The Spotlight’s On Lighting Design: The Metrics Every Contractor Should Know (Part 1)

November 17, 2014 at 8:38 pm  •  Posted in Construction  •  0 Comments

….When it comes to lighting, contractors typically look at cost, performance, and efficiency measures. But what about design?

How can lighting designers and contractors work together to deliver a superior lighting experience that enhances the intended use of a building?

Lighting design is about more than pretty lights—it’s an art and a science. It’s about meeting total cost, performance, efficiency, and aesthetic needs. If contractors and lighting designers work together as a team, the end result should be better buildings with happier occupants—and happier customers.

Article Contents

As a part of our G2 Talk Webinar Series, Graybar’s Greg Aranda interviewed Lisa J. Reed, Founding Principal of Envision Lighting Design, about lighting appearance and performance. In this blog post, we’ll sum up what electrical contractors should know about lighting design.

Here’s the full Google Chat, if you’d like to take a look:

The Evolution Of Lighting

Back in the day, electronic ballasts and T8 lamps were the silver bullet to a better lighting experience. Twenty years ago, the potential energy savings and promise of better color—plus the quieter, more efficient electronic ballasts—were impressive.

We aren’t as easily captivated nowadays. Times have changed since those early days of lighting, and there are many options to choose from. With so many choices at your fingertips, how can you determine which lighting is best for your project?

Lighting Performance Metrics

When it comes to lighting quality, there are certain characteristics we can’t measure. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of eyeballing it. But here are a few things we can quantify:


What Is It?
This is the light leaving a source in one specific direction.

Why It’s Important:
Let’s say you’re working on lighting an optometry practice. Choosing the right pair of frames from 50 options is harder than skipping coffee on a Monday morning. (Personally, I need all the lighting I can get.) To deliver a positive customer experience, the display area needs that extra punch of directional lighting. A good lighting designer would use candelas to quantify how much light will reach the display.

Your Options:
The amount of directional light coming out of the center of the beam is something halogens did well, whereas compact fluorescents never quite caught up. According to Lisa, LEDs are continually improving in this area.


What Is It?
Lumens, the total light leaving a fixture, is a term we hear a lot more than we used to. In the recent past, the amount of lighting that came from a source was often loosely described in watts. But to determine if a source provides enough light, we need to look at lumens.

A Practical Example:
Let’s go back to our retail lighting example. If you have the same number of total lumens coming from a fixture—but not as many from the center of the beam—you won’t get the brightness you need on the display area.

And if you’re retrofitting a space, you’ll need to know the lumen output on the fixtures you’re replacing. This helps you match that previous level of brightness.

Which Lighting Should You Choose?

Twenty years ago, your lighting choices were easy: halogen, compact fluorescent, HIDs, or metal halides. In today’s lamp aisle, there are many lighting options to choose from. To define which lighting is right for your project, first determine the application—such as outdoor, retail, industrial, or healthcare—then cross-reference your checklist of metrics.

What’s Next?
Following these steps is a good start, but we’re just scratching the surface. Stay tuned for part two of this blog post, where we’ll discuss a few more important lighting metrics—like backlight, uplight, and glare—and why they’re important in a few applications.

Over To You
Join the conversation by leaving a comment below, or connecting with us on Twitter @GraybarESP or on Facebook.


Todd Reed, National Market ManagerAbout The Author
Todd Reed, National Market Manager

Husband to a professionally licensed architectural engineer and lighting designer (a.k.a. Lisa J. Reed) and son-in-law to an electrician, Todd knows the importance of efficiency, safety, and productivity for electrical contractors. Todd is a seasoned professional, with 5 years’ experience within a family-owned distribution business and 10 years as a Graybar employee. As National Market Manager at Graybar, Todd’s goal is to find the best products and solutions to help contractors work more efficiently, stay safe on the job, and win more productive and profitable business.


Sources & Credits
Shedding Light on LED Lighting
Illuminating Engineering Society

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