General lighting, typically placed overhead, is intended to be the main source of lighting in the laboratory. While there are several fixture types available, we recommend recessed fixtures that can be placed directly inside the ceiling. This helps to eliminate shadows, which could affect the productivity levels in the setting. They are also easy to clean since they are not continually exposed. When it comes to recessed lighting, efficient options such as compact fluorescent and LED are available, so you’ll be able to choose which is best suited for your laboratory.
Even though general lighting is viewed as the most important in terms of lumen output and therefore should be the highest. However, in laboratory lighting you want to focus your lumen output on task lighting. Task lighting is any source of light that is directly focused at a plane of vision where specific tasks are being performed. So, if you use general lighting with high lumen outputs and task lighting with low lumen outputs, the purpose of task lighting is essentially defeated. Also, if you use super high lumens for both general and task lighting, it can be jarring and cause eye strain. The best solution is to use a sensible lumen output for general lighting and a slightly higher lumen output for task lighting to help create better balance.
Many laboratories work with gases and chemicals, which present their own unique lighting challenge. If this is the case of your laboratory, you should consider using vapor tight fixtures. These fixtures are designed for use in areas where gases, vapors, and moisture are present, which helps ensure the fixture isn’t accidentally damaged, or creating a potential hazard. Since, most fixtures cannot only experience malfunctions but also shatter when exposed to certain elements such as gases or high temperatures, vapor tight fixtures are a great precaution against issues in this unique location.
Even if you think the need for vapor tight fixtures isn’t necessary, shatterproof bulbs alone should be considered. Shatterproof are designed to prevent glass from scattering throughout the space if they are accidentally broken. In a laboratory setting where outside variables can change the outcome of a study, which essentially requiring it to start all over again to achieve an accurate result, makes shatterproof bulbs a smart investment.
Color temperature is another important matter that needs to be considered in this type of setting. We recommend using a cooler color temperature with a high CRI, rather than a warmer one, to help ensure you have proper color rendering on anything being studied. Also, you should keep the color temperature consistent throughout the entire space. For example, if task lighting and general lighting differ greatly in color, it can be quite jarring to the eyes.