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How to Make Parking Lot Lighting Work for Your Business

Business owners know that the first impression customers receive when they arrive at a business takes place in the parking lot. A tidy, well-maintained parking lot goes a long way toward establishing a winning relationship with customers.

If those same customers enter or exit your facility at night, your parking lot lighting has to give them confidence that they are safe. 

After all, a bad parking lot experience might simply deliver second thoughts to a daytime customer entering your business.  Nighttime customers, on the other hand, might just drive on by and never give your business a chance.

People instinctively know that if your parking lot lights are dim, or if there are dark spots on your lot, the chances for criminal activity are much higher than businesses that have well-lit lots. There are several reasons that businesses should make sure their lights are up to date and working properly.

“If half of the parking lot lights are out, it looks like you’re closed.”

Luke Bond, FSG Indianapolis

Is your parking lot in need of new LED lights? If so, how do you replace or repair your lighting?  Let’s begin with a look at your current parking lot lighting and what it means for your business.

Burned Out Parking Lot Lights

Burned out or malfunctioning lights need to be replaced. Some people think that burned-out lights aren’t using any electricity. But if the lamp is burned out, the ballast is still drawing power. Oftentimes it is harder on the ballast if the lamp is out and drawing power.

Have a plan in place in advance to address burned-out lights. If you plan to upgrade an old burned-out metal halide lamp with a new LED, it often makes sense to change out the rest of your old parking lot lights.

Your business also may qualify for rebates that can help pay to relamp your entire parking lot. An expert lighting contractor can help you take advantage of rebates and incentives.

Uneven Parking Lot Lighting Coverage

Uneven lighting coverage can cause problems for your business. Every inch of your parking lot should have light coverage for your safety and the safety of your customers and employees.

A lighting expert can help you get the right lamps, fixtures, and an overall design that delivers the best coverage for your parking lot.

Dark Parking Lot
If your parking lot looks like this at night your business may be suffering because of it.
Source: iStock

We recently had a client who replaced all the lights in the parking lot of a medical facility. There were rave reviews about the drastic difference in the lighting after the customers and guests could see the results in the customer parking lot in front.

But the area of the parking lot that most people didn’t see was the employee parking lot in the back. Apparently, employees had complained due to trips and falls in the dark areas of this parking lot behind the building. The new lighting improved safety and security for employees of the medical center as well.

Remember: customer and employee safety is equally important when accounting for dark areas of your parking lot.  Your customers are important, but your employees are your business.

Higher Lighting Energy Costs

Keeping your company on a budget is not always easy. It’s even harder when you have to light the exterior of a facility. 

Traditional parking lot light fixtures are more expensive to operate and maintain than you might think. Review your energy bill to get an idea of how much you spend now.

If you consider that replacing old lighting can reduce your energy bill by 50-70%, retrofitting your parking lot lights can dramatically reduce your operating expenses.

If you have had your parking lot lights for years, you might not even realize how much you could be saving.  The amount might be much more than you expect.

Lower Lighting = Higher Crime

A major study in New York City found that certain crimes were reduced by 39% when new exterior LED lighting was installed.

Dark parking lots increase your crime rate, putting customers and employees at risk. If you have a high crime rate in your parking lot, it will cause you to lose customers.

NYPD Parking Lot Lighting
Better lighting at night has reduced crime rates.
Source: iStock

Criminals prefer operating under the cover of darkness, so keeping your lights on goes a long way to protect your business, employees, and customers.

If your parking lot even looks unsafe, whether the crime rate in your area is high or not, your customers will have a perception the crime rate is high. Either way equals fewer customers to your business.

Frequent Parking Lot Lighting Maintenance

Old lights require more maintenance than you might think. Legacy high-intensity discharge lights such as metal halide lamps have more issues with ballasts and burn out more frequently than updated LED lights.

Maintaining legacy Metal Halide and High-Pressure Sodium lighting is costly. LED lighting greatly reduced maintenance costs.
Source: FSG

As these lamps get older and generate more heat, the arc tube deteriorates and can rupture, which can cause the outer glass bulb to break as well.

Rather than using inefficient lights that require more time and attention, upgrade to energy-efficient lights that last much longer. You won’t have to replace your lights as often as you did in the past.

A Vehicle Hits Your Parking Lot Light Pole

We get multiple calls weekly about vehicles hitting parking lot lighting poles. This is not a problem for an experienced electrical contractor. If a vehicle has damaged one of your light poles, call a licensed electrician as soon as possible!

Whatever you do, do not disturb the area where the pole was damaged. If the pole is leaning and is a potential hazard to your customers or employees, barricade the area around the pole so that if it falls, there are no vehicles damaged or people injured.

Once a commercial lighting contractor is on-site, they can quickly assess the problem and safely get the pole back in service.

Recapping the Benefits

Just as a recap, we want to highlight some of the benefits of upgraded parking lot lighting.  According to FSG lighting designers, these are the top benefits of converting parking lot lighting to LED:

  • Reduce energy usage and costs, usually by 50-70% 
  • Receive higher quality of light from a 50k fixture
  • Reduce future maintenance costs with longer life LED fixtures
  • Increase light levels in the parking area
  • Improve the safety for customers and employees
  • Enjoy a rapid Return on Investment (ROI), normally in less than 24 months
  • Increase the number of customers visiting your business with brighter, safer lots

How to Replace Your Parking Lot Lights

So now you’ve decided you need new parking lot lights or repairs to your lighting. How do you do it? Can your maintenance manager replace your lighting? Can a business owner do it? Do you need a licensed commercial electrician to do it?

That depends

If you just need to change out a lamp on a 12′ decorative pole, you could do this yourself with a ladder. Make sure to follow ladder safety best practices. Refer to the OSHA Portable Ladder Safety guidelines.

But if you are looking to replace a lamp on a 30-foot pole, safely reaching the lamp is a challenge and a portable ladder is not the right equipment.

When it’s time to replace your parking lot lighting you should consider calling a professional contractor
Source: FSG

Most commercial electricians use aerial equipment like boom lifts or bucket trucks to safely and quickly replace parking lot lights. 

If you are looking to retrofit your entire parking lot, always call an expert. If you need lighting design or help with meeting municipal codes, an experienced lighting contractor can take care of all that. You’ll receive preliminary drawings and a spec sheet for your approval before the job begins.

Whether you have one lamp or fifty, your lighting expert should be listening to you. They should ask the right questions. A good lighting contractor will combine that information with their expertise and come up with the right solution for your business.

“On any lighting project, the very first thing we do is go out and meet the customer. And most importantly, listen to them. Once we are on the job, we try to affect the business as little as possible. We want to be almost invisible.”

Luke Bond, FSG Indianapolis

A licensed electrician should also be able to give you an idea of the energy savings you can expect from the new lighting based on the difference in wattage between the old and new lights.

And for any business, flexible scheduling is key. An expert will work around your business hours and try to get the work done with no disruption to your business.

Expert lighting teams know if there are incentives or rebates available. It is not unusual for rebates and incentives to allow for the replacement of whole fixtures and not just lamps. The incentives often cover a large percentage of the total cost of the fixture plus labor to install.

Some lighting contractors have drone camera equipment to take before overhead shots of your parking lot lights to identify dark spots or problem areas. Once the job is complete they can provide after photos of the parking lot so you can see the difference that the retrofit made for your business.

Byron Nelson High School parking lot lighting
Overhead shot of parking lot at Byron Nelson High School – Before/After Parking Lot Retrofit
Source: FSG

Whether you have one lamp to replace or 100, the right lighting contractor will pay close attention to detail and leave it so it looks better than it did before the project. Most importantly, a professional company will back up its work and be there for you and your business once the job is complete.

Transform Your Parking Lot Today!

If you need to replace your parking lot lights or have questions about lighting maintenance or parking lot lighting design visit our website or give us a call at (877) 293-6689.  Our experts will help make your business safer, less expensive, and more appealing to your customers today.

With new, efficient, bright LED lighting working hard every night to promote your business, you’ll quickly see that this simple solution was a smart move.

By the way, now that your exterior lighting stands out from your competition you might be wondering what else your parking lot can do to increase your bottom line. Talk to an FSG representative about what an EV charging station can do for your annual revenues.

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