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Are your workplace LED lights too bright?

Bright lights in a workplace environment can be distracting, or even cause health issues like eye strain and headaches for employees.

Replacing any traditional incandescent lights in your workplace with LEDs is a great energy improvement to make. LEDs are more efficient types of light, meaning less energy will be wasted in your workplace, cutting your energy bills and carbon emissions. However, we often find that once a business has made the switch to LEDs, they find them much brighter than their previous lights, which can cause irritation.

Why is this, and what can you do about it?

Why are LED lights so bright?

LED lights are bright because they have a higher lumen rating compared to traditional incandescent bulbs. Lumens are simply a measure of the total amount of visible light from a light source, so the higher the lumen rating the brighter the lamp will appear to the human eye.

LED light bulbs have a high lumen rating because they are more efficient, converting the vast majority of the energy into light – whereas an incandescent bulb produces heat as well as light, which is wasted. This means that a higher light output, or brighter light, can be achieved from an LED light, with much less energy consumption – which is also why they’re such a great improvement for energy efficiency.

LED light bulbs have a higher light output (lumens) than traditional incandescent bulbs – so a 60W LED bulb will appear much brighter than a 60W incandescent bulb.

But, this can often cause confusion. We are more used to judging the brightness of a bulb based on Watts. That means that you might end up replacing your 60W incandescent bulbs with a 60W LED light bulb – and wonder why the LED replacement is so much brighter. Watts are simply the unit of power, telling you how much energy the light bulb uses to produce light, but not the light output.

Understanding the energy usage of your organisation

A crucial step in the process of making energy efficiency improvements to a building is understanding your existing energy performance and use in order to identify improvements. Oxford Brookes’ Environmental Information Exchange team (one of our three project partners) are experts at undertaking energy assessments and audits, and in this webinar we were joined by…

How can you reduce the brightness of LED lights?

Some people find this bright light from LEDs can cause health issues, causing headaches and sore eyes – which can be exacerbated in a workplace environment where many of us spend our days looking at screens. So what can you do to reduce this?

Reduce the wattage

Because an LED light bulb is so much more efficient and has a higher light output, it’s likely that you will need a lower wattage of light bulb than your previous incandescent light bulb. As a rough guide, a 5 to 25W LED light bulb will give the same brightness as a 40-100W incandescent light bulb.

Therefore, the first thing to check is the wattage of the LED light bulbs you’ve installed. If they seem light they might be too high, it’s worth testing out a lower wattage. Some LED light bulbs will have a conversion factor on their packaging, telling you the equivalent in traditional  light bulbs.

Opt for warm white

Old-style, incandescent bulbs gave out a warm, almost yellow-y light, and we have got used to this being the standard. LED lights, in contrast, provide a much cooler white lighting, so it can seem brighter because of this.

You can buy LED light bulbs that are deliberately designed to give off a warm white light, and this will usually be obvious on the labelling. Alternatively, you could try compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) instead. These are less efficient than LEDs (but still considerably more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs) but give of a warmer, diffused light.

Check the positioning

We often see offices which have strip lighting throughout the room or building, meaning that lighting is quite intense for employees. Often it is more comfortable to have task lighting, wherein lights are placed to illuminate specific areas of the room and create a more ambient environment. This can be done through minimising ceiling lights and adding in desk lamps, or you can change the positioning of your ceiling lights.

This can also be beneficial in other kinds of workplaces. In manufacturing businesses or warehouses, for instance, you will need to ensure that areas where machinery is used is well-lit for health and safety reasons, but you may not need the whole space to be brightly lit constantly.

Make use of technology

In some workplaces lights are left on throughout the day, even during the daylight hours. If this is the case in your workplace, we’d recommend only using lights when they are needed to reduce the issues caused by too bright lights.

This can be automated with technology such as timers and automations, allowing you to programme when you want the lights to come on and off during the day.

Further, you can also install a dimmer switch to give you more control over the intensity of the lighting, allowing you to dim the lights if they are too bright. This  has the additional benefit of reducing the energy used on lighting even more.

Thanks for reading!

Energy Solutions Oxfordshire is a complete energy efficiency service, helping organisations lower their energy use, while saving time and money. Get started by filling out our online survey to get a free Desktop Diagnosis Report for your organisation.

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