Parking lot and area lighting is something we all encounter on a daily basis. This type of lighting is used in every shopping center, office complex, warehouse or distribution center, and school district around the country. This post discusses that pole mounted outdoor lighting used to illuminate parking lots for vehicles and pedestrians. Below we'll address the common issues experienced by those managing parking lot and area lighting fixtures that utilize HID lamps such as metal halide and high pressure sodium, all of which are old parking lot lights.
Most parking lot lights utilize one of three types of lamps: high intensity discharge (HID) lamps such as metal halide, high pressure sodium, and - if they are very old - mercury vapor lamps. The three main issues surrounding these old parking lot lights are: high energy costs, frequent maintenance costs, and sub-par lighting performance. Let’s drill into each one of these issues below.
For any school, hospital, or retail facility, energy is a huge cost driver. Common high intensity discharge light wattages used for parking lot and area light fixtures range from 100 watts to 1000 watts. In lighting, the higher the wattage, the higher the light output. So a higher wattage light is going to give you more light on your specified area than a lower wattage light. Some other critical factors at play here are things like: the size of the area being illuminated and the height of the pole that the light is mounted on. To give a tangible example - a 1000 watt light fixture could cost $525 in electricity costs per year. This can really add up for facilities with large spaces that need to be illuminated.
Another main cost driver for exterior parking lot lighting is maintenance costs. Because these lights are mounted on poles (15 feet or higher) there is typically a need for a bucket truck to change out a lamp or ballast. Not many organizations own a bucket truck so there is a need to hire an outside contractor for routine maintenance. These expenses add up over time, and it can cost well over $1,000 to maintain a single old parking light fixture over a three year time frame.
The actual performance of the lighting is the most critical component. Depending on the type of old 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. Basically, you trade a longer life for a poorer quality light, in regards to visual perspective.
These issues of energy cost, maintenance cost and lighting performance should be a motivator for considering a conversion to LED parking lot lights. Other outdoor lighting applications such as wall packs and parking garages encounter similar issues. LED lighting technology can help you boost your financial performance while helping you to increase the overall lighting experience for the patrons of your facility. Feel free to contact Stouch Lighting to learn more.
Learn more about parking lot lighting here.