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Safety, convenience… and marketing – principles of gas station lighting

December 6, 2022  By Staff



December 6, 2022 – During the light of day, one could be forgiven for thinking one gas station looks the same as another (corporate branding aside, that is).

It’s at night, however, when a gas station with a well-designed and properly executed lighting scheme really shines. It can make all the difference when a driver is deciding where to pull in for gas, and maybe pick up a drink and some snacks.

Gas station lighting design should consider the following areas:

• Canopy lighting
• Convenience store lighting
• Auxiliary area lighting (vacuum station, BBQ tank exchange, etc.)
• Sign lighting
• Outdoor lighting

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For all of these areas, the lighting should serve the employees who work there, and ensure a satisfying customer experience—or the promise of a good experience—from a distance. In essence, it’s a combination of both functional lighting, supplemented by decorative lighting.

Bright and easily recognizable signage—especially at a distance—helps establish both a sense of security and trust, thereby attracting customers to one gas station over another. Of course, this also strengthens the gas station’s brand, ensuring customers will seek out that brand for future visits.

Tips and tricks

One should consider several important elements with regard to lighting a gas station.

Ensure the overall lighting provides proper horizontal and vertical illuminance. Good horizontal illuminance helps ensure a safer driver experience, while good vertical illuminance helps aid refuelling operations. The lighting should be pleasant, evenly distributed, and avoid creating distracting glare.

Ultimately, the right lighting atmosphere means vehicles can enter and exit without glare, signage is clear and easy to follow, and activities such as refuelling, wiper fluid top-up, payment, etc., are easily executed.

The gas station canopy demands high-quality lighting so that drivers can clearly see fuel information when entering the gas station, avoid obstacles, and enter/exit safely. Rather than lighting that only focuses light on the ground, consider solutions that also help light vertical surfaces (e.g. sides of the vehicle, other vehicles and people).

The light should not interfere with digital screens on the pumps.

Convenience store lighting

The lighting in the gas station’s convenience store serves double-duty: besides providing required illumination, it serves to stimulate the consumer’s desire to buy and to make it easy for them to do so.

Lighting in the shopping area should employ bright lighting to make the customer feel comfortable and safe, establishing the notion that this is a good place to spend some time and buy a few things.

The lighting on the shelves, coffee station, etc., typically adopt warm colours, which makes them stand out from the overall illumination scheme and appear more inviting.

For the cashier area, a warm light is also suggested, as this creates a welcoming atmosphere for customers when they engage with staff.

Also a hazardous location

Don’t forget that a gas station is also classified as a hazardous location (to varying degrees, depending on the area). In looking at CSA Group’s notes about North America’s transition from the Class/Division system to the 3-Zone system for hazardous locations, you can see how a simple gas station easily includes all three zones:

• Zone 0 – An area in which an explosive gas atmosphere is continuously present for a long period of time.
• Zone 1 – An area in which an explosive atmosphere is likely to occur in normal operation.
• Zone 2 – An area in which an explosive gas atmosphere does not normally exist.

So while good lighting is crucial for practicality and safety, it could also inadvertently become an ignition source if not specified correctly. This is why it is so important to ensure the hazardous locations are properly classified, and that the fixtures specified and purchased meet those location requirements.


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— With files from Tachyon Lighting, NJZ Lighting, CSA Group


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