LED Warehouse Lighting: Requirements & Best Practices

February 3, 2021 | Cristina Dinulescu

warehouse lighting design

Workplace lighting is an important aspect to consider, as it contributes greatly to organizational productivity and efficiency. In fact, studies demonstrate that good lighting can increase workplace satisfaction, leading to job fulfillment, and enhancing organizational commitment, and that applies to LED warehouse lighting as well. 

The federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for ensuring workplace safety. It has established guidelines in lighting as well, specifically regarding the minimum amount of lighting necessary in working areas. 

When reviewing these guidelines, you will discover mentions regarding the safety of lighting outlets and controls, wiring standards, artificial light safety, the minimum clearance from light fixtures, and emergency lighting. OSHA standard 1926.56 listed the minimum lighting requirements in foot-candles (ftc.), representing the amount of illumination produced by a candle from a 1-foot distance. And these guidelines apply to a variety of work environments, including offices, hallways, and even warehouses. 

OSHA Requirements For LED Warehouse Lighting

warehouse lighting

OSHA mentions that a workspace environment needs to be organized in such a manner that glare and excessive lighting is reduced, as these may result in headaches and eye strain. If you are wondering how bright a warehouse ought to be, then here are some aspects you need to consider: 

  • In general construction areas, warehouses, hallways, corridors, and exit ways, the standard lighting should be a minimum of 5ftc.
  • In field-maintenance areas, concrete placement, active storage areas, loading platforms, evacuation and waste areas, lighting should be a minimum of 3ftc.
  • Shops including indoor bathrooms and mess rooms, as well as general construction plants, lighting must be 10ftc.

Lighting outlets, as well as switch placement, are governed by OSHA standard 1926.403 (j) (3)(ii). Outlets are required to be placed in such a way that an employee making a repair or changing the bulbs is out of harm’s way, safe from injury by other moving machinery or live parts. Also, light switches should be installed at a safe distance from moving machinery or another potential hazard. 

Standard 1910 includes all electrical wiring installation and applies to lighting. It establishes the minimum standards for grounding, wire size, and installation procedures and locations. Standard 1910.305 mentions that temporary lighting should not exceed 600 volts for maintenance, remodeling, and repair of buildings.

It also states that temporary Christmas lighting should not exceed 90 days. Also, in the OSHA standard 1910.304(c)(5), it is mentioned that lighting used outdoors should be placed below conductors, live transformers, and any other electrical appliances unless other clearances and safeguards are offered. 

What You Need To Know When Choosing Warehouse Lighting

LED warehouse lighting

It is important to be aware of certain terms when lighting a warehouse and choosing the appropriate fixtures. 

  • Contrast 

The relationship between the brightness of an object and its background is defined as contrast. The greater the contrast between an object and its background, the higher the visibility of that object. Illumination may compensate for poor contrast up to a point. 

  • Flicker 

Repeated, quick changes in light intensity, a light that appears to be unsteady and flutter is referred to as flicker. Even though humans cannot see the fluorescent lights flicker, some individuals can detect the flicker.

  • Glare 

Any reflected brightness, from a surface or unshielded light source, interfering with the visual performance and visibility is known as glare. It may be accompanied by discomfort. Also, it may limit a person’s ability to complete a task in safe and accurate conditions. 

  • Illuminance

The amount of light falling on a surface is known as illuminance and the units of measurement are lux and footcandles. A footcandle (fc) is an IP (inch-pound) unit of illuminance or illumination collected by a surface at a distance of one foot from a source of intensity. 

  • Lumen 

This is the most common measurement of light output from a lamp. The lumen output of a lamp varies on the lamp type and its wattage. As these age and become dirty, their lumen output decreases.

  • Luminaire

This is a complete lighting unit, also known as a “light fixture.” It consists of the lamp, optical reflector and housing, and electrical components. 

  • Lux

The SI (International System or metric) unit of illuminance received by a one square meter surface one meter from a source of intensity (1 lux=1 lumen/square meter) is known as the lux. One lux is equal to approximately 0.09290 footcandles.

4 Best Practices For LED Warehouse Lighting

sketch for warehouse lighting

LED light fixtures are by far the most versatile and energy-efficient warehouse lighting option there is. LED warehouse lighting uses less energy than any other light source while emitting similar lumen outputs. LEDs can be bought as complete fixtures for new buildings or retrofits for current fixtures. Because they can last up to 100,000 life hours, you don’t have to go up the ladder to change the bulb as often as you did. They work great in cold temperatures, but they may be affected by higher temperatures. 

1. Color Temperature

This may not seem like a big deal, but color temperature is definitely something you need to concern yourself with when choosing the light fixture for the warehouse. Color temperature can have a huge impact on both the level of visibility and productivity. The best color temperature choices for warehouses are between 4000K and 5000K. This range emits a cool white, with a bluish tint, which has been established through studies to reduce eye strain and increase productivity. 

2. Brightness 

When it comes to illumination, the color of your walls and ceiling can make a huge difference. Lighter painted walls and ceilings have higher reflectance than dark colors. This means that you can use fixtures with a lower lumen output. These have the benefit of consuming less power. Plus, if your warehouse has skylights, you could get away with a lower lumen output fixture. If this is the case, you will need to turn on fewer fixtures on sunny days. 

Make sure you wire fixtures to multiple switches and turn on as many as you need. Invest in diffuser lens covers, so that this way you will not have fixtures that are too bright, causing glare. Remember that this can decrease productivity or even cause workplace accidents.

3. Position of Fixtures

Positioning your LED warehouse lighting fixtures is crucial. Installing them too close together could cause hot spots and even glare to appear. Positioning them too far apart could create the illumination “drop-off” or dark areas. So make sure you map out where you would want to install the fixtures before actually doing it. And if you are unsure, call a lighting professional to give you a helping hand. 

4. Light Distribution

Depending on the layout of the facility, warehouses need either an I or V light distribution type. The I type is beneficial for spaces with tall shelving, as this type has a very long and narrow light pattern. For warehouses with a more open floor plan, the V type is more appropriate, as this emits the light in a widespread fashion from all parts of the fixture, in either a square or circular distribution. 

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