Parking Garage Safety: Determining the Right Lighting

With parking garages, lighting is one of the most critical components of safety and security. When designing a new parking garage or retrofitting an existing one, it’s important to provide the right amount of lighting not only for the entrance and interior but also for the stairwells, top deck, and exterior.

Considering lighting levels based on time of day is important, along with understanding that one light level throughout the day may not be the right solution. Upgrading your lighting system will increase parking garage safety and reduce overall energy consumption.

Lighting Different Areas of a Parking Garage


The interior of a parking garage isn’t like an open office space – aiming for one light level throughout the space isn’t the best approach. The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) recommends a low light level for general parking areas, higher light levels for ramps, and even higher for entrances. It’s also advised that ramps and entrances should have higher light levels during daylight hours to help the eye adapt.

The same thing is true for nighttime hours. In these areas, incorporating intelligent fixtures is an excellent idea as they can adjust light levels depending on the time of day. For this reason, wireless controls are a perfect solution because there is no need to run additional wires as everything is integrated into the fixture. Light levels can be adjusted based on the location of the fixture, and it can also dim up or down based on occupancy.

The IES also suggests lighting uniformity to ensure safe pedestrian and vehicle interaction. Since each wireless-controlled fixture is embedded with a daylight sensor, the light level can automatically be adjusted for natural daylight. These factors provide the owner with a large amount of energy savings while still meeting the safety requirements.


Stairwell lighting is another critical area within a parking garage due to trip and fall hazards. Life safety standards do not allow stairwells to be dark even when unoccupied – for this reason, most stairwell lighting is on 24/7. There is a tremendous opportunity for cost savings when upgrading to LED fixtures with wireless controls. Fixtures are specifically designed for stairwells as they are meant to dim down when there is no one in the space and come to full brightness when the space is occupied.

Xi-Fi technology enables communications between fixtures regardless of structure design – ideal for garage applications that typically have dense concrete structures.

Top Deck

The top deck in many parking garages is exposed to the outdoor elements making it difficult to light due to neighboring buildings and dark sky requirements. In many cases, poles are used for this purpose. However, tall poles can be a hindrance to service trucks causing difficulties navigating through the garage to get to the top deck. Several top-deck lighting solutions are available ranging from new area lights to floods to wall packs. Conversely, in retrofit situations, the simplest thing is to move to an HID replacement lamp.


Parking garage exteriors can be challenging to light because of city design requirements that must be met. In some cases, new floods or wall packs will do the trick, but in other times finding decorative exterior fixtures can be expensive. A great solution is the HID replacement lamp, which offers several options that can replace up to 600 Watt HID. By adding outdoor smart lighting with LED’s, you can control the levels of lighting and alert officials when a light is out to maintain safety and security.

Ensuring Safety and Security

Providing the proper lighting is essential to the safety and security of parking garages, including the entrance, interior, stairwells, top deck, and exterior. We recommend exploring the wide selection of lighting options in order to maximize your efficiency in spending and energy consumption. Utilizing LED light fixtures and Xi-Fi technology will ensure the safety and security of both pedestrians and vehicles in parking garages.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of EiKO. They do not necessarily represent Wesco's views.