An Overview of Commercial Parking Lot Lighting

If your business is open at night, you know that good parking lot lights offer both aesthetic appeal and convenience to your patrons.

But it’s also very important for security and legal reasons.

Did you know that about 40% of violent crime occurs in parking lots? If you don’t have enough lighting, or if you have the wrong type of lighting, you’re making it easier for wrongdoers to lurk in the dark, undetected by patrons until it’s too late.

Inadequate parking lot lighting levels could also expose you to negligence lawsuits over criminal incidents or accidents that occur in your parking lot.

So how do you protect your customers, your employees, and yourself? Let’s go over some of the fundamentals of good parking lot lighting.

#1: Intensity

How bright is the light? Parking lot lights should provide adequate illumination with a minimum of glare, which can damage night vision.

#2: Uniformity

How consistent is the light? A lack of uniformity leads to an uneven patchwork of bright spots with dark shadows in between. Use a light meter to determine the ratio between the lowest light level in your parking lot and the average for the lot as a whole. The maximum ratio should be 3:1.

#3: Color

How accurately does the light render colors?

A clean white light makes it easier to distinguish colors and details. Metal halide and LED lamps are generally good choices for showing colors accurately, both to witnesses and to security cameras.

#4: Efficiency

How much energy do your parking lot lamps consume? As with all other things, you want to get the benefits of parking lot lighting without spending more than you have to on utility bills.

Replacing older lamps with more efficient ones can improve the quality of lighting and save you money.

#5: Type of Lamp

The big things here are the overall quality of light, energy efficiency, and lifespan. How long before you have to replace the bulb?

Here are some of the traditional types of lamps commonly found in parking lots:

  • Mercury vapor: poor color rendition, blue-green light, long lamp life, inefficient
  • Low-pressure sodium: poor color rendition, orange-yellow light, short lamp life, most efficient in terms of energy usage
  • High-pressure sodium: poor color rendition, yellow-amber light, longest lamp life, energy efficient
  • Metal halide: Excellent color rendition, nearly white light, moderate lamp life, more efficient than mercury vapor, medium efficiency

Many facility managers these days are gravitating towards LED parking lot lights. Just like with indoor lights, replacing old lamps with LED offers many benefits:

  • Use less energy
  • Get better quality of lights
  • Less maintenance
  • Natural white or cool white light
  • Show colors more accurately
  • Increased visibility
  • Less glare

#6: Choose the Right Fixtures

Obviously, you want lighting fixtures that match the overall look and feel of your facilities. But in addition to aesthetic considerations, the commercial parking lot lighting fixtures you use will impact the quality of lighting.

  • Fixtures should project light downwards toward the surface of the parking lot.
  • Light should not be projected upward towards the sky
  • Pay attention to light pollution. Check to see what local regulations govern the types of outdoor lighting to use in your jurisdiction.

#7: Compatibility with CCTV

Are you using closed-circuit cameras to provide added security in your parking lot? The quality of lighting impacts their effectiveness.

Uniformity is extremely important here. A high ratio results in poor quality images, which makes it harder to gather evidence and identify suspects in the event of a criminal incident.

#8: Get Proactive with Maintenance

Don’t wait for something bad to happen. Regular parking lot lighting maintenance is a must.

Replace burned-out lamps immediately and inspect your entire outdoor lighting system on a regular basis to make sure it provides the quality of light you need for your patrons and employees.

Make sure trees, signs, and other objects don’t obscure the light and keep it from doing its job.

Do you have questions about parking lot lighting for your business? Contact us at Complete Electrical.

We can provide all of the information you need to design, install, and maintain and effective outdoor lighting plan.

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