How to choose the best lighting for illuminating a warehouse?

Generally speaking, modern warehouses are built using a steel frame structure with metal panels covering all vertical surfaces, except where doors are installed. Roofs are built in a similar form but usually have a small number of transparent skylight panels to provide natural lighting to the space. This advantage is very useful for open warehouses as it provides additional natural lighting for free, but the addition of high-rise racks and narrow aisles in warehouses blocks natural light, meaning that all warehouse lighting must be provided artificially. Warehouses can range in size from small to large, with dimensions ranging from a few meters to hundreds of meters, while vertical heights can range from a few meters to over 20 meters.

Installing adequate and appropriate lighting will enable workers to perform visual tasks accurately and efficiently in a warehouse environment.

Requirements for LED Warehouse Lighting

Determining the brightness of LED warehouse lights is critical to creating a good work environment. Light intensity is measured in foot candles (FC), with one-foot candle equal to one lumen per foot.

Specific foot candle requirements vary depending on the area within the warehouse and the tasks being performed.

In general warehouse spaces, recommended foot-candle requirements range from 20 to 30 fc. However, areas where complex tasks are performed may require levels as high as 200 fc to ensure visibility and precision. It is important to note that these recommendations are for guidance only and actual lighting needs may vary depending on the situation and local regulations.

Here are some specific foot-candle recommendations for various industrial and commercial settings as per a Foot foot-candle chart from LED Lighting.:

  • General Work/Storage in Airplane Hangars: 30 FC
  • Aircraft Maintenance with some detailed tasks: 30-50 FC
  • Aircraft Maintenance with fine detailed tasks: 70-100 FC
  • Work with limited detailed tasks in Garages/Workshops: 30-50 FC
  • Work with fine-detailed tasks in Garages/Workshops: 70 FC
  • Machine Shops with fine bench work: 200-500 fc​.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has established foot candle standards for settings. 

  • In warehouse areas, corridors, and exit ways, the requirement is 5-foot candles. 
  • For warehouses that handle large items, it is recommended to have around 10 lumens per foot for optimal lighting. 

The selection of luminaire type within the different warehouse buildings will depend greatly on the dimensions and height of the space as well as the usage and whether it be as an open area or completely racked throughout, however, many applications are a combination of both open areas and racking. An important consideration relates to the tasks being carried out within the warehouse space, making it impossible to provide the scenario of one lighting solution that fits all types of applications, rather each installation will need to be considered on its individual merits, and a lighting solution designed to meet those requirements.

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