Parking Lot Lighting Design: What You Need to Know About Lighting Distribution Patterns

Parking Lot Lighting & Lighting Distribution Patterns

By choosing the right mounting height, number of lights, pole placement, and beam angles, you can design a layout for your parking lot that provides optimum light coverage. Using LED technology makes it easier than ever to control where light will go, at a fraction of the energy costs.

Before entering the design stage for your parking lot lighting, we recommend first researching if the area your company is in has maximum mounting height allowances. This information is typically made available to commercial property owners, and it should be taken into consideration. With this information in mind, we can then move on to deciding the best mounting height.

How Do you Determine the Best Mounting Height?

Mounting heights for parking lot lighting can range from 12 ft. to 20 ft. but in some cases can reach as high as 35 ft. The size of your parking lot will be used to determine the recommended height of your poles; larger areas are better suited to higher poles and vice-versa.

Another aspect to take into consideration is if your area is densely populated or rural. Wherever your business is, you will want to limit the amount of light that extends past your property. If your lot neighbors many other properties, it will necessitate shorter poles, to ensure that glare doesn’t become an issue. Meanwhile, in rural areas, you will be able to have taller poles.

How Far Apart Should the Poles be?

Once mounting height is determined, you can then decide on the spacing of your fixtures. A rule of thumb to go by: The higher your mounting height is, the fewer poles you will need.

Continuing the previous example, in the more densely populated area, you should have more poles closer together, while in the rural area, you will have fewer poles farther apart.

What are the Different Beam Angles, and Which Should I Choose?

The final detail to consider for the best light distribution is beam angle. While your specific application and lighting environment may cause variations in luminaire distribution pattern, we can still give a general prediction on what the distribution will look like.

At ELEDLights, we typically offer Type III, Type IV, and/or Type V beam types to accommodate your site lighting requirements.

Parking lot lighting beam angles

Type III Beam

The type III distribution throws light forward and to the sides, producing a filling light flow. It is a good choice for general parking areas, being suitable for either perimeter lighting or being installed back to back on more central pole locations.

Type III light distributions have a preferred lateral width of 40 degrees. This distribution is best for luminaires mounted at or near areas where the width of the area does not exceed 2.75 times the mounting height.

Type IV Beam

The type IV distribution produces a semicircle of forward light, with minimal back lighting. This beam type has the same intensity at all angles from 90° to 270°. It is best for illuminating the perimeter of parking areas and businesses.

Type IV light distributions have a preferred lateral width of 60 degrees. This distribution is generally used on wide roadways where the roadway width does not exceed 3.7 times the mounting height.

Type V Beam

Type V produces a square umbrella lighting pattern for interior pole locations. This distribution has the same intensity at all angles and the symmetry of candlepower, which is essentially the same at all lateral angles.

It is perfect for areas where evenly distributed light is necessary, such as large, commercial parking lots.

Interested in Lighting Design Help?

ELEDLIGHTS has an on-staff team of lighting professionals who can complete photometric layouts for architectural planning and construction approvals. You can see an example of how the variables discussed in this blog will affect how the lighting in your parking lot appears.

Parking lot lighting layout 1 Parking lot lighting layout 2

Our team assists businesses of all types and sizes through all phases of lighting projects. So, no matter what point your lighting project is at, we can still give you any assistance you need.

To get started with a custom layout of your parking lot lighting design, call or email ELEDLIGHTS today at 215.355.7200 or

Ready to upgrade or outfit your parking lot? Shop our selection LED retrofits and fixtures for parking lot lighting.