Your parking lot says more about your brand than you might realize. A brightly lit parking area lets people know they are safe, while also attracting positive attention and guiding people to your business. On the other hand, a dim or dark parking lot with the bulbs burned out might send the message that your business is closed, unsafe, or rundown.
Parking lot lighting matters, and there is a strategy to lighting a parking lot in a way that attracts customers but doesn’t drive up your energy bills.
If you are looking for lighting solutions that improve your lot (and decrease your energy bills), here are some tips for creating welcoming, effective, and energy-efficient parking lot lighting.
1. Choose the Right Bulbs
The lightbulbs you choose will have a significant impact on your bottom line. For the majority of our customers, we recommend energy-efficient exterior LED lights. They last longer and are more efficient.
For context, the average LED light can last up to 50,000 hours. The average incandescent bulb only lasts about 1,500 hours. This means if you keep your parking lot lights on for eight hours a day, your LED lights will last 17 years compared to less than a year with incandescent bulbs.
Not only will you save on bulb cost, but you will also save on energy usage. Check out this LED savings calculator which compares the energy usage of two bulbs over time. While one bulb might only save you $100 over its life, your business can save thousands when you combine all of the bulbs in your parking lot.
At Creative Sign Designs, we have seen this savings in action. We redesigned the parking lot lighting for Gator Ford along the I-4 corridor in Seffner, Florida. The company saved 10% each month on energy costs by switching to LED lighting and noticed a return on investment from the project within two years. That’s the power of choosing the right bulb.
2. Focus on Light Quality, Not Quantity
One of the biggest challenges with parking lot lighting is spacing. If you set up too many lights, you will have to pay to install the fixtures, replace the bulbs, and cover the electricity. However, if your lighting is too sparse then your business won’t be noticed or it will be actively avoided.
Once again, this is where LED lighting is useful. LED bulbs are significantly brighter than others on the market. Your company can save money by buying fewer bulbs while still creating a bright, safe environment.
Using the Gator Ford example again, we were able to eliminate half of their pole-mounted light fixtures, dropping them from 214 to 107. With LED lights, the space didn’t need the extra bulbs. Not only did the company save on bulbs and fixtures, but it also dropped its electricity costs.
3. Use Lighting to Improve Customer Wayfinding
If your customers are confused about how to get to your business and find parking, then you are creating a bad experience for them. Furthermore, confused or distracted drivers are more likely to get into accidents because they miss signage or are trying to navigate an unknown area.
You can use parking lot lighting to brighten up your business, but also as a form of wayfinding.
Consider the lighting we installed at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, Florida. The theatre is located in a busy downtown area and attracts thousands of guests (oftentimes tourists and first-time visitors) each year. Without the right lighting, attendees could create a traffic jam right in that area.
We create rows of lit-up pylons to guide visitors down the road and find the parking they need. The pylons used uplighting with an LED placed on the ground pointing upward, illuminating each pylon. This was an affordable way to guide visitors to the theatre so they could find the parking they needed.
4. Use Lighting For Employee & Customer Safety
Bright parking lot lights and wayfinding uplighting help your business stand out and guide visitors to the right location — and they come with the added benefit of increasing safety.
A brightly lit parking lot and walkway make it safer for customers and guests walking to and from your business. They can clearly see walkways, and lighting can also accent stairs and ramps, making guests less likely to trip and fall.
The right lighting can also keep your staff safe. While they might not need lighting to help them navigate your property, employees do need bright lights to make them feel secure coming and going from work. Bright parking lot lighting helps protect your employees as they park and enter or leave your building.
5. Consider Other Lighting Elements on Your Building
Most customers won’t consciously pay attention to your parking lot lighting. Instead, they will focus on the overall exterior lighting and signage of your building. Consider your entire exterior lighting choices when adjusting your parking lot lighting.
Consider the Glazer Children’s Museum in Tampa, Florida. At night, the museum’s logo is lit up bright, attracting the eyes of both children and parents behind the wheel. However, along with the logo, there is uplighting along the line of palm trees and other bright lights illuminating the walls of the building. These lights make the pedestrian areas and parking garages around the museum seem brighter as well, attracting more visitors to this interesting place.
Even the brightest parking lot in the world won’t attract customers if the building is poorly lit and dingy.
6. Keep Your Lighting Clean
Some business owners install beautiful LED fixtures and impressive exterior signage but never maintain them. As long as the lights turn on, they don’t think there is anything that needs to be done. Your signage, your lighting, and your building all need to be clean if you expect your customers to patronize your business.
Consider scheduling bi-annual appointments to pressure wash your building. This will keep it looking clean and new. You should also find ways to keep your lighting and signage clear. Some lights won’t be able to withstand a pressure washer, but they still need to be cleaned or hosed down on a regular basis. You will also want to make sure bugs and other creatures don’t take over your lights and signs, creating a sense of abandonment.
You take pride in how your business is run. This pride should extend to your parking lot lighting, business signage, wayfinding, and any other exterior elements that you have control over.
Let Us Improve Your Parking Lot Lighting
If you want to make your parking lot lighting more energy-efficient without losing the brightness that helps you send the right messages to customers, contact Creative Sign Designs. We’re happy to answer any questions and provide a consultation on how we can help you improve your parking lot lighting without expanding your electric bills.