August 10, 2015

The importance of light at the office

To be able to perform tasks comfortably, lighting in a working space should not only provide a minimal amount of luminous intensity, it also can’t be blinding, too bright or irregular. In office lighting, there are a few basic needs that need to be met.


First of all there’s the importance of visual comfort. When employees feel comfortable, they’re more likely to be more productive. Feeling comfortable is highly influenced by the lighting in a working area. Secondly, there’s visual performance, or the ability to perform visual tasks, even in difficult circumstances and over long periods of time. Lighting is important for people to be able to read, both on paper and on computer screens, or recognize shapes and faces. Finally, there’s security; a well-lit work area is a safe work area.

Before we go into the specifics of office lighting; you can find the basic parameters of lighting design in the graphic to the left.


Visual Comfort

Visual comfort is affected by a very important aspect of a working environment: the luminance distribution. This has a huge impact on how much your eyes need to adapt to the light in a working area. When the luminance is too high, it can lead to glare and is tiring for the eyes. This can be the case when a desk is well-lit, but the surrounding areas aren’t. This results in too much contrast between the working space and the surrounding area, forcing the eyes to constantly adapt to different lighting. On the other hand, when the luminance (contrast) is too low, it makes for a dull room, which is never a stimulating working environment…

The people at our light studio department always advise to combine a desk lighting luminaire, like Vaeder, with smaller, inconspicuous (spot)lighting in the background. Have a look at our Smart family (kup, lotis or cake) for instance!  

Illuminance and illumination distribution on work surfaces and their vicinity influence the level of comfort, execution speed and safety in a working environment. The illuminance in a working space should be increased when:

  •      - visual work is critical
  •      - fixing errors is hard and expensive
  •      - accuracy and high productivity are important
  •      - the eyesight of the executor is below average
  •      - the details of the task are very small, or have low contrast
  •      - a task takes unusually long

On the other hand, illuminance should be decreased when details of tasks are unusually large, have high contrast or when tasks take unusually short. Generally speaking; a room that is constantly in use should have a minimum of 200 Lux.

Unified Glare Rating

Another immensely important parameter with office lighting is glare. There are four types of glare and all should be minimalized.

  •      - Direct glare: the result of looking directly into an intense light source.
  •      - Indirect glare: the result of reflection of light (e.g. computer screen or window).
  •      - Discomfort glare: this glare source isn't too bright, so this type of glare is merely a nuisance.
  •      - Disability glare: interferes with your vision (illuminance of the glare source is much higher)

The Unified Glare Rating (UGR) expresses the amount of direct glare by a luminaire. Simply put, this is the logarithm of the glare of all lamps, divided by the lumination in the background. According to EN 12464-1 lighting standards for offices, the UGR in working spaces should be 19 or below.

Since the office lighting market is quickly growing, Modular has launched some nice UGR friendly fixtures that meet the EN 12464-1 standards. Examples are to be found in the comprehensive portfolio of our Smart family, while Vaeder and Drupl 70 are our newest UGR friendly office luminaires. 

For example: Vaeder with a white honeycomb structure and Drupl 70 have UGR’s of respectively 16.3 and 13. Certain Smart familymembers have an UGR of as low as five or six! Depending on the gear you use, the Unified Glare Ratings of different Smart fixtures range between 5 en 19!