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Exterior Lighting Evaluations and Analysis

Assisting You in Developing and Implementing a Comprehensive Security Strategy

Exterior Lighting Evaluations and Analysis


Upgrading the outdoor lighting to provide an optimally secure environment is a great idea if you built your facility more than a decade ago. The designers likely ignored parking lot and outdoor area lighting because contractors installed it for aesthetic rather than safety and security reasons.

Security administrators must annually evaluate the exterior lighting of the structures under their jurisdiction. Furthermore, adequate outdoor lighting is required to protect parking lots and other public areas. Courts have cited inadequate exterior lighting as a primary factor in numerous lawsuits alleging that the facility’s owner didn’t provide a safe environment.

Factors to Keep in Mind

Lighting system design is a highly technical science that requires years of practice to master. While most security managers are unlikely to become lighting experts, there are a few lighting design fundamentals that every security manager should know. Understanding these fundamentals will allow the security manager to accurately assess the lighting system in use at their facility.

There are five critical factors to consider when evaluating a lighting system.

Lighting Intensity

How bright is the light?


Lighting Uniformity

How consistent is the light level throughout the lighted area from one location to the next?


Lighting Color

How accurately does the lighting render colors?


Lighting Efficiency

How much light does the lighting system produce per watt of electricity?


Lamp Life

How long do lamps last before they need to be replaced?


The first step in assessing an existing lighting system is identifying the types of lamps used. This information answers questions about the lighting system, such as which types of lights to use and how many to use, where to place them, and more. For example, contractors often use mercury vapor, low-pressure sodium, high-pressure sodium, and metal halide in outdoor parking lot lighting systems. Next, we ask about the types of lamps used by the maintenance employee or lighting contractor who maintains your facility’s lighting system.

The second step in evaluating an existing lighting system is to conduct a comprehensive survey of the illuminated area to determine the current light levels. Footcandles (fc) and lux, the metric equivalent, are used to measure light levels (lx). A suitable light level meter must range between 0.1 and 25 fc. If the light levels are not optimal, the system may need to be updated or replaced.


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