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Know Your Options: Buyer’s Guide to Parking Lot Pole Lights


We get it: as a business owner, you probably don’t lie awake at night thinking about your parking lot. But there’s a lot you could gain if you did ‒ especially when it comes to lighting!


Parking lot lights prevent accidents, improve customer safety, and protect your property from vandalism. And with a bit of thoughtful planning, you can reap the benefits of good parking lot lighting and still keep the operating costs low.


Let’s start with the basics: getting to know your options when it comes to parking lot pole lights. Here, we’ll take a look at:

  1. The ideal type of parking lot lighting for most commercial properties in Ontario;
  2. Factoring pole light into the equation;
  3. Understanding light distribution; and
  4. Getting your new pole lights installed.

1. Selecting the Ideal Pole Lights for Your Business


The two most common types of parking lot lighting you’ll see on the market LED and metal halide products.


If it’s efficiency you’re after, any lighting expert will point you toward LED lights for your parking lot poles. Compared to traditional lighting, LED lamps and fixtures consume drastically less electricity.


On top of that heightened efficiency, LEDs provide superior luminosity, brightness, and uniformity.


Let’s do some quick math. Depending on the season, your parking lights operate for 13-plus hours per day. Currently, you're paying an average rate of 13 cents per kilowatt-hour to operate them. At 400w, the typical metal halide parking lot light uses around 1,898 kWh a year ‒ while the equivalent LED light uses just 275 kWh. That’s a whopping $210 in savings per light pole!


When you're looking for LED parking lot pole lights, several critical considerations are involved, such as:

  • The product should pass Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) standards. The IES monitors and controls the standards and illumination guidelines for outdoor lighting in North America.
  • Your choice of pole light should have passed the ASTM B117 salt fog or salt spray testing, which ensures a minimum standard for corrosion resistance.
  • Most municipalities in Ontario require that parking lot lighting not exceed 10 lux or 1.0 foot candles of illumination. Make a call to your local planning department or consult with lighting experts to learn which rules apply to you.

2. The Importance of Pole Height


It might seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget this all important piece of the puzzle when you’re knee-deep in lumens and kWH!


When it comes to pole lights, the height of the pole dictates the distance of the light’s dispersal. It’s a major factor that determines the lights’ efficacy and luminance.


Keep in mind that many poles come with the option to mount more than one light on each one ‒ frequently, there will be 2 lights per outdoor pole in parking lots. If you’re dealing with something over 25ft, there will likely be 4 lights per pole, which allows for more coverage while using fewer poles.


3. Understanding Light Distribution


Here are the various distribution levels you should consider when choosing parking lot pole lights. For more information on LED distribution, check out our guide on Choosing LED Lights For Your Parking Lot.


Type III LED Lights:

  • Ideal for roadway lighting, public parking, and parking lots needing vast illumination.
  • These lights are installed at the side of the area, allowing the light to outwardly project and fill the space.

Type IV LED Lights:

  • These lights generate a semicircular light, best used for illuminating parking lot perimeters.
  • Type IVs are mounted on building sides.

Type V LED Lights:

  • These lights are an ideal fit for commercial parking lots where customers require evenly distributed light.
  • Type Vs are luminaire-mounted close to the center of roadways, center islands of parkways, and intersections.

4. Energy-Saving Lighting Controls


To keep the cost of operating parking lot pole lights to a minimum, you must either reduce the amount of time the lights are on or the energy being consumed. The good news is, outdoor lighting controls make it easy to get these variables under control.


The two most common parking lot lighting control solutions to help you to maximize energy efficiency:

  • Photosensor-based controls that adjust light levels in real time based on the available sunlight.
  • Timeclock-based controls that adjust light levels at a set time of day, regardless of weather conditions.

At Sign LITE, our outdoor lighting technicians will help you determine which lighting control system best suits your needs. Reach out to us to learn more about our parking lot lighting services.


5. Parking Lot Pole Light Installation


When you’re budgeting for a lighting overhaul, installation is an integral part. Installation expenses will include materials, delivery, labour, and equipment (you’re going to need more than a ladder to get this job done!) For brand-new installations, you’ll also need to foot the bill for having the poles put in place, including the electrical connection.


Light poles generally have base manifold plates bolted into a concrete base. Ensuring you have a base wide enough to handle the manifold plates requires a careful review of a manufacturer's specifications.


Sign LITE has a modern fleet of vehicles with certified technicians that are capable and qualified to service all your on-site lighting, including installation and service of parking lot pole lights. Whether it's replacing a lamp, a fixture, or an entire pole we’ve got the skills and equipment to get the job done for you in record time!

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Danny Sullivan
November 30, 2020
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