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Gabriela Anez-Lobon
By Gabriela Anez-Lobon on February 09, 2021

6 Types of Commercial Lighting & Which One Is Best for Your Business

Nearly 40% of businesses still haven’t optimized their energy usage by choosing a cost-effective lighting solution. There are many types of commercial lighting to consider, and each can have a major impact on sales, safety, and the perception of your business.

Managing your operating expenses is critical to controlling your bottom line, and lighting is typically the largest line item in your energy budget. Swapping to more energy efficient lighting is one way small businesses are cutting costs. 

Good lighting is also essential to creating a positive retail experience and can be the difference between a productive workforce and one that underperforms. Even the mental health of your employees can be influenced by the lighting you choose. Well-lit spaces enhance the customer and employee experience, but many businesses aren’t optimizing their lighting choices.

Evaluating the Types of Commercial Lighting

Oftentimes, businesses don’t think about their lighting strategy until it’s too late – when a section of it fails or worse, someone is injured due to poor lighting. Lighting is a critical component of both your property management and retail strategies. 

Depending on your lighting needs, there are different types of commercial lighting that could work well, including: 

  • Incandescent
  • Halogen
  • Fluorescent
  • Induction
  • Metal halide
  • LED


Incandescent Commercial Lighting 

Incandescent lighting is one of the top types of commercial lighting used by businesses because it’s familiar, comes in a range of sizes, provides warm tones and is inexpensive to replace. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the least durable forms of commercial lighting so bulbs need to be replaced frequently. 

Incandescent lighting is compatible with dimmers and a range of switches, so it’s an option for businesses that require variable lighting throughout the day. Typically though, this change is done manually and incandescent lighting generally isn’t compatible with smart systems unless using an adapter like a smart socket. 

Incandescent lighting is the least energy efficient form of lighting.

Not only do bulbs burn out more quickly, the majority of the energy consumed by the bulb is emitted as heat, not light, making it one of the most wasteful types of light.

Halogen Commercial Lighting

While slightly more energy efficient than incandescent lighting, halogen lighting really shines when it comes to sustainability.

Halogen bulbs are recyclable in some areas and use 25% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs to produce the same amount of light.

Halogen bulbs are well suited to task lighting, especially when someone has to focus on a task for an extended period of time. They also resemble traditional incandescent lighting, so if a standard bulb shape is important, they’re a good choice.

However, halogen bulbs are more expensive than other lighting options. They also run extremely hot so it’s important to keep all flammable materials away from them. The heat they emit is noticeable, making them less than ideal for prolonged exposure. 

Fluorescent Commercial Lighting

Despite its drawbacks, fluorescent lighting is still commonly used by businesses. It does offer slightly more energy efficiency and a longer lifespan than halogen and incandescent options.

Unlike its counterparts, though, fluorescent lighting does not render colors in their true form.

This can create a negative customer experience in situations where color tone is important – home decor, clothing, makeup and skin care, food service, etc. 

Fluorescent lighting typically requires a warm-up period, leading to shadows and darkness that can cause safety concerns.

The lights also become progressively dimmer over time, requiring frequent swapping in order to keep critical areas brightly illuminated. 

Induction Commercial Lighting

Induction lighting delivers higher quality light than fluorescent options. They are extremely reliable and can be used in 24/7 applications with extremely consistent output (such as in parking structures). Before LED lighting became a viable option for commercial use, many energy conscious businesses switched to induction lighting.

However, these benefits come at a cost – nearly double the energy costs of other lighting options, including LED.

Although the light appears bright, it actually produces a lower output, meaning you’ll need more lamps to cover your space adequately. The ballasts used for induction lighting contain high levels of mercury and generate radio frequency interference which can impact other sensitive electronics in the building. Businesses frequently choose LED commercial lighting now over induction lighting because of these issues.

Metal Halide Commercial Lighting

Metal halide lamps produce a high quality of light, but at the cost of energy efficiency. Depending on the use scenario, metal halide lamps are a positive choice due to their omnidirectional output. Light can be specifically targeted where it’s needed such as task lighting for employees. 

However, metal halide lights require a significant “warm up” period to get to full brightness, and if they are switched off even momentarily, the warm up period begins again.

This creates unnecessary downtime for employees. 

LED Commercial Lighting

LED commercial lighting came into widespread usage in the 1990s. Since then, it has been adopted by nearly 61% of businesses.

LED lighting leads all other types of commercial lighting in energy efficiency, lifespan, sustainability, and quality of light with the lowest energy cost of any lighting option. 

Businesses who switch to LED lighting save both on hardware costs and energy costs. LED lights last longer than other types of commercial lighting and require less maintenance.

Partnering with a Lighting-as-a-Service provider means there is no initial cost of upgrading to LED lights and maintenance is worry-free. 

If you’re considering switching to LED lighting for your business, be sure to read this Commercial Guide to LED Lighting


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Published by Gabriela Anez-Lobon February 9, 2021
Gabriela Anez-Lobon

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