Illuminated Railings for Dramatic Aesthetics While Meeting Safety Requirements

And What You Stand to Gain with A Partner Experienced in Lighting and Railings

Many factors define a successful product. For railing systems, life safety, code compliance, and aesthetics rise to the top. Illuminated hand rail is steadily increasing in building and site design following dramatic growth in small form factor LED fixtures and continual product innovation. In today’s market for lit railing systems, finding a manufacturer that brings expertize in the railing system industry – as well as lighting – is hard to come by. But those that do, provide a valuable understanding of the equipment that is being combined.

Here are top reasons to incorporate illuminated railing systems to realize dramatic designs while meeting safety needs, and what you stand to gain by working with a partner with experience in lighting and railings.

Aesthetic Enhancement

For design in common areas and areas of pedestrian traffic, specific lighting requirements ensure safe navigation in dark or low-light conditions. These same areas require handrails to protect and guide pedestrians on ramps, landings, stairs, and balconies. Illuminated railings can combine lighting and safety into a single aesthetically pleasing solution by leveraging linear and point-source lighting innovations.

Illuminated Railing

It’s not just the aesthetics that a single assembly creates, but also what it can eliminate. Traditionally, meeting these requirements meant additional lighting sources. In many situations, the need for additional lighting has created distractions that negatively affect the aesthetics of both interior and exterior spaces. But consider the following enhancements when using lighted railing:

  • Pathway illumination to guide the eye while providing life safety navigation.
  • Light levels to distinguish objects clearly without glare.
  • Elimination of additional light sources that don’t augment the design.
  • Near universal compatibility with handrail design.

By including the light source in the already required railing, no additional architectural elements need to be introduced. Even challenging designs can be created with linear or point-source fixtures for ramp, straight, or curve run applications.

Life Safety

Life safety is a familiar term, referring to the railings which help guide people as well as prevent falls. It also has lighting implications. The use of lit pathways for commercial areas is vital to help people see obstacles ahead of them, guide people in emergency situations, and help with the path of egress out of buildings. For many applications, code requirements effect both railings and lighting. That’s where lighted railing can tackle the job of the two – and do it in an aesthetically pleasing way. And in spite of perceptions, it can be done cost-effectively.

Doubling Up on Contracting Costs

A long-held perception of lighted railing as it’s an expensive product. The reality is the actual additive cost of light inclusion isn’t as high as perceived. For safety reasons, many applications where railing is required also require supplemental lighting. In a CSI 3-Part Specification, handrailing typically resides in Division 5, while lighting is included in Division 26. But where costs show up, a common oversite is in awareness of the fact that the lighted railing contract is really footing two bills (railing and lighting). Doubling up with lighted railing systems can often cover multiple uses and code requirements – providing a two for the price of one benefit.

Overall Efficiency

Technology continues to evolve the use of light in design. With everything new, it’s now LED in most every application. Beyond offering more flexible design approaches, LED lighting technology also offers greater efficiencies, including:

  • Longevity and reliability – Average life cycles of 11-12 years.
  • Easily maintainable -Fixtures, whether linear or point-source have low wattage / high performance.
  • Light efficiency – Reduction of supplemental light sources by meeting the lighting requirements with integrated, task focused equipment.
  • Small form factors and various fixture design options – flexibility for design integration, addressing complicated site assemblies with specific products to achieve uniform illumination throughout.

At Wagner, we’ve always taken the approach that it’s beneficial to have one manufacturer supplying both lighting and railing to extend the most value in combined equipment and solutions. As a supplier with 60 years of experience in railings, and more than a decade in LED lighting technology for railings, that’s exactly the experience we provide to our customers – working with architects, lighting designers, and engineers to deliver complete lighted railing systems. To learn more about lighting railing solutions, contact Wagner.


View All »


Straightforward installation and the ability to customize your look.


Lighted Railing Installation

Installation instructions for Lumenrail®


Cable Railing Installation

Learn about Ultra-tec® cable cutting, swaging measurements and how to install cable railing.