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What is a Lighting Photometric Plan?

What is a Lighting Photometric Plan?

By Vanessa Peng

When you’re considering an LED lighting retrofit at your commercial or industrial facility, there are many factors to look into so you get it right. The process takes a thorough analysis of your old lighting as well as an in-depth layout of what you want the new lighting to look like. To ensure your proposed lighting project aligns perfectly with your goals, a photometric plan can provide a road map and an authentic visualization of what the lighting will look like on your site. A photometric plan offers you a valuable overview you can’t get any other way.


What is a photometric plan?

A lighting photometric plan is a digital simulation of light output from each lighting fixture. It shows you how far the light reaches different corners or sections of the room or space you are receiving the report about. A photometric plan gives you a clear idea of the quantity and quality of the lighting you’ll receive with your LED lighting retrofit or project. 

A photometric plan calculates illumination levels, foot candle readings, and the distribution of light among other critical information. Learn more about footcandles here.

A photometric plan will help you decide how to rearrange and position your lights so you can ensure your facility meets suggested lighting levels. You can find if your facility meets the suggested lighting levels here.

Hiring lighting specialists who can put together a well-designed photometric calculation can help assist with proposing what type of luminaire is required for your LED lighting layout. During this process, it’s important to collect information such as ceiling height, mounting height, and the luminaire IES file. A lighting engineer will look for ways to reduce glare, increase light output, and define the photometry required to meet the light level that is required. It also helps you figure out the appropriate lighting design without having to hire someone to install and try out different lighting combinations to see which ones fit the best.

A photometric plan is also known as a photometric analysis or photometric lighting study. If it is new construction, interior lighting solution, or outdoor lighting the design process is fairly the same. The most important component of a proper design is to ensure that you know what the lighting level needs to be.

Once the lighting plan is finalized, you’ll have an accurate idea as to what your facility will look like and lighting manufacturer you can order your LED fixture from.

example of a photometric plan

What does a photometric plan do?

A photometric plan is extremely beneficial and is used in lighting projects for the following reasons:

  • Ensures you have the exact lighting you want in your facility. A photometric plan eliminates the guesswork for you and other decision makers when it comes to how the new lighting will look. Instead of hoping the new fixtures will illuminate the space in a certain way, you will know with confidence how it will look and feel for you and your employees.
  • Produces a clear-cut site plan for the commercial lighting contractor to follow. When the commercial lighting company you partner with knows exactly where to place and how to position each lighting fixture, you are more than likely to have a successful lighting upgrade. Without a photometric plan, some lighting contractors may fail to install the lighting fixtures where you need them.
  • Helps eliminate mistakes and change orders. With a plan to follow, the commercial lighting installer you hire is less likely to make mistakes on your lighting project. This means less change orders and a more than likely quick and painless install.
  • Ensures even light distribution and uniform lighting throughout your facility. When you have a photometric plan you eliminate hot spots and under-lit areas in your commercial or industrial facility that may otherwise appear with a typical commercial lighting retrofit.

Outdoor photometric reports of parking lots have the added benefits of providing you with information that eliminates light trespass. You don’t want a successful lighting project to be marred the minute you turn the lights on because the lights are too bright and spill into neighboring streets or properties.

Example of a photometric plan


How is photometric data used?

The photometric plan data is usually used by a lighting professional to analyze your current lighting situation and to plan and visualize what the proposed lighting project will look like at your facility. The commercial lighting company will share the photometric data with you so you know exactly what you will receive once the project is completed. The commercial lighting company will also use the photometric layout as a road map for installation of the project.


What does the result of a photometric study look like?

At the end of a photometric study, you will receive a comprehensive report that includes a detailed analysis and overview of what the lighting proposal will look like at your facility, including any requested foot candle readings. The report will give you an idea of the illuminance levels of your site, where the lights will be placed in your facility, as well as any issues with glare or shadows.


How to read a photometric plan?

The information in a lighting photometric plan will be detailed in many tables with colored symbols among other information. Numbers related to foot candles and the same colored symbols in the tables will be mapped across a blueprint of your building.

Your building’s personalized report will detail the proposed light sources on your property, including the quantity and quality of light they provide. You will also see information critical to your LED retrofit project, including ceiling and fixture mounting height, as well as foot candle measurements.

Here is a photometric lighting plan we created for one of our customers:

Example of photometric plan

The blueprint has numbers and color-coded symbols on it. The numbers represent foot-candle measurements at a specified height. The colored-coded symbols represent the different lights in a facility. The colored-coded symbols match the key, which are the tables located next to the blueprint. The key provides the light fixture part number as well as the quantity of lights that are mounted in the same place; i.e., three lights on a single pole.

As you can see from the example image, the closer you are to the light, the brighter it will be. That is why you will see higher numbers closer to the lights (colored-coded symbols) and lower numbers further away from them.

Sometimes a photometric plan will include egress lighting. This means the photometric study will show your evacuation routes and what the light levels would be along those routes in the event of a power outage and emergency lights are deployed.


How long does it take to complete a photometric study?

The process for a photometric analysis depends on several factors, but in our case it can take anywhere from one to five days. It typically begins when we are on a customer’s site for a lighting audit. In order to complete the study, we will take detailed measurements of the facility or use building plans provided by the customer.

Then, depending on the scope of work – more complex jobs will take us longer to complete – we process the findings with our engineers and then present a photometric plan to our customer.

The photometric report may go through a few revisions to adjust things like types of fixtures or locations before the final version is sent to the client.


Who Does A Photometric Plan?

Photometric plans are created and designed by lighting professionals or specialists, such as a commercial lighting designer or commercial lighting contractor. In order for a photometric plan to be effective, it must be executed by a lighting company with the expertise and experience to provide a thorough and accurate report with your best interests at heart.

If you’re in the commercial and industrial industry, your best bet is to partner with a commercial lighting company that can offer turnkey lighting technology solutions for your facility. They will have the know-how to suggest the best lighting options for your facility, keeping in mind its unique operations and layout. A commercial lighting contractor will also be able to provide a detailed report on how much energy you will save with your new lighting system.

 

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