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HID Lamp and Light Fixture

Parking lot lighting is a term used to describe the outdoor lighting that is commonly mounted on poles and located in parking lots, pathways, and driveways. This type of exterior lighting is generally used to provide illumination for vehicles and pedestrian to use.


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. 

Below we will explore three common issues with HID parking lot lights.

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Energy Costs

As every facility manager knows, energy costs are a primary driver in the monthly operational budget. If we look at common HID lamp wattages used for parking lot and area light fixtures, we see that the typical range falls between 100 watts to 1000 watts. Generally speaking, the higher the wattage, the higher the light output on the intended surface.

The HID wattage utilized is based on the area that is being illuminated as well as the spacing and mounting height of the poles and fixtures. To get a sense of how the wattage correlates to cost, let’s look at a tangible example. A 400 watt or 1000 watt HID fixture can cost between $209 and $525 to operate per lamp, per year, in electricity costs alone. Now, depending on the size of the parking lot that you are operating, these costs can really add up over the course of time.

Maintenance Costs

In addition to unnecessarily high energy bills, maintenance expenses can also become a “less visible” cost plaguing operational budgets. Parking and area lights often require the use of a bucket truck or lift to change out a lamp or a ballast. These lights are almost always on poles in excess of 15 feet 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 maintenance 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 three years.

Lighting Performance

The most critical component of your parking lot lighting is the performance. 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. If you are using high pressure sodium you may see longer “useful” life as these lamps see less lumen degradation than metal halide, but their fuel structure produces a very “orange” light with a very low color rendering index, or CRI. Basically, you trade a longer life for a poorer quality light, in regards to visual perspective.


Having high performing parking lot lighting is critical for business owners and facilities managers alike. However, as we can see, traditional HID lamps like metal halide and high pressure sodium lamps have maintenance issues, high energy costs, and, overall, less than optimal light output. All of this is in addition to the potential lamp lifetime concerns.

These issues can be mitigated with an LED retrofit. If you would like to learn more about these LED options, contact Stouch Lighting today. We would be happy to give you a free, no obligation assessment. We look forward to hearing from you.