Keeping a parking lot lit all night can get expensive, especially during times of the year when daylight hours are at a minimum. Getting enough light spread throughout a parking lot is another dilemma many business owners face. Dark spots in parking areas can encourage a criminal element. Walking through a poorly lit parking lot makes employees, customers, and other visitors feel unsafe. It also potentially leaves you open to litigation for accidents that occur in areas without adequate parking lot lighting.
Replacing or upgrading your existing parking lot lights may seem like an exorbitant expense, but can you really afford to not look at your options? Parking lot lighting systems installed more than a decade ago may utilize inefficient lights and cost more to run than new LED alternatives. Utility cost savings, lower maintenance costs, and longer life spans also give LED lighting options a good ROI that can quickly offset your replacement costs.
Parking Lot Lighting Options
Despite the increasing popularity of light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, most parking lots still utilize high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting. These HIDs are usually some form of low-pressure or high-pressure sodium or metal halide lamps. Many business owners still consider LED parking lot lights to be too expensive. However, LED pole lights have actually become competitively priced to most traditional parking lot lighting when comparing the initial investment. Furthermore, when you factor in LED lighting benefits like energy-efficiency, durability, longevity and lower maintenance costs, commercial LED parking lot lights are much less expensive in the long run.
XtraLight Manufacturing designs and delivers premium LED lighting suitable for medium to large parking lots and other outdoor areas. Our LED lighting options provide better surface illumination using less energy than HID lighting, so you can create a brighter, safer environment for your staff, customers and other patrons in all your outdoor areas, and at a lower cost. We also continually invest in the latest technology to ensure you’re getting the highest-quality fixtures available on the market today. Our luminaires are made with solid-state components that can take an amazing amount of abuse, including excellent shock and vibration resistance. They’re also environmentally friendly because unlike some parking lot light fixtures, they don’t contain mercury or lead.
Our sleek, masterfully-engineered medium Viento or large Viento LED area lights are the next generation of LED illumination for parking lot lighting applications. Inspired by European sports cars, our lighting options blend beautifully with the overall design scheme of any architectural plan. They’re also specifically designed to leverage the optical and thermal characteristics unique to LED technology. Both sizes are ideal for parking lots, auto dealership sales lots, mall and retail spaces, educational and business campuses, security areas and park & recreation areas. Anyone with a large parking lot they need consistently lit or anyone still using HID lighting greatly benefits from switching to our Viento LED area lighting. Click here to visit our Viento product family.
HID vs LED
To get a better picture of how HID vs LED lighting truly compares, first take a look at the actual physical anatomy of each product.
HIDs are gas-discharge arc lamps in which light is transmitted via an electrical current between two electrodes and ionized gas. A second gas is also used, which determines whether the HID is a sodium, mercury or metal halide lamp. Everything is sealed within a quartz glass capsule. All HIDs require a ballast to regulate power and create the initial electrical surge to start the light. HIDs consume less power and produce greater illumination than halogen bulbs, but this is nothing when compared to LEDs.
LED anatomy uses solid-state technology to convert electricity into light. Basically, LED modules are made up of tiny light bulbs that are semiconductors fitted into an electrical circuit. When the modules is turned on and electricity passes through these semiconductors, it causes them to emit photons of light and the fixture illuminates. LEDs offer an even spread of illumination, unlike HIDs that must be fitted with bulky reflectors to redirect light output. Overall, LEDs are much more efficient, with a difference you can immediately see.
Historically, HID lights have been the go-to choice for parking lots and other sizable areas that require large amounts of visible light. However, they haven’t been the perfect solution, because the light produced isn’t always pleasing and most HIDs require an extended amount of time to warm up before they’re fully illuminated. While it’s true that installing HID lighting usually results in lower upfront costs, regular re-lamping and ballast replacement requirements often counteract these savings. Even with a higher initial investment, LED lighting offers a quicker ROI because LEDs have virtually no maintenance expenses. All these issues, combined with rapid technological advances that improved performance and lowered the price of LED products, have prompted many companies to make the switch. Consider these cost-specific HID vs LED comparisons to better understand why LED provides the ideal exterior lighting solution.
Energy Cost Savings
While HID is more energy efficient than other types of lighting like halogen or incandescent lamps, LEDs are even more energy efficient. In some cases, LED lighting can provide up to 75% energy savings over your current lighting system. Performance issues also affect energy efficiency. HID lamps require up to ten minutes of warm-up time before fully illuminating, while LED lights turn on instantly without any flickering. HIDs also create light in all directions with part of the light never actually leaving the fixture. LEDs have the ability to create focused, omnidirectional light with nearly 100% of the light leaving the fixture. This provides enhanced light distribution control and light uniformity. Our commercial LED parking lot lights have precision molded optics offering superior uniformity and enhanced light distribution. This allows you to use fewer lights in the same amount of space and maximize pole spacing for even greater energy savings.
Maintenance Cost Savings
Maintenance costs are where you realize the largest savings. HID lamps are extremely fragile with moving parts, glass bulbs, filaments, ballasts and capacitors that can all break or burn out suddenly. Each repair or replacement requires a lift rental to reach the top of the parking lot light fixtures and labor from a qualified electrician. Heavy-duty LEDs are much more durable and don’t utilize all the extraneous parts that require costly repairs and/or replacements that impact your company’s bottom line. Furthermore, as LEDs age, they slowly become dimmer, which is called lumen depreciation. This allows ample time to schedule maintenance, instead of paying for unexpected, unscheduled replacement of a bulb containing a filament that failed without warning.
The U.S. Department of Energy indicates that LEDs have a much longer lifespan than other lighting systems. HID lighting has a life expectancy of 15,000-25,000 hours, while LED lighting has a minimum life expectancy of 50,000 hours. However, many products, including ours, are rated for over 100,000 hours. Longer life means less frequent bulb changes, which also directly ties to your maintenance cost savings.
No matter how well a product performs or how long it lasts, with high-use outdoor lighting fixtures, this all means nothing if the product isn’t backed by an exceptional warranty. Most HID products usually come with a one to two-year warranty, while LED products typically have a five-year warranty. We’re so confident in our products, XtraLight offers a 10-year limited warranty on our LED area lighting fixtures
While there are vastly different parking lot layouts, almost all parking lot light fixtures are attached to tall poles. From this vantage point, the light can more easily pool throughout the area. Once you’ve decided to switch out your existing light fixtures for LED pole lights, you must decide whether to keep or replace your existing poles. Because LED lighting provides more light and better light distribution, you can get the same or better results with fewer light fixtures. This means you won’t need as many light poles, so you also have to decide whether to leave poles that no longer contain light fixtures or remove them.
Pole height, the distance between the poles and the structural integrity of the poles could factor into your decision about pole replacement. In most cases, if the pole is still in good shape and matches your desired aesthetics, it’s more cost effective to reuse existing poles. Our Viento LED area lighting fixtures include stainless steel hardware to securely fasten an integral arm to existing poles for quick and easy installation. You may also be able to retrofit new LED kits into existing light fixtures, instead of replacing the entire fixture to potentially save time and money on your conversion.
Retrofitting Versus Replacement
Retrofitting is the process of adding new, improved technology to an existing system. Thus, LED retrofit kits utilize your existing light fixtures, but add improved lighting technology. Retrofitting can cost less than installing new fixtures, but cost savings is not the primary reason most people choose this route. The main goal of retrofitting is to retain your property’s existing aesthetics, especially when it already matches your desired architectural design. Retrofit kits make ideal choices when the design and layout of your current lighting system is satisfactory, but its efficiency can be far improved with upgraded technology. However, like your light poles, your existing fixtures must be in good shape and have the ability to support LED technology.
When your existing HID fixtures are sound and compatible with LED technology, retrofit shoebox kits are well suited for many parking lot pole lights. Our SRK LED shoebox retrofit kits are custom made for each unique application to seamlessly transform existing luminaires into energy-efficient LED area lighting. Custom retrofit kits can be built in just about any wattage and lumen packages and lighting distributions to accommodate your specific fixtures. We can create shoebox retrofit kits for shoebox luminaires and square or rectangular area lights. The SRK LED round area light retrofit kit is another great option, which is custom made to accommodate existing round HID post-top luminaires.
All our easy-to-install retrofit kits utilize the existing HID fixture and are designed to significantly reduce energy and maintenance costs, without comprising the aesthetics of the original fixture. They’re also covered by a factory warranty when you submit a functioning luminaire for photometric and thermal testing. Our LED lighting can be paired with existing controls systems, but if your current fixtures utilize photocells, it could make your retrofit project more complicated. Each retrofit kit is custom made to fit your fixtures with many factors involved. Request pricing from our lighting experts to get an accurate quote for your custom kits.
Ideal Characteristics for Parking Lot Applications
There are many characteristics that make some commercial LED parking lot lights better than others. These include the product’s Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) or color temperature, Color Rendering Index (CRI), light distribution properties, heat distribution properties, eco-friendliness and earned safety ratings. Our high-quality Viento LED lights include premier characteristics and prestigious ratings from top organizations.
Color temperature defines the color of a light’s glow, which can have a warm or cool quality, ranging from a warm reddish orange to a cool white or bluish color. CRI ratings tell you how an object looks when illuminated compared to when it’s under daylight conditions. The higher the rating, the more the illuminated object looks the same as it does under natural light. Our parking lot lights include best in class Lumileds LEDs with 3000K, 4000K and 5000K CCT with minimum CRI’s between 70 and 80.
Ideal light distribution characteristics should include an exceptional BUG rating. BUG is an acronym that stands for Backlight, Uplight and Glare and it’s a comprehensive system developed by the Illuminating Engineering Society and the International Dark Sky Association. The system’s purpose is to calculate how much light was escaping into unwanted or undesirable directions from an outdoor light fixture. Our LED parking lot lights thoroughly reduce wasted light. They’re Night Sky Friendly and have a Zero Uplight (U0) BUG rating. Add our house side shield optics accessory to also significantly reduce backlight.
An LED lamp’s housing should also help with heat mitigation and keep operating temperature low. Since an LED’s efficiency decreases as the operating temperature rises, it’s critical to control the heat emitted, especially in warmer climates. Our LEDs foster low operating temperature and long life with drivers mounted in direct contact with the casting. Our housing is a one-piece, die-cast aluminum that include integral heat sink fins to further optimize temperature management.
LED technology is also good for the environment, because it lowers carbon emissions and eliminates hazardous substances, such as mercury or lead like you find in HIDs. Metal Halide HIDs use mercury in the lighting process, which is dangerous when it’s inhaled or released into the environment. HID bulbs can also emit substantial amounts of UV radiation, if the outer glass bulb breaks and the inner tube continues to operate without this insulating protection. Unlike LEDs, HID bulbs also require special steps for safe disposal. If an HID bulb bursts, you must put it inside a sealed container or bag and take it to an appropriate hazardous waste facility or recycling center.
Our ratings speak for themselves. Our IP 66 rated LED optics and housing ensure our lights are well protected in any situation and are completely sealed against dust, dirt, environmental contaminants caused by birds perching on the lights, and moisture, even steady streams of water. Our products also bear the ETL Listed Mark, meaning they’ve met the minimum requirements of product compliance and safety standards in North America. These standards are determined through independent testing, certification and follow-up inspections by the OSHA-recognized Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory. We also hold an American National Standards Institute 3G vibration rating appropriate for bridge and overpass applications.
Increase Efficiency with Controls
Our LED lights include technology that delivers high-quality lighting with significant energy savings in commercial parking lot lighting applications, especially when paired with Adaptive Control Integration. One of the biggest advantages of LED lighting is the ability to be dimmable, so one of our optional controls include a 0-10v dimmable driver to give you this capability. We also offer adjustable Passive Infrared Photo/Motion Sensor (FSP-211) control with sensors that can detect motion and adjust light output by turning it up to 10V (high mode) and lowering light output to 1V (low mode) once these sensors no longer detects motion. After sensors stop detecting motion, time delay controls keep lights in high mode for a defaulted time period of five minutes before switching back to low mode. Our cut off controls then switch the luminaire off completely after running in low mode for a default time period of one hour. Photocell controls are another option that tell luminaires when to turn on or off based on the current amount of ambient light.
When you combine all your potential options, you create successful adaptive control integration with sensors that prevent LED pole lights from lighting an empty parking lot at full brightness when it’s not necessary. Having these innovative controls in place further increases your energy savings and reduces light pollution, making our products even more night sky friendly. Even if you’re not going to use these controls immediately, it’s important to build in the ability to implement them down the road.
Get a Professional Lighting Assessment
LED technology is continually and rapidly improving and the price of commercial LED parking lot lights continues to drop. If you’re considering a switch to LED lighting, but you’re still unsure whether the cost savings justifies what could be a substantial investment, schedule a complimentary, no hassle Professional Lighting Assessment from XtraLight. One of our lighting auditors will perform a complete cost savings analysis and ROI timetable based on an evaluation of your current system and projected cost estimates for our recommended lighting solutions.