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Commercial lighting design can improve the productivity and efficiency of employees by providing the right amount of light for them to be able to do their jobs safely. For example, a warehouse where employees are often using heavy machinery will need brighter, more expansive lighting than a restaurant or individual office will. Keep reading for 15 tips to consider for your next lighting design project.

1. Be Aware of How Much Light You Need

Lighting in a space is usually measured in “foot-candles,” or the number of Lumens per square foot. Here are some general guidelines for how many foot-candles different types of spaces should have:

  • Retail: 50 foot-candles
  • Department Store: 40 foot-candles
  • Auto shop: 50 foot-candles
  • Classrooms: 40 foot-candles
  • Factories: 30-100 foot-candles
  • Hallways: 20-25 foot-candles
  • Warehouse: 10-30 foot-candles

A useful equation for knowing how many lighting fixtures you need for a space is: “multiply the space’s total square footage by the suggested number of foot-candles and then divide that number by the lumen output of the fixture you wish to use” (Steel Lighting Co.).

2. Use a Consistent Light Temperature

Lighting fixtures and bulbs come in a range of colors and temperatures. Using a consistent temperature is key to creating the ambient environment of a space as well as unifying the design.

As ConTech Lighting says, “Correlated Color Temperature, or CCT, is a measure of a lamp’s color appearance when lighted. All lamps are given a color temperature based on the color of the light emitted. White light falls into three general categories: warm, neutral and cool, measured in Kelvin (K).

White light with a hint of yellow-like candlelight is called “warm white” (below 3000K); it enhances reds and oranges, dulls blues, and adds a yellow tint to whites and greens.

Neutral white (3000K – 3500K) enhances most colors equally and does not emphasize either yellow or blue.

Bluish white, like moonlight on snow, is considered “cool white” (above 3500K); enhancing blues, dulls reds and imparts a bluish tint to whites and greens.

Warm light makes a space feel smaller, more comfortable and familiar, where cooler light makes areas appear more spacious.”

More intimate spaces like restaurants, residences, bars, and individual offices tend to have warmer CCT than larger spaces such as warehouses, department stores, and large, open office buildings.

3. Consider the Color Rendering Index (CRI)

CRI uses a scale from 0 to 100 percent and indicates how well a light renders color.

ConTech Lighting says, “Color Rendering Index is a measure of how a light source renders colors of objects compared to how a reference light source renders the same colors. CRI can be used to compare sources of the same type and CCT.

A palette of specific reference colors is used, and each R value calculation is the difference between each color sample illuminated by the test light source and the reference source. The group of samples is averaged, and a score between 0 and 100 is calculated, with 100 being the best match between light sources.

The higher the CRI of a light source, the better – and more natural – colors appear. For products to be presented in a true-to-life way, which increases visual comfort, a CRI value of 80 – 100 is recommended.”

The higher the CRI, the clearer and more vibrant colors will appear in the space.

4. Save Energy

LED lights may be more expensive up front, but they last for a long time and are more energy efficient than traditional light bulbs. Using energy-saving options like LEDs will end up saving you and your client money in the long run plus improving the sustainability rating of the building.

Aside from their energy-saving and green benefits, LEDs are also a lot less likely to burst from a power surge or a breach in the integrity of the glass.

5. Match the Lighting to the Work Environment

Again, the amount, brightness, placement, color, and temperature of your lighting design should all compliment the purpose of the space. What will this building be used for? Does it need bright, cool, consistent lighting to allow workers to operate heavy machinery easily and safely? Or is it a restaurant that needs warmer “mood” lighting and accent lights to highlight the art on the walls?

The intended purpose of a space should be the number one influence on your lighting designs and plans.

6. Highlight the Landscaping

Highlight unique and important landscaping features on the outside of the commercial property (if there are any). A variety of techniques can be used to make the landscaping look dynamic and aesthetically pleasing at night, such as uplighting, downlighting, colored lights, and statement lights.

Using warmer-toned lights outside will help the business look more inviting and friendly to visitors. You can blend the lighting in with the landscaping by placing lights in trees or among bushes and even add strategically placed colored lights to emphasize certain features or match the brand colors of the business.

If the building has a long pathway or stairs leading to the entrance, try placing some statement lights such as lanterns or fairy lights along the pathway to not only enhance the aesthetic of the building’s entrance but also provide enough light for people to safely navigate paths and stairs in the dark.

7. Accentuate the Brand

Exterior lights can be a great way to display the brand colors and make the building stand out. For example, T-Mobile’s headquarters in Bellevue, WA are lit up at night with the company’s signature pink color and they stand out from the buildings around them.

8. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Natural Light

“Every space can benefit from windows that bring in light from outside. Natural light can help boost our energy and overall mood. Don’t forget, one of the key advantages of LEDs is their high CRI value or similarity to natural light. Mixing the two can create a bright and inviting space” (Lumenture). Large windows can help utilize natural light as well as make the space feel more open.

9. Use Layered Lighting

Using “layers” of lights will help you light the space evenly and in a visually interesting way. For example, you could use recessed lights in the ceiling alongside some strategically placed accent lighting and finish the space off with some floor or table lamps.

10. Use Task Lighting Selectively

As ConTech Lighting states, “Task lighting is used to illuminate an area for a specific task, providing a focused, localized, and higher level of illumination. Necessary to the functioning of a space, it is important to use energy efficient sources to reduce operating costs.” Task lighting could be an additional light placed over a workstation or moveable lamps on desks or drafting tables.

11. Strategically Place Emergency Lighting

When creating your lighting design plans, don’t forget to include the placement of emergency lighting, such as exit signs and directional signage. Place emergency lights and signs where they are easily visible and effectively help guide employees and/or customers to the nearest exit.

12. Consider How Long the Lights Will Be On

What are the business hours of the company? Do all the lights need to stay on during operating hours? Make sure to consider these questions when choosing lighting fixtures and bulbs so you can keep your lighting design as energy efficient as possible.

13. Factor in Potential Glare and Reflection

Make sure to account for how light will be reflected off various surfaces in your lighting plans. Surfaces with a higher reflection rate will bounce light back into the space, creating higher illumination.

ConTech Lighting says, “Light reflectance is based on a scale of 0, total surface light absorption, to 100, total light reflection. Spread reflection materials, such as brushed aluminum, have a high, though diffused, reflection, reflecting 5-10% of light. Diffused reflection materials, as simple as a white painted wall, give a uniform brightness, and are good reflecting backgrounds for coves and smaller spaces.” See the chart above for reflection levels of different materials.

14. Use Lighting to Create Contrast

Lighting a space should include contrast, otherwise colors will be difficult to see and the space will appear flatter.

15. Create a Cohesive Environment

Whatever techniques you use when creating a lighting design plan for your projects, the most important thing to remember is to create a cohesive environment that provides the functionality required by the business while maximizing energy efficiency and employee productivity.

Design Ideas for Commercial Spaces

Lighting should always be part of the initial designing phases for any project. Interior and exterior lighting designs have the power to transform.

Pro Engineering Consulting, Inc specializes in electrical engineering consulting in lighting and many other aspects of MEP systems engineering, serving the greater San Diego and Orange County areas. Contact our experts with questions about your next commercial project.

You must be dreading the imminent onslaught of a heatwave? Well, there is nothing you can do to avoid the inevitable but you can certainly protect yourself from hot and humid weather in summer with a high-performing air conditioner, ice-maker, etc.

As you’re using these home appliances after a long hiatus; having a foul smell, or the worst – not working – could be a nightmare for many of us. In this article, we will take the example of an air conditioner to put forth what safety measure you need to this summer:-

Step 1: Check Thermostat

The thermostat is crucial to regulate your room temperature. There are good chances that your thermostat is outdated if you own an old model of HVAC unit.

Consider getting it inspected by a professional air conditioner service provider. Alternatively, you can swap it with the latest models of programmable thermostats to stay comfortably cool inside.

Let us not forget that a faulty thermostat gives rise to uneven cooling leaving anyone frustrated. However, replacing it with an efficient thermostat improves cooling whilst saving energy and utility bills in the end.

Do consider having a programmable thermostat this summer!

Step 2: Diagnose Duct Leaks

Once you’re through with the thermostat, you have to examine the condition of ducts if they are worn out. It acts as an acute source of inefficient cooling ruining your experience.

However, you would be needing a technician to determine the exact location of the duct leak before proceeding to fix it. Most likely, the leaks would be near the furnace, at the registers, and on-air supply ducts.  

Having an experienced technician makes your job a lot easier as ductwork can get exhausting.  

Step 3: Check Air Vents

Air vents need to have no substance blocking their cool air to reach you. Check physically if there is anything that blocks the airflow such as your furniture, curtains, or any other household item.  

 You must not ignore if the air vents are dust-laden. It will only build more strain on the airflow. Clean them yourself or hire a licensed technician for complete cleaning which includes pressure washing.

Step 4: Examine the Drain Line

Most air conditioners possess a drain line just next to the indoor cooling coil and mounted just above the furnace in your basement.

In the event of a clogged drain line due to collecting dust or grime, you could find a serious accumulation of water ensuing grave damage to the overall structure of your house.

You can run down a cup of chlorine bleach in the drain line followed by a few gallons of water to steer clear the drain out of any form of blockage.

Considering hiring a professional technician to clear the drain line for long-time avoidance could escalate the problem to the next level. It is recommended that at least once a year, you must get the drain line cleaned for continued service.

Step 5: Change Air filters

Air filters are crucial for sustained working of your air conditioners as it removes solid material such as pollen, mold, dust, etc.

 Ideally, you should be changing air filters every three months according to the model of your air conditioner. A strengthened air filter assures complete clean air for cooling the room temperature.

Step 6: Check Electrical Circuits

 Your air conditioner consumes more power than any other regular appliance or device. Once you are planning to restart the air conditioner, properly examine the electrical wiring for any loose connection that could trigger sparking or any other issue.

 Whilst most HVAC owners do not consider it relevant, you must not ignore it lest it can result in a bigger problem for you.

When to Rewire a House? 

When the electrical system of your home is inadequate to the needs, it gives time to time warnings. Here’s a list of scenarios you should consider:

  • Flickering light bulbs on the use of heavy appliances like a mixer, washing machine, or geyser.
  • The existing wiring has become fragile, vulnerable, and hazardous
  • No earthing is present in the power points.
  • If your house still has old-fashioned wires covered in black rubber.
  • Overheated socket-outlets.
  • Old-fashioned fuse boards and single socket outlets.
  • A fuse box with no circuit label.
  • Power loss on using many appliances at the same time.
  • Tripping of the safety switches frequently.
  • A fuse box with a wooden back, cast-iron switches.

If these signs are common in your home, you must reach out to one of the best construction consulting firms to figure out whether house rewiring is required.  

To Wrap Up

 As you’re preparing to face the heat out there, you have got a fair idea about the recommended six steps to start your air conditioner to enjoy a comfortable temperature in your home.

 Whilst you may be tempted to perform some of the general checks and repairs, a professional technician must be your ideal resort to get all-around solutions for all your issues before the summer heat gets on to you!