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Restaurant & Bar Lighting

Restaurant and Bar Lighting

While there are many functional, utilitarian lights in restaurants and bars, lighting design is really about creating an atmosphere and specific feel, rather than simply providing useful light. Thankfully, as LED bulbs has grown in affordability and flexibility, it's never been easier to create unique dining experiences for customers.

About Restaurant Lighting

Dining Areas

As the section where customers will spend most of their time, this is where owners should spend most of their lighting budget and design time. Typically, dining areas utilize small aperture downlights or accent lights in decorative fixtures. The type of light bulbs used in these fixtures are often halogen, although LED bulbs are making inroads.

For restaurants with a more casual environment, fluorescent tubes and fixtures may be used to provide uniform light throughout the area.

Sit-down restaurants that are open for dinner may use dimmers with incandescent or halogen bulbs, or use warm-dimming LEDs. If switching from traditional lighting technology to LED, take note that not all dimmers work with LED bulbs.

Bar Areas

Mood and atmosphere are important in bar areas, and lighting can help create high-energy or intimate environments. Downlights and track lighting fixtures are often used in these areas, with halogen or LED bulbs.

Increasingly, LED strips and undercabinet lights are being used in bar areas to provide wider range of light colors. The color-switching feature of some LED RGB strips help in transitioning from one mood to another.

Ordering Lines & Kiosks

Increasingly, consumers are looking for quick bites to eat and casual restaurants where they can order in a line, pick up their food, and find a place to sit. In these cases, even the menu needs to be well-lit to enhance readability.

Display screens are often used in these areas, requiring display mounts for ceiling or wall. Also growing in popularity are touch-operated kiosks, which may display specials, menus, or offer entire ordering experiences before customers even enter a line.

Kitchens & Food Preparation

Fluorescent bulbs and fixtures are most often used in areas where food is prepared. Many restaurants will utilize NSF-rated bulbs, which meet minimum sanitation standards for materials, design, and construction. Increasingly, linear LEDs are replacing fluorescent in these areas, due to lower maintenance costs and energy savings.

Infrared heat lamps are also commonly found in cooking areas to keep food warm.

Restrooms & Utility Rooms

Restrooms are often the place to find traditional, functional lighting in a restaurant. Uniform lighting is important here for visibility. Bathrooms and utility rooms provide good opportunities for occupancy sensors to turn lights on and off as these rooms are trafficked or not.

Exterior & Parking Areas

Exterior lighting can provide a welcoming feel for potential customers. LED bulbs and strips can be utilized throughout the exterior of a building to offer different color temperatures and colors of light. These lights can accent the color scheme of the restaurant itself, enhancing the visibility and memorability of the establishment.

For functional parking lighting, metal halide bulbs and LED HID replacements are common. Also widely utilized are wallpacks and time controls to save on energy when the business is closed.

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