How to light a multi-storey car park

Car parks are often treated as an afterthought when new buildings are designed. This is a pity because they are generally the first point of contact that people have with the building they are visiting. A dark and dull car park can put visitors in the wrong mood before they even climb out from behind the wheel.

A car park needs to be safe. They are often full of stressed shoppers with trolleys, young children and distracted drivers. The last thing that is needed in such a confusing environment are dark shadows. Good vertical illumination is essential, so plenty of light on the perimeter walls and columns will hugely improve the overall look of a space.  In essence, you need a 75 lux average and a uniformity of >40 percent. Higher levels still will be required for ramps.

There is often, particularly in the UK, CCTV in place to monitor car parks. If possible, find out where the cameras are so you don’t block or dazzle their line of sight.

Dimming is a useful energy saving option but take care when using passive infrared detectors; nobody wants to enter a dark car park, even if it does light up once you are inside.

Guidance for lighting car parks can be found in the BS EN 5489 standard. You can also find guidance in the Code for Lighting.

Our car park measures 45m x 60m with a 3m ceiling. 

There are thousands of car parks illuminated with fluorescent T8 lamps and, in their time, they were a good solution. T8's were never particularly efficient but the fittings were cheap to buy and so were the replacement tubes. The big disadvantage though was lamp life. Unless very well maintained, a car park always had a few failed lamps on show. Luminaires with wire-wound ballasts were pretty inefficient, especially the 1.2m versions.

Nowadays with efficient, long-life LEDs, the time has come for the T8 installations to be replaced by something much better. 

Tech Spec

Luminaires 

Generic 1.5m T8 in grp body

Optical control

Hammered aluminium reflector plus prismed lens

Arrangement

10 x 5

Average horizontal illuminance

70 lx, 75 on pillars and walls.

Electrical load

1.2 W/m2

Pros: 

None, nowadays

Cons:  

Maintenance

The Prismashield Elite is designed for road and rail applications when a multi-functional luminaire is required. Underground car parks are an ideal application for this product.

The big advantage of this scheme is that it gives the same horizontal illumination as the T8 design, but it is half the installed load in terms of W/m2.

Originally designed for use with T5 and T8 lamps, the Prismashield has been upgraded and now features LEDs. A polycarbonate lens with internal prisms is most probably the best option for car parks, but a second version has a sealed glass lens for use in underground tunnels.

This product is particularly useful where you want to include power management, emergency and telecoms cables. There is a trunking system, with infill panels, which allows for the attachment of the luminaires .

Tech Spec

Luminaires

Prismashield Elite

Optical control

Internal prismed polycarbonate

Arrangement: 8 x 5

Average horizontal illuminance 

73 lx, 35 lx on pillars and walls

Electrical load 

0.6W/m2

Pros

Continuous runs

Cons

You may not need a cable management system

The D-Series Parking Garage, DSX, is a dedicated car park luminaire. The lens optics are specifically designed to give good vertical illumination and wide spacing. It gives 50 percent more light on vertical surfaces than the T8 and yet notches up only half the energy consumption. You can see that the end wall is much better illuminated in this option.

It also uses half the number of luminaires compared with the T8 scheme.

Thermal management of the LEDs is always a critical factor when designing luminaires, in order to achieve a long, maintenance-free life.  The DSX is designed to maximise heat dissipation and Holophane claim a rated 100,000 hour life, L70B50 , at 20C.

For new installations, the wide spacing means fewer luminaires and this combined with good vertical and horizontal illumination means that the product is the obvious choice for multi-storey car parks.

There are three different light distributions available plus options such as PIR and emergency lighting packs.

Tech Spec

Luminaires

D-Series Parking Garage

Optical control

Acrylic lenses

Arrangement

 7 x 5

Average horizontal illuminance

72 lx,101 lx on pillars and walls

Electrical load 

0.6W/m2

Pros

Fewest number of luminaires

Cons

Great vertical illumination

Comments 4

That is a amazing light output with LED. I assume that that there only two rows of lighting over the drive section only.

Looking for intelligent car park solutions? look no further! We manufacture, design and install high output LED lighting dedicated for car parks and industrial buildings. give me a call. 0-7-5-6 5-7-0-0-6-9-9 Mike.

This solution is been needed for some time. I see the number of carparks with T8 58W on 24/7 as crazy in this age of LEDs. Sure the lighting needs are specific, but with good uniformity and vertical illumination looks good. My interest is with controls for this solution, specifically night time savings by simple circuit switching, say one in three circuits on. The resultant effect on maintenance for the fittings 'allways on'. Is this a concern with long life LEDs ? Should we use long life fittings for the 'allways on' circuits ? Is there a real concern with security cameras and low light ? modern cameras work in low light very well me thinks.

Great. What would be the cost of a FULLY effIcient LED CAR PARK LIGHTING INSTALLATION SYSTEM. What about maintenance cost? Regards, Nizam Abdue Rahman

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