Parking Lot Lighting
Parking lot lighting is a serious consideration for business owners, and it’s an issue which practically demands the help of technical experts nowadays. Long ago were the times when parking lot lighting was handled much like an inconsequential afterthought. Neglect in providing adequate lighting in parking lots has been the basis of more than a few lawsuits. In most instances, owners are accused of failing to maintain proper illumination in matters of security.
Parking structures that are at least ten years old should be evaluated, since lighting design was a low priority at the time of construction. Aesthetics were the primary concern then, but now safety and security are chief considerations in parking lot lighting.
Qualified designers of lighting systems are trained for years in what is considered a high tech science. Building managers and owners can benefit from an understanding of the fundamentals involved with assessing lighting systems in parking lots. The following are some basic questions to consider:
- Distribution: Is the parking lot lighting consistent throughout the area that needs to be illuminated?
- Intensity: Are the lights as bright as they need to be in order to provide adequate security?
- Color: Does the parking lot lighting render colors accurately enough for people to be able to find their vehicles at night?
- Efficiency: How much light is provided by the lighting system per watt of electricity?
- Lamp Life: Are the lamps durable?
There are quite a few kinds of lamps that are typically used in parking lot lighting systems that are outdoors. The following is information about some of them:
Light-Emitting Diodes or LEDs. LEDs provide up to 50,000 hours of lighting, which makes them the longest lasting bulbs. They provide very good color rendering. The environmentally conscious would be interested to know that there are no hazardous materials such as toxic substances in LEDs, unlike other types of outdoor parking lot lighting systems. On another environmental note, each LED light supposedly helps to protect the atmosphere by preventing about a half ton of harmful gas emissions from leaking into the environment. LEDs are usually the most expensive kinds of bulbs, but there are at least two ways in which they can be real cost cutters. When an existing light needs to be repaired or replaced, installing LED lighting prevents the need for costly repairs and replacement of damaged wires. Secondly, even though it costs more up front to buy LED parking lot lighting, the up to 75% savings on monthly energy costs adds up to overall savings over time.
Mercury Vapor. Mercury Vapor lamps, also called HBO lamps, offer excellent lamp life but poor color rendering, though “color corrected” mercury bulbs can do a better job than high or low-pressure sodium vapor lamps. When used for parking lot lighting, mercury vapor lights typically require 4 to 7 minutes of warm-up to reach the full output of light.
Low Pressure Sodium. As parking lot lighting, low pressure sodium lights have a short lamp life, compared to other types, and offer poor color rendering. Their advantage over other options is that they are the most energy efficient.
High Pressure Sodium. The key attributes of high pressure sodium lights for parking lots are that they offer poor color rendering but terrific lamp life. These lights are also very energy efficient.
Metal Halide. A choice of lighting for parking lots that has a moderate lamp life, very good color rendering, and is more energy efficient than mercury vapor is metal halide lighting.
These are just a few of the considerations that should come into play when addressing the complex and important issue of parking lot lighting.