Photometric Study - What Is It and How Can It Save You Money?

When starting a new lighting project, the lighting design process involves a sequence of creative choices within a framework of the goals and objectives for a project, which may vary depending on the project specifics and personal approaches to design. Regardless of the application, the process should begin with project analysis, followed by the establishment of qualitative and quantitative objectives and, finally, equipment considerations.

Moreover, when we enter the lighting fixture selection phase, we get excited about the fixtures we will bring in for such a project. The imagination and creativity kick in. The light source and luminaire selection depend upon a number of factors: color requirements, both CCT and CRI; switching and dimming requirements; maintenance schedule, light source life and start-up time, and most importantly, the photometric distribution of the luminaires (visit our CCT and CRI blogs to learn more).

Thus, how do you ensure that you are acquiring the correct lighting fixtures for your project? Having a Photometric Study before buying or installing your luminaires for a specific area or project, helps architects and lighting designers to know if the light is enough for a space. It can confirm luminosity, strength, light evenness, and more. It also allows cost understanding and allows electrical needs to be designed to build the most efficient lighting design for your location.

In our previous articles, we’ve mentioned the common mistakes we make when purchasing lighting fixtures. This is a follow-up: how we can prevent some of these mistakes by doing a Photometric Study. Visit our last blog. Thus, stick around to learn more about a photometric study and how it can help you save time and money.

What is a Photometric Study?

Before we talk about the wonders this study does for your lighting project, we must understand what it is. It all boils down to the study of Photometry, which is the study of light as a whole. This concept was first introduced during the 1990s to study construction sites before work starts, using software simulations.

A Photometric Study focuses on how the light from the fixture surrounds the area of coverage. It is an incredible hack that allows light designers to visualize what space will look like with the fixtures that are going to be installed. Further, the study enables us to see the number of lumens a specific area needs for convenience.

Figure 1. Office space Photometric render showing lighting levels and CCT.

This study is done by virtual simulations on Photometric software, using the layout of the area. The results are presented in a 5-20 pages report containing accurate charts, locations, and angles. The PDF report also offers graphical images and lists of foot-candles at different location points in the ground.

See what a photometric study report looks like for an office space:

Download PDF • 2.74MB

When do you need a Photometric Study?

A photometric analysis can be performed by using a photometric program and entering the space layout to be created and modified. It gives you an understanding of what works, what doesn't, and what can be changed—allowing both the lighting designer and the client to make adjustments before the actual construction begins through simulation. Here are a few circumstances where a Photometric Analysis is needed:

Help Planning Lighting

A photometric analysis is an excellent way to decide how a lighting solution would work out for a room before you buy the luminaires. This way, you can easily schedule and then execute the best strategy before making any purchases.

New Instalments

When you are about to get new installments for a room and would like to know how the final lighting fixtures would look, a photometric analysis would be particularly helpful. It removes the guesswork, and you can be directed in the right direction by an expert.

Visualization of lights before Installation

After designing the lighting fixtures before they are finished, you will get a visualization of what your room would look like with a photometric examination. It removes the inconvenience of not getting what you expected and making modifications later and prevents incurring unnecessary costs to make any significant changes later.

Meeting Local Codes

Photometric analysis is commonly used to ensure that little or no light reaches any adjacent commercial or residential property and complies with the local lighting code. Most local laws forbid the light penetration of even one foot-candle. Before the building work is carried out, it is wise to have an evaluation completed.

What is needed to perform a Photometric Study?

Two main things are needed to get a photometric study done for a room, (1) CAD drawing of the building or site, and (2) IES files for the lighting fixtures to be listed.

The lighting specialists can then input luminaires, poles, vehicles, buildings, trees, and other items that may influence the photometric analysis required to illuminate the room.

An IES Photometric file, which stands for Illuminating Engineering Society, is a file with the IES file extension. For architectural programs that can simulate light, they are plain text files containing data on the light.

Lighting manufacturers may publish IES files to explain how their services affect different structures. The software using the file will analyze it to understand how to show the right lighting patterns on items such as roads and facilities. Based on the data given, the photometric program then decides and measures the light levels.

Figure 2 displays the data pertaining to the IES file of CodeLumen's VIA architectural lighting fixture through CodeLumen's lighting platform.

How do you interpret the results of a Photometric Study?

All the charts, graphs, and measurements sound incredible when we need a new design, but how do we interpret them?

First, we need to know about the components and scope of the study. We have listed them below:

  1. Foot Candles: This term is used to find light levels in indoor and outdoor Photometric Studies. It measures the light intensity required to illuminate a specific surface properly.

  2. Fixtures: This indicator shows where all the fixtures will be located and where they will be directed.

  3. Schedule: It specifies all the different types of fixtures that are needed for the project and the overall virtual plan.

  4. Calculation: This section shows the average foot candles of a specific place, the distribution ratios, and the maximum and minimum foot candles in the plan. An average is calculated from that information, which indicates the target foot candle reading for the project in general. (An average ratio of 2 and 3 is ideal.)

Figure 3. Dialux Photometric simulation software.

What projects should you conduct a Photometric Study for?

The Photometric Study sounds and appears complex. So, it is understandable if you try to limit it to industrial or scientific use. But it is not all about that only. Here are some practical and relatable applications of this study:

  1. Warehouses: This area is characterized by uniform lighting levels throughout the entire space. A Photometric Study during the planning stage provides the best lighting solutions and optimizes the construction process as a whole.

  2. Hospitals: The lighting in hospitals must be fit for the diverse use of both the patients and the doctors. With a Photometric Study, the construction can be better planned, considering we can then see fixtures and lumen output needed for each area.

  3. Restaurants: Restaurants require the right ambiance and comfort to attract visitors. These can only be created by uniform lighting in the kitchen and the guest area to guarantee maximum efficiency and safety.

Also, it is necessary to mention that this study is not exclusive to indoor spaces. It is suitable for outdoor applications; after all, it is all about having a preview of how lights will perform before placing them permanently.

Photometric studies need to be implemented before starting a project to determine which lighting solution is the perfect fit for the project area. Likewise, it gives you an accurate estimate of the luminaires you need to purchase and where they would be strategically placed.

Having this information at your reach positions you to optimize the construction time, and stay on budget. You know precisely what you are spending and what you are spending. In the end, both your time and money are saved.

"A photometric study should be one of the first steps of a successful lighting design. In the end, it will save you on the number of fixtures needed and installation costs while ensuring proper light levels. It's a must!" - Client Testimonial.

CodeLumen can take care of all that for you!

This study may sound complicated, but it is quite simple with the right assistance and directions. Get in touch with us today, and let us handle the entire lighting "complications and worries" for you while you focus on other areas of your project. Visit us at

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“Lighting Layout Design Company: Photometric Layouts: US LED, Houston, TX.” US LED, Ltd.,

“Commercial and Industrial LED Lighting Fixtures and Retrofit Kits.” LED Lighting Supply,