Evaluating Your Car Park Lighting
If your facility was constructed more than ten years ago, chances are good that your outdoor security lighting is inadequate. For many years, lighting in car parks and other outdoor areas was a low priority for business owners. In many cases, the purpose of outdoor lighting was to enhance the architectural appearance of the facility rather than to provide lighting for safety and security.
It is recommended that every security manager conduct an evaluation of the exterior lighting at the facilities for which he or she is responsible. The adequacy of outdoor lighting is an important factor in maintaining good security in car parks and other outdoor areas.
The design of lighting systems is a highly technical science that can take years of training to learn. While it is unlikely that most security managers will ever become lighting experts, there are a few fundamentals of lighting design that are important for every security manager to know. Knowing these fundamentals will allow the security manager to accurately assess the lighting system in use at his or her facility
There are five basic considerations when evaluating a lighting system:
- Intensity of the lighting: how bright is the light?
- Uniformity of lighting: how consistent is the light level from place to place throughout the lighted area?
- Color of lighting: how accurately does the lighting render colors?
- Efficiency of lighting: how much light per watt of electricity does the lighting system deliver?
- Lamp life: How long do lamps last before they must be replaced?
Many car parks that we have surveyed fall far short of the recommended light level standards.More significantly, the uniformity of lighting found in many parking lots is very poor.
Making Lighting Improvements
If your car parks has inadequate light levels or lack of uniformity in light levels, you should consider making improvements in your parking lot lighting.
Here are a few additional things to consider:
- Outdoor lighting plays a crucial role in how well closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems will work in the outdoor environment. While most modern CCTV cameras will work at relatively low light levels, uniformity of lighting is extremely important. If the lighting uniformity ratio is too high (greater than 5:1), then the image viewed by the camera will be of poor quality, having both “hot spots” (bright areas of glare) and “cool spots”(areas of darkness where details cannot be seen). If colour cameras are used outdoors, then the colour of the lighting is also important.
- The type of light fixture/luminare used largely determines how the light from each fixture will be distributed. Many older types of luminares used for car parks lighting are very inefficient, projecting much of their light horizontally and upward rather than downwards towards the surface of the car parks.
- Many cities and towns have enacted ordinances concerning “light pollution”. These ordinances often set limits on the amount and type of light that can be used for outdoor car parks lighting. Be sure to consult the authorities having jurisdiction in your area before making any changes in your lighting system.
- Outdoor lighting fixtures require regular maintenance. Lamps tend to produce less light as they age. Replace lamps at scheduled intervals – not just when they burn out. Dirty light fixtures also produce less light. Arrange to have fixtures cleaned both inside and outside on a regular basis.
- The growth of trees and other types of landscaping can have a significant effect on outdoor lighting. Often times, a well-designed lighting system becomes ineffective as trees grow to a point where they block out large portions of the light. Arrange to have trees and landscaping regularly trimmed so that the lighting system is not adversely effected.