The Journey to Modern Office Lighting

In a previous article we talked about the history of office design and how the design of offices has changed over the years. In this article we are going to take a look at the history of office lighting, what has driven these changes, where lighting is today along with the range of lighting available to any office refurbishment project. Given how important office lighting is in office productivity it’s easy to understand why office lighting has progressed to the modern lighting we know today.

Incandescent Light Bulbs

The invention of incandescent light bulbs changed the way both homes and office spaces were lit. The science behind them was very simple. Wikipedia explains “An incandescent light bulb, incandescent lamp or incandescent light globe is an electric light with a wire filament heated to such a high temperature that it glows with visible light (incandescence).”

Unfortunately incandescent bulbs, although effective are far from efficient. In fact much of the energy pumped into these light bulbs actually resulted in more heat than light! The incandescent light bulb served us faithfully for decades but today, for the most part, they have been replaced by far more efficient lighting.

Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL)

The first replacement for the incandescent light bulb was the fluorescent light in the 1930s. The fluorescent light works by driving an electric current through mercury vapour, “exciting” it to produce a short-wave ultraviolet light that makes a special coating inside the bulb glow.

Early fluorescent lights provided twice as much light per watt as incandescent lights and went onto revolutionise office lighting, becoming a market place leader and dominating the lighting sector until recently.

The biggest jump in office lighting came in 1980 when a team at Philips Lighting in the Netherlands developed the CFL which allowed anyone to take advantage of this more efficient, less expensive energy source.

CFLs can last anywhere from 7 to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs and can save as much as 80 percent of the energy, leading to lower energy costs over the bulb’s lifetime and reduced maintenance costs due to less-frequent bulb replacements.

Today there are billions of CFLs installed in both home and offices across the world. However, CFLs have come under closer scrutiny, because of the dangers associated with mercury and the fact that CFLs require special disposal and are considered hazardous if broken.

Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

LEDs arrived on the scene in 2006 and work by sending an electrical signal along a semiconductor to create electromagnetic radiation that we see as light. LED lighting requires less wattage to produce the same amount of light and therefore cost less over the long term. An LED light source requires approximately 5 watts of energy to produce 450 lumens, while an incandescent bulb requires 40 watts to produce the same amount of light.

LEDs have become commercially popular as they were more cost effective and versatile. Between 2011 and 2012 global sales of LED replacement bulbs increased by 22%, and the cost of a 60-watt equivalent bulb dropped by around 40%. A note of interest is that the trading floor of the Nomura Investment Bank in London has the largest LED office lighting installation in the world.

The evolution of commercial lighting has come a long way benefiting businesses in terms of productivity and ROI.

David VanSpybrook, director of sales enablement for Cree, maker of LED light fixtures, bulbs and components stated [as far as lighting goes] “we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. With this evolution, businesses no longer need to look to outdated technologies for a comprehensive lighting solution.”

So What Are Your Kent and London Office Lighting Options?

When it comes to lighting your Kent or London office space there is a wealth of options available, with a range of lighting options available to suit every need and occasion.

You can choose from bulbs/tubes or panels and diffusers (a sheet of plastic used to cover a module of lights to provide better light distribution and improve aesthetics), depending on your type of building and the intended use of the office space. There are various types of bulbs/tubes which can be used in the lights and a choice of diffusers. Lights can also be placed in groups/grids to create mood lighting or as individual tiles. There is also the option of more personal lighting if you want to light smaller areas or provide light to each desktop area of your office.


The choice of bulbs/tubes which include incandescent, fluorescent, halide and LED affect the power efficiency, luminosity and aesthetics of the lighting.


Panels can come as surface modules, recessed, CAT2 recessed, surface modular battens, modular LED suitable for office, call centre or general commercial use or IP rated modules which are suitable for commercial kitchens, changing rooms and clean rooms.


Diffusers ensure good office space illumination whilst almost completely eliminating glare which is essential when it comes to computer screens. There is nothing worse than trying to work while “seeing past” the glare on a computer screen. A simple and inexpensive way of dramatically reducing glare is by fitting suspended ceiling diffusers. You can choose from prismatic, crushed ice, lattice or egg crate.

Given the range of options available above this allows for a wide variety of lighting ideas and designs suitable for commercial office spaces. When lighting is at the forefront of office design it can make a huge difference to the modern office space and to ensuring your staff’s health and well-being as well as going some way to ensuring they will love to come to work.

How Can JBH Refurbishments Help?

Contact JBH Refurbishments on 0333 207 0339 or via our contact form for more information on the best lighting options for your Kent or London office. With 25+ years of experience in Kent and London office design and refurbishment, you can rely on JBH Refurbishments to ensure you have the optimal lighting for your workplace.

How We Can Help


We’re experienced at working to tight deadlines & budgets. We treat each commercial fit-out with the same professionalism, while delivering quality results each time.


Office Design and Layout

From carrying out a full site inspection we create a digital rendering to show exactly how your workplace will look once our builders have finished.

Commercial Office Fit Out

Workplace Furniture

JBH Refurbishments can supply a range of quality office furniture including bespoke desks and tables, reception desks and conference tables and meeting room furniture.



Do you have premises or several individual properties that requires regular repairs and maintenance? If so you may be interested in our maintenance support programme.