Lighting design is an important aspect of creating comfortable, functional and attractive indoor and outdoor environments. Choosing the right beam angle for a luminaire is essential to achieving the desired lighting effect. The beam angle determines the range and intensity of light distribution and is essential for correctly illuminating specific areas, highlighting details or achieving overall uniform illumination.
This article will look at the key factors in selecting the right beam angle for the luminaire required.
What is beam angle?
When it comes to illuminating a space, we need to consider several factors such as colour, lumens, number of luminaires, use of the space and the end goal. Achieving these goals can be complex, but beam angle is one of the key tools to help us achieve them. Especially when illuminating larger spaces, the beam angle plays a vital role. It allows us to direct light to a specific area and control the distribution of light. So, what exactly is beam angle?
Simply put, beam angle is a way of measuring the distribution of light from a light source. It represents the angle at which the light is emitted by the light source. The beam angle is a simple indicator that helps us to optimise the coverage of light, which can be challenging and complex in practice. Almost all modern lighting projects require consideration of light propagation and the calculation of beam angles.
By understanding and applying the concept of beam angle, we can better understand the behaviour of light and make informed decisions in lighting design.
In the following, let us explore the measurement and application of beam angle further.
Narrow vs. wide angles: illuminating spaces for a differentiated experience
The beam angle of lighting depends to a large extent on the characteristics of the indoor or outdoor space. In indoor spaces the beam angle is mainly influenced by the height of the ceiling, whereas in outdoor spaces it depends on the height of the light pole or the mounting position of the luminaire in relation to the floor.
Narrow angle lighting usually ranges from 5 degrees to 45 degrees. Narrow angle light sources provide a concentrated lighting effect and are suitable for scenes where details are highlighted. They are ideal for highlighting high highlights on surfaces of interest. With narrow beam angle lighting, we need to ensure that the light has sufficient coverage to achieve a highly uniform illumination effect. Narrow angle lighting occupies an important position in the field of sports lighting.
Wide angle lighting, on the other hand, usually ranges from 80 to 130 degrees. Unlike narrow angle light sources, wide angle lighting offers a wider distribution of light, but is not ideal for highlighting details. They are better suited to scenes with low illumination requirements rather than high point locations where intense lighting is required. For example, a lounge is a suitable space for using a wide angle beam, where strong light is not required, but where it is more important to illuminate the entire space.
It is important to note that LED light sources typically provide a beam angle of approximately 120 degrees without the use of any optical materials.
By understanding the characteristics of narrow and wide angle lighting, we can make an informed choice depending on the different lighting needs. Below, let’s learn more about how to measure beam angles and the significance and application of beam angles.
How to measure beam angles: from degrees to NEMA classification
Beam angle is an important indicator of light distribution and is usually measured in degrees. Different types of lighting equipment may have different beam angles.
The beam angle is the angle between the point at which the light starts to fall from its maximum intensity and the point at which it reaches 50% of that maximum value. For most led light fixtures, the light is brightest directly below the luminaire and then spreads outwards until it reaches half of its peak brightness. The range from peak to complete absence of light is known as the field of view, while the area less than 50% brightness is known as spill light.
In the past, halogen lamps usually had a beam angle of about 70 degrees. Early LED spotlights had a similar beam angle in the 30 degree range. However, with the development of modern LED lamps, the range of beam angles has been extended to 10 degrees to 120 degrees by integrating prisms or diffusion lenses.
If you know the beam angle of your lighting device, then you can easily calculate the light spread at a given distance (usually in feet). In addition, you can make your choice according to the light classification system of the NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association). More detailed information on the NEMA classification system will be provided shortly.
It is important to note that measurements using degrees are more accurate than relying on the NEMA classification system. Although the NEMA classification system offers a wider range, degrees provide more accurate information. Therefore, it is recommended that degrees be used more often to measure and select beam angles for lighting equipment.
Degree comparison NEMA: choosing the most suitable lighting equipment
In lighting design, beam angles are measured in degrees (°). Degrees indicate the angle at which the light falls from maximum intensity to approximately 50%. 36 degrees is the most common beam angle.
To assist in accurate lighting design, organisations such as the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) have come up with various light classifications.
NEMA has classified the beam angles of lamps in the following seven categories:
– I 10° – 18° – very narrow
– II 18° – 29° – Narrow
– III 29° – 46° – medium narrow
– IV 46° – 70° – medium
– V 70° – 100° – medium wide
– VI 100° – 130° – wide
– VII 130°+ – very wide
These classifications help to describe the characteristics and typical uses of different types of luminaires.
NEMA classifications are often expressed in a compressed form similar to “3H3V”. For example, “3H3V”, or simply NEMA 3, indicates horizontal and vertical beam angles between 29 and 46 degrees.
The light distribution of “3H3V” is therefore circular in shape. Some luminaires, such as stadium lights, sports lights and highbay lights, are classified as NEMA 3, indicating that they have a circular light distribution. It is important to note that NEMA classification is always based on vertical and horizontal angles where the light intensity reaches 10% of the maximum beam intensity.
When choosing the right lighting equipment, you can refer to both the degrees and the NEMA classification. Degrees provide a more precise metric, while the NEMA classification provides a description of the shape of the light distribution. Choose lighting equipment with the right beam angle and light distribution shape for your specific needs and space requirements. This will ensure that you can achieve the desired lighting effect and meet the requirements of the space.
Choosing the beam angle of a lamp: key factors in meeting lighting needs
The following key factors need to be considered when selecting the right beam angle of light for your needs:
- Building type
Different types of building have different requirements for beam angles. In residential buildings, wide angle lighting is usually sufficient, as residential spaces need to be lit evenly throughout. In commercial buildings, on the other hand, medium to narrow angle luminaires are required to achieve more precise lighting in spacious ceiling spaces.
The luminaire itself can influence the choice of beam angle. Different types of light sources can be used in the same luminaire to vary the beam angle. For example, a recessed luminaire may increase the beam angle, while a suspended pendant will reduce it.
- Types of lighting
Different types of lighting require different beam angles. There are various types of luminaire available on the market, from traditional luminaires to the latest LED luminaires. Ambient lighting usually requires a wide beam angle, while accent and task lighting requires a narrower beam angle.
- Ceiling height
The height of the ceiling is also an important consideration when choosing a beam angle. Higher ceilings result in weaker lighting at ground level because the light intensity decreases as you move further away from the light source. Ceiling heights in residential buildings such as houses or flats usually do not exceed 10 feet. For these types of structures, wide angle luminaires are sufficient to cover the entire room.
By taking into account key factors such as building type, luminaire characteristics, lighting type and ceiling height, you can select the luminaire beam angle that best suits your needs. This will ensure that you can achieve the desired lighting effect and provide the best light distribution for a given space.
Choosing the correct luminaire beam angle is an important part of lighting design. Understanding factors such as building type, luminaire characteristics, lighting type and ceiling height can help you determine the optimum beam angle. This will ensure that you are able to achieve the desired lighting effect and provide the best light distribution for a given space.
When designing your lighting, keep these key elements in mind and make an informed choice based on your specific needs. With the right choice of beam angle, you can create a pleasant, comfortable and functional lighting environment.