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Commercial Lighting: Ultimate Guide to Enhance Your Business Space

November 9, 2023

Discover best practices in commercial lighting: Make your business more inviting, productive, and energy-efficient. Step into the future of lighting.


Commercial lighting plays a crucial role in the presentation and overall ambience of a space. It has the power to attract customers, increase workforce productivity, and improve the aesthetics of a building or area. In home improvement and storage sectors, commercial lighting helps enhance the overall attractiveness of the space, ensuring products are adequately illuminated and spaces are comfortable and inviting.

Commercial lighting includes a variety of lighting types such as task, accent, and ambient lighting. These types collectively work to create a well-lit and balanced environment. The selection of these lights depends on the space and the intended purpose. Understanding the different types and functionalities can significantly impact the outcome of the lighting arrangement.

History of Commercial Lighting

Commercial lighting has undergone significant transformations over the years. The invention of the incandescent light bulb in the late 19th century began the revolution of commercial lighting. Over time, due to the bulb’s short lifespan and high energy consumption, alternatives such as fluorescent lighting were introduced. This compact and energy-efficient lighting option became a popular choice for commercial spaces.

Further advancements led to the invention of the LED (Light Emitting Diode) light. Introduced in the 1960s, the LED light gradually became the dominant choice in commercial lighting due to its longevity and energy efficiency. Nowadays, the focus has shifted towards smart lighting, which integrates technology to control illumination.

The Transition to LED and Smart Lighting

The transition from conventional lighting to Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) represented a significant advancement in the history of commercial lighting. LEDs offer numerous benefits over their incandescent and compact fluorescent counterparts, including a longer lifespan, reduced energy consumption, and increased durability.

Smart lighting further propelled the capabilities of LED lights by enabling users to control their lighting conditions remotely. This technological advancement has helped businesses save money, improve efficiency, and customize their lighting conditions. Another significant development is the ballast bypass LED bulb – an energy-efficient solution that eliminates the need for a ballast, a device used to regulate the current in a circuit.

Types of Commercial Lighting

Task, ambient, and accent are the three most common types of commercial lighting. Each has unique characteristics and serves specific purposes within a space.

Task Lighting

Task lighting is designed to enhance visibility in areas where specific activities are performed. This type of lighting is focused and direct, making activities like reading, cooking, or working easier on the eyes. Task lighting is an integral part of an effectively lit commercial area.

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting, also known as general lighting, provides overall illumination to a space. Ambient lights are usually the primary source of light in a room, helping to set the tone and mood. They are often ceiling-mounted or recessed, casting light downwards and illuminating the majority of a space.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting, often used in conjunction with task or ambient lighting, is used to draw attention or emphasize specific architectural elements or features within a room. This can be artwork, shelving, or any other features that you wish to highlight. Accent lighting is a powerful design tool that adds depth and dimension to a space.

Importance of Natural Light in Commercial Spaces

Natural lighting plays a vital role in commercial spaces as it has a significant impact on energy savings, mood enhancement, and overall health benefits. Designing a commercial space with ample natural light can present unique advantages that artificial alternatives could not provide.

With regards to energy savings, spaces that maximize natural light significantly reduce the need for artificial lighting during the day. This reduction leads to decreased energy use and substantial cost savings over time. Large windows, skylights, and effective spatial planning can assist in maximizing the ingress of sunlight.

Enhancing Mood and Productivity

Natural light directly impacts mood and productivity levels by regulating the body’s circadian rhythm – our internal body clock that dictates our sleep and wake cycles. Studies indicate that regular exposure to natural light helps improve productivity and heighten moods, proving particularly beneficial in work environments.

Physical Health Benefits

Beyond mood and productivity, exposure to natural light also offers several health benefits. It aids in generating vitamin D, can help improve sleep quality, and can benefit eye health. In a commercial setting, these factors can create a healthier and more comfortable environment for employees and customers alike.

LED Commercial Lighting

LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights have become the preferred choice for commercial lighting due to their lifespan, cost-effectiveness, and range of lighting options. LED lights work by passing an electrical current through a microchip, illuminating the tiny light sources we call LEDs. This process results in a powerful light source that uses significantly less energy than traditional lighting solutions.

Cost-effectiveness of LEDs

Among the benefits of LED lighting, cost-effectiveness is a key factor. Although the upfront cost of an LED bulb may be higher, they often consume 90% less power than traditional lighting solutions, resulting in significantly lower energy bills over the lifespan of the bulb. Additionally, their long lifespan means they need replacing less often, providing further savings over time.

Range of LED Lighting Options

LED lights come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours, making them a versatile option for a wide range of commercial environments. From warm, cool, and daylight spectrum bulbs to directional spotlights and broad-spectrum floodlights, LEDs cater to many different lighting needs.

Fluorescent Commercial Lighting

Fluorescent lighting has been a commercially viable option since the early 20th century. Fluorescent lights operate by passing an electric charge through a gas-filled tube, causing the tube’s phosphor coating to glow and produce light. Because of the nature of this process, fluorescent lights are particularly well-suited to large commercial spaces needing significant amounts of light.

Spaces Where Fluorescent Lighting is Appropriate

Fluorescent lighting is a practical choice for large areas needing substantial illumination, such as retail stores, schools, offices, and warehouses. They are great for spaces with high ceilings where the light needs to be spread over a considerable area. Fluorescent lights offer a cost-effective solution for large-scale lighting applications due to their relatively low cost per lumen.

Energy Efficiency of Fluorescent Lighting

One advantage of fluorescent lights is their energy efficiency. They use around 25%–35% of the energy consumed by incandescent lights while producing a similar amount of light, making them a much more efficient option. This efficiency makes them an attractive choice for businesses looking to minimize overhead costs while still maintaining excellent lighting conditions.

Commercial Indoor Lighting

Commercial indoor lighting plays a crucial role in shaping the ambiance, safety, and functionality of a business area. The type of lighting selected can significantly influence customer experience, employee productivity, and energy consumption. Factors such as the nature of business operations, aesthetics, size of the space, and energy-efficiency requirements should be considered while selecting indoor lighting.

A strategic blend of different lighting types like ambient, task, and accent lighting can create a balanced and visually pleasing look while ensuring functionality. For example, retail stores often use accent lighting to highlight products or areas, coupled with ambient lighting to nurture a welcoming shopping environment.

Determining Factors for Selecting Indoor Lighting

Choosing indoor commercial lighting involves considering the purpose of the light (task, accent, or ambient), the required light intensity, energy efficiency, and the type of fixtures. It is essential to strike a balance between aesthetics and functionality.

Potential Challenges with Indoor Lighting

Commercial indoor lighting can present challenges such as inadequate lighting leading to a gloomy atmosphere, or excessively bright lights resulting in glare. Other issues may include poor light distribution, inefficient energy consumption, or lights that don’t match the style or purpose of the space. Careful planning, design, and selection of appropriate lighting fixtures can help overcome these pitfalls.

Commercial Outdoor Lighting

Commercial outdoor lighting enhances the exterior aesthetic of a business and ensures a well-lit and safe environment. A well-designed outdoor lighting system catches the eye, highlights architectural details, and contributes to the overall visibility of a business location during nighttime. At the same time, strategically placed lights can enhance security by deterring trespassers and illuminating potential hazards like stairs or uneven paths.

Safety and Security Aspects

Outdoor lighting plays a critical role in safeguarding a commercial property. High-intensity lights installed in strategic places can deter burglars and reduce accidents. Being able to clearly see walkways, stairs, and other potentially hazardous areas can help prevent falls and mishaps.

Factors to Consider for Outdoor Lighting

Key factors to consider when choosing outdoor lighting include weather resistance, energy efficiency, and light pollution concerns. Outdoor fixtures need to be durable and able to withstand different weather conditions, while energy-efficient lights like LEDs can reduce electricity bills. Additionally, to minimize light pollution, lights should be properly shielded and directed downwards.

Role of a Lighting Designer

Lighting designers are specialists who understand the many nuances of lighting to create a balanced, functional, and aesthetic space. They have comprehensive knowledge of different lighting technologies, energy efficiency, and the way light can influence mood, perception, and productivity. They work closely with architects and interior designers to visualize, plan, and execute the lighting design for a project.

Skills and Responsibilities

Lighting designers need a broad range of skills, including art and design, electrical knowledge, and interpersonal skills for collaborating with other team members. They are also responsible for producing detailed plans and diagrams, working within project budgets, adhering to safety regulations, and ensuring that the lighting solution meets the client’s functional and aesthetic needs.

Potential impact on a project

A professional lighting designer can have a significant impact on a project. They can enhance the look and functionality of the space, improve energy efficiency, and ensure a safer environment. Their expertise can lead to better, more cost-effective solutions that meet both the immediate needs and long-term considerations of a project.

Commercial Lighting Controls

Commercial lighting control systems are a significant way to ensure energy efficiency and manage lighting solutions in a simplified, systemized way. These systems provide automated control over different lighting zones, allowing customization of light levels and reduction of energy usage. They can range from basic systems, such as manual switches, dimmers and timers, to complex solutions that include occupancy sensors, daylight harvesting technologies, and fully automated smart systems.

With a well-implemented lighting control system, businesses can not only cut costs but also improve the work environment. For example, occupancy sensors can detect when a space is not in use and adjust lighting accordingly, eliminating unnecessary energy consumption.

Advantages of Lighting Controls

Lighting controls offer many benefits, including energy conservation, extended bulb life, and enhanced comfort. They allow for precise control over lighting levels in different areas, making it possible to create optimal lighting for each space. Automated control systems can also contribute to safety by ensuring that areas are well lit when needed.

Types of Commercial Lighting Controls

There are several types of commercial lighting controls including switches, dimmers, timers, occupancy and vacancy sensors, day-lighting controls, and building management systems. These controls can be manual or automated, depending on the needs and budget of the business.

Energy Efficiency and Sustainability in Commercial Lighting

Energy efficiency and sustainability are key considerations for commercial lighting. With energy-efficient lighting solutions like LED or CFL lights, businesses can significantly reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint. Energy-efficient lights use less electricity for the same amount of light output and typically have a longer lifespan, cutting down on maintenance and replacement costs.

Sustainable aspects of commercial lighting also extend to the disposability of bulbs and fixtures. For instance, certain types of bulbs may have a lower impact on the environment when disposed of compared to others.

Benefits of Energy-Efficient Lighting

Energy-efficient lighting can lead to significant cost savings over time due to reduced electricity usage. Moreover, because they last longer, there is less need for frequent replacements, leading to additional cost savings and reduced waste. Therefore, the benefits of incorporating energy-efficient lighting extend beyond just the monetary aspect, helping businesses reduce their overall environmental impact as well.

Sustainable Lighting Solutions

Sustainable lighting solutions not only consider the operational energy efficiency but also the lifecycle impact of the products. This includes aspects like manufacturing process, transportation, usage, and end-of-life disposal. LED lights, daylighting systems, and lighting controls are examples of sustainable lighting solutions that minimize environmental impact.

Emergency Lighting and Safety

Emergency lighting is a critical aspect of safety in any commercial building. These lights automatically turn on when the main power supply is cut off, such as during a fire or power failure. This ensures that all occupants can safely evacuate the building. Emergency lighting is not just appropriate, but required by law in many jurisdictions.

Importance and Requirement of Emergency Lighting

In times of emergency, regular lighting systems may fail. Emergency lighting systems, however, are equipped with batteries that can provide illumination for a specified minimum period, usually enough time to evacuate the premises. They can save lives by lighting up emergency exits and escape routes.

Different Types of Emergency Lighting

Emergency lighting includes exit signs, stand-by lights, and escape route lighting. Exit signs guide the way to the nearest safe exit. Stand-by lights are used in places like hospitals where certain tasks could become dangerous if the power is lost, and escape route lighting ensures that everyone safely finds their way out of the building.

Maintenance of Emergency Lighting

Regular maintenance of emergency lighting systems is crucial. This includes ensuring that backup batteries are working, light fixtures are clear of obstructions, and the lights come on in the event of power failure. Following a regular maintenance schedule will help ensure that the emergency lighting is working efficiently when it’s needed the most.

Future Trends in Commercial Lighting

Commercial lighting has come a long way from the simple task of illumination. With the advent of new technologies, it has broadened its horizon to include energy efficiency, aesthetics, and even human wellbeing.

The future of commercial lighting centers around advancements in LED technologies. LEDs have outpaced traditional lighting technologies in terms of energy efficiency and life span. They are continually being optimized to yield even greater energy efficiency, better light quality and more features for smart control. Additionally, organics LEDs (OLEDs) are gaining popularity because they can produce more diffused light, reducing the glare that is sometimes associated with LEDs.

Smart Lighting Solutions

Smart lighting solutions, which integrate sensors and wireless communication, are becoming increasingly popular. These systems allow for control of brightness, color temperature, and can be timed to match the circadian rhythms of occupants. Moreover, lights can now be programmed to respond to environmental changes such as daylight availability or occupancy of rooms, enhancing energy savings even further.

Biophilic Design and Natural Light

Another trend is the increased use of natural light. Biophilic design, which fosters a connection between people and nature, is being used to improve mood and productivity in commercial spaces. The integration of skylights, light wells, and other strategies are becoming increasingly important for bringing in natural light and enhancing overall wellbeing.

Lighting Certifications and Standards

Commercial lighting products are often subject to certain certifications and standards to ensure safety and performance. These certifications assure customers that the product has been tested and meets certain standards. They also help in meeting building codes and regulations.

Overview of the UL and ETL Certifications

UL (Underwriters Laboratories) and ETL (Intertek) are independent organizations that test and certify products for safety. A ballast bypass LED bulb, for instance, may carry these certifications, indicating they meet specific safety standards.

Importance of Complying with Lighting standards

Compliance with lighting standards help ensure that products are safe to use, reliable, and of high-quality. Furthermore, using certified products can help avoid legal complications and can contribute towards energy saving and sustainability objectives.

Other Notable Lighting Standards

There are several other certifications and standards which might apply to commercial lighting depending on the specific context. These include Energy Star (for energy efficiency), Design Lights Consortium (DLC, for high-performance lighting), and RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances, mostly for the European market).

How Commercial Lighting Affects Consumer Behavior

The impact of lighting on consumer behavior has been under study for several years. Initial research suggests that lighting can play a critical role in shopping behaviors, branding, and creating ambiance in commercial spaces.

Impact on Shopping Behaviors

Lighting can influence shopping behavior in a number of ways. For instance, it can guide a customer’s attention toward certain products or create a particular mood that encourages purchasing. Well-lit, inviting stores usually attract more customers than dark, dingy spaces.

Role in Branding and Creating Ambiance

Lighting plays an essential role in creating a recognizable brand image and developing a certain ambiance. Different lighting schemes can exude different feelings- warm, intimate lighting may create a cozy, luxurious feel; bright, cool lighting can promote a modern, trendy vibe. It can significantly enhance the customer experience and contribute to the brand’s identity.

Recent Research on Lighting and Consumer Behavior

Recent studies show that lighting can have a physiological effect on consumers, thereby influencing their decisions. Bright lights can heighten emotional response to products while dim lights can make consumers feel free and uninhibited.

Tips to Maximize Commercial Lighting

Effective commercial lighting can significantly enhance the aesthetic appeal of a business space, improve worker productivity, and help achieve energy efficiency goals. Here are some tips that can help maximize the impact of your commercial lighting:

Start by maximizing natural light. Use architectural strategies like installing more windows, skylights, or light shelves to draw in daylight. Natural light can uplift mood, increase productivity, and reduce dependence on artificial light, thereby saving energy costs.

Adjust Lighting Based on Time of Day

Consider employing tunable LEDs that adjust the color temperature throughout the day to mimic the natural course of sunlight. This can provide a comfortable environment for occupants and help maintain their natural circadian rhythms.

Enhance Mood and Productivity

Use lighting creatively to establish certain moods in different areas. Bright, cool light can be used in workspaces to promote alertness and productivity, while warm, dimmer lights can be used in lounges or breakout areas to foster relaxation.

Challenges in Commercial Lighting

Implementing effective commercial lighting isn’t without challenges. These may include finding the perfect balance between aesthetic appeal and functionality, meeting required standards for safety and efficiency, and managing costs.

Common issues in commercial lighting

Common issues include glare that causes visual discomfort, dealing with a lack of natural light especially in large commercial buildings, uniform lighting in large spaces, and optimizing energy use while ensuring adequate illumination.

Troubleshooting commercial lighting problems

Addressing these issues typically involves revisiting the lighting plan to adjust the type and placement of fixtures, considering modifications to the building itself to allow for more natural light, or installing lights with dimming capabilities for versatile use.

Potential long-term solutions

Long-term solutions could involve switching to energy-efficient LEDs, incorporating smart lighting controls, or using light shelves and other architectural solutions to optimize natural light.

Case Studies in Commercial Lighting

Case studies can provide valuable insights into the practical application and benefits of effective commercial lighting. They highlight the strategies implemented, the challenges faced, and the outcomes achieved.

Successful commercial lighting projects

Successful projects have utilized different innovative strategies. For instance, The Edge in Amsterdam, known as the world’s smartest office building, uses a smart LED lighting system, equipped with 28,000 sensors, to optimize energy use and provide a comfortable environment for its occupants.

Lessons learned from these projects

These projects provide valuable insights like the importance of integrating lighting with overall design at the onset itself, the benefits of smart control systems in optimizing energy use, and the positive impact of natural light on worker productivity and well-being.

How these lessons can be applied elsewhere

These lessons can be applied in any commercial setting. For instance, in retail stores, lighting can be used to guide customers’ attention to certain products. In office spaces, lighting can be strategically used to enhance productivity and well-being.

Buying Guide for Commercial Lighting

When choosing commercial lighting, several factors come into play, including the purpose of the space, energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and aesthetics. Here are some considerations to guide your purchase:

First and foremost, determine your lighting needs based on the space’s function. For instance, warehouse lighting would likely prioritize brightness and coverage, while a restaurant may focus more on creating a particular ambiance.

Consider the Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is a crucial factor to consider, as lighting can make up a significant portion of energy costs in a commercial setting. Opt for energy-saving options like LEDs that, while may cost more upfront, can save money in the long run due to lower energy use and fewer replacement requirements.

Warranty and After-Sale Services

Pay attention to the warranty and after-sale services being offered. These are an indicator of the manufacturer’s confidence in their product and their commitment to customer service. It provides reassurance that you’ll have support if any issues arise with the lighting.

Future-proofing Your Lighting System

Technology is continually evolving, and lighting systems are no exception. When investing in commercial lighting, consider future-proof options that are adaptable to new technologies. For instance, lighting that can be controlled and automated through Internet of Things (IoT) can be a smart investment.


Commercial lighting is an essential component of any commercial space, having the potential to enhance its appeal, improve productivity, boost sales, and contribute to energy efficiency goals. However, achieving the perfect lighting for a given space requires careful planning, considering various factors such as the function of the space, the type of lighting fixtures to be used, the balance of natural and artificial light, energy efficiency, and more.

With advancements in technology, there is a wider array of commercial lighting options available today, each offering unique benefits. Lighting has come a long way from the traditional incandescent bulbs, with energy-efficient options like LEDs and smart, tunable lights becoming increasingly popular. These lights not only save energy costs but also provide enhanced control over the lighting environment, thereby helping to create the desired ambiance and enhancing productivity in workspaces.

However, the lighting needs and challenges for each commercial space are unique and require a tailored approach. Therefore, it’s advisable to collaborate with a lighting designer, understand the various types of lightings available and their benefits, and consider the role of natural light. By doing so, one can create a lighting environment that is simultaneously appealing, functional, comfortable, and energy-efficient.