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Parking Garage & Canopy Lighting

What is “Parking Garage & Canopy Lighting” application?

Parking garage lighting and canopy lighting are terms used to describe both outdoor lighting and indoor lighting that is commonly surface, pendant, or recessed-mounted to a structure’s ceiling, soffit, or overhang. This type of lighting is generally used to provide illumination to areas for vehicle and pedestrian use. There is a wide range of fixture sizes, shapes, and mounting types that can be categorized as lighting for parking garages or canopies.

Below are a few image examples of canopy and parking garage light fixtures.

Parking Garage Lighting Photo




Common Issues With Traditional Lighting

Most existing industrial light fixtures and commercial light fixtures such as wall pack lights and building lights utilize high intensity discharge (HID) lamps such as metal halide, high pressure sodium, and, if they are very old, mercury vapor lamps. Old parking garage lighting can be costly to maintain.

Below is some information on the types of HID Lamps:


Energy Costs

Common HID lamp wattages used for parking garage lighting and canopy lighting fixtures range from 100 watts to 400 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 fixtures plays a role in the existing wattages that are utilized.  A 175w or 250w HID fixture (very common wattages for garage lighting) can cost up to $109 in addition to $156 to operate per lamp, per year, in electricity costs alone.

Maintenance Costs

Maintenance costs are often a big concern for parking garage light fixtures and canopy light fixtures.  In addition to the potential lamp lifetime concerns, parking garage lighting and canopy lighting, being commonly mounted over parked vehicles, can be difficult to access and maintain during normal business hours.  A standard size parking garage utilizing a HID lamp can easily spend up to $32,671 in maintenance costs over the course of three years.

Lighting Performance

Depending on the type of HID lamp your facility utilizes, the performance characteristics of your garage lighting and canopy 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 garage lights that have “pink” lamps that are barely providing any lighting on the ground).  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.  So basically you trade a longer life for a poorer quality light, in regards to visual perspective.

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Benefits of LED Lighting

What are the Benefits of LED Parking Garage Lighting and LED Canopy Lighting Applications?

LED garage lights and LED canopy lights provide some excellent benefits for parking garage applications because of how they generate light and how they distribute light.  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.

Energy Savings

Common wattages for garage LED lighting often range from 33w to 100w, often resulting in a 40%-60% reduction in energy consumption. The reason for this can be referenced to the “GENERATION” comments above, and can result in savings of up $75 per fixture, per year in electricity costs.

Maintenance Cost Reduction

Again, due to the way LEDs generate light, the way they progress through their functional life is much different. Instead of ceasing to function properly once a fuel source is significantly reduced, LED generated light output degrades VERY SLOWLY over time.  As a result, the functional life (often in excess of 100,000 hours) of an LED product can be significantly longer than that of a HID Lamp, which in turn drastically reduces the costs for maintaining an LED canopy light fixture over a longer period of time.

Lighting Performance

Moving on to the way LED fixtures distribute light, as a result of the multi-point design, commercial LED lighting applications such as LED garage lighting often provide a very evenly distributed light pattern.  What this means is that light levels across a given surface will vary less as the distance from a fixture changes.  This is compared to HID fixtures, which often produce a “bright spot” directly underneath the fixture with light levels decreasing drastically as the distance from the pole increases.  The result, in regards to LED versus HID, is a more even foot candle distribution from the LED conversion.  In addition to the even distribution of light, LEDs are available in a range of color temperatures, and as a result provide a range of options to increase the visual perception of “brightness."




How do I determine what the next step is to improve my canopy and garage lighting applications?

The first step is to speak with an LED lighting solutions provider that is manufacturer-neutral.  Why this approach as opposed to the company you may have used for the past several years?  Unless that company has a focus on providing LED solutions, it is unlikely that they will have the performance-focused mentality that is required to obtain the desired results of an industrial lighting, retail lighting, or commercial lighting project for your canopy and parking garage lighting.  A crucial step in all LED projects is understanding that LED is NOT a commodity.  Prior decades consisted of building facility managers and owners evaluating product options purely on cost, assuming that all of the options in consideration were equal in quality.  This is not case with outdoor LED lighting.

A solution-focused supplier should ask you about your project objectives.  Are there budget constraints, energy reduction targets, lighting performance requirements, etc?  The appropriate partner will want to get an understanding of your desired outcome, NOT just what specific products they can sell you.  Not all LED products are created equal.  There are different levels of value from different manufacturers for different applications, and by working with a company that has the product expertise to recommend a solution that meets your project priorities, you will ultimately achieve the best results.

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