Mall parking lot lighting represents a critical component of high retail sales volume. Not only must it provide shoppers with safety, it must also provide optimal visibility. Color rendering should be as close to daylight levels in order to showcase storefront decorations, outdoor displays, and landscaping features that create an aesthetically pleasing environment throughout the general grounds surrounding the mall itself.
Metal Halide lamps provide the best lighting source for mall parking lots due to their high CRI and their bright white light. When housed in superior, specification grade fixtures, they are also excellent for controlling glare. This is another crucial factor to mall parking lot lighting that warrants careful design and purchasing choices. Parking lots around malls experience a high volume of pedestrian traffic, and vehicle traffic tends to increase as closing time approaches. It is necessary to provide a clear horizontal foot-candle density for pedestrians to clearly see the ground. Likewise, vertical foot-candles in mall parking lots are also just as important, allowing motorists to judge distances between themselves, other vehicles, lighting poles, outdoor structures, and moving pedestrians.
Generally speaking, the higher the pole, the greater the area its luminaires are able to light. Provided the poles do not exceed local length limits established by dark sky laws, steel or concrete lighting poles of up to 50 feet in height can provide excellent site lighting for mall parking lots and driveways. It is almost always better to use cut off luminaires that are made with tempered glass and optical systems with specular facet reflectors. This creates a more diffused, but nonetheless bright, field of luminance that directs evenly toward the ground with minimal light spillage or glare, and it works toward balancing vertical and horizontal foot candle levels for optimal visibility and safety.
Unfortunately in a recession, retail often takes the hardest hit because people simply spend less money. One way to propose new parking lot lights to a struggling mall is to point out that an upgraded facility will not only add a new, visual appeal that will act as a draw, but it will almost always require fewer poles and fixtures than the previous system required. New advances in lamping, luminaire optics, and ballast technology allow fewer lamps to operate at a higher per lumens watt ratio. This will greatly benefit your clients by helping them remain in compliance with increasingly strict regulatory codes and dark sky laws that are intended to not only cut back on power consumption, but create a more self-contained field of illumination that will not blind the eyes of passing motorists or spill into the windows of neighboring houses.
Specification grade luminaires of this sort help maximize lumens per watt efficiency and help retailers weather the recession with more affordable lighting and power costs. In many cases, specification grade lighting fixtures for mall parking lots can improve energy efficiency as much as 300 percent. The initial front end investment in new parking lot lights and poles will help malls immediately begin saving money. This is extremely important to cities such as Houston, TX, where new energy codes will soon go into effect that limit outdoor site lighting around malls and parking lots to .15 watts per square foot. Only with the very best halogen fixtures can contractors hope to balance the mandates of code compliance with the obvious necessities of adequate light levels, color rendering, and glare minimization.
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