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Although lighting calculations can be performed manually, the process demands a high number of man-hours. Software solutions like DIALux speed up the process.

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effective lighting design with dialux




A well-designed lighting system provides just the right amount of light for its

intended application: less lumens yield poor performance, but more lumens

represent wasted energy. Like in any building system design, the optimal

capacity can only be specified with an adequate calculation procedure.

Lighting designers use the photometric data of proposed fixtures as a

starting point. For the calculation procedure they consider the project’s

location, indoor or outdoor, as well as environmental conditions like

temperature and dirt.

The purpose of lighting calculation is to reach a suitable illuminance level

for the intended application. The concept of illuminance describes lighting

delivered per unit of area, and it is typically measured in foot-candles

(lumens per square foot) or lux (lumens per square meter). In the case of

new york city meeting the lighting efficacy

New York City, meeting the lighting efficacy requirements of the NYC Energy

Conservation Code is also important.

Illuminance levels for each location are not arbitrary; they are established

by industry organizations such as IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society

of North America). When specifying a lighting system, design engineers

aim for the illuminance values established in the IESNA Lighting Handbook.

Achieving the exact specified values is not feasible, but a lighting design is

satisfactory if the variation is slight.

Make sure your lighting system meets

IESNA and NYC codes.

Contact us

Lighting calculations can be carried out manually, but this approach

demands considerable man-hours and is impractical in modern building

design. A more effective approach is using automated software

calculations, allowing the lighting designer to focus on the best decisions,

while a computer handles repetitive tasks.

The lighting design specialization is available for professionals from

different backgrounds. For example, architects, electrical engineers and

interior designers all have a knowledge base that is suitable to complement

lighting design.

The Lumen Method: Basic Lighting


The lumen method provides a simple hand calculation approach to

estimate the illumination achieved with a proposed lighting distribution. The

method becomes impractical for complex room geometries or very large

projects that are split into multiple areas

projects that are split into multiple areas. It can be summarized in the

following steps:

•Calculate the Room Cavity Ratio (RCR): The RCR describes the

ratio of vertical area to horizontal area in a room. The RCR formula

varies depending on room geometry.

•Obtain surface reflectance: The reflectance is the fraction of light

reflected from a surface, and it is strongly influenced by texture and

colour. Reflectance values are required for ceilings, walls and floors.

•Obtain photometric data: When you purchase a lighting product, its

specifications include total lighting output and its spatial distribution.

This is fundamental information for lighting calculation procedures.

•Determine the Coefficient of Utilization (CU): Based on the RCR

and surface reflectance, it is possible to determine the CU, which

indicates how efficiently the lighting output is delivered to the working

plane. The CU is obtained from tables in the IESNA Lighting

Handbook, and it is also known as Utilization Factor (UF).

•Calculate the Maintenance Factor (MF): The maintenance factor

accounts for lighting fixture degradation over time, as well as dirt

accumulation. Deterioration and dirt reduce the lighting output, and

illuminance falls below the specified level over time if their effect is

not accounted for.

•Use the Lumen Method Formula: There are two ways to apply the

formula. It can be used to calculate the number of luminaires required

to reach a given illuminance value, or vice versa - calculating the

illuminance that results from a given number of fixtures.

The lumen method formula is provided below:

n number of luminaires e required illuminance

N = Number of luminaires

E = Required illuminance

n = Lamps per luminaire

F = Lumen output per lamp

CU = Coefficient of utilization

MF = Maintenance factor

The advantage of the lumen method is simplicity, only requiring basic room

data and luminaire data. However, it only provides an average illuminance

value that does not reflect variations for different parts of the room. In other

words, it is impossible to predict if there are excessively illuminated areas

or dark spots.

Overview of DIALux

Although there are many lighting design software packages available,

DIALux has the advantage of being free while remaining a powerful design

tool. Instead of selling the software to lighting designers, they charge

lighting manufacturers to have their products on the DIALux database with

photometric data and 3D models. This simplifies the design process, since

there is no need to search for photometric files of the proposed fixtures.

DIALux can adapt to a wide range of project conditions, ranging from

individual rooms to complete buildings, as well as outdoor locations. The

software can also account for daylighting through windows. Architectural

files from common formats like DWG (AutoCAD) can be imported, avoiding

tedious file conversions.

one of the main differences between software

One of the main differences between software calculations and the lumen

method is that software determines lighting variations in the area being

analyzed, while the lumen method provides the average value. This allows

adjustments to the lighting design when some areas are too bright or too

dark, which is not possible with the lumen method. DIALux represents

these illuminance variations both in 2D plans and rendered 3D models of

the space being designed.

Lighting design software is useful not only in new constructions, but also

when renovating existing spaces. For example, if LED lighting will be

deployed to reduce power bills, a software analysis can be used to

determine if lighting quality will be high - energy efficiency should not come

at the expense of performance.

What Are the Ideal Lighting Parameters

for Offices?

Office buildings represent a significant percentage of total built area in New

York City, which means that a lighting designer will probably work on these

projects frequently. To achieve the best results, the following parameters

are recommended:



Lighting Metric


500 lux or more

Glare rating

19 or less


0.6 or more

Colour rendering


80 or more

If your property is covered by Local Law 88 of the Greener Greater

Buildings Plan, you must upgrade your lighting by 2025 to meet the NYC

Energy Conservation Code. Working with qualified lighting designers

ensures compliance while simplifying project

ensures compliance, while simplifying project approval with the NYC

Department of Buildings.

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