Parking Lot Lighting Design: Details and Decisions

I think we’re all a little bit scared of the dark. It’s sensible. Smart, really. Because of course it’s not just the lack of light that frightens us— it’s what might be hiding within it! Parking lot lighting design is essential to both reassuring customers in Springfield, MO that the lot is safe and acting as a deterrent, dissuading criminals from choosing the lot as a place to prey upon innocent drivers. Whether you’re evaluating the success of your current lighting layout or trying to plan a new parking lot lighting design, you should consider the following details.

Parking Lot Lighting Design

Parking Lot Lighting Design

Begin by gathering opinions. Take into consideration any customer complaints, employees’ opinions, and (especially) the opinion of your security manager. Safety and security should be your primary concern, though it’s understandable if you would also like to enhance the look of your facility with lighting. Just be sure that you prioritize and put safety above aesthetics. You never want your customers or employees to feel scared as they leave the building, and inadequate exterior lighting could even come to light in a lawsuit if someone believes an incident (theft, kidnapping, violence, physical injury, etc.) was caused by your negligence.

Then, start making notes, answering questions like:

  • How bright is your lighting?
  • What kind of lamps do you use (mercury vapor, low pressure sodium, high pressure sodium, metal halide)?
  • Is the lighting consistent throughout the parking lot?
  • Does your lighting extend up to the front doors?
  • How accurately does your lighting render colors?
  • How long do your lamps last?
  • How much light per watt does your lighting system give off?

While it’s not necessary to light up your parking lot like a football field, the lighting should be bright enough and cover enough of the exterior that customers and employees have no difficulty exiting the building and finding their vehicle safely.

After that, you should start making more detailed notes. Draw a map of the surveyed area using a standard architectural or engineering scale and draw in all the buildings, current light fixtures, and other features (like trees and other landscaping). Then, use a light-level meter at night to accurately measure the level of light around the parking lot. Hold the light meter out in front of you so that it is not being blocked by your body, and write down all of your readings on the map in the place where they were taken.

The brightness of your lighting should be above .8 fc (foot-candles) in all areas, though 2-4 fc is far more preferable. In areas of heavy foot traffic, the brightness should go up to at least 5 fc.

The uniformity of the lighting is decided by the ratio of the lowest light reading to the highest. So if your lowest reading is 1.2 fc and your highest is 5 fc, your university ratio would be 5:1.2. The ratio of your parking lot lighting design should be 3:1 maximum. To improve your ratio, space your fixtures closer together, especially where trees are present.

Parking Lot Lighting Design

If you’re located in southwest Missouri and you need to add, repair, or adjust your parking lot lighting design, give us a call at 417-831-8039. With our expert experience in pole lights, security lights, and building and perimeter lighting, we can help you optimize your parking lot lighting design to maximize safety and security.