Lighting for any location can be tricky. If you are aiming to tackle the issue of school lighting, there are a few things you should keep in mind. This setting has a few unique challenges, as well as strengths, that make finding the right school lighting a process of elimination. Here are a few tips to help you make the right choice for your setting.
Use Natural Light Sources
- Most school settings are designed to incorporate natural light as part of the layout. From wide windows taking up the majority of a wall to small accent windows closer to the ceiling, the sources of natural light can play a role in determining the artificial lighting needs of a school. Make sure you utilize natural light as much as possible but don’t rely solely on it. You should also consider the fact the sun, and therefore the natural illumination, will change throughout the day.
- Natural light sources will affect the lumen output you require for the space. You should factor in this type of light when choosing your fixtures, but you should also consider that there will be times when natural light sources will need to be obstructed, especially for audio/visual presentations or special programs, or when there are distractions facing the window that hinder student learning, such as windows facing the playground or other areas of distraction.
- Natural light sources are still encouraged in school settings because there are some studies that suggest that natural light improves focus and performance of students. It is also a money-saving measure to help with the budgetary constraints. However, natural light is not a substitute for having a reliable and appropriate artificial lighting system in place.
- Since school lighting has more natural light than other locations, this greatly impacts the types of lighting that are right for the space. For instance, because you are using more natural light, you can scale back on the artificial lighting in terms of efficiency. While LEDs are generally proposed as the most cost-effective and energy-friendly options for lighting, the high initial cost coupled with the fact that the location needs less lighting thanks to the natural light sources, would make this type of lighting slightly ostentatious or unnecessary.
- Fluorescents are still the staple solution for most school settings. They are a reliable light source that offers decent wattage consumption to lumen output while lasting longer than halogen bulbs. They also offer a cooler operating temperature than halogen. Metal halides are rarely used in schools and only in specific areas. Metal halide fixtures are long-lasting and durable, but they are a higher cost impact than fluorescent or halogen solutions, and are only used in areas such as gyms where the lighting needs rarely fluctuate thought the day.
- Of course, lighting solutions can be more of a mix-and-match system and should be based on the location and needs of the space. You may find that fluorescents are ideal for areas that will use natural light more frequently while other areas without natural light and in need of higher illumination levels, such as laboratories, libraries, and other areas needing increased visibility, would benefit from LED solutions. The matter of costs is always a factor for schools and LEDs are slightly costlier upfront. However, they last much longer and save on utility costs over the long run.
- To save money and control energy costs, every lighting solution in the school would benefit from timers, reflectors, and dimmable properties. Dimmable options allow you to lower energy consumption based on illumination needs at the moment. Reflectors ensure an evenly disbursed lumen output. Timers are the most important as they ensure that lights will only be on when in use.
Obviously, choosing lighting for a setting as vast and varied as a school has several factors to take into consideration. These tips are a good starting point to help narrow down the choices to find the perfect solution for your school!
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