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    Office-lighting checklist: How to deliver workplace lighting that meets – and exceeds – the standards

    Office lighting has to fulfil various tasks, but the main goal is to satisfy basic lighting-related needs: provide visual comfort, enhance visual performance, and provide for safety.

    To make sure it does, governing bodies such as the EN and the International Commission on Illumination have established regulations specifying minimum lighting requirements and made recommendations concerning the quantity and quality of illumination in the workplace.


    Technological changes, the presence of multiple generations in the workplace, evolving needs, and growing awareness have made the question of office lighting more acute. Businesses are recognizing that lighting can improve employees’ emotional and mental comfort – by, for example, providing lighting that supports circadian rhythms.


    But work remains to be done and what follows is a checklist for both lighting professionals and people responsible for operating workspaces. The goal is that they understand the added value that office lighting brings – and learn about the various ways to deliver high quality of lighting, resulting in a more comfortable office space.

    1. Light levels

    Light’s intensity in a given space is the most important thing about it, and the first thing that requires your attention. For this, EN 12464-1 mandates that office lighting for writing, typing, reading, and data-processing be a minimum of 500 lux on average, regardless of the size or condition of the structure in question.

    Signify recommendation


    Though an average of 500 lux is the norm, it’s crucial to adjust office lighting so that it facilitates the smallest tasks, giving employees maximum personal control and flexibility. While normal light intensity is sufficient to illuminate the task area of a CAD workstation, someone who’s proofreading or doing skilled manual labor, for example, will require 750 lux. For multi-purpose spaces, depending on the needs, type, and size of the installation, Signify designs lighting systems such as Philips SpaceWise, Interact Pro and Interact Office. Among other functionalities, these systems let users easily adjust lighting levels and settings in their own personal spaces.


    It’s also important to consider the surrounding and background areas of the task field you’re working with. A lighting distribution that’s well-balanced between these areas promotes visual comfort and performance.


    In addition, consider the ages of the people who use your space. Elderly people, especially those performing tasks that require higher levels of visual performance, could require more than 500 lux – and even up to 1000 lux.


    And don’t forget that lighting should also make people look better, highlight objects, and reveal texture – goals that you can achieve using multi-directional illuminance, modelling, and directional lighting.

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    2. Uniformity

    Uniformity is the ratio of the minimum lighting level to the average lighting level in a specified area. It’s a quality parameter for the overall illuminance distribution.


    A working environment with a 0.60 ratio is one in which people don’t notice different lighting levels with the naked eye and feel themselves in an environment in which light is well-distributed. Raising the ratio to 0.65 will give even better uniformity, which will make people with poorer vision more comfortable.

    Signify recommendation


    Lighting simulations can in some cases let you calculate uniformity in an office space. It’s important, however, to be aware of the products’ beam shape you’re working within actual conditions. Certain shapes can result in sufficient values but create a negative impact, for example by throwing harsh shadows.


    Philips products are developed using optimal beam shapes, thus avoiding potential visual discomfort. Philips’ office products make it easy to achieve good uniformities, in both simulations and real-life applications. SmartBalance, for example, provides high vertical illuminance while maintaining a UGR level below 19, resulting in high uniformities.


    3. Unified Glare Rating (UGR)- Direct Glare

    Glare is the quality that makes it difficult to see in bright light. It comes in two types, which sometimes overlap. Direct discomfort glare makes you want to look away from a bright source. Disability glare actually affects your vision negatively.


    Bright areas can cause discomfort glare, which a person can experience as disability glare. For office work areas, make sure you keep the Unified Glare Rating (a measure defined by CIE) under 19, the recommended limit. In corridors or common spaces like break-out areas, the UGR can vary between 19 to 25.


    CIE recommends a much lower UGR value of 16 for elderly people, specifically for writing, reading, and typing activities. 

    Signify recommendation

    Signify makes a variety of luminaires that provide different UGR values for different activities. For example, the TrueLine family includes products that support the UGR 19 requirement, as well as UGR 22 products for common spaces where UGR 19 isn’t essential. PowerBalance products have UGR ratings of 16, to support the needs of the elderly.

    4. Indirect glare and Display screen equipment (DSE)

    Vertical display screens, so ubiquitous in the modern office, can produce indirect glare, causing discomfort for users due to the reflection on bright surfaces. To keep this problem under control, a certain maximum luminance limit is required for luminaires at certain downward vertical angles (65 degrees and above). EN 12464-1 mandates that, depending on the screen luminance, luminaires should have maximum luminance values at or above certain angles: 1500cd/m2 for medium luminance screens and 3000cd/m2 for high luminance screens.

    Signify recommendation

    Signify develops optical solutions that support low luminance values at certain angles while providing good uniformity with reasonable lighting arrangements. All Signify office-compliant products have values lower than 3000cd/m2 at 65 degrees and above. The PowerBalance range offer values even lower than 1500cd/m2, enhancing visual comfort in medium luminance screen workplaces.

    5. Modelling and Cylindrical Illuminance

    Cylindrical illuminance is defined by calculating the average vertical illuminance on a cylinder. The European standard states that it should be equal to or higher than 50 lux.


    In offices where good visual communication is important, such as an open plan office or a meeting or training area, EN recommends that cylindrical illuminance shouldn’t be under 150 lux, with uniformity equal to or higher than 0.10.


    Modeling lets you determine the balance between directed and diffuse light. It’s indicated as the ratio of cylindrical illuminance to horizontal illuminance.


    For uniform luminaire arrangements, between 0.30 and 0.60 is a good modelling ratio.

    Signify recommendation

    Better cylindrical illuminance means better visual communication. Today’s offices feature diverse types of areas: areas where people gather for impromptu conversations, for example, and areas where they hold more formal scheduled meetings. Sufficient light promotes good communication, letting people better perceive each other’s facial expressions and body language.


    Signify has developed its office-compliant portfolio, including products like Philips SlimBlend, to ensure high vertical illuminance and uniformity. A working environment with high vertical lighting levels will also be one with good modelling. The end result is high visual comfort.

    7. Illuminance on walls and ceilings


    Just like illuminance in a task area, illuminance on the surfaces that surround it has a significant impact on visual comfort and performance. EN stipulates illuminance values for walls as 50 lux and for ceilings as 30 lux, with uniformity equal to or higher than 0.10. Higher illuminance values for walls (75 lux) and ceilings (50 lux) are appropriate for promoting visual comfort in office environments.

    Signify recommendation


    Philips products provide high lighting levels on walls and ceilings, and use top quality optics. But it also designs lighting system and software applications depending on the user needs and different installation types. The SmartBalance product family includes recessed, free floor standing, suspended, wall-mounted, and surface-mounted luminaires, for example. This variety gives users high lighting levels and the chance to create diverse lighting scenarios by combining different product types in the office, while maintaining a consistent look and feel across the lighting equipment.


    Philips SpaceWise wireless lighting solution is another choice for efficiently providing excellent lighting in a way that takes into account your workplace’s spatial parameters and the need for space optimization. It provides lighting in occupied areas without sacrificing lighting levels on surrounding surfaces.