Setting up a residential lighting system and a commercial lighting system can be a very different ball game. Many factors can differentiate the planning, design, product selections, and installation process.
When a lighting designer fails to consider these factors, a wrong application can happen, and can cause the decrease in quality as efficiency.
Thus, here it is, our complete guide to understanding the differences of residential and commercial lighting, and how to avoid common mistakes and misunderstandings.
In general, here are the most notable variables that differentiate residential and commercial lightings:
With that in mind, here are a few considerations when setting up the two.
The main difference between the two is its purpose and functionality. For example, a house won't need their parking lot to be too bright. A commercial venue, otherwise, might need a lot of brightness in their parking lot for many reasons: visibility, security, or other reasons.
On the other hand, when surrounding streets are too bright, a commercial venue will need their landscape light to be adjusted to accommodate the overall ambiance.
Commercial applications sometimes have specialized use, a good example is the neon signage we often find in bars, which is generally not found in residential use. Safety and security are more of a consideration in commercial venues, paths and stairs will need more lighting for this reason, and sometimes lightings will be adjusted to accommodate CCTV recordings.
As previously mentioned, commercial lightings will need more durability. That's why the fixtures are manufactured differently than the residential models.
To make sure of buying the right fixtures depending on your needs, check for a commercial grade or residential grade label on the product.
In commercial grade products, the fixture is often of one package with the bulb itself, while it's often sold separately for residential use.
Make sure also to choose the right fixture with the right light types. For example, a LED bulb might lose its efficiency when paired with halogen fixture.
As we have covered in our previous article here, commercial lights above 150W of power need different fittings than residential ones.
Residential lightings typically use E26 or E27 Edison screw fittings, depending on voltage, while industrial-grade commercial lighting will need E39 or E40 fittings.
The design process will always be tied up with its functionality/purpose. In a residential application, very few specialized functionality are needed generally, and that also limits design applications in residential use.
In commercial use, however, lighting design can function for many things ranging from:
Many other designs can be found in commercial applications, and will only be limited by the designer's imagination. The design will also be tied to the next part of our discussion: controllability.
In residential use, we generally have some form of controllability with dimmers. As the price goes lower, some houses also use motion or day/night sensors and timers.
In commercial use, the need for controllability is a lot more demanding, and might even need intelligent control system operated by a computer.
The design of the lighting system in a commercial environment should consider the control method needed to achieve the result.
Thus, in a commercial environment, energy saving is a more pressing concern, as it can directly impact the business' profitability.
To achieve energy saving, smart control systems, as mentioned in the previous section, are often used to make sure the lights are only powered on when necessary. Utilizing complex sensors and dimmers, the lighting can turn off automatically when a person leaves a premise, eliminating the risk of human error.
Generally, a residential setup will have more limited budget than a commercial setup. Of course, there can be exceptions if you are a billionaire.Even in that case, your national electric code can limit your residential lighting design to some extent.
The higher budget, as well as more leniency in electric code, can allow more complex designs, higher wattage, more complex energy saving system, as well as more sophisticated control systems.
Here are some common mistakes made when a lighting designer failed to differentiate residential and commercial applications:
By understanding the differences between residential and commercial lighting applications, you can make better decisions during your planning, design, product selection, and installation stage. When not careful, misapplications can cause unwanted problems, and can even be a legal problem in its worst.
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