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How to: light with bollards

January 2019

Bollard: a sturdy, short, vertical post. Can have a lighting element (but not always). Traditionally used as markers to guide the public, and/or provide structure to an area.

Typically, up to 1m in height, but up to 2m is possible. Performance dictates that bollards are not used for adaptable lighting designs – so you wouldn’t (shouldn’t) find one lighting your nearest motorway!

Small car parks, residential developments, parks / gardens and retails parks are the more obvious places to spot a bollard. There are even some less likely spaces where the right bollard can do a great job, such as railway sidings, where a low-level solution is required.

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Design considerations

  • Light distribution: hot spots on the ground and lack of uniformity
  • Light spill: into unwanted areas
  • Low height: easily blocked, for example by a car, creating temporary darkness in a scheme
  • Safety: little to no facial recognition with traditional optics
  • Easily accessible: target for vandalism
  • Glare: due to the low-height this can be an issue!

Planning your scheme

Bollards are typically spaced between 10 – 12m apart. However, this is application specific and can change to meet the demands of a project. Some other factors to consider below:

  • Aesthetics

    Specify a product that is complementary to your scheme architecture – bollards can be more than just functional light.
  • Light distribution and uniformity 

    How precise are the optics? Where do they distribute the light? How do you want the lighting to look? Place the bollards too close together and they can look cluttered and too bright. Too far apart and hotspots are accentuated, and you lose guidance.
  • Purpose 

    Where do want to guide the eye? Also consider where they are being installed – for example by a river and you may need to consider light spill which can affect local wildlife. Light shields may therefore be required.
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Secure By Design

Given a bollard’s applications, they are not governed by lighting standards for light levels as they are not expected to add vast quantities of light to a space. For example, Secure by Design version 1: 2016 states:

18.3 Bollard lighting is not compliant with BS5489:2013 because it does not project sufficient light at the right height and distorts the available light due to the ‘up-lighting’ effect; making it difficult to recognise facial features and as a result causes an increase in the fear of crime

However, the Secure by Design accolade is merited on a case-by-case basis and is subjective. Use the right bollard in your scheme and you can overcome the low performance expected with bollard lighting and can reach the requirements of Secure by Design.

What to look for when selecting a bollard:

  • Appropriate light output to meet the task
  • A high IK rating: essential for real-life vandal resistance and a marker of product robustness
  • A choice of optics dedicated to specific applications
  • An optical design that ensures low glare and visual comfort  
  • Emergency: do you need to integrate into a building control system? If so you may wish to consider a 
    product with CMS

Before you tackle your next project, take a look at our most popular ranges


Kirium Bollard – our NEW performance solution for car parks, perimeters and pathway illumination. Complementary to our Kirium Pro range of street lighting and wall luminaires

Ren – for schemes where an architectural, quality aesthetic is required, perfect for commercial or residential schemes. With enhanced vertical illumination for facial recognition

Pharola – a family solution available in 3 different options – Pharola, the slimmest LED bollard on the market. Pharola Max, with door - for cable termination access and Pharola DS, for dark sky compliance (featuring 0% upward light) for ecologically sensitive areas