Construction Corner

Construction Corner is a Q&A column committed to answering reader-submitted questions regarding construction and development. Inquiries may be sent to [email protected]

Q. What kind of lighting control would you suggest that would be energy efficient?
Josh in Hillsboro, Ore .

A. Lighting is a great way to secure your facility and add convenience for tenants. To keep energy costs down, consider using motion detectors in hallways and elevator lobbies. This will make tenants feel safe and give them a well-lit area to access their units 24 hours a day.

Try to avoid wall timers in units and interior hallways; often it is hard for tenants to find the knobs and leaves the possibility for accidents during the times when lights are off. They also have the unfortunate habit of turning off at the least convenient time, like when your arms are full of boxes.

Outside lighting should be on a photocell (an electronic eye that turns on lighting when it becomes dark). The benefit this method has over a timer is no one has to remember to change the clock for Daylight Savings Time. It also ensures the lights always come on in minimal-light situations, such as rainy or cloudy days.

Q. Our company recently ordered access keypads for two of our sites and will be installing them next month. We live in a lightning-prone area and would like to take all steps available to safeguard our access system. What would you suggest?
Allison in Baton Rouge, La.

A. I am glad to hear you are thinking of this prior to installation. Your access-system supplier should have surge-suppression products available for your keypads. Another step for prevention would be to have your installer or electrician install a copper grounding rod at each outside keypad.

Here is an example of a grounding-rod installation: Drive a 1/2-inch-by-10-foot or 5/8-inch-by-8-foot Copperweld grounding rod vertically into the earth so only the top 6 inches to 8 inches protrudes above ground level. Near the top of the rod, securely attach a two-piece bronze ground clamp. Place the grounding rod so a No. 12 solid-copper wire will travel less than 8 feet from the clamp to your keypad.

Keep in mind there is no 100 percent prevention against lightning, but taking these stepsas well as any others your supplier offerscould greatly reduce costs and downtime due to lightning.

Tony Gardner is a licensed contractor and installation manager for QuikStor, a provider of self-storage security and software since 1987. For more information, visit

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