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  • Poor lighting conditions can lead to costly mistakes in both manual and automatic paint application
  • There are many factors that contribute to proper lighting such as brightness, color and placement of bulbs
  • Typically, most spray booths use either fluorescent or LED bulbs rated at a specific industry standard of quality
  • Proper lighting must also follow NFPA 70 electrical codes to ensure operational safety
  • Improper lighting choices can lead to more expensive operational costs

Achieving a high-quality spray finish on your manufactured parts requires several spray paint booth components to seamlessly work together, such as fans for air flow filtration working in tandem with proper paint application equipment.

While many facility managers and operators do a good job of maintaining these necessary parts of their spray booth system, it’s easy to overlook another important requirement for high-quality finishes: the presence of proper lighting.

Unfortunately, overlooking the importance of proper lighting can be problem some and expensive for manufacturers and customers. In industries such as aerospace, the poor quality of initial applications cannot be easily fixed due to meticulous weight restrictions. Therefore, it is critical for manufacturers to have the proper lighting in their spray booths in order to achieve the optimal finish during the first application.In this article, we will examine how spray booth lighting impacts the following three factors:

  • Finish Quality
  • Operational Safety
  • Operational Costs

Finish Quality

Spray booth lighting can have a decisive impact on the final finish quality of an application, especially if the finish is manually applied by your paint operators. In manual applications, operators need to properly see in order to direct the spray pattern towards the areas that require more coating. Without proper lighting, your operators are more likely to make costly mistakes that require more material costs and hours of service to fix.

Even in automated operations, proper lighting is needed to inspect the final finish quality. But choosing the right lighting for each finishing application isn’t as simple as buying the brightest lights you can find, it takes a delicate understanding of both lighting qualities and lighting options as well.


Light Qualities

Brightness and color can affect how the final finish looks on a particular manufactured part. Light brightness is often measured in units called ‘foot-candles’. In many industries, the standard is 100-150 foot candles at a 3-foot height. This level of illumination allows the color and finish to be properly graded and inspected.

The color also impacts how the final finish looks. Full-spectrum light can be a good choice, but manufacturers should also note the Color Rendering Index (or CRI number). Rated on a scale of 0-100, lighting with a higher CRI is less likely to have color shift or distortion, with a rating of 85 or higher being desired.

Lighting System Options

Proper spray booth lighting should have two major light sources and three main placement locations. These light sources are either T-8/T-5 fluorescent tubes or LED emitters. We’ll cover the advantages of each later when we discuss operational costs.

These two light sources can be placed in three locations in the spray booth: corners, ceilings and walls. The goal is typically to illuminate the entire area being painted without casting shadows. Corner lights can be more effective at illuminating the bottom of components than wall or ceiling lights. However, they can only be mounted in 90-degree corners, so wall and ceiling lights are used more often. Many spray booths use a combination of locations to illuminate the finished area effectively.


Lighting Safety Codes

In addition to the brightness, coloring and placement, the safety classification of the lighting must be taken into consideration. The spray paint booth contains a hazardous environment, where volatile chemicals are present in the air. Therefore, lighting can be a source of ignition, so the rating of the light fixture must be taken into consideration.

Lighting present in spray paint booths must conform to the national electrical code standards for electrical devices, and depending on the light location, might require a rating of Class I, Division II, Groups A-D. This rating, as well the typical operating temperature, needs to be visible on the lighting source, says OSHA.

Most importantly, the operating temperature must be lower than the ignition temperature of the finishing material. Choosing lighting with the proper classification and operating temperature is crucial to the safe operation of a spray paint booth.


Lighting Operational Costs

While lighting solutions must meet certain finish quality and safety criteria, operating costs also have a role to play in the selection. Fluorescent tubes have been a popular choice in the past. They offer non-directional light and are relatively inexpensive. LEDs, on the other hand, are becoming more common as a light source despite their higher expense.

LEDs require much less maintenance, their directional displacement offers better lighting for the part, and they provide higher efficiency and lower operating costs. LEDs will likely outlast your paint spray booth, as they can last up to 50,000 hours. In contrast, fluorescent tubes require more maintenance than LEDs. As they age, fluorescent tubes lose color and brightness. They need to be regularly replaced if the finish quality is to be protected. While LEDs are a more expensive solution initially, they offer many distinct operating advantages.


Expert Designs Light the Way

The perfect lighting solution for a spray paint booth optimizes finish quality, safety and operational costs. It ensures that lighting has the proper brightness, color rendering and placement for quality inspections while being compliant with OSHA and other regulations. Don’t let poor lighting affect your painting operation, our expert booth designers will work with you to make sure the solution provides a high-quality finish in a safe environment at a reasonable cost. Get a free quote today.



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