Protective Lighting


Black lights are designed to identify food contamination in food-processing areas.

Types: Protective lights are typically bulbs coated in plastic to contain glass and chemicals in case the bulb breaks. Protective lighting comes in many types, shapes, sizes and watts to offer maximum options in safe illumination. Protective lighting includes standard, U-shaped and compact fluorescents; high-output (HO) and very high-output (VHO) lamps, which emit high levels of light; black lights; and Teflon ®-coated incandescent lamps. In addition, some manufacturers also offer shields and covers to protect standard incandescent and fluorescent bulbs.

Capacities/Footprints: Standard fluorescents are available in full-wattage, energy-saving, preheat, preheat-rapid start, rapid start, instant start and “slim-line” linear models. HO and VHO protective lights are available for use in non-refrigerated and refrigerated areas. High-output fluorescent lamps for non-refrigerated areas can withstand the highest temperatures. U-shaped fluorescents provide nearly the same light output as linear straight lamps of twice their length. Compact fluorescents replace incandescent bulbs in tighter spaces and smaller lamps. Black lights help staff identify food contamination in food-processing areas. Operators can use Teflon ®-coated incandescent lamps anywhere a light fixture exposes a bulb.

Energy Source(s): Most protective lights consume anywhere from 6 watts to 185 watts and require a 120-volt to 130-volt energy source.

Standard Features: All protective lighting should include a skin-tight protective coating that contains all glass, phosphors and mercury. The coating protects the surrounding work area should a light shatter or break. Protective lights' plastic coating captures glass, mercury and phosphors if lamps break.

New Features/Technology/Options: Fluorescent, shatterproof bulbs continue to improve their energy consumption while maintaining strong light-output and offering improved color rendering. Some manufacturers offer bulbs designed to filter out types of light and radiation that are known to diminish the appearance and flavor of foods.

Key Kitchen Applications: Protective lighting is used most frequently in freezers, refrigerators, prep areas, dining rooms and insect light traps in operations including restaurants, supermarkets, C-stores, “salad-toss” bars, schools, daycare facilities and meat-packing plants.

Purchasing Guidelines: While protective lighting is required in most prep/production areas, a broken bulb presents an injury risk and, hence, litigation risks to workers and customers alike.

Maintenance Requirements: The recommended maintenance on all protective lighting is called group relamping, which is the replacement of all lamps after they have been in service for 70 percent of their uselife (average lifespan ranges from six to 3,000 hours).

Food Safety & Sanitation Essentials: Protective lighting is designed so that unit staff never have to touch or be exposed to bare glass and to ensure foods cannot be contaminated by broken glass or other lighting components.