2789 Clearwater Road
St. Cloud, MN, 56301
If you’ve ever worked on a lighting project, you know there’s a long list of factors to consider outside of picking the right LED products. And one of the biggest considerations is determining what spaces your light will illuminate.
So how exactly do you make sure that your lighting will have the correct light output and lumen power to achieve your desired look?
The short answer: a photometric lighting plan.
If you’re not familiar with the term, photometrics is the study of light. It sounds nerdy (because it is), but it’s critical that anyone working on a light installation project knows how to navigate a photometric plan.
Simply put, a photometric layout is a simulation that allows you to digitally review your design and determine whether your lighting installation will translate as you envisioned. (Or, in other words, whether your project will look exactly as you have pictured it in your head.) These reports measure the total light output and the angular spread of the light output to make sure that light ends up where you need it (and doesn’t end up where you don’t intend for it to be — like the nearby residential yard).
The lighting industry has many quirky phrases, including the term “footcandles” (or the measurement of light intensity). If a uniform source of light produces one footcandle of illumination, it illuminates a one-square-foot surface.
This is important to know because many city codes are tightening their restrictions on trespassing light, or the light that illuminates areas outside of their intended illumination area. In fact, some codes do not allow light trespassing of more than one footcandle, which can easily occur if plans are not in place to prevent over-illumination. On the opposite end of the lighting spectrum, under-illuminating a space can have severe consequences, specifically when it comes to safety.
So when do you need to create a photometric study report?
We recommend that every lighting project use a photometric report. But in particular, these plans are necessary anytime that your lighting must adhere to specific codes, are being used for safety purposes (think parking lots), or you’re working with a complicated lighting package for a large property (for example, an apartment complex or hotel project).
Whether you’re updating existing lighting or embarking on something new, every good lighting design needs a blueprint. There’s nothing worse than getting knee-deep into a project only to realize that your plan isn’t going to work after all — and we hate to see custom lighting go to waste.
The big takeaway: Always complete a photometric report to confirm that your lighting plan meets required specifications. It’ll also give you peace of mind that your budget and timeline will stick to their projections once work begins.