Feb 28, 2022

Poles carry more accessories than ever today. The lighting design must account for all of these “wind sails.”

By Chip Israel, Fellow IALD, LC, LEED AP, Fellow IES, Lighting Design Alliance

It is great to see all of the latest projects published in LD+A and other trade magazines. I can’t help to notice that there seems to be more exterior site projects. For these spaces, safety is a high priority. Site lighting poles have become the mounting magnet for all things ugly. This can include everything from street signs, to speakers, banners and enormous WiFi hardware—all of which not only add weight, but mass, which can affect the EPA or wind loading. As a result, these “wind sails” need to be incorporated into the design of the poles and the structural footings.

Tools of the Trade: Site and Street Lighting
Providing a mounting location for a WiFi element is just one job for a pole and fixture head.
Photo: Courtesy of Ubicquia
  1. A discreet, pole-mounted floodlight is an effective way to illuminate a local landmark’s façade or a pedestrian plaza. So how can one plan for poles without a band or strap added to the pole? Ideally, planning for flexibility or “future-proofing” is encouraged. Several pole manufactures also provide vertical mounting groves, slots or attachment points in their products.
  2. A pole-mounted floodlight may require two items: a structural attachment to the pole, and a wiring access, assuming that the wires are not internal to the knuckles. Most contractors that I have asked like a pre-mounted stud that the floodlights bolt to. This means that the location and the orientation of the floodlights must be predetermined so that the floodlight can be aimed in the desired orientation.
  3. What about the wires? Historically this meant a power cable, but now it could include control wires, either for dimming or for dynamic control. Poles act as a giant conduit, but most people forget you need to access the wires. Yes, you can fish wire through a pole, but it is very difficult to exit them through small penetrations. If you add a recessed handhole at the top (where the floodlight would be positioned) and the bottom, your electrician will greatly appreciate it. When the wires exit, we recommend a strain-relief fitting and add a drip loop to your wires to minimize water intrusions. Please see the detail (Figure 1) for one possible solution.
  4. This same future-proofing has been adopted by the street lighting industry. Most luminaires now are offered with a 7-pin receptacle on top of the fixture head. Historically, this was for a 3-pin photocell, but the extra connectors mean that future “smart” devices can be added. So even if you don’t know what you will need now, provide a painless way to add it in the future.
Pole Accessories
Figure 1


Chip Israel

Chip Israel

Chip Israel has been a lighting designer for over 35 years. In 1992, he founded LIGHTING DESIGN ALLIANCE, a full-service architectural lighting design firm, where he built a highly-select team of lighting design professionals who now serve a variety of clients worldwide. As CEO... More info »