Street and parking lot lights are designed to deliver bright and effective illumination for large outdoor areas. Light poles provide lighting solutions for a variety of locations. These include highways, parking lots, residential streets, and pathways.
Parking area and flood light poles are used to mount flood and area light fixtures. Light fixtures are mounted at, or near the top of the pole and their light is cast down to the ground. There are typically 1 to 4 fixtures mounted on top of the pole.
Light poles are typically constructed of steel, aluminum, or fiberglass. Wood and concrete poles are also practical and affordable options in the right circumstances. They are available in two shapes, round or square.
There are many ways to install these poles. The installation process will depend on many factors which include their location, their application, pole type, and local ordinances. It’s important to install them properly so that they are safe and effective.
Before installation, here’s what you need to know:
Understand your town’s requirements before you proceed. The installation of light poles and the mounting height of luminaires are determined by local ordinances. Each area will have its own requirements.
Installation requirements are different for residential and commercial applications. Residential poles can be installed in soil or cement. Commercial poles are usually installed in cement so that they can withstand more rigorous conditions.
Know what the wind rating (average wind speed) of your area is. Your light pole and its installation type need to be able to handle the wind load that it will experience. This is a major safety requirement.
There are two general types of light pole installations. Direct Burial and Anchor-Based.
Also known as embedded installation, this is where the pole is installed into a hole in the ground. Aluminum and fiberglass are the recommended pole materials to use as they do not rust. Once the pole is embedded, the hole can be filled with backfill or cement.
For this type of installation, it’s important to know a few things before you do it:
The soil needs to be firm and shouldn’t retain water.
The solidness of the soil will determine how deep the pole needs to be embedded. It will be difficult to create a solid foundation in areas with loose soil and sand.
The soil should consist of clay, soil, silt, and a small quantity of crushed rock.
The light pole shaft must be longer than usual. It should be an additional 10 percent of the height that you originally had in mind plus 2 feet. This can depend on how deep the pole is buried. This helps to account for the pole section that will be underground.
This is where the pole is typically anchored to a concrete pier using base plates, anchor bolts, and nuts.
Steel poles are typically used in this type of installation.
They are easier to replace than direct burial poles because there is no digging required.
Anchor-based poles are recommended for parking lots.
How to Install a Direct Burial Pole
For this method, you can use backfill or cement to fill the hole.
Direct burial using backfill
1. Dig a hole that is around twice the diameter of the pole that is being installed. Determine the depth of the hole by using the following reference:
|Pole Length||Hole Depth|
2. Lower the pole into the hole. This should be done while guiding the wires through the cable entrance holes to the hand hole.
3. Pour 4 to 6 inches of backfill into the hole. Use a plumb bob to vertically level the pole. Pack the backfill as you go.
4. Add an additional 4 to 6 inches of backfill and continue to plumb the pole.
Direct burial using cement
Direct burial using cement will be the same as above except you will use a concrete mixture to fill the hole.
How to Install an Anchor-Based Pole
There are two methods that can be used for this kind of installation.
Concrete Pier Anchor Method
For most anchor-based installations, you’ll need a concrete base that will make certain that it’s firm and balanced. The concrete that you use should be rich in cement to guarantee firmness and durability. The height of the pier depends on the length of the pole that you’re installing. Anchor bolts are inserted on the face of the pier while pouring concrete into the formwork. The anchor bolts are designed to hold the pole in place. You must allow the concrete to fully cure to ensure the pier reaches its best possible strength.
To being your installation, gather your bolt pattern template and template supports. These are usually included with the light pole. The bolt pattern can be cut from wood, or you can use a universal anchor bolt template tool.
- Dig your hole, pour your concrete, and attach your anchor bolts.
- Layout and drill your bolt pattern.
- Secure the bolts to your template.
- Put your template on top of the concrete form and make sure that it is level.
Fasten your template to the supports and secure the supports to an H frame.
- Secure the cage to the supports.
- Secure the concrete and remove your template.
Helix Anchor Foundation Method (no concrete needed)
For this method, a helical plate allows for all bolts to be screwed in without the need for concrete. The plate acts like a large corkscrew that is used to dig into the ground. A steel anchor screws in place by using hydraulic rotary equipment.
It’s important to install light poles correctly the first time. For direct burial installations, poles that are not installed correctly can be crooked. For anchor-based installations, you must install the anchor bolts correctly or the pole may not fit properly.
It’s best to consult an engineer and an electrician before proceeding. An engineer will help to ensure that your foundation has been properly designed. A qualified electrician is needed to perform the electrical installation in compliance with the National Electrical Code (NEC) and any other local codes that are required.
Please see our other blog articles about components, purchasing, and maintenance of light poles.
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About the Author
Cory Peterson is Director of Sales & Marketing at LED Lighting Supply where he focuses on improving customer experience and revenue operations. Cory writes about commercial & industrial lighting, along with topics important to contractors and facility managers. In his free time, Cory enjoys traveling, snorkeling, exercise and cooking.