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Industrial lighting should provide sufficient light in the right place at the right time. It should enable people to see what they need to see easily and in comfort, and allow them to perform their work in comfort, and safely, efficiently and with minimum visual strain.

Efficient lighting is seldom achieved simply by choosing the lamp which converts the most energy to light output, especially if the colour is inappropriate to the visual task. Nor is it necessarily achieved by gathering all the light output and directing this towards the horizontal plane at benchtop height. Work in factories is frequently carried out at different planes and levels. Light reaching and reflecting from non working surfaces, in particular walls and ceilings, can have the important advantage of improving appearance and vision, and reducing glare.

Requirements relating to lighting intensity, energy efficiency, reliability and colour rendering are easy to specify, and satisfy, but those relating to lighting quality can be more difficult to define and achieve. The client may ask for a system that makes the area bright and cheerful, for example, and gives objects and people a natural appearance, with no glare problems.