Parking Lot Lighting Design Calculator

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What’s a Parking Lot Lighting Design Plan?

A Parking Lot Lighting Plan or Lighting Design Calculator is a Photometric Lighting Plan created by software that creates a report detailing foot candle levels and how even the light is displayed across the entire parking lot space. It’s created from an actual overhead view of the parking lot (from google maps) or a supplied architectural drawing of a proposed parking lot imported into the software.

The plan shows all pole positions. The poles have lights installed, and they are aimed or oriented on the plan to provide ideal lighting. The software calculates the results and foot candle readings across the entire outdoor parking lot is displayed in a printable pdf report. The report also provide measurements of how even the light is across the entire space (indicated as the average/minimum ratio).


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.  The best way to think of Type distribution is to start out with the idea of a round ball. 

Type 5 is the round ball.

Push down a little on top of the ball. It gets shorter and pushes out the sides a bit. That’s Type 4.

Push down a little hard still. That’s Type 3.

Push down even more. Type 2.

And finally Type 1. It has very wide throw but not very tall.

light distributon


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.

The Golden Rule of Lighting Plans

A lighting plan is specific to the fixtures used in the plan. Swapping out fixtures with “like” fixtures will not work.


Because each fixture is different – light spread, optics and lumens produced. You would be surprised how 2 fixtures which appear on paper to be almost identical – produce vastly different results when analyzed in a lighting plan.

Parking Lot Lighting Plan

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