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5 top tips for great car park lighting

July 2017

1. Choose the appropriate lighting level

Choosing the appropriate lighting level can be surprisingly complicated. Always base your decision on how busy the car park is (or will be).

Does it have light, medium or (like Bluewater, pictured above) heavy traffic?

Quantifying the right level can be difficult, but here’s our take on British Standard requirements:

DW take on British Standard requirements Alt4

2. Consider dimming or controls

The lighting level you need at peak times (i.e. straight after work, around 5pm), compared to quieter periods, will be totally different; not many of us go shopping at 2am. Naturally usage levels will fluctuate, so it’s worth considering lowering the lighting levels to suit the traffic.

This will provide all-important energy savings and also ensures that the scheme is not over-lit. Helping to avoid potentially obtrusive light during hours of darkness.

The use of LED light sources and intelligent lighting controls (from PIR to video detection systems) can be used to trigger lighting level changes, when combined with a Smart City System. This not only reduces energy but also guides pedestrian and vehicles to free spaces or preferable parking areas.

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3. Location, location, location

Avoid creating hazards by using landscaped areas or walkways for column locations where possible.

Consider how the traffic will use the space, as well as all of the parking options available.

Ensure lighting is concentrated in areas such as entrances and exits, parking meters or signage. Ever been in a car park where you struggle to read the tariff signage because there was minimal light?

4. Use white light

White light will always create the best atmosphere for parking. It provides a clear image of the car park and assists CCTV. It also provides a sense of well-being and accentuates landscaping or architectural features.

Make sure pedestrians can see and be seen


The light source should have a minimum colour rendering of 70Ra, with neutral white light of 4000K or warmer being preferred.

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5. Minimise glare

Modern lighting, and in particular LED products, should have optics, accessories and glazing that control light far better than ever before, When we say minimise, really, we mean don’t generate any at all. Using the right amount of light at the right time and in the right place is better for the environment and your energy bill.

Lighting should be concentrated onto the main car parking area with careful consideration given to adjacent buildings. If the car park is in a residential area, consider light spill into back gardens or windows – as this could constitute a statutory nuisance if the resident complains to their local authority.

Keep column numbers to a minimum. Bracket arms and luminaires with zero degree inclinations and choose light sources with minimal upward light. The use of fewer columns, but higher mounting heights, may help minimise clutter and maintenance points.

For larger car parks using a higher-powered light source with taller mounting height, can often be the most economical way to light a large area and far less obtrusive than a “forest of columns” but all the points above still remain a consideration.

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