Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How to Choose a Commercial Daylighting System Part -1

Although many manufacturers offer one-size-fits-all daylighting systems that they claim to be equally suitable for home and commercial applications. The requirements of the two are very different. When choosing a daylighting system for office or factory use, the design, operational and functional parameters are all very different and only a system designed for commercial applications can provide the performance and cost efficiency that users expect.

If you are contemplating installing a daylighting system in a commercial space, keep these factors in mind to ensure that what you install gives you the performance you expect.

Technology

The light requirements for an office are different than those of a home. In a commercial space the light levels must be predictable. This stable light level is a key feature of commercial architectural design as fluctuations in the amount of light could affect both workplace mood and output. Also, ceilings in commercial spaces are much higher than in homes and typically range from 8 to 20 feet. The system and the fittings will need to provide light from these heights. A good commercial daylighting system must be able to meet both these imperatives, which will not be necessary for residential daylighting.

Architectural Integration

Commercial daylighting poses a number of challenges not normally found in residential projects. The distance from the rooftop, where the light is connected to the interior space where it is needed, is often long. The system must be optimally designed for minimum light loss and use materials and technologies that maximize efficiencies. The system itself should bend seamlessly into its environment – the building or spaces where it is being used.

Optical Controllability

A good commercial daylighting system must be able to delivers the visible light spectrum to the interior spaces while filtering out infrared wavelengths. This will reduce the amount of heat transferred indoors and in turn bring down air conditioning costs. The system must also restrict the entry of ultraviolet wavelengths which can cause damage to interior finishes and make paints and fabrics fade. Additionally the light output should be controllable so that lighting can match operational and functional needs.

Maximum Light Transmission

The need to deliver the maximum amount to light is a given, even if all of it is not used. That is what dimmers and other controllers are for. Light intensity is subject to season variations and a daylighting system that is unable to produce enough light in winter is one that is unable to do its job. A good commercial daylighting system should be able to provide year round lighting. In addition, the color temperature must be maintained so that the indoor colors appear natural and do not change hue if the light availability / strength is deliberately changed.

There are many other aspects to commercial daylight which will be covered in the next blog.