When considering what goes into a quality paint job, we often think of the quality of the prep job, airflow and filtration in the booth, skill of the painter and more. Although these factors are all important, another key factor is lighting. Great spray booth lighting is necessary for proper working conditions, and is especially important in the refinish world for accurate color matching and high-quality paint finishes.
Excellent paint booth lighting is made up of several components, including fixture placement and quantity, light quality, type of lens, lamps and ballast, and code compliance of the fixture.
Fixture Placement & Quantity
In order to achieve uniform, complete lighting, light fixtures must be strategically placed on the paint booth walls and ceiling. Paint booth engineers use lighting analysis to determine the number and placement of light fixtures for optimal brightness.
A paint booth’s brightness is measured in foot candles — the intensity of light in a given direction. An ordinary wax candle has the luminous intensity of 1 foot candle. The industry standard for paint booths is 100 to 150 foot candles at a three-foot height.
Light Quality & Color Matching
For paint refinishing jobs, color matching is critical. In order to accurately color match, the lighting in the paint booth should be as close as possible to natural daylight, which is the true “white” light. The quality of lighting can be measured by the Color Rendering Index (CRI), which rates the light’s ability to duplicate the entire visible spectrum.
The CRI is a scale of zero to 100, with the sun at 100. Anything over 90 CRI is considered full-spectrum lighting. When quality and color matching is important, higher CRI rated lamps should be used. Lamps with a CRI of 90 or above are often referred to as color-corrected lamps, and are commonly used in paint booths for accurate color matching.
Clear, Tempered Lens
The light fixture lens can also have an effect on the quality of the light it gives off. A clear tempered lens allows for clearer, more accurate lighting. Tempered glass is four to five times stronger than regular glass of equal size and thickness, for excellent durability in a high-production painting and curing environment. It’s also much clearer than wire reinforced glass, which used to be common in some paint booths.
Types of Lamps – Fluorescent (T8/T5) and LED
Most paint booths come standard with fluorescent T8 light bulbs, however, you may have the option to upgrade to LED T8 lamps as an energy-efficient alternative. LED lamps can offer significant energy savings — up to 40 percent when compared to traditional fluorescent 32W T8 system. Most T8 light fixtures can support either fluorescent or LED bulbs, making it easy to upgrade to LED bulbs in an existing paint booth. An alternative to T8, T5 light bulbs are often used in paint booths with tall ceilings, as they offer a higher output.
Energy-Efficient Dual Ballasts
Another way to save energy with your paint booth lighting is with dual ballasts. Dual ballast fixtures offer two levels of lighting. When less light is needed, such as during prep operations, you can save energy by using half of the lights. Full lighting can be easily restored for painting operations and detail work.
Safety and Code Compliance
While it is important for the paint booth as a whole to be code compliant, it is just as important for certain booth components, such as lighting, to comply with national, state and local regulations. When it comes to lighting, regulatory agencies require that booth light fixtures be approved for Class I, Division II, Groups A-D. By verifying your booth lighting meets these requirements, you can ensure worry-free planning and installation, and the safety of your employees, equipment and facility.
A Trusted Booth Manufacturer
Although all of these lighting factors are important to consider when purchasing a new truck refinish paint booth, the paint booth manufacturer and your local distributor should be able to help simplify the buying process for you. Look for a trusted, reliable booth manufacturer with engineers on staff. Booth lighting should be engineered for optimal brightness, color matching and energy efficiency, as well as meet code requirements. Better lighting in your paint booth can go a long way in achieving better quality paint finishes.