A1 Energy

Your Guide to Exterior Commercial Lighting in 2021 and Beyond

04.16.21 04:17 PM By Jon
exterior commercial lighting

If we think about why we have exterior commercial lighting, two things come to mind: Safety and accessibility.


But lighting your property today is not the same as it was a few decades ago—or even a few years back. There are new standards and considerations being prioritized, and industrial facilities need to stay up to date before making any upgrades to their outdoor lighting.

What to Know About Exterior Commercial Lighting in 2021

Today, exterior lighting of any kind must be:

  • Efficient and sustainable
  • Inviting and comfortable
  • Safe and secure

That's where the industry is headed beyond 2021. As a commercial or industrial business, there's no more ad-hoc innovating. A holistic retrofit (focusing on dark-sky friendliness, LED lighting, security, and more) is the way to go for a long-lasting lighting system that serves your needs.

What Does It Mean to Be Dark-Sky Friendly?

At least 80% of the world's population experiences light pollution, or the brightening of the night-sky from man-made lights. In coastal cities, that brightness often causes light to hit the seafloor. Light pollution can disrupt communities and ecosystems alike.


Lighting that is dark-sky friendly drastically reduces the fixtures' contribution to light pollution. So what does it mean to have LED area lights that are dark-sky friendly?


According to International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), lighting should:

  • Only be on when needed
  • Only light the necessary area
  • Keep brightness at the minimum for visibility
  • Keep blue lights off whenever possible
  • Be shielded by sides and pointing downwards

LED area lights
Image source: Lamps Plus

IDA offers a fixture seal of approval program, which helps commercial business owners find approved lighting that reduces skyglow and glare. 

For Commercial Businesses, LED is the Way to Go

You could have old and inefficient lights in your exterior commercial lighting setup, but what's the point? LED area lights are a sustainable, durable solution for businesses, especially those who require a robust exterior lighting system.


Modern LED lighting benefits businesses in a few ways. Most notably, they're highly durable, effective for directional lighting, and much more efficient than the alternatives.


Comparatively, non-LED lights like metal halide or high-pressure sodium lamps have a lower up-front cost than their LED counterparts. But down the line, LED lights actually save you money because of their efficiency. It's an investment that will come full circle in the long-term, which can be hugely beneficial for established and budding companies alike.


Plus, non-LED lighting tends to emit more heat. High-pressure sodium lamps in particular lose about 15% of their heat to emissions, which has to do with their omnidirectional lighting. In addition to taking up more energy, this can be dangerous for a warming climate. The global temperature has increased 2.1 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, with 19 of the warmest years occurring since 2000. It can also be problematic for states prone to wildfires, like Texas, California, and Colorado.


In short, LED area lights just make sense, especially for commercial and industrial businesses.


How to Choose the Best Color Temperature for Your Outdoor LED Lighting

Color temperature is a major consideration in exterior commercial lighting. You can find out precisely how cool or warm a light is by its degrees Kelvin (K). This measurement is a lot more accurate than simply referring to the words "cool" or "warm" on a package.


For any exterior lighting that is simply for display, you can go with 3,000K. This is considered a warm white light. However, any lighting required for security and functional visibility may require a higher rating. You just don't want the lighting too bright or it becomes difficult for people to see. 


Lights between 5,000–6,000K will deliver the highest contrast for the eyes. This is good for in-person visibility as well as security camera visibility. 


Check with a lighting consultant for an expert opinion on exterior commercial lighting color temperatures. 

The Best Exterior Lighting Solution for Security Purposes

In addition to setting up lights that are 5,000– 6,000K for optimum visual contrast, there are a few other considerations to keep in mind for your exterior lighting:

  • Consider motion sensors.  These can help with efficiency and dark-sky friendliness while also keeping things secure on your property.
  • Consider investing in a holistic audio visual (AV) integrator system.  Your lighting could work in tandem with an IoT system and other components to contribute to a well-rounded and innovative commercial ground.
  • Work with an LED lighting consultant to figure out the best mix of lighting fixtures for your property.  There are floodlights, canopy lights, post-tops, wall packs, parking lot lights, and more.  Your business layout and functionality is unique, so you shouldn't rely on a template for this one. 

Checklist:  Prepping for Your Exterior Commercial Lighting Installation

    1. Take stock of your property.  How many acres? What kind of lights do you have now? How many?
    2. Define your goals. More Security? More accessibility for disabled individuals?
    3. Contact a consultant to get a bespoke lighting plan designed specifically for your site and goals.
    4. Agree on types of LEDs you'll use and what color temperature.
    5. Invest in a solution that will reap rewards for the long term, and come up with a financing solution or payment plan if need be. 

An Outdoor LED Lighting Retrofit in Action

The Manheim Auto Auction in Manheim, Pennsylvania (home base for A1 Energy) is the largest auto auction in the world.


The auto auction sits on a 500-acre plot of land and has 42,000 vehicle spots. A1 Energy was able to install more than 6,100 lightbulbs and fixtures, working around sale days for the auction's convenience.


"It's not always daylight so we have to make sure that every square foot of this lot has enough coverage to make it safe." - Kevin Gantz, Assistant GM at Manheim Auto Auction


Because of the massive site, A1 Energy had the opportunity to help the auto auction achieve great energy savings. By retrofitting the property with various types of commercial-industrial applications, the auction was able to realize a large kWh savings. This translated into them receiving a rebate of more than $300,000 from PPL, their local electric utility.


This shows how important an exterior commercial lighting system can be in helping you achieve your business goals—whatever they may be.


For more information on exterior commercial lighting and LED lighting retrofits, contact A1 Energy today.