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What is a 40-year certification Illumination Study?

If you are reading this blog, it’s probably because you have an interest in getting 40-year recertification completed for your property.  But then you also need to do an illumination study in addition to the 40-year inspection.  

Before I go into what an illumination study is, I must define that 40-year recertification is an inspection that an Engineer does to a property when a property is 40 years old and every 10 years thereafter.  Basically, the inspection deals with electrical and structural issues that a property may have that may be a safety issue for the property’s inhabitants. There are certain minimum items that a property must comply with including the illumination at the parking areas.

As of the writing of this blog, only properties in Dade County are required to have an illumination test 

Why do you need an illumination study?

We all know that dark areas at night can be a hazard.  There are many things that can happen in open parking lots such as car accidents, muggings, and robberies.  It is for this reason that Dade Country has required that parking lots contain a certain minimum amount of lighting.  It all comes down to a safety issue.  We all want to be safe.

Light meterWhat is an illumination study?

An illumination study is an analysis of the lighting levels at the parking areas of your property. At its most fundamental, your professional that you hire for your 40-year recertification will walk around the parking lot and measure the light levels at the different areas.  A light meter is used to measure the levels and at no time will the lighting levels be less than 1 foot-candle.  After the inspection, your professional should be able to let you know, through a written report, the areas where the lighting needs to improve.

What to do before the inspection?

There are many reasons why your lighting is at a level that is lower than those required.   But the fact remains that you should take certain steps before your professional performs the inspection. One of the main things you can do is to change the bulbs on the lighting that may have blown and are no longer working.  Another item is so cut down any branches or other vegetation that may be covering any lighting.  These 2 items are cheap, quick and easy to perform.  If the electrical current has been cut off to one of the light fixtures, it would be a great idea to get an electrician to repair it.  Once you’ve completed all the easy steps you can to bring your lighting up to snuff, then you can get your professional to do the inspection with the light meter. If you fail to take these up-front simple measures, then chances are that your inspector will do the inspection and then require you to perform the repairs and then will likely charge you for a re-inspection.

What to do to increase illumination levels in your parking area if you fail the illumination test?

You're professional that performed the inspection will be your first line of defense. They will guide you through the most feasible and economical ways to bring your parking lot to acceptable levels.  The best and most economical case is that your light fixtures can accommodate a brighter bulb and you can take care of it like that. On the other hand, the worst-case scenario is that you will need to completely re-do your lighting which will require new lamps, posts, and underground wiring.  Again, it is your profession that will guide you through the process and the possibilities.

It is important to note that this performing a lighting analysis is not as simple as it sounds. How can an engineer guarantee that by just changing the bulbs to a higher wattage will make the problem go away?  Also, how can an engineer know that by adding 20 light posts instead of only 10 posts will make the problem go away?  The answer to these questions lies in the fact that these engineers have computer programs that model the parking lot and are able to experiment with different types of lights and locations so that your entire parking lot has the correct lighting levels. Of course, this is a specialized engineering task and you will likely be charged for this service.  Again, it Is your inspection professional that will best guide you through the process.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Dade County requires that illumination studies be done in parking lots as a requirement to the 40-year recertification report.  After you make sure that the simple items are done, such as changing out non-functioning bulbs, you can call upon your professional to perform the test and ultimately rely on them to take you through the entire process as your consultant.

We here at G. Batista & Associates are engineers that have performed thousands of inspections and are ready, willing and able to help you on your 40-year recertification inspection and your illumination test.

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