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The Ultimate Commercial Guide to Workplace Lighting Standards in 2024
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The Ultimate Commercial Guide to Workplace Lighting Standards in 2024

|May 29, 2023

One of the most important things that affect work productivity and the well-being of employees is the lighting used in offices. Poor commercial office lighting has a lot of well-documented negative effects on the body. 

Considering that the type of industrial office lighting being used by a company will affect all its employees, this is an area that cannot be overlooked. However, many companies are guilty of only considering the cost of lighting up their warehouses, showrooms, and offices above anything else. 

Have you ever stopped to think about how applying better commercial office lighting ideas at your workplace is long overdue? If you find yourself constantly feeling drowsy or having to strain your eyes to see properly, your poor commercial office lights could be the issue. 

However, this is not a difficult problem to solve because OSHA guidelines are there to guide you. If you are looking for better commercial office lighting solutions for your workplace, this article will lead you in the right direction. Read on to find out more! 

Why Is Ergonomic Lighting Important?

Have you ever heard of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS)? It is a serious condition that affects 60% of adults between the ages of 20 and 60. CVS symptoms include headaches, blurred vision, and dry eyes. 

If left unchecked, CVS can lead to serious vision problems down the line. One of the major causes of CVS is poor lighting in workplaces. The lack of ergonomic lighting in your office could be causing you to constantly strain your eyes for long periods, which will eventually lead to the development of CVS. 

Nothing is better than natural light for the good health of your eyes. However, when you work in an office all the time, especially in large office buildings, access to natural light is not always possible. 

In such cases, employers need to invest in ergonomic commercial office lighting ideas to create a well-lit office environment that is a pleasure to work in. When we talk of lighting ergonomics, we mean the relationship between the worker and the source of light.

Why Is Ergonomic Lighting Important?

An improper relationship between the two, such as working in a dim room while looking at a very bright computer screen, will result in a variety of negative effects, such as: 

  • Low productivity
  • General sickness
  • High employee error rates
  • Low worker morale
  • Eye fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Inability to select/match the right colors
  • Low focus 

This means if, for example, you are using a portable wall light, the distance you sit from the light source, as well as its brightness and color temperature, must be well-balanced with the activity you're doing, such as using a computer. That relationship is what ergonomic lighting is all about. 

Workplace Lighting Regulations According to OSHA

Having realized the importance of proper commercial office lighting in workplaces, OSHA regulations were put in place. They were designed to guide employers in installing and maintaining the right kinds of lighting fixtures that will comply with the standards and help create a better work environment. 

The Control of Hazardous Energy standard is used to provide guidelines for proper lighting in the workplace. It is based on Section 5193 of the Energy Policy Act of 1992, and sets the minimum requirement for lighting levels in all office buildings. 

Determining the right amount of light needed in a particular work environment depends on the nature of the job being conducted, as well as the kind of tech accessories being used. Generally, as long as a company makes the effort to provide enough light for its employees to work safely and comfortably, it is likely to meet the OSHA standards. 

Workplace Lighting Standards

One of the best things a company can do for itself is to invest in energy-efficient light bulbs. These will allow the electricity costs to be significantly reduced while creating a pleasant environment to work in. 

However, choosing the right light bulb is something that is proving to be a very difficult task for a lot of people. If you want to get the best light bulb for your office, consider the following: 

  • 5000K color temperature
  • Energy Star Rated
  • Long-lasting LED bulbs
  • High-quality, full-spectrum lighting 

Workplace Lighting Standards

White Light vs. Yellow Light

Another issue most workplaces have difficulties with is that of white light vs. yellow light, specifically which type is best for working under. The difference between the two is based on the temperature of each light, with white being regarded as cool and yellow as warm. 

When applied to a workplace, the type you choose depends on the time of day and the activity being conducted. Yellow lights generally promote better relaxation, while white commercial office lights are good for working and concentrating. 

A good example of how you could apply this at work is to use yellow lighting in the tea or break room, where people go to relax, unwind, and take a break from their work. In the main work area, where concentration is needed to boost productivity, you could use white light instead. 

However, you need to consider the time of day and how much natural light is entering those areas because this will affect the impact of your light bulb choices. 

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Six Different Types of Commercial Lighting

Different workplaces rely on a wide range of lighting options. If you are not sure about which type of lighting you must install at work, you could consider outsourcing the problem to a reliable office design services provider who can give you better insight. 

However, in most cases, there following are the six main types of commercial office lights you can use: 

1. Incandescent

If you walk into any office building, there is a high chance that you will come across incandescent light bulbs. They are so popular in commercial buildings for the following reasons: 

  • Easy and cheap to replace
  • Warm light tones
  • Wide range of sizes
  • Well-known in the commercial industry 

However, the major downside of buying incandescent light bulbs for your office is that they are not very durable so you will likely be replacing them soon. Also, if you were thinking of upgrading your commercial office to a smart system, incandescent light bulbs will make that difficult because they are more suited to manual switches. 

These days, incandescent light bulbs are being sidelined because of their poor energy efficiency. The majority of the energy they consume is emitted as heat rather than light.

Incandescent commercial office lighting

2. Halogen

With 25% better energy efficiency, halogen lights are a slightly more economical option than incandescent light bulbs. The shape of halogen commercial office lights is similar to that of incandescent light bulbs, meaning if you want to replace your current incandescent light bulbs with halogen ones, you can easily do that without worrying about shape. 

Halogen lights are best suited for environments where a great deal of concentration is required for an extended time. 

However, what puts a lot of people off regarding halogen lights is the cost. They are a lot more expensive than other lighting options. The bulbs also heat up rapidly, making them unsuitable for extended use or close to flammable materials. 

3. Fluorescent

If you want a more energy-efficient solution than halogen and incandescent light bulbs, you can go for fluorescent bulbs. These bulbs also have a significantly longer lifespan than the other two. 

What most people don't like about fluorescent lights is that they do not produce a color that is close to being natural. This drawback, combined with the fact that fluorescent lights will gradually become dimmer over time, often makes for a poor user experience.

Fluorescent commercial office lighting

4. Induction

One of the obvious benefits of buying an induction light bulb is that you will get much better lighting than fluorescent, halogen, or incandescent commercial office lights. When used continuously in areas that require 24-hour lighting, induction commercial lights are very reliable. 

However, induction lights produce much lower output, even though they appear to burn brighter. This means that a lot more lamps need to be used in an area that would only require a few halogen lamps. 

The high cost of these induction lights is also very prohibitive. You should expect to pay double what you are paying for any other commercial office lights. Lastly, induction lights can generate a radio frequency because they contain a high level of mercury. This means they sometimes interfere with other electronic devices that may be close by. 

5. Metal Halide

If high-quality commercial office light is your main concern rather than energy efficiency, metal halide lights may appeal to you. These lights also have a very omnidirectional light emission. That means if, for example, you are looking for the best light to use in a desk lamp and not disturb your colleagues, a metal halide light is your best bet. 

The only downside of using metal halide light bulbs is the warm-up period that is required before the bulb can start burning at full brightness. In a busy environment where time is limited, a metal halide light may not be ideal. 

6. LED

Finally, if you want the best and most popular lighting solution these days, go for commercial LED office lighting. Most businesses have been switching over to LED lights in recent years thanks to its awesome energy efficiency. 

If you buy an ultra-wide LED desk lamp, for example, it will convert 95% of its energy into light, and operate at 80% more efficiency than other lights. In terms of light quality, lifespan of the light bulb, and sustainability, commercial LED office lighting is the best option.

LED commercial office lighting


What is the best lighting for commercial office space?

The lighting requirements for each commercial office space differ depending on the work being done and the design of the office. 

If, for example, you were to buy bulk office furniture and fill up every available space in your office, you would need very different commercial office lighting ideas compared to if you were dealing with wide open spaces. 

Fluorescent light bulbs or LED lights would be best for open office spaces, although you can also use halogen lights. 

What is the typical illumination level in a commercial office?

A commercial office is usually required to have an illumination level of 500 LUX. However, in cases where there is a lot of natural light, and the work is being conducted during the day, you can get away with an illumination level as low as 300 LUX. 

The use of screen-based electronic devices, such as computers and tablets, also affects the illumination level. In offices where a lot of detailed work is being conducted, the illumination can be increased to between 500 and 700 LUX.

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What is the difference between fluorescent and LED office lighting fixtures?

There are two main differences between fluorescent and LED office lights. The first is that LED bulbs are a lot more energy efficient than fluorescent lights. LEDs are capable of converting up to 95% of their energy into light, which makes them at least 80% more efficient than fluorescent lights. 

The second difference is that LED lights are usually a lot more expensive to buy than fluorescent bulbs, which is why many commercial buildings have fluorescent lights installed. However, when you put aside the initial cost, the efficiency of LED lights makes them the cheaper option over time. 

Can pendant lighting fixtures be used for office lighting?

A pendant lighting fixture involves a single light bulb being suspended from the air, with no other light sources being used in the fixture. Pendant lighting fixtures are widely used for office lighting when either high-quality light or an ambient atmosphere is required. 

Thanks to the diversity of pendant lighting fixtures, this is considered a very good solution to office lighting needs. However, one of the disadvantages of pendant lighting fixtures is that if they are not installed properly, or if the wrong type of light bulb is used, they may not satisfy the lighting requirements of the workplace.

Final Word

Whichever type of commercial office lighting solution you go for, you have to make sure that the level of illumination inside the main work area meets OSHA standards. A poorly lit office environment can end up costing you a lot of money in the form of reduced productivity levels.

Of the six types of lights reviewed above, LED lights are the best solution if you are looking for efficiency and long-term cost benefits. Visit Autonomous today for more office and desk lighting ideas to implement at your workplace.

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