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How to: light with an illuminated handrail

September 2017

If you’re looking to add prestige to an entrance, give pedestrians safe passage across a bridge, or to create a feature staircase, an illuminated handrail is the perfect solution. To provide a good level of uniformity, the lighting should be as continuous as possible throughout the handrail. See below a quick reference guide on how-to light with an illuminated handrail.


Wide staircases with centre handrails should utilise a symmetric distribution to provide an even spread of lighting up the centre of a walkway. For very wide staircases, consider positioning supplementary asymmetric modules to the sides, to increase coverage further.

On narrow flights, a single sided asymmetric module will be sufficient to achieve levels in excess of 100lux at ground level.

For landings, using a curved handrail where needed will ensure that there are no dark patches or unlit areas, which can lead to reduced uniformity levels and patchy looking lighting.

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Ramps & walkways

Generally lighting levels, as laid out in the British Standards BS8300 2009, the Equality Act 2010 (design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people), can be met with a single sided handrail on areas of up to two metres wide.

Asymmetric distribution modules should be spaced suitably apart, either wall or balustrade mounted to ensure good ground uniformity between modules. If a walkway is next to a river or area of environmental sensitivity, an asymmetric distribution will ensure light is only placed where it is required, limiting back spill.

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Open footbridges

Footbridges with open side railings should be lit in such a way that modules are facing away from users below the level of the bridge. This avoids any unnecessary glare. This practice should also be considered for the users of the bridge itself so, as they ascend, light sources are directed away from their field of vision as much as practically possible.

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Minimising glare is an important factor to consider when lighting open staircases, ramps and walkways

Various methods can be introduced to block unwanted light from escaping to areas adjacent to the lighting scheme – but best practice would be to not generate glare in the first instance. Ensuring that any light is focused towards the task areas, without having to incline the light source will further reduce the possibilities of creating glare.

Our illuminated handrail

Garda offers enormous versatility and market-leading performance across a wide range of applications; from contemporary to historic, in both internal and external environments. From illuminating staircases, balconies and ramps to bridges, walkways and parks. Garda handrails are uniquely designed to suit each project meaning it can adapt to every lighting scenario.

Garda LED modules provide a genuine asymmetric light output; many other solutions have to tilt the handrail to achieve the same effect. This allows a wide area of footpath or stairway to be illuminated with zero inclination to the LED module, ensuring a glare-free lighting solution.

Find out more about Garda >

Working with you

Our dedicated project team will work closely with you to take care of every aspect of a Garda scheme.

From initial concepts through to precise installation we can provide a comprehensive service including:

  • Full site survey
  • Lighting and structural design
  • Bespoke manufacture
  • Installation by our specialist stainless steel contractors
  • Full project management, support and guidance throughout your project

For help specifying or to learn more, contact us.

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