Industrial Lighting: How to light a Warehouse

A Guide to Lighting Insustrial & Commercial Storage Environments

While choosing the correct lighting for your warehouse is key; it’s not rocket science.

No Excuse Not To Use LED

It’s true that LED lighting is now cheaper than the fluorescent or halogen luminaires but it’s important not to buy the cheapest you can find as they’re guaranteed to have a high failure rate. You want to know that your lighting will work for 5 – 10 years easily without issue.

Recommended Lighting Levels

For warehouses, the recommended lux levels for manned storage areas, according to CIBSE / The Society of Light and Lighting, are a minimum of 150 lux at floor level and ideally 200 lux at the face of any racking. Typically we aim above these recommendations.

Correct Lighting Type

There are a fair amount of considerations to be made when choosing the correct type of lighting. The lighting plane, height of any racking, the spacing of any racking, ambient lighting and general usage of the area.

LIGHTING CHOICE & PLACEMENT

Storage / Racking

Narrow Beam High Bay or Batten Lighting
Recommend 150 lux manned / 50 lux unmanned
Sorting / Packing

Wide Beam High Bay Lighting
Recommended 300 lux
Production / Manufacturing

High Bay Lighting
Recommended 300-500 lux dependant on application
Mezzanine Level

High Bay or Batten Lighting - Recommended 150 Lux for storage / 300 lux for production

The above interactive illustration is by no means comprehensive; there are multiple factors to consider to ensure the lighting is adequate for the space’s use. Primarily it’s important to ensure its users are comfortable and are able to properly fulfill their tasks to their fullest ability and lighting can have a major impact. Keeping lighting to recommended levels also keeps you well protected when it comes to issues such as accidents as insurers will want to ensure that lighting levels were adequate for the jobs being performed it goes without saying that neglected lighting in a poor state of repair or simply not fit for purpose can be classed as negligence.

Narrow Beam or Wide Beam?

Whilst some may have differing opinions we believe this isn’t the most important consideration however it can have a drastic effect. To understand better we need to consider that LED is a direct lighting source rather than indirect lighting source. Indirect meaning that fluorescent, sodium or halogen lamps output light in a 360 degree fashion and use reflectors to direct the lighting out of the enclosure.

This means that LED lights can be better focussed in terms of light direction with the addition of lenses. The lenses can distribute the lighting in a wider or narrower fashion than compared to a naked fitting that simply has a diffuser. Given that lensed fittings are generally more expensive, the question really comes down to whether they are worth it? Unfortunately there’s no hard and fast rule and it very much depends on lighting placement. When lighting positions are confirmed digital lighting designs that estimate lighting output levels are often all you need to do to calculate whether the additional cost will be of benefit.

If for example your lighting doesn’t line up with your racking installation, narrow lensed LED lighting isn’t going to be a good option. You’d be better off using more powerful lighting with a wider distribution that should help alliviate shadowing from tall racking.

Lighting Levels – What lux levels should a warehouse be?

The recommendation for storage / racking areas is 150 lux. We aim for higher than that to alleviate issues that arise from aiming for that level such as shadowing and acceptable lux levels on the face of stored items. It is however quite common for large open spaces to be zoned with different areas that may include processes such as packing, production or just simple office space and in those scenarios the recommended lux levels do differ.

Unsure what your lighting levels should be? Ask us!

The CIBSE Society of Light and Lighting Code states many recommended lux levels for very specific applications and while this is publically available, it could be quite expensive to answer a few questions. Feel free to ask us if it isn’t listed below.

Area Recommended Lighting Level Area Recommended Lighting Level
Offices
General 500 lux Drawing office 500 lux
Computer work stations 300 – 500 lux Drawing boards 750 lux
Filing rooms 300 lux CAD design areas 300 – 500 lux
Print rooms 300 lux
Retailing
Small retail outlets 500 lux DIY superstore 1000 lux
Supermarkets 750 lux Garden centres 500 lux
Hypermarkets 1000 lux Showrooms 500 – 750 lux
Engineering
Tool shops 300 – 750 lux Heavy machine assembly 300 lux
Arc welding 300 lux Inspection and testing 500 – 2000 lux
Spot welding 500 – 1000 lux
Staff areas
Changing rooms & toilets 100 lux Restaurants & canteens 200 lux
Restrooms 150 lux
Kitchens
Serving & washing up areas 300 lux Food stores 150 lux
Food preparation & cooking 500 lux
General areas
Entrance halls & lobbies 200 lux Gatehouses 200 lux
Enquiry desks 500 lux
Circulation areas
Lifts 100 lux Atria 50 – 200 lux
Corridors & stairs 100 lux Atria with plants 500 – 3000 lux
Escalators/Conveyors 150 lux Entrances/Exits 200 lux
Communication
Switchboards 300 lux Post rooms 500 lux
Building services areas
Boiler house 100 lux Mechanical plant rooms 150 lux
Control rooms 300 lux Electrical plant rooms 100 lux
Distribution & storage
Loading bays 150 lux Trade counter 500 lux
Unpacking & sorting 200 lux Warehouse/Bulk Stores 100 lux
Large item stores 100 lux Packing & dispatch 300 lux
Small-item stores 200 lux Cold stores 300 lux