

What is a lumen? A lumen is a measurement of light created by one bulb, lamp or fixture. When doing a photometric, we add lights to the report at specific locations. The lights provide their lumens to determine how many footcandles are present. Choosing the right optic along with the lumens aids in getting an even distribution.


Understanding Light Efficiency

Not all LED lights are the same. They all produce lumens. Some are more efficient than others. This means you consume less watts to produce lumens.

Let’s look at 2 examples. One is 130 lumens per watt. The other is 180 lumens per watt. To produce 20,000 lumens, the first light needs 153.84 watts. The second lights only needs 111.11 watts. That’s a difference of 42.73 watts. This is what saves you money on your lighting bill. Both produce the same amount of light.

Efficacy, or light efficiency, is important to factor into a light purchase. A more efficient light may cost more at time of purchase, but over the life of the product, your utility bill will be lower. And the amount you save with a lower utility bill will far exceed any additional purchase cost.


Putting lighting and foot candles all together

This post is about recommended light levels. It’s almost impossible to pick a light and hope for proper light levels and distribution. For that, we can assist and do a free photometric report.


Recommended Light Levels

Lighting systems are not equal. What may be ideal for one location may be unsuitable for another. For instance, a big box store does not need the same amount of light as a packaging warehouse. Even if two facilities have the same square feet, the activities carried out may be different.

The work performed in a building usually dictates the fixtures required for illumination. This is why a “one size fits all” approach is never recommended when choosing lighting.

OSHA requires workplace lighting measurements in foot candles. In this article, we’ll give foot candle recommendations for different types of environments.


Recommended Foot Candles for Offices

Open Cubicle Space30 fc
Private50 fc
Reception Areas10 fc
Conference Rooms30 fc
Video Conferences50 fc

Recommended Foot Candles for Exhibition Halls and Venues

10 fc
Stairways5 fc
Washrooms and Restrooms5 fc

Recommended Foot Candles for Shopping Malls – Retail – Grocery

Main Concourse Areas30 fc
Service Areas30 fc
General Retail50 fc
Stock Areas30 fc
Food Supermarkets50 fc

Recommended Foot Candles for Food Services

Kitchens50 fc
Food Courts30 fc
Dining Areas10 fc

Recommended Foot Candles for Hospitals – Medical Facilities

Hallways10 fc
Patient Waiting Areas10 fc
Nurse Stations30 fc
Lobby Areas5 fc
Medical Record Areas50 fc
Stair Areas10 fc

Recommended Foot Candles for Hotels

Lobby10 fc
Guest Rooms10 fc
Hallways – Stair Areas5 fc

Recommended Foot Candles for Schools

Classrooms50 fc
College Lecture Halls50-100 fc
Hallways10 fc
Gymnasiums50-100 fc

Recommended Foot Candles for Factories and Warehouse Facilities

Coarse Material Processing10 fc
Medium Material Processing30 fc
Fine Material Processing50 fc
Extra Fine Material Processing50-100 fc
Wrapping, Packaging and Labeling30 fc
Picking Stock30 fc
Simple Assembly30 fc
Difficult Assembly100 fc
Complicated Assembly100-300 fc
Warehousing – Inactive Area5 fc
Warehousing – Active – Large Items10 fc
Warehousing – Active – Small Items30 fc
Shipping and Receiving Area30 fc
Maintenance and Shop Areas50 fc

Recommended Foot Candles for Outdoors and Exterior Lighting

Entrances5 fc
Parking Garage – Basic1 fc
Parking Garage – Ramps1-2 fc
Parking Lots2-5 fc


How much light do you need?

The best and safest way to proceed is to run a software process called a light photometric. Using your layout and light locations, a photometric can simulate how your space will look when you convert over to LED lights. Purchasing a light meter or installing a light meter app on your smart phone will allow you to determine how much light you have now. LED Lighting Supply can provide you with a FREE photometric study before you purchase


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