Uniform lighting is important. When you perceive your environment and experience sudden breaks due to lighting level drops, then the lighting is not uniform—and non-uniform light makes it difficult for your end-users to navigate and perform tasks, no matter how powerful or energy efficient the fixtures are. Somewhat defeats the purpose of having lighting, doesn’t it?
What is the Recommended Uniformity?
In North America, the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) recommends a standard uniformity of 10:1 for environments such as a parking lot (where the maximum light level can be 10 times the brightness of the minimum level) and a ratio of 3:1 for task-oriented areas such as offices. Similarly, in Europe, they follow the EN 12464-1 standard that requires a ratio of 0.6. By following these standards, the naked eye is less likely to notice different lighting levels and end-users will feel that they are in an environment where light is well-distributed.
The LED Advantage
Luckily for us in this industry, LED luminaires already hold an advantage over traditional High Pressure Sodium and Metal Halides (HIDs) when it comes to uniformity. While HIDs use a single lamp or filament as its source of light and then relies on the fixture’s design to redirect light to the area, LED luminaires are powered by multiple LEDs that are aimed or refracted. The real difference between the two technologies is the coverage of light when installed in an environment: HID fixtures have a higher intensity illumination directly under them, but darker areas between fixtures while LEDs provide an even light output with virtually no noticeable lighting gaps in between fixtures.
Light Uniformity in Indoor Applications
For indoor applications, uniformity helps to boost the end-user’s productivity and overall experience. In an environment such as an office, uniform lighting without any gaps and shadows helps to promote eye comfort and reduce fatigue. Retail spaces also call for lighting designs that focus on uniformity because it allows customers to experience a store’s full product offering while promoting a high level of energy that encourages more sales.
Light Uniformity in Outdoor Applications
Light uniformity in outdoor applications is also an important factor, especially for increasing safety and deterring crime. Think about city roads: without uniform lighting from pole to pole, the ability to see what is ahead of you and the eye discomfort stemming from having to adapt to change in lighting conditions can lead to tragic consequences. In public parks or parking lots, uniform light makes end-users feel safe, as they won’t need to worry about what dangers await lurking in the shadows. Owners of plazas and car dealerships also look for light uniformity, since well-lit areas tend to help discourage vandalism and theft.
Uniformity is Important in Other Industries Too
Light uniformity is not just for offices, retail, roads or parks; many behind-the-scenes industries also depend on it to make their business more efficient. Take the emerging horticultural industry, for example: an even amount of light distributed across a plant canopy is a fundamental requirement for photosyntheis, allowing crops to grow faster and healthier. In a totally different vertical, turkey breeders find that uniform lighting ensure the birds stay active and calm. In both situations, the advancement of LED lighting is helping to change the way these industries operate.
Do you have a project in the works? Remember, while lumens and efficacy are important, uniformity is also critical to your end-users. Our Lighting Specialists are always ready to help you design the right layout that ensures the lighting in your space is uniform—just reach out to us!