Parking Lots

Parking Lots and Garages have one important thing in common, security!  Unfortunately they have been a magnet for criminals because the value of the automobiles and their contents as well as the occupants themselves. So it is important to have a well-lit parking lot and garage. But, it does not have to cost you a fortune. See why LED lighting is the perfect alternative to Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium Lighting.

Old Lighting Technology

Lighting of outdoor areas such as streets, roadways, parking lots and garages and pedestrian areas have been dominated by metal halide (MH) and high-pressure sodium (HPS) sources.  Because this type of lighting is not suitable to dimming and frequent switching, operation is typically done the entire evening, even when the parking lot or garage is completely empty.  In many areas law requires lights to be on 24 hours in a parking garage.

Current Lighting Technology for Parking Lots and Garages

Today LED lighting technology has brought significant advancements while using approximately 50% less wattage than its Metal Halide or HPS counterparts. Another advantage of LED Lighting Technology is that they work extremely well with lighting controls. LED lights are themselves a semiconductor device with a computer chip that emits light when energy is applied to it and an electronic driver is used to control voltage and color. Although there are several types of lighting controls the one most suited for parking garages and lots would be bi-level occupancy sensors. Using bi-level technology means that when there is no-one present in an area, the luminaire can go down to about 20% of full power while still maintaining an acceptable standard of light.  The motion sensor is in place to detect someone coming and would seamlessly boost the fixture to full power.  The combination of both technologies can yield approximately 80% less power wattage than the typical MH or HPS bulbs.

High Maintenance Costs for Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium

Along with the high cost of power usage, Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium bulbs require a lot of maintenance.  Industry research shows that about 2/3 of the costs associated with lighting come from energy usage and bulbs, while a third of the costs are associated with maintenance.   For parking lot lights, the maintenance factor is greater because of the access factor.

Most companies use a private lighting contractor for maintenance of their parking lot lights.  For MH fixtures, these costs can vary, but a conservative estimate of $200.00 per fixture is common.  These costs include materials, maintenance, 3-year scheduled re-lamping and periodic spot re-lamping, all provided by the contractor.  This however is also a conservative measure, as most MH lamps degrade quicker than 3 years,  with their lumen output greatly diminishing long before that and outputting only a fraction of the light.   A more typical lifetime for the MH is somewhere between 12-18 months before they start to decay significantly.

Parking lot before and after LED Lights were installed.

LED lights contain no bulb and don’t typically require maintenance

LED luminaires are maintenance free during the course of their lifespan.   Their useful life is typically guaranteed at around 200,000 hours.  At 4,300 hours/year, that’s 23 years without changing a bulb.   To determine the total cost of both fixtures, including both electricity and maintenance costs, let’s assume that a typical parking lot light is on 4,380 hours.  That’s 12 hours a day for 365 days a year.   An average off-peak rate of $0.07394/kWh will be used in the scenario.

Luminaire Type Annual Maintenance Cost (per luminaire) Annual Energy Cost   (per luminaire) Total Annual Cost      (per luminaire)
MH $200.00 $112.05 $312.05
LED $0.00 34.10 $34.10

Keep in mind that maintenance costs are different for every scenario.  For a company that replaces all of their parking lot lights themselves, the costs will be significantly lower.  We recommend you use your own calculations to determine the correct number.

Case study



LED’s Provide High Quality Light

The US Department of Energy recently released a study that confirmed the advantages of the white light that most LED produce.  The white light LED produce has a greater amount of blue light which mimics the light produced by the sun. LED lights improves your vision at night allowing you to see colors better and improves you vision acuity.



  • LED technology offers better quality light at greater efficiency (up to 80% less)
  • Maintenance costs typically contribute 30% to the costs of parking lighting
  • Metal Halide bulbs have no occupancy sensors or bi-level control so they’re on full power full time.
  • LED Lights work well with controls adding additional savings


Below is a Cree® Area Edge Round                                    Below is a Cree® Parking Edge

Great for parking areas!                                                       The perfect luminaire for a Parking Garage!