Parking Garage Lighting Considerations

A properly lit parking garage is not only a standard associated with user convenience, but also safety. How a parking garage is lit is one of the most important, yet underrated, aspects of effective construction. As a builder, general contractor or electrician, you must consider your parking garage lighting and ensure its properly lit by day, by night, and by area.  Contractors should carefully adhere to the following illumination standards for covered and underground parking garages so as to minimize liability and guarantee visibility.

Parking Garage Light Levels

A typical parking garage houses around 300 lighting fixtures. Yet, many of these structures still  suffer from visibility issues that can cause accidents and leave visitors feeling unsafe. That is why the IES publishes a set of standards for recommended parking garage light levels.  These standards have been developed for proper parking garage lighting, beginning with necessary illumination levels.

  • For leveled parking areas, the minimum horizontal illuminance is: 1.0 foot-candles (fc) or 10 Lux
  • For ramps, the minimum horizontal illuminance by day is: 2.0 fc or 20 Lux
  • For ramps, the minimum horizontal illuminance by night is: 1.0 fc or 10 Lux
  • For entrance ways, the minimum horizontal illuminance by day is: 50 fc or 500 Lux
  • For entrance ways, the minimum horizontal illuminance by night is: 1.0 fc or 10 Lux
  • For stairwells, the minimum horizontal illuminance is: 1.0 fc or 10 Lux

If you follow these minimums, your garage will remain properly lit. However, there are times when you should consider going above the recommended light levels. For example, at the entrance of stairwells or around corners. It is in these areas where light can get obstructed and result in cars bumping into each other leading to property damage or bodily injury.

Choosing the Right Lights

The actual fixtures you use to light your garage depend largely on what part of the parking garage you are trying to light. For example, in the open parking area where the parking spots themselves are located, you will want to use fixtures with a low profile and distribution pattern that is suitable for the mounting height of the space.

Linear fixtures with a wide lighting distribution are a good choice for parking garages.  These fixtures typically have a low profile and robust construction that allows them to survive accidental nicks and bumps from passing car antennas.  The light distribution casts outward from the centerline and is optimized to spread out in a low mounting height space.

There are also LED Vapor Tight Lights that have a more traditional look but a special reflector and lens combination that is designed to spread light outward.  These fixtures can be ordered with occupancy sensors that can either dim or shut off the light when there is no traffic or when there is plenty of ambient lighting available.

Parking Garage Canopy Lights are also a great option as they are both low profile and have the right type of lighting distribution for use in low ceiling applications.  These fixtures are available in round or square forms with and without emergency drivers that continue to provide light when power fails.

Lighting Layout for Parking Garages

How and where to install your parking garage lights is just as important as what kinds of light fixtures you should be using. There are two popular designs, the single luminaire layout and the double luminaire layout, both of which present distinct advantages and disadvantages.

The single luminair layout relies on a single row of fixtures located in the center of the traffic lane to light the full width of the parking structure.  On the upside, single luminaire layouts will use less equipment, are easy to install, and usually use less energy. On the downside, single luminaire layouts create more glare because they are right along the driver’s path, and they are also less uniform due to the difficulty in casting light all the way to the edges of the space.

In a double luminair layout, the fixtures are located closer to the parking spots on each side of the traffic lanes.  This layout generally produces a more even lighting layout with better uniformity and less glare, but can be more expensive due to the higher number of fixtures.

We're Here To Help

RelightDepot has a whole category of Garage Lights to suit many applications.  We also have the experience and know-how to provide lighting layouts and expert advice for your parking garage lighting project.  Give us a call today or browse our broad selection of light fixtures.