What Beam Angle is Best for Your Outdoor Space?

Getting the perfect lighting in your parking lot, along your walkways, around your building, or throughout other areas of your commercial property has a lot to do with how the light is directed. That largely comes down to the beam angle of your lights. But what are the different types and what will work best for your outdoor space? Let’s find out…

parking lot

For more info on topics like how far apart to place your poles and determining mounting height, check out our blog on parking lot lighting design.

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What is a Beam Angle?

Light beams are shaped like cones, being narrowest at the light source and spreading wider as they travel outward. These “light cones” come in a variety of widths, ranging from very narrow to very wide, and we describe this range in terms of “beam angles”.  Put simply, a beam angle is a measurement of the degree of the angle of the cone.

Standard Outdoor Lighting Beam Angle Options:

When discussing shoebox fixtures (such as parking lot lights and streetlights), the most common beam angles available are Type III, Type IV, and Type V. While most of our outdoor area lighting comes standard with a Type III beam angle, we can also offer Type IV and Type V distribution options to ensure the best configurations for your outdoor space.

Type III Beam

Type III light distributions have a preferred lateral width of 40 degrees. They work best when the width of the area does not exceed 2.75 times the mounting height.

type 3
  • The most versatile beam angle type
  • Throws light forward and sideways
  • Suitable for perimeter lighting
  • Suitable for back-to-back installation on interior poles
Type IV Beam

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

type 4
  • Provides a semicircle of forward-directed lighting
  • Has the same intensity at all angles from 90° to 270°
  • Produces minimal backlighting
  • Great for perimeter installations
Type V Beam

Type V distribution has the symmetry of candlepower, which is essentially the same at all lateral angles. It is ideal for areas where evenly distributed light is necessary, such as large, commercial parking lots.

type 5
  • Creates a square umbrella pattern of light
  • Has the same intensity at all angles
  • Ideal for interior (rather than perimeter) pole locations

Choosing the Best Beam Angle for Your Space

If you are ready to pick out your outdoor lighting fixtures and determine your beam angle(s), reach out to our team of lighting experts. They can help by providing layouts, running simulations, and finding the best beam angles to meet your site’s lighting requirements. Submit a quick lighting services request or contact us to get started!