How to Choose Classroom Lighting: The Definitive Guide

(Last Updated On: )

Selecting the ideal lighting system for a classroom may initially seem challenging. However, implementing luminaires in educational environments can become straightforward with a clear understanding of the essential qualities and considerations. In this guide, we will explore crucial elements of classroom lighting, offering valuable insights into considerations and the process of selecting an optimal design for the classroom lighting system.

Table of Contents

Continue reading if you aim to create a comfortable student environment while ensuring convenience for educators in their designated zones.

By accessing professional guidance and tips, you can effectively eliminate issues related to eye fatigue, ensuring that the visual requirements of both teachers and students are adequately addressed. It’s worth noting that inappropriate exposure to direct or indirect light can impede students’ learning abilities and disrupt classroom activities.

Understanding Classroom Lighting

classroom lighting

classroom lighting

When it comes to illuminating spaces, the choices extend beyond the conventional; they represent a nuanced spectrum of lighting sources, each with unique characteristics and applications; we will delve into the trifecta of lighting sources that shape the ambiance of educational environments:

Types of Lighting Sources: LED, Fluorescent, Incandescent

LED, or Light Emitting Diode, stands at the forefront of lighting technology, representing a paradigm shift in efficiency and sustainability. Known for its energy-saving prowess, longevity, and adaptability, LED lighting has become the contemporary choice for educators seeking a harmonious blend of environmental responsibility and cutting-edge illumination.

Fluorescent lighting, a stalwart in educational settings, offers a cost-effective solution with a broad spectrum of applications. Renowned for its luminous efficiency and versatility, fluorescent lights have been a traditional classroom choice, balancing cost savings and ample brightness.

With its warm and familiar glow, incandescent lighting holds a timeless charm. While considered less energy-efficient compared to their counterparts, incandescent bulbs contribute a classic aesthetic, creating an inviting atmosphere conducive to comfort and focused learning.

Color Temperature and Its Impact on Learning

In educational lighting design, color temperature emerges as a nuanced and powerful tool, influencing the cognitive and emotional dimensions of the learning experience.

Understanding the Spectrum: Color temperature, measured in Kelvin (K), dictates the warmth or coolness of light. Lower Kelvins result in warmer, amber-toned light reminiscent of candlelight or sunrise, while higher Kelvins produce cooler, bluish hues akin to daylight or overcast skies. This spectrum provides a versatile palette, allowing educators to tailor lighting to specific moods and activities within the classroom.

Low Kelvins: Lower color temperatures (ranging from 2000K to 4000K) emanate a warm and inviting glow, fostering a sense of coziness and comfort. This ambiance is particularly beneficial in areas dedicated to relaxation, fostering creativity, and encouraging collaborative engagement. Spaces like reading corners or breakout areas can benefit from the soft warmth of lower Kelvins, creating an environment conducive to introspection and teamwork.

Neutral Kelvins: Mid-range color temperatures (around 4000K to 5000K) balance warmth and coolness, providing an unbiased and versatile illumination. Ideal for general classroom activities, this range promotes alertness and concentration without inducing a sense of harshness. It is a versatile option for spaces where varied learning activities unfold, seamlessly accommodating focused study sessions and interactive group work.

High Kelvins: Higher color temperatures (5000K and above) emit a crisp, refreshing light reminiscent of daylight. This more astonishing spectrum is advantageous in areas dedicated to intense concentration, such as examination rooms or laboratories. The heightened brightness and clarity associated with higher Kelvins contribute to increased alertness and can enhance the overall learning experience, particularly in activities requiring precision and attention to detail.

Strategically Harnessing Color Temperature: Strategically applying color temperature in educational spaces extends beyond visual aesthetics; it is a pivotal factor in shaping learning dynamics. Aligning lighting with the unique requirements of distinct areas within a classroom enables educators to craft an environment that improves visibility and impacts mood, concentration, and overall well-being.

Lumens and Brightness Levels

In the lighting design for educational environments, lumens and brightness levels transcend mere illumination; they encapsulate the essence of creating optimal conditions for effective learning.

Deciphering Lumens: Lumens, the standard unit of luminous flux, is the metric to quantify the total amount of visible light emitted by a source. This measure, crucial in understanding the practical brightness of lighting fixtures, provides a tangible way to evaluate and compare lighting solutions. Within educational spaces, lumens become the guiding metric for achieving an ideal luminosity that balances visibility, comfort, and functionality.

Optimal Brightness for Varied Environments: The appropriate brightness level varies across different areas within a classroom, and understanding this dynamic is critical to fostering an environment conducive to learning. Tailoring brightness levels to specific tasks and activities enhances visual comfort and supports diverse educational engagements.

1. Illuminating Focus Areas:
A higher brightness level is advantageous in zones dedicated to focused study, assessments, or detailed tasks. This heightened luminosity ensures clarity and precision, minimizing eye strain and facilitating an environment where students can engage deeply in their academic endeavors.

2. Ambient Comfort in Common Spaces:
Common areas, such as collaborative zones, benefit from a balanced brightness level that fosters a welcoming atmosphere without compromising functionality. Striking the right balance creates an environment where students can comfortably interact, promoting a sense of community and shared learning experiences.

3. Nuanced Brightness in Specialized Areas:
Specialized areas, like presentation zones or interactive displays, may require tailored brightness levels to optimize visibility and engagement. By fine-tuning luminosity to suit the specific demands of these areas, educators can ensure an immersive and practical learning experience.

The Holistic Approach to Educational Lighting: The demystification of lumens and brightness levels transcends the technical aspects; it forms the cornerstone of a holistic approach to lighting design in educational spaces. By integrating this comprehensive understanding, educators and lighting professionals can collaboratively create environments that not only meet the functional requirements of visibility but also contribute to an enhanced learning experience. This holistic approach ensures that the brilliance of light becomes an integral component in shaping the educational journey for educators and students alike.

What is Classroom Lighting, and Why Does it Matter?

classroom led lighting

classroom led lighting

Every classroom demands an exceptional interior lighting system, yet many educational institutions need more lighting conditions. It’s crucial to recognize that classrooms serve as intellectual powerhouses, shaping the cognitive landscapes of both students and teachers. Unfortunately, subpar lighting can give rise to issues such as eye fatigue, glare, and veiling reflections, hindering the optimal functioning of these educational spaces. Understanding that optimal lighting, characterized by the use of high-quality lights and uniform illuminance, can significantly enhance students’ productivity and learning capabilities is paramount.

Moreover, adopting proper LED lighting, which effectively minimizes glare and veiling reflections, contributes to heightened focus and an overall improvement in students’ motivation and energy levels. The implications extend beyond the classroom walls, influencing students’ morning mood and sleep cycles. This connection is particularly significant, considering that a student’s level of fatigue or alertness directly impacts academic performance, test scores, attendance, and overall attitude and behavior.

Despite the prevalence of fluorescent lighting systems in modern schools, these solutions often prioritize energy efficiency and cost savings over the nuanced needs of learners. Consequently, students may experience disruptions in their sleep patterns due to the improper lighting conditions. Recognizing this critical concern is imperative for ensuring students’ well-being and health safety in educational settings.

While fluorescent lighting remains a popular choice due to its cost-effectiveness and satisfactory luminous flux with low flicker rates and minimal noise, it’s essential to acknowledge that classrooms cater to diverse activities despite being singular spaces. Therefore, the installation of varied lighting systems emerges as a crucial consideration for creating an environment that caters to the multifaceted nature of classroom engagements.

proper led lighting

The essential lighting systems for school classrooms encompass various categories, each serving a distinct purpose:

  1. Task Lighting
  2. Interior Lighting
  3. General Lighting
  4. Supplemental Lighting
  5. Tunable White Lighting

Amidst the dynamic evolution of lighting technology, LED has taken the lead, establishing itself as a predominant option for lighting solutions in educational settings. LED technology’s dynamic nature aligns seamlessly with the diverse needs of educational spaces.

Furthermore, a meticulous approach to lighting implementation involves engaging a team of professionals to audit the educational environment comprehensively. This evaluation encompasses horizontal and vertical surfaces, among other factors, providing a detailed overview of classroom lighting requirements. Additionally, adherence to energy codes is imperative in the planning process, underscoring the need for a thoughtful and strategic approach to meet functional and regulatory considerations.

What Matters of Modern LED Lighting in Classrooms

modern classroom lighting

LED lighting is very important for classrooms

Look at some of the main reasons proper classroom lighting design is essential.

In-Classroom Performance

in classroom performance

LED can increase the performance of the class

While there is a widespread demand for fluorescent lighting, it’s essential to acknowledge that the unfiltered illuminance from such lighting can harm teachers and students. Unchecked exposure to fluorescent lighting may disrupt circadian rhythmic patterns, potentially leading to various health complications.

Here are some adverse effects of fluorescent lighting on students’ health:

  1. Distractions
  2. Hyperactivity
  3. Vision loss
  4. Blood pressure spikes
  5. Reading difficulties
  6. Excitability
  7. Loss of focus and concentration

The intense glare produced by fluorescent lighting systems poses a significant challenge for students, hindering their ability to read and learn with clarity.

Tiredness and Lethargy

tiredness and lethargy in classroom

Tiredness and lethargy in classroom

Fatigue and lethargy frequently afflict students exposed to the illuminance of fluorescent lighting regularly. Furthermore, the imperceptible pulsating light signals emitted by fluorescent lights can induce migraines and even trigger cluster headaches. Despite advancements in creating flicker-free fluorescent lights, the potential for delivering disordered light signals to the brain still exists.

Light Sensitivity

light sensitivity

Light Sensitivity

Some students and educators may experience light sensitivity, indicating a challenge in effectively utilizing vision by managing eye motion and movement against the light source. Teachers should be attentive to the following signs of light sensitivity in students, as the manifestation of these indicators underscores the necessity for an improved educational lighting system:

  1. Eye redness
  2. Blurred vision
  3. Double vision
  4. Light-triggered migraines or cluster headaches
  5. Difficulty in fully opening eyes under specific lighting conditions
  6. Prolonged periods of constant blinking

Uncontrolled Levels of Stress

unmoderated stress levels

unmoderated stress levels

Various lighting factors, such as light sensor type, light distribution, color temperature range, and the correlated color temperature index, can contribute to discomfort among students. Without proper attention, these issues may persist and potentially result in long-term health effects in children.

Fluorescent lighting, in particular, can initiate an undesirable cascade of chemical reactions in the body, ultimately elevating stress levels. One notable impact is on cortisol levels, a hormone crucial for regulating:

1. Blood sugar levels
2. Energy levels
3. Sleep cycles
4. Inflammation

Cortisol is also instrumental in managing stressors within the body. In simpler terms, fluorescent lighting disrupts the regulation of the cortisol hormone, which plays a pivotal role in coping with stress.

Eye Problems and Risks

Eye problems and risks

Extended exposure to improper lighting, specifically fluorescent lighting, can pose risks of eye problems and various eye disorders. Therefore, every educator and classroom instructor must be aware of the potential eye health risks associated with inadequate lighting ensuring the safety of students and themselves. Here are the risks associated with prolonged exposure to inappropriate fluorescent lighting levels:

  1. Increased risk of cataracts
  2. Likelihood of corneal bumps
  3. Potential chances of macular degeneration

Lighting Layouts for Classroom

classroom lighting layout

Classroom lighting layout

A. Designing Light for Purpose

  1. Customize lighting to suit specific classroom activities, such as lectures, group work, or individual study.
  2. Align lighting solutions with the classroom layout, ensuring that each area receives adequate illumination for optimal learning conditions.
  3. Consider the varied needs of educators and students, using lighting as a dynamic tool to enhance focus, engagement, and overall academic performance.

B. Maximizing Natural Light

  1. Strategically place windows to maximize the entry of natural daylight into the classroom.
  2. Integrate windows thoughtfully within the classroom design to capitalize on the benefits of natural light, including improved mood and energy efficiency.
  3. Recognize the impact of natural light on physical and mental well-being, creating an environment that supports the overall health of both students and educators.

C. Customized Lighting for Learning Zones

  1. Implement task-specific lighting solutions for different areas within the classroom.
  2. Optimize illumination based on the unique requirements of each learning zone, such as creating focused reading corners, facilitating collaborative workspaces, and supporting interactive presentation areas.
  3. Consider the diverse dynamics of modern teaching and learning practices, ensuring that lighting adapts to the specific needs of varied educational activities.

How to Choose the Suitable Lighting Design for Classroom?

classroom lighting design

Adequate classroom lighting is paramount for students’ performance, necessitating carefully selecting an optimal design. The primary objective is establishing a lighting system that seamlessly integrates with the classroom’s architecture, environment, and tasks, ensuring functional harmony. Just as social communication and overall health safety are integral to human needs, visual comfort is a fundamental requirement for a productive working or learning environment.

Despite the awareness of potential dangers and eye health risks associated with improper lighting, many school teachers and officials encounter challenges in developing an ideal classroom lighting design. To assist in this endeavor, here’s a concise checklist of factors that demand consideration to ensure the safety and well-being of school students.

Light Glare

The industry has established a standard glare rating, the Unified Glare Rating, with a set value 19. It’s crucial to understand that glare significantly influences the visual comfort experienced by students under task-associated or general lighting in classrooms. While the rating needs to remain lower for light-sensitive tasks, it can be higher than usual for areas like corridors.

Veiling Reflections

While veiling reflections may have caught your attention numerous times, understanding the science behind them is essential. The magnitude of veiling reflections is vital in affecting visual comfort and the quality of results for light-sensitive tasks.

Veiling reflections occur when glossy reading materials or specular surfaces reflect bright luminance patches. The drawback of veiling reflections is their ability to obscure details and limit the contrast of the task.

Light Distribution

The selected lighting system should ensure uniformity, regardless of the chosen angles or LED technology. While the recommended lux rating for classrooms stands at 500, every corner of the school must receive an equal and no less than the optimal amount of light. According to experts, the minimum illumination rating for classrooms should ideally fall within the range of 60% to 70%.

Given that students typically sit with sightlines parallel to windows, this positioning may elevate the lux rating they experience. However, this heightened brightness can become a potential source of distraction when attempting to focus on the chalkboard. The resulting glare has the potential to disrupt focus and impede concentration.

Light Flicker

True to their name, light flickers are as disconcerting to witness as their description implies. Their presence yields several adverse consequences, contributing to subpar soft shadows and obscuring task details. Powerline frequency plays a significant role in the occurrence of light flickers, impacting the overall illumination of the classroom. It’s essential to recognize that even if low-frequency flickers go unnoticed by the naked eye, they can instigate various responses within the nervous system. Incorporating this knowledge is crucial for establishing a healthy classroom lighting system.

Direct Light and Indirect Light

A dark ceiling has the potential to create shadows when illuminated by bright lights, leading to obscured details and reduced visibility of tasks. To prevent the casting of shadows over tasks and boards within the classroom, it is advisable to avoid using dark ceilings. Conversely, students can concentrate more effectively on the blackboard without dark ceilings, particularly when discussing indirect lighting.

Object and Face Modeling

The consideration of object and facial modeling holds significant importance in discussing lighting solutions for educational facilities. The ability to read students’ lips and facilitate social communication within the classroom relies on effective facial and object modeling, emphasizing the crucial integration of light and shadow.

Moreover, lighting serves as a tool to create visually appealing interests, patterns, and highlights by introducing depth and shape to visual scenes. This enhancement is pivotal in revealing objects’ and faces’ details and information. It is essential to note that the diffused reflection of light can render faces and objects appearing uninteresting and flat. This underscores the importance of selecting appropriate directional lighting to achieve a desirable diffused lighting outlook.

Color Rendering Index (CRI)

different CRI

color rendering index

The Color Rendering Index (CRI) plays a pivotal role in faithfully representing the color of an object when subjected to a light source. Notably, natural light observed during the day (i.e., daylight) boasts a CRI of 100%. Consequently, the CRI for classroom lighting should ideally be at least 80%, with a recommended level surpassing 90% for optimal color rendering.

Uniform Illuminance

When a light ray interacts with a surface, its intensity, often illuminance, is crucial. A recommended desktop illuminance for typical applications and tasks is 150 to 250 lux. Achieving uniform horizontal illuminance within the student zone is essential to minimize shadows and ensure flexibility that positively impacts task visibility.

Understanding the significance of uniform illuminance extends to the educator zone. It holds paramount importance for illuminating various planes, including vertical surfaces.

Color Appearance

Consider the impact of color, which encompasses light’s emotional, biological, and visual dimensions. You may already know how light can influence an individual’s mood. Therefore, choosing the appropriate light color is crucial to establishing a healthy, vibrant, and motivating atmosphere. Light color can have biological effects significant enough to either induce drowsiness and lethargy or promote alertness and activity.

For instance, scientific studies suggest that using blue light can aid in relaxation after a tense or highly stressful situation. Characterizing a light source involves considering two essential factors: the color rendering index and color temperature. These factors are derived from the spectral power distribution of the light source emitting the assessed light.

It’s important to note that the color appearance of non-luminous objects results from the interaction between the object’s spectral reflectance function and the light source’s spectral power distribution. Additionally, accuracy in color rendition is crucial, as the spectral power distribution of the light source influences behavior, psychological response, eye health, and satisfaction of those exposed to it.

outdoor lighting color temperature chart

color temperature scale

Luminance Contrast

If you’re unaware, luminance contrast denotes the amount of light emitted by a point or light source. It is the interplay between surface reflectance and surface illuminance, illustrating that an increase in light illuminating horizontal task surfaces or any other surface leads to an increase in luminance.

This calculation is instrumental in determining the acceptable luminance contrast for chalk marks on the chalkboard. The ideal lighting reflectance for a chalkboard falls between 5% and 20%. Conversely, when considering a whiteboard, the reflectance should be at least 70% to make it a focal point of attention for all students in the classroom.

Similarly, concerning working spaces or surfaces, maintaining a reflectance level of approximately 25% to 40% ensures a comfortable and proper luminance balance. Due to their matte finishes, ceilings and walls mitigate direct glare, particularly in cool white light. They contribute to effective light inter-reflections, supporting efficient weak consumption to enhance direct light glare, vertical and horizontal illuminance, and more.

It’s essential to recognize that the human eye registers luminance, not illuminance, during visual tasks. Luminance imparts a sense and perception of brightness to the human eye. Therefore, an appealing contrast detail between the task background and its details contributes to creating visually intriguing cues for students.


Indeed, it would be best to recognize the adverse effects of inadequate classroom lighting, which can disrupt the learning environment and pose risks to students’ vision. Engaging a professional classroom lighting design auditor may be the most effective approach to identifying optimal classroom lighting solutions.

By consulting the comprehensive guide provided earlier, you can explore optimal classroom lighting choices, guaranteeing a safe and conducive learning environment for students’ well-being. After all, students cannot be productive if the learning conditions are suboptimal. Without hesitation, let’s review the key topics covered throughout this definitive guide on selecting the right classroom lighting solution. Here’s a recap of what you now understand:

  1. The significance of classroom lighting
  2. Why it holds importance
  3. The multitude of factors to contemplate when selecting the appropriate classroom lighting
  4. The essentiality of considering each factor in the decision-making process

Illuminate Your Classroom with Upward Lighting

Upward Lighting addresses your lighting concerns in residential and commercial spaces by offering diverse lighting solutions. Upward Lighting has successfully catered to the needs of numerous clients and various businesses, from LED recessed downlights and panel lights to spotlights and linear lights. For professional assistance with your classroom lighting design, contact Upward Lighting through their dedicated customer service.

Upward Lighting manufactures all lights and fixtures in China using modern and efficient technology. To gain more insights into the company, you can contact the official representatives accessible through the customer service line. The company is driven by a vision to deliver the best for each client. Communicate your requirements to this China-based manufacturer of lights and fixtures to receive customized solutions. For further information, submit your query using the official contact details.

Request A Quote for Your Lighting Projects!

Share This Post Now:

Hey there, I'm Michael

I’m from Upward Lighting. We are a professional Outdoor led lighting manufacture in China since 2009. We provide high quality led lighting products for indoor and outdoor projects.

Find Some Other Interesting Topics

Request a Free Quote

We will be back to you within 6 Hours

china led outdoor lighting

And Facade

Lighting Fixtures

Architectural Floodlight | Led Wall Washer | Inground Light | Led Pool Light | Led Street Light | Palm Tree Light | Led Garden Light | Outdoor Wall Light | Led Stadium Light | Led Fountain Light | Led Highbay Light | Led Underwater Light

Download Our Full Catalog

Get notified about new products

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.