Top 9 Tips for School and Classroom Lighting

Top 9 Tips for School and Classroom Lighting

We all know the right lighting can enhance the ambiance at your favorite restaurant, brighten up a retail space, improve safety in a warehouse, and boost productivity in an open office.

But did you know the same logic applies to education environments?

Believe it or not, quality lighting can positively impact learning and scholastic achievement, too.

In addition, today’s light fixtures can reduce energy and maintenance costs. And since tax dollars are concerned, that’s an upgrade that can benefit everyone in the community.

If you are a decision-maker at a school district and are considering improvements to your lighting, we here at Warehouse Lighting are here to help.

To get things started, here’s a list of our top education lighting tips.

1. Upgrade to LED

If you’ve switched to LED light bulbs in your home, you were probably shocked (no pun intended) to notice that an LED replacement for a typical 60-watt incandescent bulb only uses about 9 watts of power. That’s a mere 15% of the power required to create the same lumen output.

And when compared to fluorescent lights, LEDs are typically 80% more efficient.

Now imagine that energy savings spread across the hundreds (or even thousands) of light fixtures found in a typical school.

In addition, a typical fluorescent bulb will last around 8,000 hours. By comparison, LED fluorescent fixtures and retrofit bulbs can last between 25,000 and 100,000 hours. This translates to a significant reduction in replacement costs as well as man-hours.

2. Leverage available natural light

Studies have shown that natural light enhances learning because it can help keep students alert. And of course, the more natural light you use, the lower your energy consumption.

Therefore, if a classroom, library, or other learning space has natural light sources, take advantage when you can. But also make sure the room has adequate electrical light options for rainy and overcast days, and of course for use in the evening.

3. Install occupancy sensors

It goes without saying that it’s a waste of electricity to illuminate an empty room.

Since students (and let’s face it, sometimes teachers) may occasionally forget to turn the lights off when they leave, an occupancy sensor will do it automatically.

In addition, occupancy sensors automatically turn lights on when someone enters a dark room. So, whether it’s a matter of someone not being able to locate the switch, or they’re holding a large stack of books and a cup of coffee, an occupancy sensor helps ensure no one has to fumble around in the dark and potentially trip over something.

4. Install off/on timers

In spaces that are constantly occupied during the day (such as libraries or common areas), an Off/On timer may be a better solution for lowering electric bills.

Specifically, an Off/On timer lets you program the hours you need a room to stay illuminated, and then shut lights off during hours when the room will remain unoccupied.

5. Choose the right color temperature

While a “warmer” color temperature may be appropriate for a dining or family room (or that favorite restaurant we mentioned earlier), they’re not ideal for education environments.

Believe it or not, a “cooler” and whiter color temperature can aid in alertness and concentration, and even help improve test scores. As such, we recommend staying in the 5000k to 6000k range when selecting light fixtures.

6. Consider color rendering indexes based on area

Ever noticed how it’s easier to tell colors apart when you expose them to natural light? Or have you ever held an article of clothing next to a window to see if it’s blue or black?

If so, you understand the importance of color rendering indexes. Simply put, a color rendering index is a measurement of a light source’s ability to faithfully reveal the true colors of an object.

In other words, a light source with a low CRI rating (typically 0 to 55) will make it difficult to tell colors apart. A light source in the “good” range (60 to 85) will make it much easier. And with a light source featuring an “excellent” CRI rating (90 to 100), you’ll have no trouble at all telling your blue socks apart from the black ones.

For context, daylight typically has a CRI of around 75.

Therefore, when choosing LED lighting for schools, consider the importance of color rendering. For example, this may not be an important attribute in a study hall. But in an art studio or perhaps a chemistry lab, it could be crucial to learning.

In these instances, we recommend selecting lighting with a CRI rating of 80 or higher.

7. Don't overlook exterior lighting

Thoughtfully-planned exterior lighting will not only improve the appearance of a school but can greatly enhance safety while helping to deter theft and vandalism.

When planning a lighting upgrade, make sure to think about walkways that are prone to winter ice, exterior walls, parking lots, and everywhere else where safety is of particular importance.

8. Definitely don't overlook emergency lighting

Like most public buildings, schools are subject to strict regulations pertaining to safety. This includes requirements for emergency backup and exit lighting.

Like all lighting, exit signs and emergency backup lights can wear out over time. In addition, modern LED versions last longer and use less electricity.

A refresh of your emergency and exit lighting can save your school money in the long run – and more importantly – best ensure students can find the exits in the event of a power outage or other situation.

9. Perform a lighting audit

A lighting audit entails a thorough assessment of the lighting you currently have, determining the lighting you need, and formulating a plan.

During the audit, you’ll note what lights you can keep, which will need an update (like an LED retrofit), and which lights need replacement. In addition to lights, you’ll also want to look at switches, perhaps wiring, opportunities for occupancy sensors and Off/On timers, and more.

While this may seem like a lot of work on the front end, it can help ensure you don’t install more lighting you need (potentially wasting money and electricity) or invest in a system that doesn’t meet your needs.

 Fortunately, the lighting pros at Warehouse Lighting have the knowledge and experience to walk you through the process and help you select the perfect lighting solution for your school’s unique needs. Give us a call at 888-454-4480 or visit our Contact Us page.

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