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Choosing the Right Restaurant Lighting: A Comprehensive Guide

Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-05-08      Origin: Site

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restaurant lighting

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As a restaurant owner, you know that creating a memorable dining experience for your customers is crucial to your success. From the food to the decor, every aspect of your restaurant plays a role in shaping your customers' experience. One often overlooked aspect of restaurant design is lighting. However, the right lighting can make a significant difference in creating the perfect ambiance for your restaurant. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore everything you need to know to choose the right lighting for your restaurant.

Why Restaurant Lighting Matters

Lighting is an essential element of any restaurant's design. It sets the mood, creates ambiance, and can even affect how your customers perceive the food. Poor lighting can make your restaurant feel unwelcoming, while the right lighting can create a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Another reason why lighting matters in restaurants is that it affects the dining experience. For example, bright, harsh lighting can make it challenging for customers to relax and enjoy their meals. On the other hand, dim lighting can be too romantic or difficult to read the menu. The right lighting balance can help customers feel comfortable, relaxed, and ready to enjoy their dining experience.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Restaurant Lighting

Choosing the right lighting for your restaurant can be overwhelming. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:

The Type of Restaurant

The type of restaurant you have will play a role in the lighting you choose. A high-end restaurant will require different lighting than a casual cafe. For example, a fine dining restaurant may prefer dimmer lighting, while a fast-food restaurant may prefer brighter lighting.

The Mood and Ambiance

restaurant lighting

Color temperatures are a crucial element to consider when designing the lighting for your restaurant. By selecting the right color temperature, you can create a particular ambiance that complements your restaurant's atmosphere.

Warm lighting, which has a color temperature of 2500K to 3500K, produces a cozy, yellowish hue that can instantly make people feel relaxed. This type of lighting is perfect for cafes, bars, and taprooms, where customers often come to unwind and socialize.

Conversely, cool lighting and natural light, which have a color temperature range of 3500K to 4500K, are ideal for breakfast eateries, coffee houses, and family restaurants. You can also make use of natural light by installing large, translucent windows that allow sunlight to flood into the restaurant.

In addition, it's crucial to use high Color Rendering Index (CRI) rated bulbs to bring out the natural colors of the food and make them appear fresh and appetizing. Low color rendering can cause colors to appear faded and dull, which can negatively impact the customer's perception of the food.

The Layout and Design

The layout and design of your restaurant will also affect your lighting choices. For example, if you have a small restaurant, you may need brighter lighting to make it feel more spacious. If you have a large, open space, you may want to use multiple lighting sources to create different zones.

The Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is an important consideration when choosing restaurant lighting. Energy-efficient lighting options can save you money on your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint.

Types of Restaurant Lighting

There are several types of restaurant lighting to choose from. Here are some of the most common types:

Ambient Lighting

Ambient lighting is the primary source of light in your restaurant. It creates a general illumination that sets the mood and ambiance. Ambient lighting can come from natural light sources, such as windows or skylights, or from artificial lighting, such as ceiling fixtures.

Task Lighting

Task lighting is used to highlight specific areas, such as the bar or kitchen. It's often brighter and more focused than ambient lighting. Task lighting can come from pendant lights, track lighting, or recessed lighting.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is used to highlight specific objects, such as artwork or architectural features. It's often used to create visual interest and add depth to your restaurant's design. Accent lighting can come from wall sconces, table lamps, or directional spotlights.

restaurant lighting

Common Lighting Mistakes to Avoid

When choosing restaurant lighting, there are some common mistakes you'll want to avoid. Here are a few:

Using Only One Type of Lighting

Using only one type of lighting can create a flat, uninspired atmosphere. Instead, aim to use multiple types of lighting to create depth and visual interest.

Being Too Bright or Too Dark

Being too bright or too dark can negatively affect the dining experience. Aim for a balance between brightness and dimness that creates a warm, inviting atmosphere.

Ignoring Energy Efficiency

Ignoring energy efficiency can lead to higher energy bills and a larger carbon footprint. Choose energy-efficient lighting options to save money and reduce your impact on the environment.

Tips for Choosing the Right Restaurant Lighting

Choosing the right restaurant lighting can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice:

Consider the Mood and Ambiance

Consider the mood and ambiance you want to create. This will guide your lighting choices.

Research studies have shown that colors can directly affect a customer's appetite. Off-white, yellow, and green lighting are the best options for food establishments. However, it's best to avoid blue, purple, or dark shadows as they can act as appetite suppressants.

It's important to use high CRI-rated bulbs to make the vibrant colors of food pop.

Another recommendation is to use theme-based lighting to attract business. You can base your lighting design on special events like New Year's Eve, Christmas, or Valentine's Day, or even on a sports event like the Super Bowl or NCAA Final Four. LED lights with adjustable colors, temperatures, and dimming capabilities make it easy to switch up your lighting design for different themes.

For a trendy and minimalist lighting design, consider using linear lights, straight pendant lights, and surface-mounted lighting fixtures. This type of lighting can add character, simplicity, and elegance to your restaurant, creating a unique and exquisite atmosphere.

Use Multiple Types of Lighting

Lighting options for restaurants have evolved over time, with traditional options like halogen, metal halides, and compact fluorescent lighting being common in the past. However, LED lights have taken over the market in recent times due to their energy efficiency and the ability to provide a wider range of colors, temperatures, and dimming capabilities. With LED lights, restaurants have greater flexibility to create unique and creative lighting designs. Despite the popularity of LED lights, some restaurants still use older lighting technologies on a smaller scale.

Use multiple types of lighting to create depth and visual interest.Here is a table summarizing different types of lighting and their best use in restaurant lighting design:

Lighting Type


Best Use

Recessed Lights

Minimalistic fixtures fixed in the ceiling, with the body hidden in the ceiling

Evenly distributed lighting; elegant and simplistic design

Overhead Lights

Linear, spotlights, and track lights that can direct light to a specific area

Versatile for general lighting and task lighting; creates indirect diffuse light

Wall Washer

Best for highlighting unique wall and ceiling architecture or features such as tile work, exposed brick, or stone walls

Wall washing and wall grazing techniques for unique restaurant lighting

Suspended Lights

Must-haves for any restaurant lighting design

Pendant lights for simpler yet stylish designs; chandeliers for decoration and general lighting

Smart Lighting

LED light bulbs with drivers and controllers for multiple lighting features

Multiple colors, temperatures, adjustable brightness, and mobile app control; can be synced with music or controlled by AI assistants like Alexa

Strip and Neon Lights

Flexible and versatile LED lighting options for decoration

LED strips for creative lighting designs; LED neons for a cyberpunk vibe

Test Your Lighting

It is important to test your restaurant lighting to ensure that it creates the desired effect. Make adjustments as needed to achieve the perfect balance.

Many customers complain about how difficult it is to read menus in restaurants due to poor lighting. The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) recommends a minimum of 3 to 6 footcandles (30-65 lux) at the dining table. The Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHO) recommends an even higher level of 10 footcandles for eating places. Even if you don't follow these specific guidelines, ensure that the overall lighting is above 0.4 footcandles.

If the lighting requirement by IES is too bright for the desired ambiance, there are some workarounds you can try. Using white-colored or lighter-shaded tablecloths can help as they reflect at least 35% more light than darker colors.

Moreover, overhead accent lights can be directly placed above the dining table. This way, the light can be directed at the table, achieving proper illumination while maintaining low brightness in the rest of the area. However, you may need adequate ambient lighting to complement overhead accents, otherwise, it can create sharp shadows in the surrounding.

Choose Energy-Efficient Lighting

Choose energy-efficient lighting to save money and reduce your carbon footprint.LED lighting is highly energy-efficient, consuming 70% less energy than traditional lights. As a result, they produce less heat, making them more eco-friendly, which is good news for restaurant owners who need to keep their lights on for long hours. This helps reduce electricity bills, which can eat up a significant portion of profits.

Additionally, modern LED lights are highly durable, lasting at least fifteen times longer than traditional bulbs. This translates to lower operational and maintenance costs. LED fixtures are also more resistant to impacts and harsh weather conditions, ensuring that your lighting investment lasts for years to come.

Lighting Maintenance and Energy Efficiency

Maintaining your restaurant's lighting is crucial to its efficiency and longevity. Here are some tips for lighting maintenance:

Clean Your Fixtures Regularly

Dust and debris can accumulate on your fixtures, reducing their efficiency. Clean your fixtures regularly to keep them working properly.

Replace Burned-Out Bulbs Promptly

Replace burned-out bulbs promptly to maintain the efficiency of your lighting system.

Lighting Design Trends in the Restaurant Industry

The restaurant industry is always evolving, and lighting design is no exception. Here are some lighting design trends to keep an eye on:

Sustainable Lighting

Sustainable lighting, such as LED lighting, is becoming more popular in the restaurant industry. It's energy-efficient, long-lasting, and eco-friendly.

Color-Changing Lighting

Color-changing lighting can create a dynamic, ever-changing atmosphere in your restaurant.

Vintage Lighting

Vintage lighting, such as Edison bulbs, can create a warm, nostalgic atmosphere in your restaurant.


Choosing the right lighting for your restaurant is crucial to creating a memorable dining experience for your customers. Consider the type of restaurant, mood, and ambiance, layout and design, and energy efficiency when making your lighting choices. Use multiple types of lighting to create depth and visual interest, and test your lighting to ensure that it creates the desired effect. With the right lighting, you can create a warm, inviting atmosphere that encourages customers to relax and enjoy their meals.

Discover the Perfect Lighting Solution for Your Restaurant with Oteshen Lighting

In the above guide, we have presented the case for LED lights. If you're interested in purchasing high-quality LED luminaires, we recommend Oteshen Lighting. Our LED lights are manufactured in a high-tech facility under the supervision of industry experts, ensuring premium quality products.

Our catalog of products includes a variety of options for restaurants, such as recessed, spot, linear, track, surface mounted, and pendant lights. Additionally, we offer outdoor architectural and landscape lighting solutions for restaurants.

At Oteshen Lighting, we handle customized orders and offer low MOQs. Plus, we provide competitive market rates. Contact our 24/7 customer service to receive your quote today.

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