shop lighting


CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Sep 22, 2003
Was wondering about input/opinions for new shop lighting. What's good for true color representation?

Should I use track lights? -- or

Use florescent lights throughout and near the customer counter have one of those "Ott" lights that advertises "true-color bulb makes matching colors easy"? Though they seem very expensive.

Just some thoughts about stuff I'd like to get all most right the first time . . .

The best thing to do is check with your local power utility company and see what they will give or suplement you for purchasing some sort of energy efficeint lighting. Then see what you can get with that money. Bulbs may cost more but if you can get some "free" money from the power company you should look into it.
Here in Knoxville, as Brother Tim suggests, the utility board will give a free energy appraisal. Cam eto us and it was quite interesting.

Also check archives: Jim Miller and I had this "conversation" awhile back when I was looking at high energy flourescents that screw into the halogen fixtures.
(Tried these by the way and they look like hehockeysticks)

Personally we use a combo of 75 watt halogens and 50 watt halogens depending upon where they are. When I get the money, I'm gutting the whole sytem and using those sexy little 12 volt thingies that look so way cool. But that's a coupla grand.
Your question seems to be based on color representation. As you seem to be aware, color changes based on the color temperature of the light. Most establishments that are trying to "Color Match" like hair salons and galleries, install lamps with a color temperature of 5000 degrees Kelvin. This is sometimes called (somewhat erroneously) sunlight or daylight. You can get any type bulb including flourescents (usually called 850s) at this white point. You should install UV filter on the lights, particularly if you use flourescents.

I have 850 flourescents AND incandescent (sp?) spots on my design table. I am attempting to simulate a "typical" room where the bulk of the light is incandescent with some sun from windows.

Be a little careful of some of the "daylight" bulbs on the market. I have seen some run at 6200 degrees kelvin which gives you a much "bluer" light than even sunlight.
Thanks everyone for your input.

I understand about the blue effect. I recently asked for a 'brighter' florescent for over the kitchen sink and notice the strange blue tint immediately and don't really like it.

Cliff I too have thought I should maybe recreate typical lighting in home, etc. since that's where the work ends up. What's true in the shop may seem out of whack in the final resting spot.

But I've lots more to think to about and seem to be headed in a good direction.

Now if the committee will just show up at the next city zoning meeting to actually approve my building . . . that would certainly please me!
We recently took advantage of the electric company program, and were extremely pleased with the result. For less than $1000(for over 100 fixtures, installed), they came in and re-did our whole plaza. (9 units including basement tenants) It took a couple days and multiple electricians.

They replaced all ceiling fixtures in each unit with efficient lighting, and removed the old ballasts which probably contained PCBs. They put new exit signs, outdoor lighting around the whole building, replaced the track lighting we have in the gallery with uv filtering screw in flourescents, etc.

We opted to go with flourescent lighting for most of the shop. We used incandescent floods over the gold mouldings, and mixed in a few high intensity lights in the counter area. There was a noticeable difference in the electric bill, and the big benefit will come in the summer with a/c savings. (the new bulbs give off very little heat)

There are also programs like this to replace HVAC systems, electric motors in equipment, to provide window tint, etc. It's there for the asking....

The downside is that it took them about 6 months from start to finish.

Hmmm - electircal company program - what exactly (if I did actually 'find' my electric company) does one ask for?
Ours ( calls it a "Small Business Energy Audit", in the section "Energy Efficiency". I believe it is financed through federal grants.

Small Business Program
For business customers with an average demand use of 100 kilowatts or less (or 25,000 kilowatt-hours or less) per month, we can help you reduce your company's energy costs by installing energy efficient equipment. We can provide a free energy audit and report of recommended energy efficiency improvements

We pay 80% of the cost of the installation of energy efficient equipment and you can finance the remaining 20% interest free for up to 24 months.

Cost-cutting, energy efficient equipment available through this program includes:

Lighting Upgrades
Energy Efficient Time Clocks
Photo Cells For Outdoor Lighting
Occupancy Sensors
Programmable Thermostats

45% Items:
HVAC Systems
Custom Projects
Compressed Air
Variable Speed Drives
Your original question was about ideal lighting, so this may or may not be the solution. While this is the most efficient, there might be better products out there to enhance the art. My point simply "The price is right".

The web site for the electric company should have info about this program.
"Small Business Energy Audit" sounds very interesting and worth looking into.

Thanks for all the info
I had one of those energy audits done last year. New ballasts and new bulbs throughout the shop. Total bill over $1500, cost to me less than $175. My electric bills are running about $30 less a month. And, I ahve all new quieter lights. Good Deal!
Originally posted by Rosalyn:
Was wondering about input/opinions for new shop lighting. What's good for true color representation?

Should I use track lights? -- or

Use florescent lights throughout and near the customer counter have one of those "Ott" lights that advertises "true-color bulb makes matching colors easy"? Though they seem very expensive.
I think what you are looking for is the Color Rendering Index (CRI). Here's a good explaination of it: Lighting Lab

Basically what you want to do is use bulbs that have the highest CRI available in whatever style bulb you wish to use (flourescent, halogen, HID. etc.) If you are using flourescents (which you seem to be doing) there are several different temperatures available, 3000º which is a warm white similar to incandescent, 3500º a nuetral white or even 5000º which is considered a daylight tone. All of these are available with a CRI of at least 86 and some into the 90's. The old "cool white" which is the cheapest of the bulbs and the one we're most familiar with has a CRI of about 60 or even less.

The better bulbs cost more but make your store look much more inviting and are worth the extra cost. If you look at the cost over the life of the bulb even the most expensive flourescent are pretty reasonable compared to other lights, and they cost less to run.

I notice the others are suggesting an energy audit and that is a very good idea. The electric company may help fund more efficient fixtures but I'm not sure they will cough up the bucks for the more expensive bulbs. Their view of things is to try to get you to use less electricity to save them from having to upgrade their system. For them it's cheaper to have you conserve than it is to increase their supply.
Actually, Frank, Massachusetts Electric which conducted my audit was willing to order any flourescent up to 6200 degree at no additional cost. They insisted on T-8s, but that makes sense anyway.
According to "Practical Lighting Solutions for Your Shop"; PICTURE FRAMING MAGAZINE, November, 2002...

For most retailers it's best to duplicate the lighting where our work will hang. That is, in private residences, where incandescent lighting dominates. We could spend a fortune to duplicate natural light, or control it the way museums do, but it would probably be money wasted. The home environment is not perfectly lighted, and we don't need the carefully-controlled illumination areas demanded by museums.

Lighting may be selected by balancing these two color considerations:

Color Rendition -- This refers to the way a particular color looks when illuminated by a particular light source. It is rated on a scale called the Color Rendering Index (CRI). This gives us the most realistic representation of how light from a particular source will look in use. The higher the CRI, the more accurately colors will be represented.

Color Temperature -- This refers to the appearance of the light source, such as "cool" or "warm". It's measured in degrees Kelvin. "Neutral" light temperature is in the range of 3,000 K to 4,100 K.

Standard incandecent lighting has a CRI of about 95, and color temperature of about 2,700 degrees K. Sunlight at noon is generally considered to be the perfect CRI of 100, and measures about 4,600 degrees K.

There's a lot more information in the article, about other considerations such as control, installed cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and other important stuff.

In my store we use a mix of incandescent (halogen) 130 volt, 90 watt flood & spot lamps, with color-corrected #F32T8/TL735/ALTO fluorescents, which have a color temperature of 3,500 K and CRI of 78. These are energy-efficient lamps & require current-technology fixtures. That is, if you are retro-fitting old fixtures, you might not be able to use these.

There's more to good lighting than meets the eye.

Sorry to be so long-winded with this...

[ 01-31-2004, 03:45 PM: Message edited by: Jim Miller ]
Am I missing something, or is the real color temp inside a home lighted by daylight really around 7-9K? No one puts art in direct sunlight (at least if they want itr to last), defined earlier as 5K. They put in what could be called "shade", that is indirect light from the sun reaching into the home. This indirect light has more and more of the reds removed as the light reaches farther into the home. Sure incandescent looks pleasing to the eye, but is only reality at night when the sun is down. We use a Daylight flourcent in our design area to get a better color rendition that will look more like it does in a person's home. It is certainly better than the cool whites the store came with originally, and is closer to the 7-9K light in a home during the day.
Here I go again, I have tried many lighting schemes over the years, fluorescent, fluorescent warm and cool mixed, daylight fluorescents, incandescent spots, etc. etc.. I have finally come to this conclusion, it does not really mater.

If you view a picture under any of these lighting systems in your store, it is unlikely it will be the same in the finale environment. Matching mat board colors to the picture will have the same results under most of these lighting conditions. The error will be consistent throughout the design process. If you can make the picture look good with the mats and frame under your existing lighting, the picture will continue to look good as it moves to another lighting situation.

You have to remember, in your store or shop, the lighting will remain consistent thoughout the day. In a private home, the lighting is continually changing throughout the day and evening. In an office building, the pictures will probably be viewed under florescent cool bulbs.

Trying to come up with a lighting situation that will duplicate the final viewing environment is pretty much a wast of time and money.

Select your lighting so it feels good to you and your customers in your shop. Using so called natural daylight bulbs in not the way to go. People are comfortable in lighting situations they are used to. Daylight artificial lighting will feel odd to most people when they first encounter it, just because they are not used to this type of lighting inside a building.

Mixing fluorescents and incandescents is probably the best for your shop, but who knows for sure.

San Diego Gas & Electric just changed out all our lighting with cool energy saving fluorescents, for free. It felt strange at first, now that I'm used to it, it feels fine. My customers never seemed to notice at all.

Unless you actually have a serious lighting deficiency in your shop, think twice before spending money that could well be used to improve other areas of your business.


[ 02-01-2004, 05:10 PM: Message edited by: JRB ]
Originally posted by FASTFRAME of La Jolla: the real color temp inside a home lighted by daylight really around 7-9K?...This indirect light has more and more of the reds removed as the light reaches farther into the home...
Color Temperature has to do with the apparent color of the light. However, Color Rendering Index (CRI) is usually a more useful measure, because tha indicates how certain colors are represented when illuminated.

Lighting matter a lot. Retail customers generally prefer warm light in stores, and plenty of it. Spots of light and dark add dramatic visual appeal in places where certain focal points are to be emphasized.

In offices, cool light is better, because it tends to keep us more awake, alert, and friendlier - it accentuates blue colors.
I might add. When I said 'new shop lighting' I mean 'new shop'. I'm starting with a blank slate.

My original thought was only on lighting type because the energy audit was something I'd never heard of.

I've checked on the small business energy audit from the electric company. And hope to take advantage of it.

I'm hoping to get the lighting right the first time but that's just me. I want it done right the first time no matter what I'm doing.

I'm tending to agree with those who say simulate the normal home lighting, etc. mixing floresent and incadescents.

Currently I'm working in a dim basement with not enough light to grow mushrooms! Makes me crazy to take a piece outside and see smears on the glass - INSIDE! I've added hanging lamps and have extension cords strung all over (don't tell my insurance guy)but it's not enough.

My current situation makes lighting in the new shop a top priority for both viewing samples and task lighting.

Thanks everyone for your info. Let me know if you have any more ideas.
Starting from scratch, I would specify fluorescent lamps of at least 3,500 degrees K color temperature, sufficient to provide about 75 footcandles of light throughout the room.

To that, I would add a generous number of 90 watt incandescent/halogen spot & flood lamps (130 volts for long life). I would place them in track fixtures for greatest versatility.

The fluorescent lamps provide general lighting, and the track lights provide dramatic accent lighting. Combined, they come very close to typical home lighting.

Tip: Don't spend big bucks for low-voltage track lighting, unless you need the precise control afforded by the tiny light sources. The initial cost is higher, lamp cost is higher, fixtures wear out faster, and the energy savings usually will not make up the difference.
A mix of incandescent and florescent on separate
circuits provides the most flexible system. The
incandescents can be used separately at the
design table to represent interior spaces that
are free of sun light, the florescents are
useful at taking out shadows in the work area
and the two can be mixed for a more full spectrum
view, when needed.

Excellent information as usual. Thanks Grumblers

Now, anyone want to design the layout of said new shop?
It's too bad you're not near me. One of the things I really enjoyed was the whole layout process and table/workspace design before I opened!

Pickup the paperback book in the PPFA libray. I think it's called "Floorplans for Galleries and Frame Shops." It's pretty rudementary and of sourse you WILL have unique requirements, but it's a good starting point.

Have Fun! Cliff

It's too bad you're not near me. One of the things I really enjoyed was the whole layout process and table/workspace design before I opened!
Are you sure you can't use a vacation to Kansas?
Say early May?

I lay awake nights staring at the empty building in my mind . . .
Suggestion ... take a large sheet of paper. Draw the shape of the shop to scale. Say maybe 1/4" to a foot. Then, figure out what you plan on putting in there ... Design Table, Display shelfs?, Print Search area, Fitting Table w/mat cutter, joiner and table, Chopper, Press, Cooling Table, Incoming racks, work table, (Computer Fax, etc.), CMC?, wall cutter, basically, what you think you need. Cut pieces of colored paper to size.

Then, think, what do I want the customer to see? What do I want hidden?, What do I want my workflow to be like?

Then, put things to facilitate the flow. When you have something that seems to fit ... In your mind walk through the whole process of taking a job in. Custoemr comes in, where do they stand, what can they touch, etc. does it feel ok?

They place an order ... where do you put it? (keep in mind there may be another customer waiting right behind) After the go where does the art go next? (In your mind) Place the order. Are you going to need clipboards? paper trays? for the workshhets? will they be easy to get to?

Now the material comes in ... where do you put it? Mat racks? Moulding to be joined/Cut?

Now, think through each stage of putting the frame together ... is the ATG gun handy to you when cutting a double mat? Is there a place to quickly put the leftover mat/glass after sizing? Is the screwdriver within reach?

Well,you get the idea!

Have fun!!!
Stop Cliff. You're making my head hurt. I'll certainly be awake all night tonight!!!

Only kidding, partly, but thank you really. You've given much to think about and a thought process.

I'd love to get it right the first time -- *insert laughter*