When it comes to commercial and industrial lighting, there are no other light fixtures more synonymous to them than LED high bays. In fact, for any large indoor space that requires ample lighting, high bays are generally the primary source of light. LED high bays are widely known to provide reliable and long-lasting ambient lighting to commercial spaces, and with the continuous advancements in technology, their performance just keeps getting better.

Commercial lighting is reliant on high-performance fixtures that deliver on both quantity and quality. As much as the amount of light is important, the quality and efficiency also play major factors. For owners of warehouses, gymnasiums, factories, airports, and manufacturing facilities, they know the cost of lighting up huge spaces. It is important for them to reduce their cost without sacrificing productivity.

For years, industrial users depended on high bays with metal halide (MH) and high pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs to light up their facilities. Soon, they realized that metal halide and HPS bulbs are not the best choices to use with high bays. They produce too much heat, have short lifespans, and cost a lot to maintain. Then they switched to fluorescent high bays, which are cheaper and offer improved performance.

Over the past years and with the help of technology, high bays have progressed to be more energy efficient. LED technology is now the standard in lighting for commercial and industrial applications. LED high bays provide improved energy efficiency and a myriad of other benefits in a lot of aspects.

What are the advantages of LED high bays?

LED high bay lights build upon the performance of traditional light sources like metal halide, high pressure sodium, and fluorescent. LEDs have easily surpassed the capabilities of all three and brought new benefits along the way.

  1. Improved overall light quality - To measure the quality of light, you need to look into the color rendering index (CRI) value. The higher the value is, the more accurate or "closer" the colors are compared to when viewing them under natural light. LED high bays also offer a variety of color temperatures to choose from, starting from a warm glow to a cool light. They also have better footcandle values, which measure how much light from the fixture hits the surface below it.
  2. Better energy efficiency - As mentioned earlier, traditional bulbs produce too much heat and most of the energy is wasted on this. LED high bays avoid this problem and channel the energy towards the light, therefore consuming less wattage and increasing the lifespan. LED high bay lights are also directional fixtures, which mean that light is directed downward instead of in a 360-degree angle. This eliminates wasted light that is pointing upwards or sideways. With LED, the electricity consumed is used efficiently and light is directed only to where it is needed.
  3. Lower maintenance costs - LED high bays have the LED chips embedded directly on the fixture. Gone are the days of changing light bulbs often when they break or burn out and replacing them with new ones. The LEDs themselves have exceptionally long lifespans of up to 100,000 hours, which means there is very little time and money spent on maintenance. You don't have to pay anyone or hire equipment to clean or replace the fixtures.

Now that you know the benefits and advantages of LED high bays over traditional fixtures, it's time to learn about their different types and how each one can be used for different applications.

What are the types of LED high bays?

LED high bays are available in different shapes and sizes, each focusing on a specific function or application. The type of high bay you choose will depend on where and how you will use it. Whether you have a large warehouse or small mechanic shop, there is a high bay suitable for your lighting needs.

UFO LED High Bays

The first type is the UFO high bay, which is named for its round, saucer-like shape. UFO high bays are the closest in form and function to traditional metal halide and HPS high bays. They are usually equipped with a hook for mounting, although pendant is also an option for these round high bays.

Unlike traditional round high bays that are omnidirectional and have a lot of uplight, UFO LED high bays direct the light downward without the need for reflectors. They provide a broad circular beam for widespread illumination. You also get a low profile and compact design, plus durability and ease of installation. UFO high bays are the dominant choice for large, open areas with high ceilings like gymnasiums, warehouses, airports, and sports arenas.

Linear LED High Bays

The second type is the linear LED high bay, which is designed to replace the fluorescent high bay. When users realized metal halide and HPS bulbs were costing them too much money, they switched to fluorescent T5HO, T8, and T12 bulbs as a more efficient alternative. Linear LED high bays are now the next generation and can provide even better efficiency than fluorescent bulbs.

Linear high bays come in 2 feet, 4 feet, and 8 feet lengths. They can be mounted a variety of ways: v-hook, pendant, chain, or junction box. Linear LED high bays are ideal for areas that require rectangular or elongated illumination, like aisles, shelves, passageways, and assembly areas. Use them for wholesale retail stores, storage facilities, fitness centers, and warehouses.

Vapor Tight LED High Bays

Another type of high bay is the vapor tight LED high bay fixture. These are specialty high bay lights that are designed for wet locations that see a lot of dust and water exposure. Vapor tight high bays are sealed and gasketed to protect internal components and withstand powerful water jets and washdowns. They typically feature at least an IP66 or IP67 rating to guarantee wet location capabilities. LED high bay vapor tight fixtures are ideal for car washes, parking garages.

You can also use wet location high bays in industrial kitchens, food processing, and pharmaceutical plants if they have an NSF certification. For hazardous locations like manufacturing plants and oil refineries, you need a Class 1, Division 2 certification.

Now that you know what types of LED high bay fixtures there are, you need to learn more about what's in a high bay and how they work. LED high bays come with a lot of features that guide you in choosing the right one.

How to choose LED high bays

Choosing the right LED high bay light is a combination of a lot of factors. You need to consider the basic functions and technical information, plus any other additional features that are present. With hundreds of choices out there, it might seem like a tricky task, but it's really not that hard if you know what to look for.

What high bay wattage should I pick?

High bays come with a lot of different wattages to match high pressure sodium and metal halide bulbs. Wattage used to be the primary measure of the power or output of a light fixture. In the early days of LED, it was more straightforward to replace old HPS or MH bulbs by comparing their wattages directly. There used to be a one-to-one equivalent from metal halide to LED wattage so it's easier to do a replacement.

  • 100W MH/HPS = 50W LED
  • 175W MH/HPS = 70W LED
  • 250W MH/HPS = 100W LED
  • 400W MH/HPS = 150W LED
  • 750W MH/HPS = 200W LED
  • 1000W MH/HPS = 350W LED

However, the constant upgrades to LED chip performance eventually made the light fixtures more energy efficient, which meant that the same wattages can now produce more light. Now you cannot rely only on the wattage to choose your replacement. Some manufacturers come up with better performing high bays that produce high output with just low wattage. From then on, the light output, or lumens, has become the standard of comparison for LED fixtures.

Comparing high bay lumen output

Lumens is the term used for the amount of light output of an LED light fixture. When it comes to LED high bays, lumen output is the primary point of comparison when replacing traditional high bays. The advancements to LED technology made it possible for manufacturers to constantly improve the energy efficiency of light fixtures.

When looking to replace your old fixtures, look for LED high bays with high efficacy rating. Efficacy is the ratio of the lumens produced per wattage by a light fixture. The higher the efficacy, the more amount of light you get for the energy consumed. This means your LED high bay is more efficient in terms of energy consumption, which in turn translates into cost savings for yourself.

High bay color temperatures and CRI

One feature of LED lighting is the variety of color temperatures that you can choose from. The color temperature describes how warm (yellow) or cool (blue) the light is. Values on the lower end (<3000K) are more yellow, middle (3000K - 4000K) are neutral, and those in the higher end (4000K<) are more blue.

For commercial and industrial applications, LED fixtures like high bays typically range in the 4000K and above range. Cool white illumination provides bright ambient light perfect for task lighting and promotes attentiveness and productivity.

Another thing to look at when choosing LED high bays is the color rendering index or CRI. The CRI measures the quality of the light and how close or accurate it is to natural light when it comes to showing colors. 90+ CRI is the gold standard when it comes to LED lighting, but for industrial fixtures 70+ should be enough.

LED high bays with motion sensor

A huge warehouse or gymnasium isn't always busy or filled with people. There are times that the light level does not need to be turned on to full brightness or at all. You only need it to be activated when there are people present or tasks being done. For cases like these, motion sensors are the ideal solution to manage light levels efficiently.

LED high bays with motion sensors allow you to automatically turn the fixture on and off. This lessens the dependence on manual controls to turn the fixture off when there are no occupants in the space. The sensor will activate the light when someone passes by, and then turn it off after a period of time when no more motion is detected. You can choose between microwave and passive infrared (PIR) sensors, since they work well with large indoor spaces.

Another way that motion sensors help is by automatically adjusting the lumen output of the fixture. By sensing motion or the presence of ambient light, the motion sensor can control how much light the fixture produces. For example, for warehouses that have sunroofs, the sensor will dim down the high bay during the day when there is enough light coming from outside. Also, for storage facilities with aisles and hallways, the LED high bay can be at 50% power by default and then adjust to full brightness when someone passes by.

In order for these features to work, your LED high bay needs to be installed with a 0-10V dimmable driver. Check with your electrician if your LED high bay is compatible with these controls.

Where to Buy the Best LED High Bays?

Here at Bees Lighting we carry only the best models from the leading brands of commercial and industrial lighting. Shop for the top LED high bays from Lithonia Lighting, Cree Lighting, RAB Lighting, Keystone Technologies, ILP, and Nuvo Lighting. From UFO high bays to linear high bays, browse our huge selection to find the prefect light fixture for your warehouse or shop. Get the lowest prices and free shipping on LED high bays all day when you shop online.

Buyer's Guide To LED High Bay Lights

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