This review addresses the inconsistencies in interpreting measurements of intrinsic catalyst properties using lab-scale devices. Any experiment must be analyzed in the framework of a model for which the choice and assumptions regarding the necessary parameters must be based on critical reasoning. Physical intuition about the properties of the system is required for both rigorous 3D computational and simplified analytic descriptions. Any divergence between hypothesis and characteristics of the systems affects both the investigation of intrinsic catalytic properties and the later industrial design where parameters are extrapolated outside their obtained operating range. In this work, we make an overview of the underlying physics of photocatalytic reactions, while focusing on pertinent hypothesis, and discuss the consequences for the most basic reactor designs for which guidelines and criteria are provided to meet their premise.