Warehouse Lighting Guide
Since a warehouse generally takes up a lot of real estate with very few (if any) separations, lighting requires prior planning. In a small building or showroom, you usually have more flexibility to light the area as you see fit. Alternatively, a warehouse requires a more organized lighting setup. Moreover, people or businesses with a warehouse must adhere to certain legal requirements, especially if large vehicles like forklifts will be used within the confines of the structure.
When planning your warehouse lighting, there are dozens of factors to consider before you proceed. In addition to deciding what kind of light sources you want to use, you’ll also need to figure out your budget, think about who will install and maintain the lights, and make sure that your lighting distribution works for your warehouse. As you can see, lighting a warehouse involves a lot more than just installing a few light bulbs.
Naturally, this leads people to ask a lot of questions about how warehouses can and should be lit. For instance, what are the regulations related to industrial warehouse lighting? What are the most common and popular warehouse lighting fixtures? And what kind of lights should you use for the exterior of your warehouse?
In today’s guide, we will answer all of these questions and more, but first, let’s take a look at the different types of lights used in warehouses:
What Types Of Lights Are Used In Warehouses?
Looking at lighting options more broadly, there are just three types of light bulbs used in most warehouses: fluorescent, LED, and high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps. Each type has its own benefits and drawbacks. For example, HID lamps tend to be cheaper to buy and install, though they will need to be replaced more frequently than other types of bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs tend to last longer than HID, but their quality can degrade over time. Lastly, LED bulbs may cost a little more upfront, but they last longer and burn more efficiently than both fluorescent and HID lights.
So, if you just want to get your warehouse lighting up and running as quickly and cheaply as possible, fluorescent lights are likely the best option. HID lamps are also a decent option, though they are fairly limited in what they offer. Additionally, HID lights take time to “warm up” when you turn them on. It could take as long as 5 to 10 minutes for HID lamps to stop flickering. Alternatively, fluorescent lights turn on instantaneously.
If you can afford to spend a little more upfront, LED bulbs are the best option by far. Not only do they tend to burn brighter and more consistently than other bulb types, but they also last much longer and use less energy. This means that, over the long term, you can save a lot of money by lighting your warehouse with LED fixtures because they use less electricity and do not need to be replaced very often.
In theory, you could use other types of lights in a warehouse. You might try to light a smaller warehouse with incandescent bulbs or other inexpensive options. However, these types of lights do not offer the same brightness to cover larger warehouses. In fact, incandescent bulbs are almost exclusively reserved for smaller interior spaces and, on occasion, small outdoor spaces. Either way, you’re much better off opting for LED, fluorescent, or HID bulbs when lighting a mid-size or large warehouse.
Warehouse Lighting Distribution Patterns
Warehouse lighting distributions are particularly important, as larger spaces need to be illuminated as efficiently as possible. If you install warehouse lights without planning the spacing in advance, you could end up overlighting some areas and underlighting others. This, in turn, could force you to replace or redistribute your warehouse lighting pattern out of pocket.
Regardless of the type of space, there are 5 basic patterns of light distribution. Type I provides wide, symmetrical light beams that can cover a long space. Type II is similar to Type I, but it casts a somewhat wider beam. Similarly, Type III light distribution is wider than Type II, and Type IV is even wider than Type III. However, Type II, III, and IV do not offer symmetrical lighting. Instead, the light source is set to one side (like a light fixture mounted on a wall) and the light shines outward in an oval shape. Finally, Type V is perhaps the most unique, as it is a central light that creates a perfectly symmetrical, circular light distribution with the light source at the center.
Type I and Type V are the most common light distribution patterns for warehouses. Type I provides the best lighting for individual aisles within a warehouse, while Type V offers better lighting to provide the largest possible area of illumination. However, you will still need to consider your particular warehouse to know how many lights you need and how to space these lights appropriately.
Fortunately, you can avoid spending more on your lights by determining the best warehouse lighting pattern for your particular space before making any purchases. In most cases, your lighting distribution will depend on the size of your warehouse, the presence or absence of aisles, as well as the type of light fixtures you use.
High Bay Lights
As the name implies, high bay lights are meant for warehouses with high ceilings. Generally, if your warehouse ceiling stands 20 feet high or higher, you should consider high bay lights. These lights create beams of light directed straight down to the floor and require relatively high lumen output because they are set so high above the floor.
High bay lights can be put into two different categories that affect their distribution within a warehouse: round and linear. Round bay lights have a wide beam that spreads over a larger area. This makes round bay lights better for large warehouses with open areas. It also means that you can use fewer round bay lights to achieve the same effect as linear high bay lights.
Alternatively, linear high bay lights have a more focused light distribution that is best for narrow aisles. While this often requires more light fixtures, it also means you get better lighting when various objects (like shelves) prevent light from extending freely throughout the space.
Troffer lights are great for large indoor spaces in need of powerful light sources. These lights can often be mounted to T-bar grid ceilings and are great for buildings with peculiar space restrictions. With troffer lights, you can usually choose whether you want to have them flush with the ceiling or suspended at a lower height.
Flat Panel Lights
Flat panel lights are great because they take up even less space than troffer lights. This is because flat panel lights are either recessed or surface-mounted, though they can also be suspended if you want your light sources closer to the floor. Commercial flat panel lights can either be backlit or edgelit. Backlit panels shine directly through the primary diffuser, while edgelit panels produce light from the sides of the fixture.
Warehouse Lighting Requirements
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates certain lighting requirements for commercial or industrial warehouse spaces. According to OSHA guidelines, you are required to provide a minimum of two lumens per square foot in areas with heavy equipment in use. If you want to calculate the minimum number of lumens required, you can do so based on the space and the wattage of the bulbs.
For example, let’s say your warehouse takes up 1,000 square feet. Assuming you’re using fluorescent or LED lights, 15-watt bulbs will produce about 900 lumens. So, to figure out how many lumens you need for your entire warehouse, you must multiply the total square footage by the minimum lumens per square foot. This means the minimum number of lumens required for a 1,000-square-foot warehouse would be 2,000 lumens or approximately 2.5 light sources (15-watt fluorescent or LED bulbs) that are evenly spaced throughout the warehouse.
Warehouse Exterior Lighting
For exterior warehouse lights, most property owners opt for wall-pack lights. These are box-shaped fixtures mounted to outdoor walls. Wall-pack lights are typically categorized into “traditional” and “full cut-off” lights. Traditional wall-pack lights create a wider beam of light to cover a larger area, while full cut-off wall-pack lights create a beam of light that points downward. Both options are great to illuminate the area directly outside of a warehouse for pedestrians or drivers.
We hope you found this guide on warehouse lighting both fun and informative! Are you interested in learning more about warehouse lighting? Are you ready to purchase high-quality light bulbs at affordable prices? If so, be sure to check out the products available at Bulb Center today!