Innovations in Indoor Commercial Lighting

The marketplace for indoor commercial lighting has never been so good. New products seem to appear almost every day, and they’re getting better and better. The only challenge is deciding among so many options. It’s a good time to review the offerings and try to decode some of the new technology.

Indoor commercial lighting includes applications like retail, offices, and warehouses. (One could even argue that institutional spaces like schools, libraries, and hospitals are included.) These applications ask for a lot of light fixtures. The light has to be reliable, affordable, energy efficient, powerful, high quality, easy to install, easy to maintain, and more. It’s no wonder that manufacturers have been pouring major resources into developing new products in recent years.


Flat Panel LED Lights

Perhaps the most popular indoor commercial light fixture is the flat-panel LED light. These flush-mounted (usually) lights are spread across ceilings of offices and stores around the world. They have proven to be a reliable light fixture for these applications, but early versions earned a bad reputation as flickery and unattractive. Fortunately, today’s flat-panel lights are infinitely better.

Today’s fixtures are flicker-free and produce bright light that is evenly distributed across the entire lens of the fixture. They can also be tuned to whatever color temperature and brightness you need.

If an office break room or a hospital waiting room needs warmer, softer light, new fixtures can do it. If a conference room or a commercial kitchen needs powerful white light, that’s possible, too. Often, the same fixture can meet all of these needs.

Flat-panel LED lights are more flexible than you might think. This is especially true of newer models. These flat-panels are not limited to dropped ceilings. Cable-suspended flat-panel lights can create a modern look in a store or a loft office space. These fixtures can also be fitted with advanced lighting controls (ALC), also called “smart light controls” or “networked lighting controls.” These devices provide even more flexibility in how a space is lit throughout the day. An ALC device lets the user program a fixture (or array of fixtures) to follow a schedule or adjust automatically to factors like incoming natural light.

The long-term cost savings of an LED flat-panel light, especially one outfitted with advanced lighting controls, are immense. LED lights operate with a fraction of the electricity used by previous technologies—sometimes up to 80% less energy. When used in a commercial setting—i.e., when scaled up across a huge store or an entire office building—LED lights provide a multiplier effect for these savings.


LED Troffer Lights

Another popular light for indoor commercial spaces is the troffer light. (The word “troffer” is a portmanteau word that combines “trough” and “coffer.”) This fixture has roughly the same shape as a flat-panel, but its light bulbs or diodes are arranged along a central trough. The fixture’s light is projected upward, bounces against a white panel, and is reflected downward. These fixtures come in similar dimensions to flat-panel lights, like 2x2 feet, 2x4 feet, and so on.

Troffer lights are a good fit for offices, hallways, and other indoor spaces. They offer a different look than flat-panel lights but deliver a very similar quality of light.

Today’s LED troffer lights are powerful and adjustable. Many offer selectable color-corrected temperature, which means you can have warm light, cool light, or anything in between. Today’s troffer lights guarantee higher quality light than office lights from the past. For example, troffer lights from Duralec have a high color rendering index (CRI) of 80+. This index is a measure of the light’s quality and how well the light produces true colors.


LED Strip Lights—Architectural and Otherwise

Sometimes a commercial space demands a little more style from its lighting fixtures. When this is the case, an architectural strip fixture is the best fit. These lights often look like long, elegant, aluminum-clad boxes. Sometimes these boxes are suspended for added drama. Their light is cast downward at strategic angles. (The light can often shine upward, as well.) These lights bring a little more flair and sophistication than your average light.

Perfect for an upscale hotel lobby or a high-end store, an architectural strip light delivers reliable, bright LED light with style.

For example, the new Linear X light, from Luxurio, looks amazing while providing adjustable LED light in a number of color temperatures (3500K, 4000K, or 5000K) and wattages. It produces 1,300 lumens per foot and has optional dimming.

Basic LED strip lights are an effective lighting solution for indoor commercial spaces, as well. These fixtures resemble the long tubes of their older fluorescent cousins, but they have many advantages over older technologies. An LED strip light has none of the flicker of other lights and performs at a much higher level. Its light is strong and energy efficient and can often have selectable color temperatures and power levels. Glare-free lenses mean that even the most modest fixture can produce high quality light that is comfortable on the eyes.

Today’s LED strip lights offer unprecedented lifespans, as well. No longer will maintenance crews have to replace bulb after bulb. Many lights, like the Horizon Linear Industrial LED Light Strip provided by Duralec, have five-year warranties, as well as being DLC-listed and Intertek-listed. These lights produce tens of thousands of hours of light with little to no dimming.


LED High Bay Lights

High bay lights are a special kind of indoor commercial lighting. These are commonly used in spaces with high ceilings, like warehouses, gyms, big box stores, or factory floors. The newest generation of LED high bay lights is punching well above its weight class. These lights can produce tens of thousands of lumens while running on remarkably few watts—often only 100W, 200W, or 300W. For example, the most powerful IntrinsiX CIRCA Round High Bay Light produces over 43,000 lumens.

When choosing between LED high bay lights, it’s important to get it right. Many of these applications—factories and warehouses, in particular—require excellent visibility for safety reasons.

A full array of the correct light fixture can make all the difference between a facility that is safe and productive and one that is not.

Choosing energy efficient lights is important, too. High bay lights tend to run for many hours at a time—often 24 hours a day—so a highly efficient LED fixture is crucial for keeping utility bills in check. The new generation of lights is amazingly efficient. The IntrinsiX CIRCA light can produce over 140 lumens per Watt.


LED Retrofit Kits

The indoor commercial lighting world is a great place to explore opportunities for LED retrofit kits. Upgrading the lights in an office building or warehouse to LED lights can vastly improve lighting quality and energy efficiency while avoiding the cost of installing new fixtures. The savings begin the second the lights are switched on.

Retrofit kits can take advantage of the latest LED technology, no matter how old the fixtures are. Many LED lights can plug straight into an old fixture. These include LED tube lights, which resemble fluorescent tubes but are in fact filled with the latest LED lights.

Another simple plug-in option is the LED corn light (sometimes called a “corn cob” light, due to its cylindrical shape). These screw directly into E26 or E39 bases.

LED strip lighting is a quick way to replace the old lights in a troffer or flat-panel fixture. The magnetic, flexible strips snap right into the old fixture. Kits come in one, two, three, or four strips, and can produce over 10,000 lumens if needed. Installation is extremely easy on most of these retrofit kits. Easy installation and maintenance add to the huge return on investment, as well.


Exit Signs and Lights

A key component of indoor commercial lighting is having effective exit signs and egress lighting. In some cases it is even legally mandated. For example, the International Building Code (IBC) requires exit areas and passageways to have proper lighting. They even designate specific lighting power densities (LPD’s) for some of these areas (measured in watts per square foot).

The best exit signs and lights use LED fixtures that are reliable and long lasting. There is no better safety light than one that lasts for 50,000 or more hours and requires zero maintenance.

LED fixtures offer that kind of performance. They also sip energy compared to older light bulbs.

If you have any questions about indoor commercial lighting, feel free to contact an expert at Duralec, today. Duralec has an immense inventory of best-in-class LED lights for every application and experts available to talk about it.

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