Visual Lighting: The first commandment of workplace lighting

The primary goal of a lighting design in any workplace is to ensure the comfort of the occupants. Following this are the goals of the wellbeing of the occupants and the aesthetics. Falling short on any of these objectives can make the workplace hostile and unproductive.

What does “comfort of the occupants” entail?

Visual Lighting 101

Typical activities in a workplace involve a certain amount of reading, working on detail-oriented tasks, interacting with the objects and the people in the workplace – and centre to all of these is good lighting.

None of these activities should be deprived of adequate lighting nor should they be overilluminated. Optimally designed lighting allows for an increased focus on tasks and a better perception of the spaciousness. It should also highlight the aesthetic appeal of a workplace. It is achieved not with one catch-all solution – but rather with a combination of direct task lighting along with diffused ambient lighting. This kind of design involves a thorough examination of every space in the workplace and an understanding of how they will be utilized. It offers a customized, occupant-centric design and provides for a good user experience.

The two factors that need to be considered in an optimal visual lighting design are:

  • Visual Acuity
  • Task Lighting

What is Visual Acuity?

Visual acuity refers to the clarity of vision of the occupant in a given space. The intensity of the light plays a big role in providing good visual acuity. The light intensity for visual acuity is calculated in lux which is a measure of the way the eye responds to light, weighted to the response of the cone cells (these are the main photoreceptors for daytime vision).

Simply put, it is a measure of how well the eye responds to an artificial light source as opposed to a
natural light source.

In a good visual lighting design, the ambient light at workstations or desks should be:

  • Able to maintain an average of 215 lux [20 fc] or more measured on the horizontal plane, 0.76 m [30 inches] above finished floor. The lights may be dimmed in the presence of daylight, but they are able to independently achieve these levels.
  • Zoned in independently controlled banks no larger than 46.5 m² [500 ft²] or 20% of open floor area of the room (whichever is larger).

Task Lighting

Task lighting refers to the amount of light a specific task needs in order to be accomplished successfully. This involves focussed lighting and contrast adjustment. While it is heavily occupational-specific, for a typical corporate workplace, good task lighting is achieved with:

  • Task lights providing 300 to 500 lux (28 to 46 fc) at the work surface, if the ambient light at workstations or desks is below 300 lux

These measures for visual acuity and task lighting have been defined as per the WELL Building Standards, which is an industry standard that marries the best practices in design and constructio with evidence-based health and wellness interventions.

At Arraystorm, our lighting sources and lighting management systems are designed bearing these standards in mind. To know more about this, visit

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