How to illuminate a parking lot guide, Light trend advice, Property interior design style

How to Illuminate a Parking Lot

7 March 2024

Designing, installing, and maintaining parking lot lighting can be a daunting task. You must consider the number of lights needed, adhere to certain standards, and choose between various fixtures such as pole lights or wall packs. Moreover, the inclusion of a dusk till dawn photocell could drastically improve your lot’s efficiency.

So, where should you start? And how can you ensure your parking lot is not only well lit, but also safe and energy-efficient? The answer lies in understanding the finer details, which we’ll explore next.

How to illuminate a parking lot - lighting design
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Determining the Optimal Number of Lights for Your Parking Lot

The assessment of how many lights are required for a parking lot involves several factors, including its size, layout, and the specific type of lighting technology employed.

The dimensions of the parking area play a pivotal role; larger spaces inherently demand a greater number of lights to achieve sufficient illumination. Beyond the mere size, the layout’s intricacies, such as corners and secluded sections, may necessitate additional lighting to avoid inadequately lit areas.

The choice of lighting technology is also vital. While High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps offer intense brightness, potentially reducing the number of fixtures needed, Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights provide superior energy efficiency and longevity. These long-term benefits are worth considering in the planning stage.

Adherence to Parking Lot Lighting Standards

Illumination standards for parking lots are not arbitrary; they aim to ensure safety, optimize energy use, and mitigate light pollution. Essential considerations include:

Illuminance Levels: Measured in foot-candles or lux, illuminance levels dictate the amount of light cast on a surface. Standards typically prescribe a minimum of 1 foot-candle for commercial parking lots, though local regulations may vary.

Uniformity Ratios: The uniformity ratio addresses the contrast between the brightest and darkest areas within the parking lot, with a lower ratio preferred to avoid hazardous glare and shadows.

Light Trespass and Skyglow Mitigation: Employing fixtures that minimize light trespass and skyglow, by directing light downwards, aligns with guidelines from organizations such as the International Dark-Sky Association.

Selecting Pole Lights for Parking Lots

Pole lights, mounted at height, disperse light across wide areas, enhancing visibility and safety. LED pole lights are recommended for their energy efficiency and durability, despite a higher initial cost. The choice of pole height and light distribution pattern should match the lot’s dimensions, with full cut-off designs preferred to minimize light pollution.

Spacing of pole lights is critical to eliminate dark spots and ensure uniform illumination, a factor that a professional lighting layout can optimize.

How to illuminate a parking lot guide
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Incorporating Wall Packs into Parking Lot Lighting

Wall packs, affixed to building exteriors, provide targeted illumination for adjacent areas. They are available in various designs, with full cutoff models particularly suited for reducing light spill and pollution. Strategic placement and even spacing of wall packs are crucial for achieving comprehensive and uniform lighting.

Integrating Dusk-to-Dawn Photocells

Dusk-to-dawn photocells automate lighting control, activating lights at sunset and deactivating them at sunrise, thus simplifying operations and enhancing energy efficiency. Typically incorporated during manufacturing, these devices are also easily added to existing fixtures, requiring minimal maintenance.


This guide has furnished a detailed overview of the critical aspects of parking lot illumination, emphasizing the importance of both the quantity and quality of lighting fixtures, adherence to standards, and the advantages of automated controls such as dusk-to-dawn photocells.

Armed with this knowledge, you are poised to effectively illuminate your parking lot, ensuring it is safe, well-lit, and energy-efficient at all hours.

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