What’s a Parking Lot Lighting Design Plan?
A Parking Lot Lighting Plan or Lighting Design Calculator is a Software Photometric Lighting Plan that creates a lighting foot candle and distribution report for an outdoor parking lot space. It typically shows either the actual overhead view of the parking lot or an architectural view of a proposed parking lot.
The lot details pole positions. Its at these pole locations a lighting engineer inserts the photometric details of different outdoor fixtures to design and calculate a parking lot plan.
The software models and then foot candle measurements across the parking lot in a visual pdf report. The report displays calculation points representing foot candle readings at locations across the parking lot.
Parking Lot Optics and Why they Matter
Special parking lot optics were created to deal with different needs that might arise. These patterns were established well before LED lighting was used. Choosing the right optic may make the difference between a well lit lot and one that is poorly lit.
LED Area Light Distribution
Type 3 or Type 5 are the most common distribution types.
Type III Area Lighting Distribution
Type III distribution for general roadway lighting applications and parking areas. Its throw is taller than Type II but its side to side throw is shorter. For roadways, the width of the road should not be greater than 2.75 time the mounting height.
Type IV Area Lighting Distribution
Type IV distribution produces a semi-circular light. It’s best for illuminating the perimeter of parking areas. Its projects further out front than Type III but its side to side throw is shorter than Type III. For roadways, the width of the road should not be greater than 3.75 times the mounting height.
Type V Area Lighting Distribution
Type V produces circular distribution that has equal light distribution at all positions. This distribution has a circular symmetry of foot candles. It is great for parking areas or flooding large areas of light in front of the fixture. It is one of the most common distribution types available today.
So what is a Parking Lot Lighting Calculator?
A Parking lot lighting calculator is an online tool that tries to calculate the number of fixtures you need based on some inputs. We do not think these offer any value. The reason is online parking lot lighting calculators only calculate the number of fixtures needed for a space. It does not show where the fixtures should be located, foot candle measurements at any location in the space, or how evenly distributed the light is.
Even worse, it does not differentiate on how well a specific parking lot light will perform. You cannot just add a 150 Watt LED Parking Lot light to your outdoor area and expect it to do what you need it to do. All lights are different. A lighting plan will determine what light works for you.
There are times when we’ve created lighting plans for a customer and they swapped the light out with another light. And then we get a call back from them asking us to fix the problem – because they thought the light they used would perform the same as they one we testing in our lighting plan software. Big mistake. The only solution – swap out these lights and use the one that shows the best results in the lighting plan.
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