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What brightness is optimal for a workshop?

A dark workplace is not only unsociable but, depending on the work, can even be problematic for safety. Optimum brightness for a workplace is also good for productivity and working atmosphere. 

According to the applicable standard NEN-EN 12464-1, a minimum horizontal illuminance of 500 lux mandatory in the workplace. This brightness must be achieved at work surface height, about 75 centimetres above the floor. Glare from lighting should also be minimised (UGR<19). 

There are no maximum requirements for luminance in a workplace. The limitation of glare can be seen indirectly as the upper limit of brightness. Excessive brightness of the light source, reflection from surfaces, as well as the position of the workplace lighting all affect this. 

At D-Lighted, we like to help entrepreneurs create an optimal lighting plan. In this, we can use Dialux software to create a smart simulation that takes light intensity into account. Ask a D-Lighted advisor (without obligation) about the possibilities: 

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NEN-EN 12464-1 as basis for luminous intensity 

The European standard for indoor lighting in workrooms is NEN-EN 12464-1. Within these provisions, requirements are set for, among other things, the minimum brightness required at the workplace. 

All entrepreneurs and organisations in the Netherlands have to comply with the standard, so it is always wise to use the NEN-EN 12464-1 as a starting point for a new lighting plan when choosing the optimal light intensity. 

Besides the minimum requirement for light intensity in a workshop of 500 lux, there are some other relevant requirements to consider: 

  • Light distribution: There should be even light distribution in the workplace (uniformity) and shadows should be avoided as much as possible.  
  • Colour fastnessColours must be faithfully reproduced in the workplace by means of interior lighting. The colour rendering index, the CRI (Ra) value, must be at least 80. 
  • Glare: Lighting in workplaces should not be too bright or disruptive. Glare is indicated by the Unified Glare Rating (UGR), this value should always be below 19. 
  • Energy consumption: There is an obligation to use energy-efficient lamps, such as LED lighting. It also includes the use of LED dimmers, a lighting management system and incidence of sufficient daylight. 
  • Flicker: There should be no disturbing or flickering light in the workplace. 
  • Emergency lighting: The presence of emergency lighting that continues to operate for at least one hour in the event of a power failure is mandatory in the workplace. Emergency lights must be clearly visible and provided with pictograms as stipulated in NEN-EN 1838. 

Maximum workplace brightness 

We now have a good idea of the ideal minimum brightness for a workplace, but there is obviously an upper limit. After all, there is such a thing as 'too much light', where working in a workplace is actually hampered by too bright or distracting lighting. 

As mentioned earlier, within the NEN EN-12464-1 standard there is no hard upper limit for the number of lux (the total number of lumens / area in m2) per workplace. However, it does specify a maximum for the degree of glare. 

In principle, therefore, we can assume maximum workplace brightness if the Unified Glare Rating (UGR) exceeds a value of 19. This is the upper limit that is desirable in the context of proper work lighting. 

Determining the UGR value is not done with a direct measurement or a device. It is a calculation based on various measurable factors and conditions. Consider, for example, the type of lighting, the room in which the lighting is used (reflection from surfaces, the presence of daylight), or the position of the light (it should not shine directly into the eyes, for example). 

Factors affecting luminosity 

Apart from all the requirements and lux values, there are of course the necessary environmental factors that can greatly influence the level of light in a workshop. These must be taken into account when determining the right workplace lighting. 

These are the main factors affecting the brightness of a workshop: 

  • Daylight: Light from outside is perhaps the biggest factor in determining the amount of light required. The amount of daylight depends on the size of the windows and the orientation of the building. Furthermore, factors such as the season, weather, but also shade from trees or buildings are relevant in determining the amount of daylight. 
  • Distance to light source: The brightness of a light source will be greater the closer the workplace will be to the light source. A ceiling lamp needs a higher lux value than a work lamp directly above a desk or table. 
  • Type of environment: The shape of the interior space and the reflection of materials in this interior space also affect the lighting experience. Higher reflection in a smaller room will greatly reduce the need for brightness. At the same time, low reflection in a large room will greatly increase the need. 
  • Type of work: Specific tasks require more light than others. The more detail has to be used in the work, the more brightness will be needed. NEN EN-12464-1 also explicitly distinguishes between these different task types. A higher minimum light intensity is used for work that requires more detail. 
  • Screen usage: Computer screens will cause reflection from artificial light sources. This can cause lower productivity in the workplace, for example. Preventing glare is essential in an office with many screens. Light levels are lower here. 

Durable LED lighting from D-Lighted 

Choosing the right light intensity in a workshop cannot be done offhand. Entrepreneurs and property owners will have to adhere to existing standards and their implications for workplace lighting. 

Of course, environmental factors must also be taken into account. No two workplaces are alike, but work activities can also vary from one situation to another. All these variables can influence the optimum lighting level for the workplace. Here, finding the right light balance is very important for workplace productivity. 

This is why it is vital to seek the help of a lighting professional. Using a personal light simulation, the D-Lighted team will be happy to help you determine which light intensity best suits the situation. Please feel free to contact one of our advisers: 

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