vehicle showroom lighting

Lighting for Car parks

Car Park Lighting

The solution to lighting Car Parks may seem at first glance to be a dry subject, reliant on nothing more than some number crunching to meet preset values, and the use of purely functional lighting products.

However, here at the Lighting Design Studio we tackle the problem of Car Park Lighting with a design led approach, and believe we can add a little more to the process; benefiting our client and the public in general.

There isn’t a one size fits all solution

Every car park can be different in terms of location, usage and design; therefore the lighting design of a Car Park can never be prescriptive, there isn’t a one size fits all solution. If you have a car park project you are working on, it may save you some time to contact us directly, to see how we can assist; or alternatively continue reading to get an overview of some of the more basic elements involved.

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The way in which the interior and / or exterior of a car park is lit has a major impact on reducing the public’s fear of crime, as well as a reduction of crime itself, so it’s important to get it right.

Main factors driving the lighting design, are –

  • Type of Car Park.
  • What environmental zone it is in.
  • The level of traffic.
  • The risk of crime.

Car parks are either open or covered, ie (multi storey), and guidance comes from documents BS-EN 12464 and BS 5489 (the road lighting guide). These guides give the light levels and uniformity required; based on a classification of the zone, and elements shown above. To make life easy we will separate out these two types, as the design approach has some major differences.

Covered car parks

Here at the Lighting Design Studio we are totally independent of any manufacturers and not reliant on sales of luminaires, so our first advice for an internal car park would be to deal with the interior itself, to ensure that both walls and ceilings are painted white, or to use polished concrete finishes.

This can dramatically reduce the number of luminaires required, therefore saving you money both during the lifetime of the installation, and on the initial capital cost. It also means that you will reduce the carbon footprint of the car park whilst used.

Also just because it’s a car park doesn’t mean that architecturally it doesn’t need to look right! Our architectural experience means we pay attention to elements such as making sure that lighting where possible will line up with columns, and that the space comprises of straight symmetrical lines that ‘line through’ and form sidewalks.

Keeping this continuity means that the whole space is easier on the eye, and its good practice to eliminate dark spots throughout for two reasons, it can cause people to feel more secure, and also ensure CCTV has good coverage. Lighting the verticals helps with the way people feel about the space and enables good facial recognition, good colour rendering for both indoor and outdoor spaces is essential, and should always be over RA 80.

Controls in the car park should be utilised to dim the lights; a car park has times during the day when it’s not so busy, and having all the lights on all day and night, on every floor is a massive waste of energy, totally switching of the lights is not recommended, as this can dissuade people from using the space.

In reference to what light levels we would recommend for indoor car parks see below, the values listed in sequence are for the average light level, glare, uniformity and colour rendering.

Em UGR Uo Ra

Public Car Parks (indoor) In / out ramps (during the day) 300 19 0.4 80

In / out ramps (at night) 75 19 0.4 80

Traffic Lanes 75 19 0.4 80

Parking Areas 75 – 0.4 80

Ticket Offices 300 19 0.6 80

Open Car Parks

Open car parks should be lit from several directions, and this is really is about helping users feel at ease in the space, to prevent crime and to enable the CCTV camera’s to function to their maximum.

Lighting from only a single side means that you will create deep shadows, with people and vehicles away from the light seen in silhouette, which can create a feeling of insecurity. We would generally recommend double asymmetric floodlights to ensure the light does not spill over the horizontal, which wastes energy and contributes to sky glow.

Every site is different, and for us here at the lighting design studio, it is vitally important that a site survey is carried out, as the shape of car parks can vary enormously, and often there are characteristics and limitations, that are not shown on drawings which can influence the design.

Bollards whilst useful in lighting pathways around the periphery of the car park can add an interesting aesthetic, delineating the space, but we would advise against using these for lighting anything more than this, as vehicles can easily obstruct the products used.

It is vitally important for our environment that we respect rural areas, and avoid at all cost un wanted light spill. There are some regulations that help us with this, as external lighting is categorized by zones.

A zone is outlined by the commission Internationale de Clairage (CIE) and is classified as E1, E2, E3, or E4. These represent how sensitive the areas are to light pollution, with E1 being the most strict, and E4 the least. Local councils will be happy to provide you with this information, or we can find it out for you, as lighting designers, care for the environment is paramount.

Below we have listed the guidelines currently in use for parking areas, but as aforementioned, the lighting design is more than just about achieving these numbers.

If you want to discuss any car parks design whether it be residential or public please give us a call; and just so as you know the secured by design (SBD) series of design guides published by the association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) stress that BS 5489-1 must be achieved with a competent designer engaged to do the design.