Complete Guide to
Hotel Lighting

Everything you need to know about LED lighting maintenance, what to buy, and how to save on energy costs





You’ve probably heard the phrase, “We’ll leave the light on for you”. You might not be running a Motel 6, but more than 30 years after that phrase started, guests at every hotel still expect for the lights to be on when they arrive.

But that’s the very minimum of what they expect. You have to make your lobby look appealing, your rooms feel relaxing, and your convention spaces shine. Proper lighting can help you accomplish all of that.

In this guide, we’re answering some of your top questions about hotel lighting, from which light bulbs you should purchase – to energy costs – and improving safety. We hope you find the answers you need.

Common types of lighting for hotels


With so many lighting options in the market today, it can be overwhelming trying to make the best decision and find the right products.

Plus, between your wall sconces, recessed cans, and chandeliers, finding the right bulb for your hotel can be a process.

We have a list of common light bulbs you most likely need and the best LED replacement – but first, we want to explain two lighting metrics that may help in your decision-making process.

  • CRI or Color Rendering Index: A number between 0 and 100 that is used to predict how well a product renders color. The closer to 100, the better – or more true – colors should look under its light. You might not be as concerned with this as you are with color temperature in your hotel. That said, some boutique luxury hotels may use high CRI lighting to give guests a more pleasant experience.
  • CCT or correlated color temperature: A gauge of how yellow or blue the color of light emitted from a light bulb appears. It’s measured in the Kelvin unit (K) and is most commonly found between 2400 K and 6500 K. You want to create a warm, welcoming environment for your hotel.
Hotel lobbies Similar to retail, hotel lighting can vary significantly based on the brand, atmosphere, and location. That said, wamer color temperatures in the 1800K-3000K range work well in hotel lobbies.
Hallways and common areas In general, match the color temperature color of hallways and common areas to the hotel lobby.
Guest rooms Guest rooms typically fall in the 2700K-3000K range, creating a wam, inviting atmosphere.

To simplify your maintenance purchases, we’re listing below the most common types of light bulbs found in hotels, plus the LED equivalent. You can shop for them in our online store. Click here to register for a business account and get discounted pricing for your hotel.

HID           SHOP

As you replace your light bulbs – don’t forget to recycle them properly. Regency Lighting is a one-stop lighting and electronic recycling provider, allowing you to safely get rid of materials like lamps, ballasts, thermostats, exit signs, and electronics.

Maintenance tips for hotels


Hotels have a lot of areas to maintain, and some that guests never see. While it’s great to make sure your lighting is aesthetically pleasing, hard-to-maintain areas to should also be a top priority. You want to make sure those areas are well-lit and safe.

Here’s the bottom line when it comes to maintenance: take care of the hard places first.

If you’re struggling with this, you need a strategy. We have three ways to cut the time and materials you spend on lighting maintenance:


Group relamping: This is a “work smarter, not harder” approach that prioritizes efficiency over speed. Rather than climbing ladders multiple times a month to swap out burnt-out lamps, take care of certain areas in one fell swoop. This is especially effective if you’re dealing with high, hard-to-reach fixtures or busy areas, like lobbies or stairwells.


Schedule maintenanceWork with a provider or schedule out your maintenance on a calendar. The idea here is to maintain your lighting like you would your car. If you don’t maintain good air pressure in your tires or change your oil regularly, you will experience a blowout or break down at the worst possible time. And if you don’t schedule out your lighting maintenance, you may experience an outage on the busiest day of the week or just ahead of a visit from your out-of-town boss.


Keep product stocked: The best way to improve the chances of a quickly resolved maintenance request is to stock common products.

Are there particular commercial lighting challenges you’re trying to overcome?
Our team of lighting specialists is here to help.

Let’s talk a little more about these hard to maintain areas in hotels. They are most likely a safety priority, too. These are areas like your parking garage, elevators, and stairwells. Make sure burn out in these areas is low, so you aren’t constantly stuck on a ladder in front of guests.

In addition to light bulbs, ballasts, and power supplies also need rapid replacement when they begin to fail.

Your hotel may have areas with high ceilings that require special equipment to change lighting. Think of the lobby or convention space.

The last thing you want is for lights to go out during important events or as guests enter your building (talk about a bad first impression). We worked with the Grand Hyatt in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood to ease some of their maintenance headaches.

When a group rents out a pricy meeting room, it’s not ideal for lights to flicker and burn out right before or during their event.

A lot of the Grand Hyatt’s maintenance headaches were solved by upgrading to LED. If your property has not already retrofitted to LED, lighting updates in these hard to maintain areas are a great way to save you headaches and money. We’re digging into that here.

Managing energy costs

Energy Star estimates that hotels spend $2,196 per room on energy every year. That’s a lot of money, and about six percent of an average operating cost.

While electricity is a big cost in lighting, that isn’t the only factor. We can break that cost down even further for you:

Total Cost of Lighting

There are two easy ways to save money on lighting and increase energy efficiency:

1. Retrofit to energy savings lighting (see below)

2. Invest in long-life products from reputable manufacturers

Let’s talk about number two a little further. New companies continue to come onto the scene with LED lighting innovations and low prices. These might save energy upfront, but the wrong product could end up costing you in the long run.

Another tool to consider when you’re trying to save energy: lighting controls. This is especially important in hotels when certain lights need to be on all the time, both inside and outside of the building, but other rooms could be unoccupied for hours. Leaving lights on in empty rooms is a huge waste of energy (and money!). Using controls to automate when lights turn on and off can save on energy costs.

Lighting control systems can be as simple or as complicated as you would like. Hotels have started to look into the best options to integrate lighting into other systems, like temperature control. Here are a few basic options for lighting controls:

    • Dimmers: Dimming light bulbs reduces wattage and output, resulting in energy savings. This can also help set different tones throughout your building.
    • Sensors: No one wants to light an empty room – so installing occupancy sensors in a conference room that’s rarely used is an easy place to start. Or it could be tedious to turn on parking lot lights every night, so photosensor controls could be a huge advantage. Motion sensors are very useful for security lighting. They turn on when motion is detected, then turn off a short while later.
    • Timers: Is there an empty conference room in the hotel? Or do you only need accent lights on for certain hours of the day? Timers may be another option to consider.

If you’re considering a lighting controls system, you may want to check out wireless lighting controls. You don’t have to worry about running wires behind walls and ceilings, installation is easy, and you can re-arrange the room at any time without worry.

How to attract hotel guests

Guests want their hotels to feel comfortable, but productive. Here are four ways your lighting can help attract more visitors.

  1. Sustainability:

    The U.S. Green Building Council developed LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It’s a green building rating system that businesses across the world have adopted. Caring for the environment is becoming more important to your guests, and a LEED certification shows that you’re willing to adopt more green practices. A little more than 40% of guests are typically staying for business, so this may also help appeal to companies booking a large number of rooms or selecting hotel preference.

    It’s not uncommon to see water-saving programs in hotels, and lighting is another way to show a commitment to sustainability.

  2. Lighting controls and light quality:

    We already talked about lighting controls, but implementing them could also attract more guests. Guests like having personal control in their rooms and the opportunity to customize their stay. By the way, the easier lighting controls are to use, the more appealing to guests. Better light quality can also improve a stay and even impact sleep.

  3. More than a hotel:

    Guests are not just staying at your hotel to sleep. They’re staying for an experience – whether that’s related to work or pleasure. Lighting can change the feel and use of any area, like a business meeting room, a game room, swimming pool area, or office.

  4. Great design:

    Spending a little more time and money on attractive lighting can pay off. More comprehensive lighting like accent and task lighting creates comfort in lobbies, hallways, and also inside rooms.

Helpful resources:

Lighting safety and building codes

Safety is top-of-mind as your guests enter, navigate, and leave your hotel.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association listed public safety and security at the top of its list of concerns – so it’s likely on your priority list, too. Whether it’s an accident like falling on the property, or a criminal matter, lawsuits that cite poor lighting can cost millions.

As a basic safety practice, make sure sidewalks, floors, and ramps all around the property are properly lit. It should also be easy to see other people and signs at night when it’s dark outside the building.

Lighting safety can also expand to areas that might not be top of mind.

Does your hotel have a pool? Regency Lighting worked with a developer in San Diego to make sure the pool area had proper lighting at night and met strict building code.

This particular project was at a high-rise residential project, but the developer wanted a resort feel. The before-and-after renderings speak for themselves. Not only is the pool more attractive, it’s also much safer. That’s critical in a setting with wet surfaces.


Helpful resources:


There is also a push for more sophisticated lighting systems in many areas of the country, and that could have you dealing with building code.

If you’re in California – new construction and building renovations must meet Title 24 standards. The energy code significantly impacts lighting and lighting controls. It’s triggered any time you pull a building permit.

Other states are quickly catching onto these standards, too.

If you’re subject to strict building codes, contact us. We dove head first into Title 24 years ago, and deal with these requirements day-in and day-out.

Helpful resource:

Where to start with LED retrofits

By 2020, about 80% of hospitality businesses will have adopted LED lighting, according to a report by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

So if you haven’t already, now is the time to retrofit to LED. We aren’t talking about just hotel rooms. While that’s a nice consideration for your guests, the savings could stack up faster in other places.

Where you start with LED retrofits is similar to maintenance – you want to target the hardest to maintain areas first. Think about your parking garage, your stairwells, high-ceiling areas in the lobby, and any exterior lighting.

  1. Parking garage
    • Safety and quality lighting should go hand-in-hand for your parking garage. Because the lights must always be on, you run into a high burn time. And because replacing a bulb in a parking garage can be tedious, unsafe, and obstructive, it’s a great place to consider switching to LEDs.

  2. Stairwells
    • If your stairs aren’t well-lit, you could be facing building code issues and hazards to guests and employees. The lights there need to be on 24/7, so you’re looking at using significant energy and dealing with frequent replacement. Retrofitting to LED equals instant labor and energy savings.

  3. Lobby
    • You want your lobby to be aesthetically pleasing – and it’s another area where the lights are probably on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you have high ceilings, it’s a labor-intensive job for the maintenance crew to replace lights. That tall ladder is not too visually pleasing in a high-traffic area, either.

  4. Exterior
    • From wall packs to floodlights to shoebox fixtures – there are a variety of lights that require a lot of energy outside of your hotel.

      Think about your sign that glows for at least 10 hours overnight. It might be tall and require a bucket truck to make repairs. Using LED there would also cut out maintenance hours.

      Switching to LEDs in your parking lot can cover spaces more easily. That means you also get a safety upgrade with your LED upgrade. Plus, it’s another place to think about using that bucket truck a little less often.

Just upgrading these areas could save you thousands every year.

Another decision to consider before you dive into the land of LEDs: should you retrofit with LED bulbs, or do all fixtures need to be replaced? Here’s a look at pros and cons.

LED fixture replacement retrofit pros:

  • Maximum control over light output and placement (great for situations where lighting design is paramount)
  • Longer life rating and efficacy than LED replacement lamps
  • Lower maximum fixture wattage than traditional fixtures, which is advantageous for meeting strict building codes or Title 24 standards
  • Excellent performance for controls and dimming

LED fixture replacement retrofit cons:

  • Longer, more expensive installation
  • Higher up-front cost than LED replacement lamps
  • Potential for difficulty in upgrading to future emerging technologies

Because LEDs are now more reliable and efficient – and manufacturers are lowering prices – it’s now costing you to wait to retrofit to LEDs.

Ready to buy?

FAQ: Common lighting questions for hotels

If I upgrade to LED, will the colors be consistent?

Color consistency is a big concern, especially when you are looking to create a specific atmosphere in your lobby or hotel rooms. It’s a problem that can surface immediately or as you replace bulbs over time. Your first option is to buy from a reputable manufacturer with a tight color consistency policy. The second option is color tuning. It’s a more advanced option that we discuss here.

What is CRI?

Color Rendering Index measures the visual effect a light source has on the perceived color of objects it illuminates. High CRI light generally makes colors natural and vibrant. Low CRI causes come colors to appear washed out or even to take on a completely different hue. In hotels, we generally recommend a CRI of at least 82.

What is CCT?

Correlated Color Temperature gauges how yellow or blue light appears, measured in Kelvin. Warm light sources have low color temperatures (2200-3000K), like red, orange, and yellow. Cool light sources have high color temperatures (>4000K) and feature blue light. In hotels, we generally recommend a Color Temperature in the 2700K to 3000K range.

What is R9 color rendering value?

R9 color rendering value indicates how well your lighting will highlight red colors. Some percentage of R9 is actually found in all of the colors that comprise the CRI scale. When purchasing LED lighting, we recommend an R9 value greater than 60. We explore R9 color rendering value here.

Should I worry about wattage?

Wattage is the measure of how much energy a lamp needs to light up. This will differ based on the application, and if you are using LEDs.

What about lumens?

This measurement expresses the overall light output or quantity of light produced. More lumens means it’s a brighter light, less lumens means it’s a dimmer light. This may be an important factor as you decide how to set the ambiance of your common areas and guest rooms.

How long do LED lamps and fixtures last?

LEDs are not like traditional light bulbs, where one day they will suddenly not turn on. You may notice they’re not as bright when they start to lose their life, but before they stop completely. The actual lifespan depends on the application of the lamp and the fixture.

What’s the difference between a lamp and fixture retrofit?

LED Lamp Retrofit Pros LED Lamp Retrofit Cons
Quick, easy installation Maximum fixture wattage remains the same (applies to Title 24)
Significant efficiency gain Common challenges with dimming
Strong rebate programs
LED Fixture Retrofit Pros LED Fixture Retrofit Cons
Maximum control over light output and placement Longer, more expensive installation
Longer life rating that LED lamps Generally higher upfront costs than LED replacement lamps
Lower maximum fixture wattage than traditional fixtures Potential for difficulty in upgrading to future emerging technologies
Excellent performance for controls and dimming

Click here to read more about the pros and cons.

What is lamp life and how does it compare to rated life?

Average rated life is an average rating, in hours, indicating when 50 percent
of a large group of lamps has failed.

Lamp life is the expected operating time. Most, but not all, lamps will meet
the lamp life hours.

Will dimming lights cause them to flicker?

It’s common to dim lights in multiple areas of a hotel, like the lobby, rooms, and a restaurant or event space. Dimming technology today is much better with LEDs, but that doesn’t mean you will not run into problems. We look at common issues here.

Lighting can be complicated, but our goal is to make it easier.

Still have questions?

Bottom line: there is never a one-size-fits-all approach to lighting. We hope you found the answers you were looking for on hotel lighting.

But if you have still have more questions – we’re happy to help you walk through the process.

Start typing and press Enter to search