How to Light, Office

How to Light: Three ways to light a board room

Alan will see you in the boardroom now: Lux magazine’s technical editor Alan Tulla sets out three contrasting ways to light the top table

Boardrooms come in different architectural styles and, intentionally or not, reflect the image of the company. There is no ‘standard’ way to light a boardroom; we’ve chosen three completely different ways of doing it.

Design considerations

Our hypothetical boardroom is about 12m by 7.5m with a 3m-high ceiling. There’s a full height bay window and a small lobby at the entrance. In the centre is a 6m-long oak boardroom table, and there is a lectern adjacent to the AV screen.

The EN 12464 workplace lighting standard and the SLL Code for Lighting do not make specific recommendations for boardrooms, so the ones for meeting rooms would be a good starting point. But remember boardrooms aren’t just for meetings – there are quite often AV presentations during which the lights must be dimmed, or if you’re using flip charts or whiteboards you might want to concentrate the light at one end of the room. Don’t forget you

will need good illumination on the table for taking notes, reading and maybe inspecting things such as products or printed materials.

All these requirements mean you should think about having several preset lighting scenes directed from a control plate on the wall.

Note that these rooms tend to be less frequently occupied than conventional offices. A simple absence detector would be a cheap and simple way to minimise energy consumption.


 The first option is simple – but you get loads of light per watt and per pound. The second is a flexible scheme that feels modern. The ceiling is well lit, and it feels light and airy. The final option adds contrast that sets it apart from normal office space. If you can’t make up your mind, elements of the first and last options could be combined. 

The economical option

The economical option

This is a simple, economical, efficient and unobtrusive scheme. The Trilux Liventy is one of the latest generation high-efficiency LED luminaires – one of the few on the market that’s a true rival to T5. We have arranged 600 x 600mm recessed LED units in three pairs above the centre of the table.

You can see that almost all the light from the luminaire is directed downwards in a broad beam with soft edges. The illumination on the table is around 500 lx and there is plenty of spill light to illuminate the surrounding areas. This particular model has a wave-shaped diffuser that makes an interesting difference from a plain flat panel whether switched on or off.You can also adjust it up and down slightly to increase the spread of light onto the ceiling.

This layout has the advantage of making the table the centrepiece of the room. A disadvantage is that some of the furthest walls wouldn’t receive much light. A row of spotlights would solve the problem.

Tech spec

Luminaire Liventy 600 OT LED 3900 neutral white
Optical High transmission, wave-shape opal acrylic diffuser 
Arrangement Three pairs about 2m apart
Average illuminance at table level >500 lx
Luminaire efficacy 98 lm/Wcct
Electrical load 240W 
Typical cost for six units £1,250
Pros Clean, neat, simple and economical
Cons Can give a rather flat appearance to the space

Flair and flexibility

Flair and flexibility

This is a much more modern-looking scheme with a high degree of flexibility. We have three extremely slim (28mm) linear LED units suspended over the table. More than two-thirds of the light is emitted upwards so the ceiling is much lighter and brighter than it is when using the recessed units in the previous scheme. However, we still achieve more than 450 lx over most of the table. Note that the rendering software exaggerates the contrast on the ceiling.

We have added two free-standing uplights from the same range. That the amount of light emitted up and down can be controlled individually by two small pushbuttons mounted in the body. Having the two uplights gives much more and adaptability to the scheme.

This space would be ideal for video conferencing. The award-winning product design of these luminaires gives a decidedly modern feel to the boardroom.

Tech Spec

Luminaires Neximo H2 suspended and Neximo S1 freestanding uplight
Optical Direct/ indirect
Arrangement N/A
Average illuminance at table level 350-550 lx
Luminaire efficacy 56 lm/Wcct
Electrical load 560W
Typical cost £4,750
Pros Modern attractive fittings, light, airy appearance to room. Lots of flexibility
Cons Initial capital cost

Make an impact

Make an impact

This is a completely different approach that I’ve designed to emphasise the contrast with the other schemes. Here we have a much more striking visual effect by using downlights around the walls and in a custom-built structure above the table.

There is plenty of horizontal illumination on the table. I have used a medium beam optic so that there is some vertical illumination. If you were designing for a real-life situation, I would recommend you add some general background lighting.

One way would be to recess some uplights (even simple fluorescent battens if they were hidden) in the top of the raft and direct the light upwards. The capital and running costs are surprisingly low, although twice as much as the first option.

Tech spec

Luminaires ScenaticPoint 901 LS-FL LED 500 neutral white, small LED downlight
Optical Various
Arrangement N/A
Average illuminance Over 500 lux on the table, 75-100 lx elsewhere
Luminaire efficacy Greater than 73 lm/Wcct
Electrical load 480W (approx 40 units, 12W each)
Typical cost £1,500
Pros Much the most striking looking
Cons Building the suspended raft