How to Light Car Parks

Are you confused about car park lighting? Finding it hard to choose a product in a saturated marketplace? (they all look alike right?) Then grab a cuppa and take a quick read of our helpful car park lighting guide.

Car parks are an essential part of our infrastructure. There is a legal obligation to maintain car park safety and guarantee they are suitable for both the people and vehicles that use them. Ensuring that your car park is illuminated sufficiently makes it safer for drivers and pedestrians to visibly see other cars, road markings, signs, entrances, exits, lifts, and stairwells. 

Getting it right is simple if you know how, follow our seven pointers for car park lighting success.

1. Size does matter 

When it comes to car parks, size does matter.

Small car parks are often illuminated from the perimeter to save space and declutter; it also prevents digging the surface to install cabling if it is an existing car park. However, be mindful of your neighbours and aim for a product with little to no spill light. 

Large car parks are commonly lit from inside the area by centrally positioned tall columns (remember these will need protection from vehicle impact). The advantage here is that light can be directed in many directions from one position, saving on the number of columns required. To cover a bigger space, you can also mount several luminaires in an arrangement on one column – again reducing cost and saving space. 

2. How much light is right?

Choosing how much light you need should be based on how busy the car park is. Guidance on illumination levels can be found in EN 12464-2 or BS 5489 and is based on light, medium or heavy traffic. Ask questions like who is using it, how often, and what are the peak times.

3. Take control

Car parks are often used for limited periods and may well be empty for most of the night. Lighting 24/7 is expensive, but no-one wants to enter a dark car park, even if the lights switch on once you are inside. It is recommended to dim to quite a low level and install sensors so that the lighting can be brought up to full brightness when movement is detected.

Presence detection, flexible dimming, and long-life, low-maintenance LED lights enable you to create more sustainable car park lighting while keeping visitors safe and comfortable. Saving energy and reducing costs by up to 80%.

4. Getting the positioning right 

Open car parks should be lit from several directions; this reduces the chance of deep shadows between the cars, putting users at ease in the space and preventing crime.

Lighting from only a single side would create deep shadows, with people and vehicles away from the light seen in silhouette, creating a feeling of insecurity. 

There is often CCTV. If possible, find out where the cameras are so you don’t block or dazzle their line of sight, helping them to function at their best.

5. Glare is a big no-no. 

Your chosen scheme should focus light onto the task at hand, directed to the parking areas, with careful consideration given to the surrounding environment. 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.

All our LED products have optics, accessories, and glazing options, ensuring you have the right light in the right place, creating comfortable parking environments.

6. Maximum protection 

Lighting products should be mounted out of reach of anyone looking to tamper with it. Car parks require robust luminaires, so choose one designed for the job, opting for materials such as toughened glass and cast aluminium bodies for rigidity and impact resistance (the higher the IK rating, the better). 

7. Create visual impact 

It’s not all functionality; car parks are often attached to a brand, so you should also consider the daytime appearance. Heritage, modern or classic, choose a luminaire or floodlight to match or blend with its surroundings. 

Tall columns may be cost-effective, but they are impersonal. Shorter columns are more human scale and likely to create a more inviting space.

Add bollards for an exciting aesthetic on the periphery, delineating the space, but consider positioning wisely as vehicles can easily obstruct the products used.

Now you know what you are doing, why not browse our selection of recommended car park lighting products below.


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