How to Light, Outdoor, Transport

How to Light: How to light a waiting room

The holiday’s over and Alan Tulla is at the station, waiting for the train home to arrive 

One of the main criteria for waiting rooms is that they should feel clean and safe. People use them late at night and quite often, alone.  They need to be light and airy so you need to speak to the architect about colour finishes and furnishings. 

The general recommendation in EN 12464 is for 200 lx. Glare is not normally an issue since passengers are hopefully only in the waiting room for a short while. Similarly, uniformity is less of an issue because there are no particular ‘tasks’ – even reading the Metro is being replaced by self-illuminated e-books. To achieve a satisfactory visual environment, you should aim to use sources with a CRI greater than 80. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend a CCT of more than 4000K. Much higher than that and 200 lx can appear distinctly cold and grey. 

Most waiting rooms nowadays have automatic doors so the interior is fairly well enclosed. Railway stations are quite dusty so if your particular waiting room is doorless and open to the elements you should consider IP-rated luminaires – IP44 would be fine. 

Maintenance is always an issue with long burning hours. Apart from LED luminaires and ‘tubes’, it’s worth considering long-life fluorescent. There’s no energy saving but the technology is reliable, cheap and foolproof. 

Our waiting room measures 12m x 8m with a 3m ceiling height.

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Cheapest to run

Cheapest to run

This consumes the least energy of our three options and uses Trilux’s Inperla Ligra LED recessed downlights. Twelve are used to achieve just over 200 lx at floor level. 

This is a very simple and economical scheme, similar in appearance to a 50W halogen downlight except that each Ligra emits over twice the light.

The disadvantage, as with most recessed downlights, is that the ceiling is darker in comparison with the other options. Similarly, the walls receive their highest illumination level on their lower half. A pale coloured floor will do a lot to ameliorate this effect. 

However, the basic unit provides a lot of sparkle to a fairly mundane space and there is a huge array of decorative accessories. There is also an IP54 version. 

Where this scheme scores is the electrical loading of just 2.5W/m2. Coupled with the LEDs’ long life, the running costs should be extremely low.

Tech spec
  • Luminaires 12 Inperla Ligra downlights
  • Optical control Bright, faceted reflectorArrangementThree rows of fourAverage illuminance Eh at floor level 216 lxElectrical load 2.5W/m2 Typical cost  £1,800Pros A simple, long-life, energy-efficient solutionConsDarker ceiling and upper walls


Toughest fittings

Toughest fittings

If your waiting room is open to the elements, you will need a sealed fitting. The LED Nextrema, rated IP66, is more than required but that’s no bad thing. Again, it has a polycarbonate diffuser and cast aluminium body which, hopefully, is tougher than you will ever need in this type of location. 

What I do like is the design of the opal wrap-around diffuser which puts extra light on the ceiling and walls. This means that for an almost identical electrical loading, you get a brighter looking space. The disadvantage is that it may be a bit too ‘industrial’ looking for a waiting room. However, waiting rooms come in many architectural styles so perhaps this is what you need.

Two extra features that make the Nextrema worth considering are the vandal-resistant mounting and vibration resistant components.

Tech spec
  • Luminaires Six Nextrema luminaires
  • Optical control Opal diffuserArrangement Two rows of threeAverage illuminanceEh at floor level 212lxElectrical load2.8W/m2Typical cost£650Pros Tough and long lastingCons Maybe too spartan in appearance for this location


Best looking

Best looking

Whenever you do a design, it’s always worth considering T5 for its efficiency and value for money. I have to say that this is my favourite despite the fact that it uses more energy than the other two options. Why? Because it is the lightest in visual appearance and, in my opinion, the best looking fitting. People’s faces will be very well illuminated. There is over 100 lx on the walls, distributed in a fairly uniform manner from top to bottom. There is also plenty of light on the ceiling. The large surface area of the diffuser makes the space seem more illuminated. This is a really pleasant space to be in and you might consider the extra 2.5W/m2 worth paying. 

Note that the total cost of the luminaires is only a fraction more than the Nextrema. 

Although LEDs have a longer life that fluorescent, a T5
from a reputable supplier should have a rated life of over 20,000 hours by which time you may want to clean the luminaires anyway.

Tech spec
  • Luminaires Eight Liventy 300 OT
  • Optical control Double, waveform diffuserArrangement Two rows of fourAverage illuminance Eh at floor level 200 lxElectrical load 5W/m2Typical cost £705Pros Light and airyCons Heaviest electrical load