The Differences Between Commercial and Residential Lighting

modern living room

When creating plans and design, the lighting for the property is a key detail. There are different kinds of lighting depending on whether the space is residential or commercial, but what makes them different from each other? And what could happen in case of a mismatch?

Here are some answers.


This doesn’t pertain to traffic lights, but to foot traffic. Commercial spaces, for one, are typically busy, and might have to accommodate the comings and goings of not only people, but also vehicles and equipment.

The lighting should be able to give protection to everything and everyone in the area. If you are installing lighting in a shop, for example, you would want customers to be able to discern the products clearly and also to make sure that the lighting enables a clear monitoring of the products in place. The higher traffic in commercial properties also makes lighting requirements heavier.

On the other hand, the traffic in residential spaces are usually not as heavy as it is in commercial spaces. Although a home has to be bright enough, it should still be comfortable, since having extreme lighting could have negative health effects. You must also take neighbors into consideration when installing residential lighting and make sure that no unwanted lights are pointing at other people’s properties.

Function and controllability

As both types of properties differ in their design and function, so do the types of lighting they need. Residential lighting rarely requires specialized design and functionality, since they are mostly meant to make the home cozy and welcoming. Meanwhile, commercial lighting can be used for signage, decoration (such extravagant lights at nightclubs), or lighting large spaces (like warehouses and factories).

Residential lighting may have controllability in the form of sensors, timers and dimmers, but commercial lighting usually needs more demanding controllability. Like for some cases, commercial lighting may have to be operated via computer or be a part of an intelligent control system.

In case of a mismatch

bedroom with lights

The price for each grade of lighting may be one of the easiest aspects that set them apart from one another. Commercial lighting generally costs more than residential lighting, so it would literally cost you if you made an accidental mismatch.

If you deliberately installed commercial-grade lighting to your residential space though, it may prove to be a major design flaw and would still break your budget paying for electricity bills over time. This could also lead to legal problems because it is a violation of the National Electrical Code.

If you decide to install residential lighting in a commercial space, note that residential lighting is commonly less durable and efficient, and doing this could affect the efficiency of the business.

Understanding the materials you need for any kind of space or property is crucial in making the best decisions when designing and planning. Installing materials that are not appropriate to needs of the property could lead to a host of problems. This is applicable not only to lighting, but also to other applications within the property.

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