How Much Light Do I Need?

Light Meter ReadingsOne of the most common questions that facility and operation managers ask is “How much light do I need to properly illuminate my facility?

Since 1958, the Illuminating Engineering Society has been publishing recommended illuminance levels for a multitude of tasks and facility types in table form.  The published tables provide guidance for both generic tasks and hundreds of very specific tasks.  In order to understand these tables, it’s best to start with an overview of how light is measured.

This article gives a brief explanation of how light is measured and provides a handy table that can be used to determine how much light is needed in various types of facilities. If after reading this, you have any questions about the quantity of light you should plan for in your lighting retrofit project, don't hesitate to contact us.

In the US, Illuminance is typically measured in foot-candles (fc).  One foot-candle (or footcandle) is the illuminance on a one square foot surface of which there is a uniformly distributed flux of one lumen.  A foot candle can also be defined as the amount of illumination the inside surface of an imaginary 1-foot radius sphere would receive if there were a uniform point source of one candela in the exact center of the sphere .  You may also come across measurements taken in lux.  In the lighting industry, we approximate 1 foot-candle to equal to 10 lux.

The table below can be used as a general guideline to determine how much light you need for your facility.

Application Foot-Candle Level
Aircraft Hangar 75-100
Assembly/Packaging - Medium 50-70
Assembly/Packaging - Fine 75-100
Auto Service Garage 60-80
Auto Showroom 50-80
Body Shop 80-120
Church 20-25
Cooler or Cold Storage Room 10-30
Engineering and Drafting 50-125
Food Processing 50-100
Foundry 40-60
Gymnasium Lighting - Recreational 30
Gymnasium Lighting - Elementary or Club 50
Gymnasium Lighting - High School 80
Hockey - Recreational 20-50
Hockey - Professional 50-100
Horse Riding Arena 25-50
Loading Dock 30-50
Machine Shop - Rough Detail 50-75
Machine Shop - Medium Detail 75-100
Machine Shop - Fine Detail 100-200
Manufacturing - Rough Detail 50-75
Manufacturing - Medium Detail 75-100
Manufacturing - Fine Detail 100-150
Multipurpose Room 30-75
Office 60-75
Parking Garage 15-30
Retail - Average 50-80
Retail - Super Center 80-120
Swimming Pool - Recreational 50
Swimming Pool - Club 75
Swimming Pool - Tournament 100
Warehouse - Active 20-30
Warehouse - Inactive 15-20
Woodworking Shop 60-80

I hope this article has helped to answer how much light is needed in your facility.  As always, our experts are happy to help guide you through your lighting retrofit.  Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

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