Apr 14 2019
Before LED lighting was introduced, most parking areas used high intensity discharge light fixtures. And while these fixtures provided bright light, the light didn't remain bright for very long and they consumed a lot of energy, increasing electric bills significantly.
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But we all agree that we can't do without the large lighting fixtures that illuminate parking area. Since LEDs do a much better job than HID's, getting them is a no-brainer.
Most owners of commercial properties and parking spaces switch to LEDs after realizing their unparalleled benefits. Their light output far exceeds that of their HID counterparts and they use a fraction of the energy HID lights use. But these are not the only benefits of LEDs. They also produce truer white light because they have a higher Color Rendering Index than HID's and fluorescent's. In addition, they last much longer than other lighting systems, meaning you’ll spend less money paying someone to change out the bulbs.
But LED lights are so many, which ones are the best for my parking lot?
If this question is running through your mind, you'll find all the answers you need in this amazing post. We know you don't have the time to research the numerous LEDs on the market, so we've done the hard work for you.
Here are the most important things you must consider when installing Parking Lot Lights.
1. Does Your Parking Lot Already Have Other Lights Or Will These Be New Lights?
If your light poles already have traditional lights, the approach you take will be different than the one you would if you were installing LEDs in new lighting poles. If you’re installing new parking area lighting, the probability is you may need a permit from your local municipality in order to carry out the project.
But if the parking fixtures are already in place, you won't need to get any permits from your local municipality before doing some changes. However, you’ll still have to check whether the lighting codes or laws have been updated as you may violate some without knowing. Municipal laws and lighting codes keep on changing, so it is very important to stay updated.
What to Do If You Already Have Existing HID Parking Fixtures
If you have HID Fixtures in place, collect the following information and give it to your LED lighting designer.
- Where is the parking lot located? Different areas have different lighting requirements. For instance, parking lots in densely populated areas do not need bright light as those that are located outside big-box stores
- What types of fixtures are used in the lighting poles? This will help the lighting expert to determine whether the fixtures need to be replaced or just the lamps
- What is the wattage of the current lamps? This will help the person to determine the LED equivalents needed
- What is the line voltage? Line voltage is the standard voltage (120 volts) found in junction boxes and outlets in the United States. LEDs are low-voltage bulbs and may require a transformer to lower the line voltage to prevent them from burning out
- What do you want from the lights? You may be looking to address a specific problem with the upgrade, to meet new lighting code changes, or to address customer complaints
- What is the mounting style of the current fixtures? LEDs have different mounting options and may not work well with the existing mounts. We will talk more about LED mounts later on
What To Do If You’re Installing New Shoe Box Lights
The first thing you must do when installing new (LED) Shoe Box Lights is to check whether your municipality requires an environmental impact study. The study will take into account many details that apply to your specific location and give recommendations based on your local ecological plan.
If your local municipality requires an environmental impact study done, make sure you fulfill all the requirements first before installing the new fixtures. Collect all the necessary information. Municipalities usually provide detailed information, including the number of foot-candles required in a parking lot.
"What is a lux?" you may be asking.
A lux is a unit of measurement that measures luminous flux per unit area. It is equal to a single lumen per square meter. Lighting experts normally use foot-candles to measure the intensity of light – as seen by the human eye – that passes through or hits a surface.
Why are Foot-Candles so important?
While light is a good thing, too much of it can disturb human and wildlife populations. Lights that consume very few watts to achieve the required number of foot-candles are better than those that consume more watts.
For example, a 400W metal halide light can be replaced by a 150W LED light. This means that the 150W LED gives off more light than the 400W metal halide.
If your local municipality does not have a set number of foot-candles for parking lots, talk to a LED lighting expert and they will use photometry (the science of the measurement of light) to determine the number of foot-candles needed in your parking lot.
2. The Right Wattage for Your Parking Area Lights
If you’re converting metal halide or high pressure sodium lights to LED, there are 2 ways to go about it: you can choose retrofitting or a full fixture replacement (a full redesign).
With a full fixture replacement, the fixture as well as the traditional lamps are replaced. This is a costly process because you'll have to get new LED bulbs and fixtures. But it also has an upside: some new LED fixtures are specially designed to work with specific LED bulbs and consume very few watts. For this reason, you may end up saving a lot of money than you would if you simply replaced the bulbs.
Retrofitting simply means getting rid of the traditional bulb and ballast and replacing them with a LED bulb. This is the most affordable way of switching to LED technology because all you need to buy are the LED bulbs. However, it is only recommended if the fixtures are in good working order.
A lighting designer can recommend the best option for your parking space. They will also tell you whether the current light is too bright or not bright enough for your parking lot.
Take time to explain to the lighting expert what you need from the new lighting. Do you want to make your parking lot brighter at night to enhance safety and security? Do you want LED lights that are dimmable or those that switch themselves on and off depending on the activity in the parking lot? Do you want lights that switch themselves off once they detect natural light?
This information will help the lighting designer to know the type of LEDs you need and which lighting controls they should be paired with.
If you’re installing new LED parking Fixtures
If you're installing fixtures for the first time, choosing the right LEDs may not be so easy. A lighting designer can help make the process easy. They will use their expertise to ensure that the lighting follows the set standards for your area and that it meets all your requirements.
MyLEDLightingGuide offers a free lighting audit and design to help you select the right LED lights for your parking lot.
3. The Right Color Temperature (Correlated Color Temperature) of Your Parking Lot
The first thing people will notice after your new parking area lights are installed is their color and quality. LEDs have a better light color and quality because they have higher color temperatures than traditional lights.
Color temperature is a numerical value that defines the color of light a light source emits. Light sources with low color temperatures produce light with a red or orange color while those with high color temperatures produce light with a blue or white color.
Kelvin (K) is the unit of measurement for temperature. Color temperatures above 5000K are referred to as cool colors while those between 2700K-3000K are known as warm colors.
Let's talk a little about the Kelvin scale.
You may be familiar with the Celsius (or Centigrade) scale or the Fahrenheit scale. However, these scales have "reasonable" numbers for daily use on earth. For instance, the earth's normal temperature is around 15°C (49°F). These numbers are very easy for humans to understand, because the scales are created to have reasonable numbers for common earthly temperatures. However, a temperature scale with very high numbers (like 5000°) or very low numbers (like 0.030°) can be hard for humans to understand. The Kelvin scale is used in astronomy because the temperatures in space are usually much hotter and colder than the temperatures we are used to on earth, that's why it is used to measure very hot and cold things.
The sun's color temperature is 5778K. Outdoor lighting is mostly oriented to a 5000K color temperature, which is considered the closest to natural sunlight. Lights with a color temperature of 5000K are normally used in outdoor spaces, warehouses, showrooms, assembly lines, and other places where very bright light is needed. 4000K lights are usually found in offices and 3000K lights are used in homes. Only a few commercial spaces (some car showrooms and convenience stores) use LED lights with very high color temperatures (6000K to 6500K).
One of the best features of LEDs is that their light color can be controlled over time. Traditional lighting systems lose their light color after months and years of use.
Another great thing about LEDs is that they have a fuller spectrum of light. They reveal small details about objects that other lighting systems can't reveal. This means that pictures captured by the security cameras in your parking lot will show details more clearly.
Since parking fixtures look best with a 5000K color temperature, your parking space will seem brighter than it did before. Drivers and walkers will be able to see objects more clearly and feel safe in your parking lot, no matter the time of day.
4. The Mount Type for Your Shoe Boxes
Some of the most common mounts for LED parking area lights are trunnions, yokes, wall plates, pole mounts, knuckles, and slip fitters. These are not the only mounts, they are the ones that are commonly used.
If you are installing new LED Fixtures, they will have specifications indicating the types of mounts they can be used with. However, if you are retrofitting your existing lighting fixtures, you may need new mounts to hold the new shoebox fixtures you're installing.
In this post, we'll just focus on the three most popular mount types: straight arm mounts, slip fitter mounts, and trunnion mounts.
Straight Arm Mounts
These types of mounts are very common and usually fit on existing square poles. If the shoebox lights being replaced are already on straight mounts, it means that the lighting poles have already been predrilled to accommodate straight arm mounts. A straight arm mount gives a lighting pole a very clean look because it is mounted on the pole itself.
Slip Fitter Mounts
A type of stump called a tenon is normally used to mount a slip fitter mount onto a lighting pole. The tenon is usually about 4 inches long and 2.5 inches wide and can be mounted to the top of a lighting pole in form of a cap. Caps can be round or square and are often used on metal light poles. Wood poles often require side mounts to be attached to them as they are mostly round. Lighting experts also use tenons to attach slip fitter mount shoebox lamps to walls.
These are the most versatile types of mounts as they fit at the bases of the bodies of shoebox lights. The design of trunnion mounts is based on the mounts usually found on flood lights known as yoke mounts. Trunnion mounts can be used in challenging places that require a more creative solution – like lights being mounted on billboards.
Buying (LED) ShoeBox Lights
Buying LED lights for your parking lot is not as easy as getting a few quotes, comparing the offerings, and making a purchase. It is a lot harder than that.
These days, there are so many LED lighting companies you can easily get tricked by the marketing gimmicks of dishonest manufacturers.
Look for a reliable manufacturer, read reviews by their previous customers, and ensure their products are of high quality and their customer service is excellent. This will ensure you have a great experience as you switch to LED technology.
Installing LED in Your Parking Lot
If your electrical infrastructure is fully functional and the wiring is in good condition, the lighting expert can start installing the new LED lights immediately. However, if the infrastructure is not in good condition, you'll have to enlist the services of a qualified electrician so they can make any changes that need to be made before the new lights are installed.
Electricians and electrical contractors normally use lifts or bucket trucks to install shoebox lamps. Two people are needed to remove the old shoeboxes but only one person is needed to install the LED replacements. Straight arm mounts usually come with their own hardware and do not need any additional components during installation. Tenons and slip fitter mounts are usually secured to lighting poles with bolts. Trunnion mounts are only used where no other mounts can be used
In a Nutshell
We're sure we have covered all of the things you need to take into account when switching your parking lot fixtures to LED lighting or when installing new LED lights.
But just to go over the many things we’ve discussed in this post, here are the main things you should do when choosing the perfect Shoe Box Light for your parking lot.
- First, decide whether you need to install new lights or you simply want to convert the existing lighting to LED technology
- Choose LEDs with the right wattage that will make perfect replacements for the traditional lights. If you are unable to, seek the advice of a lighting expert
- Choose LEDs with the best color temperatures that will brighten up your parking lot and make it safe and secure
- Choose the right types of mounts for your parking fixtures
- Buy your LED Shoe Box Lights from a trustworthy manufacturer
- Find out whether you need to make any upgrades to your electrical system and make sure they are carried out before the new fixtures are installed
Armed with this information, you can make a better purchase decision and avoid making the same mistakes others have made before when buying LED lights for their parking lots.
If you're ready to buy Shoe Box Lights , give us a call and discuss your project with one of our lighting designers. They will offer professional advice throughout the entire process.