The right lights for parking garages

Monday, September 9, 2013

What is the most energy-efficient lighting for a condominium parking garage?

As most lighting fixtures in condominium parking garages are in operation 24-7, there is the potential for significant energy savings. Unfortunately, though, there is no one perfect lighting solution for all garages. The best lighting solution will be site-specific. For example, it will depend on the existing type and number of fixtures.

If a garage currently has T12 fluorescent lighting or high pressure sodium (HPS) fixtures, a lighting retrofit is worth considering. While these fixtures were “state-of-the-art” in their day, both types of lighting fixtures consume a huge amount of electricity and have been eclipsed by newer, more energy-efficient lighting technologies – most notably, T8 fluorescents and LEDs.

T8 lighting is not the trendiest technology but it’s both an energy-efficient and cost-effective option. Along with excellent lumens output, T8 lamps have a relatively long life span, averaging approximately 30,000 hours or 3.5 years. With a T8 lighting retrofit, most condominiums will have a quick payback period and qualify for electrical incentive rebates.

With improvements in LED technology, this type of lighting has quickly become a popular option for many condominiums. Although they can be expensive, LEDs consume a fraction of the energy compared to other lighting technologies and have a long life span – typically between 30,000 and 50,000 hours. However, not all LEDs are created equal. Depending on the type of fixture, some LEDs have a very low lumens output and limited beam angles (the area the light fixture can illuminate). With the flood of poor quality LEDs on the market, many incentive providers (including the Ontario Power Authority’s SaveOnEnergy program) now require all LED products be Energy Star rated to qualify for a rebate.

Jennifer Young is a LEED green associate and the sales and marketing coordinator at Provident Energy Management Inc. She can be reached at

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