Recommended Foot Candles for Parking Lot Lighting

by Keith Allen
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full parking lot image by Aaron Kohr from

Proper lighting contributes to the safety of the parking lot. Properly placed lighting eliminates shadows that can hide individuals and give them an opportunity for wrong doing. The light not only discourages intruders but provides illumination necessary for the operation of closed circuit security cameras. It also allows guards to observe the situation and provide security.

Placing Parking Lot Lights

Each location within a parking lot should be lit by a minimum of two and preferably four pole-mounted lights. Providing multiple sources of light lessens the number of areas within a shadow. Light poles should be at least 20 feet tall to provide a high angle of light. This will provide some illumination between parked cars that would not occur from lights mounted on lower poles. Plans for light pole placement usually include posts around the perimeter of the parking lot and also within the parking lot.

Light Intensity

Accordingto the website, the minimum recommended light intensity is 1 foot-candle. In areas where there is potential damage to vehicles, 2 foot-candles is recommended. These standards are averages although no area in the parking lot should have less than a quarter of the average lamination. Some areas of the parking lot--loading zones, entrances, exits and even marketing signs--can be lighted to an illumination of 5 foot-candles or more.

Parking Lot Lights and Security

Parking lot illumination should be designed to provide enough light for human observation. Security cameras work in lower light conditions than are visible by the human eye. Make sure the security cameras are not oriented towards any of the security lights, the setting or rising sun or the entrance to the parking lot where headlights would affect the camera. The intent of the lighting is to provide visibility for security guards or camera surveillance. To accomplish this the lighting must reach every area of the parking lot and provide illumination even in areas shadowed by an object. The placement of the light poles and the layout of the parking spaces must be coordinated during the planning process to meet this goal.

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