What Is A “Parking Lot & Area Lighting” Application?

- Aug 06, 2019-

This type of exterior lighting is generally used to provide illumination to areas for vehicle and pedestrian use, with the most frequent attribute being that the light fixtures are mounted to poles. It is not uncommon to see multiple fixtures mounted on a single pole, and the specific mounting methods may vary significantly.

Below are a few image examples of outdoor lighting fixtures in Parking and Area Lighting applications that you may recognize. This is by no means representative of all the types of outdoor pole lights that exist, it is just a quick visual sample.

Most existing Parking and Area Lighting applications utilize High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps such as Metal Halide, High Pressure Sodium, and - if they are very old - Mercury Vapor Lamps.

Common (HID) Lamp wattages used for Parking lot and Area Light Fixtures range from 100 Watts to 1000 Watts. The higher the wattage, the higher the light output. The function of the area being illuminated, combined with the quantity, spacing, and mounting height of the poles and fixtures plays a role in what existing wattages are utilized. A 400w or 1000w HID Fixture (very common wattages for Parking and Area Lighting) can cost up to $209 and $525 to operate per lamp, per year, in electricity costs alone.

Maintenance costs are often a big concern for outdoor lighting applications such as Parking and Area light fixtures. In additional to the potential lamp lifetime concers, Parking and Area Lights often require the use of a bucket truck or lift to change out a lamp or a Ballast, because they are often on poles in excess of 15ft high. Many buildings and facilities do not own a bucket truck or lift, and as a result have to hire an outside contractor to maintain these fixtures. These expenses can really add up over the course of a few years. For example, it can cost up to $1,200 in labor and materials to maintain a single parking or area light fixture over the course of 3 years.

Depending on the type of HID Lamp your facility utilizes, the performance characteristics of your Parking and Area Lighting can vary significantly. For example, if you are using Metal Halide lamps you may see light that is “Whiter”, but these types of lamps tend to have accelerated lumen degradation, meaning the light output of the lamps decrease quickly after initial install, and as a result the overall lifetime of the lamp decreases (we have all seen those Parking Lot fixtures that have “pink” lamps that are barely providing any lighting on the ground). If you are using light you may see longer “useful” life as these lamps see less lumen degradation then Metal Halide, but their fuel structure produces a very “Orange” light with a very low Color Rendering Index. Basically, you trade a longer life for a poorer quality light, in regards to visual perspective.

Outdoor LED Lighting fixtures, such as LED Parking lot lights, provide some excellent benefits for Parking and Area applications because of how they GENERATE light and how they DISTRIBUTElight. Light Emitting Diodes generate light via a semi-conductor, as opposed to the consumption of a “fuel source” like in HID lamps. In regards to “distributing” light, LED fixtures commonly utilize “Multi-Point” sources, meaning the fixtures have multiple diodes with individual optics. When you compare this to the way most HID fixtures distribute light (with a single bulb and reflectors within the fixture), the result is light that is more evenly “distributed’ across a surface.

Common wattages for LED parking lot lighting can range from 40 Watts to 600 Watts, often resulting in a 40%-60% reduction in energy consumption. This is a result of how the light is generated (see above). What this means for your facility is savings of up $300 per fixture, per year, in electricity costs.