LED Lights Too Bright in Office

07 Nov.,2022


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So, let’s say you go into the office and find that the lights have been upgraded to LED panel light. But the first problem you find is that the light is too bright. Obviously, someone ordered lighting that has too much Lumen output. At this point what can you do? According to OSHA, the minimum requirement for lighting should be 30 foot-candles per square foot. Now you have something like 45 foot-candles which oddly makes you feel like you’re under 1940s interrogation lights.

Before you go and ask for your one call to report your company to OSHA, there is a solution. Here’s how you can fix too bright LED ceiling lights in your office.

Effects of too bright LED lights

1. Reducing workers productivity in office because of glare

Working under the glare of bright lights isn’t so great after a while. Unless your job is checking for hairline cracks in eggs it reduces the ability to concentrate. Workplace productivity goes down to the point that nothing is getting finished on time. According to OSHA, the light should be spread throughout the office and should be comfortable enough to see everything. When it’s too bright, this makes an employee irritated in many ways.

2. Eye discomfort

Let’s talk a bit about eye strain for a moment. Studies have shown that bright lights or being outside in direct sunlight for too long will cause eye strain. Just like looking at a computer screen for too long, your eyes can get tired more easily. This can lead to a common cause of being ‘Bleary-Eyed’ after just half a day. Eyes can become red and sore leading to dry itchy eyes. Most employees will obviously try to avoid these bright areas for any reason.

It may be a common sight that some workers will opt to use sunglasses at their work station or cubical.

3. Causes migraine and headaches

You probably have heard of something called sunstroke. Well, the brightness of lights in the office can have actual physical symptoms. Bright lights can induce all sorts of problems including headaches or migraines. Some people have even had dizziness or nausea if there’s too much Lumen exposure. This can lead to employees taking time off of work for the extreme effects of indoor sunstroke. And the worst part is that bright light will similarly affect everyone.

The office lights will eventually need to be toned down or replaced for the sake of employee safety. Any OSHA inspector will have a few words on the overall health and safety of bright lights. There are even fines that are issued for not changing lights that are uncomfortable for employees if they’re too bright.

Why are my LED lights too bright?

1. Wrong selection of Lumen output

It might have been a simple misunderstanding that LED lights are too bright. When replacing standard office lights, the Lumen output is a simple matter being able to troubleshoot the wattage conversion. The higher number of watts that a fixture has can be much higher Lumens than usual. It can also be linked to the color temperature if the Kelvin wasn’t well though-out. The brightness levels of Kelvin can be too blinding simply because someone made a mistake.

Often the amount of Kelvin will wash-out and reflect off surfaces like white walls. It makes everything harder to see to the point that even paper will appear white-hot. Even the glare can ruin the visual abilities of workers causing them to squint.

2. Distance between ceiling lights and employee is too short

Hanging LED panel lights that are suspended may have been installed incorrectly. If the light is too bright and the distance is too close to workers, these lights will be more irritating. They need to be raised up higher toward the ceiling to help diffuse and distribute the light. Keep in mind that panel light angles downward more than other types of fixtures, so low-hanging light is too bright.

Some work stations may have been using low-hanging light that’s not replaced with LED fixtures recently. This can prove to be too bright if the LED fixture is now too close to a work area.

3. LED indicator light on office appliances is disturbing

You’ve seen that annoying little light off to the side that constantly sticks-out. On your computer monitor, the copy machine, the air conditioner, the on’ light switch on those office extension cords. These can all have super bright LEDs inside that are annoying to look at. They can be too bright for their own good and are often a menace because they’re unnecessarily distracting.

For those who work around computers and server boxes and modems, there can be annoying LED ceiling lights blinking. These will be distracting to some and makes it harder to concentrate on their work.

4. Poorly designed LED desk lamps

Desk lamps are great for personalizing your work area but the newer LED lamps can have terrible reflector designs. All the way across the room, a lamp will give off a blinding halo that’s seen by others. The person using the lamp won’t see this because their perspective is looking from above the lamp light shield. Most of these lamps also have no flare control all because the reflector is lower than it should be.

5. Light leak from overhead fixtures

Some LED light fixtures have unique designs that look futuristic and stylish. Sadly these fixture designers aren’t considering that the amount of light leak may be more annoying for others. The amount of escaping light that can be seen across the room shows-up as light pollution. It can look like a lens flare making it hard to concentrate on your work. These kinds of light fixtures are bothersome for others who get exposed to this light leakage.

6. LED flare from improper ceiling fixtures

Buying the wrong type of LED light fixtures from factories that export cheap LED lighting often will have LED flare. The reflectors under the fixture are placed too low and cause light to escape horizontally. Not only does this flood into other workplace areas, but it also shows up all throughout the office, and is hard to fix. This is another reason why import LED light fixtures are a terrible investment to make at the office.

How bright is too bright for office ceiling lighting?

There is a limit to what the human eye can handle with LED light. Anything above 7000K is asking of trouble but there are office lights that are irritating at 4000K too. It depends on how many watts make light too bright. When it starts to wash away detail around you, it’s too bright. One example of light that’s too bright for an office is a doctor’s examination light. This is light that is too bright for being under all day.

What do you do when your office LED panel lights are too bright?

1. Using a dimmer and dimming LED panel lights

Bright light from LED fixtures can be dimmed if you have dimmable LEDs. They also need a light switch that goes with that fixture. In the case that your office has installed lights that cannot be dimmed, you can opt to install a PWM dimmer (pulse width modulation) in the AC driver. These were used at one time when it wasn’t possible to dim the LED light using a conventional LED dimmer.

While these additions can dim the lights by tricking the LED light, newer LED lights have since replaced this method. There is often more flickering seen when using a PWM dimmer than with modern LED dimmers. It’s a common problem of lighting that you can troubleshoot if it’s the only option.

2. Add a diffuser on the panel lights to soften the light

There is an option to add a diffuser over the panel lights to help break-up the amount of light that’s coming out. You can use a special film that’s attached to the panel cover or replace the cover using a sheet of diffused plastic. These can be bought from any plastic supply shop or ordered online. Any kind of film that’s used must be heat resistant because of safety reasons.

It can be easier if the glass cover that’s used for some Light fixtures is taken to an art glass shop and be sandblasted so the glass surface is frosted. This will make the surface light much softer.

3. Anti-glare screen protector on a computer screen

Computer screen glare often has blue light pollution. If you can’t adjust the color settings, you can buy a screen protector instead. This helps filter out blue light and is easier on your eyes. Even though the luminance can be dimmed on some monitors, most people prefer to put a screen protector because it also helps to reduce UV light that comes from bright HD screens.

4. Use more sunlight

What a concept inside an office to light the interior using natural sunlight. Windows can have their shades pulled back so that more light reduces the need for overhead lighting. As long as there isn’t too much glare at certain angles when the sun is coming up or going down, it’s one option. It might also be a good idea to use a curtain that helps to diffuse the light when it gets too bright.

5. Use corrective lighting in the office

While some LED light temperatures can be too bright for your liking, there is a solution. You can put in a transparent amber or orange-colored plastic sheet that’s cut to the size of your light fixture. This can reduce bright white LED light to a more comfortable incandescent color. Just like they put special film gels over lighting in movies, this is possible for office lighting too. A plastic supplier will likely have several choices in transparent plastic sheets.

6. Use more wall lights

Some offices are going back to an art deco style using decorative LED wall lighting. These give off very appealing amounts of light that aren’t in your face all the time. It can also make any dingy office look more comfortable but just as professional. This style of lighting is meant to bounce ceiling light off the walls rather than overhead. This lessens the harsh overhead lighting that can be uncomfortable to work under.

7. Use glass paint to tone down the lights

If your LED fixtures are too bright, you can paint them using glass paint. You need to take out the plastic cover and lay it on the workplace table. Using the Krylon stained glass spray paint, you can spray a layer or two onto the plastic panel. You need to use even coats from at least 2-feet away but the results are worth it. You need to troubleshoot this with someone good at spray painting evenly. Because this is a special paint meant for sticking to the glass, it will be perfect for plastic LED light panel covers.

8. Use a decorative screen mesh

Just like they used to use with fluorescent light fixtures, there are special plastic meshes and grids that reduce light. These can be the egg crate style or a prismatic light diffuser. Either way, these can reduce the amount of light to varying degrees. At least using screen meshes is a great retro way to reduce harsh overhead lighting. Once again these types of covers can be purchased from a plastic sheeting supplier or on Amazon.

Too bright LED lights Q & A

1. Is it safe to cover LED ceiling lights?

As long as you don’t use anything that can become a lighting hazard later. The plastic covers inside the light fixture can be taken out and replaced, painted, or treated. This is so it will be diffused or tinted with a color. If the light is too blinding bright because of a Kelvin temperature, the glass can be safely sprayed with Krylon stained glass spray paint. This is a good budget-minded fix.

2. What light cover is best for worker productivity?

Warmer colors that are close to incandescent lighting are excellent for working in an office. If the light is too white, these colors can be warmed up using colored plastic sheets that give a warmer hue. When these are used to cover daylight rated ceiling fixtures, immediately the light quality gets better.

3. Can you put a dimmer switch on all LED lights?

You can’t normally put a regular dimmer switch to dim LED lights. These need to be rated for dimming capabilities. It also needs a dimmer control that is compatible with your light fixture. It’s possible to use a PWM dimmer to dim your lights, but this can also have flicker issues. It may not be very apparent using this type of dimmer, but it’s better to have modern LED dimmers instead.