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.
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 Space||30 fc|
|Reception Areas||10 fc|
|Conference Rooms||30 fc|
|Video Conferences||50 fc|
Recommended Foot Candles for Exhibition Halls and Venues
|Washrooms and Restrooms||5 fc|
Recommended Foot Candles for Shopping Malls – Retail – Grocery
|Main Concourse Areas||30 fc|
|Service Areas||30 fc|
|General Retail||50 fc|
|Stock Areas||30 fc|
|Food Supermarkets||50 fc|
Recommended Foot Candles for Food Services
|Food Courts||30 fc|
|Dining Areas||10 fc|
Recommended Foot Candles for Hospitals – Medical Facilities
|Patient Waiting Areas||10 fc|
|Nurse Stations||30 fc|
|Lobby Areas||5 fc|
|Medical Record Areas||50 fc|
|Stair Areas||10 fc|
Recommended Foot Candles for Hotels
|Guest Rooms||10 fc|
|Hallways – Stair Areas||5 fc|
Recommended Foot Candles for Schools
|College Lecture Halls||50-100 fc|
Recommended Foot Candles for Factories and Warehouse Facilities
|Coarse Material Processing||10 fc|
|Medium Material Processing||30 fc|
|Fine Material Processing||50 fc|
|Extra Fine Material Processing||50-100 fc|
|Wrapping, Packaging and Labeling||30 fc|
|Picking Stock||30 fc|
|Simple Assembly||30 fc|
|Difficult Assembly||100 fc|
|Complicated Assembly||100-300 fc|
|Warehousing – Inactive Area||5 fc|
|Warehousing – Active – Large Items||10 fc|
|Warehousing – Active – Small Items||30 fc|
|Shipping and Receiving Area||30 fc|
|Maintenance and Shop Areas||50 fc|
Recommended Foot Candles for Outdoors and Exterior Lighting
|Parking Garage – Basic||1 fc|
|Parking Garage – Ramps||1-2 fc|
|Parking Lots||2-5 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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