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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. For academics, 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

A Photometric Study is a report detailing 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/watt. The other is 180 lumens/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.


Putting it 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.


Recommend Lux Levels for Offices
Open Cubicle Space 30 fc
Private 50 fc
Reception Areas 10 fc
Conference Rooms 30 fc
Video Conferences 50 fc
Recommend Lux Levels for Exhibition Halls and Venues 10 fc
Stairways 5 fc
Washrooms and Restrooms 5 fc
Recommend Lux Levels 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
Recommend Lux Levels for Food Services
Kitchens 50 fc
Food Courts 30 fc
Dining Areas 10 fc
Recommend Lux Levels for Hospitals – Medical Facilities
Hallways 10 fc
Patient Waiting Areas 10 fc
Nurse Stations 30 fc
Lobby Areas 5 fc
Medical Record Areas 50 fc
Stair Areas 10 fc
Recommend Lux Levels for Hotels
Lobby 10 fc
Guest Rooms 10 fc
Hallways – Stair Areas 5 fc
Recommend Lux Levels for Schools
Classrooms 50 fc
College Lecture Halls 50-100 fc
Hallways 10 fc
Gymnasiums 50-100 fc
Recommend Lux Levels 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
Recommend Lux Levels for Outdoors and Exterior Lighting
Entrances 5 fc
Parking Garage – Basic 1 fc
Parking Garage – Ramps 1-2 fc
Parking Lots 2-5 fc


How much 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. MyLEDLightingGuide can provide you with a FREE photometric study before you purchase


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