buying guides to high bay lights

The increasing cost of electricity and the negative impact of greenhouse gas emissions have made many businesses to adopt energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly lighting solutions – and LED is the most popular choice.

It is no secret that LED lights have revolutionized lighting thanks to their low energy consumption, reduced maintenance, high light output, and a myriad of other excellent benefits. These lights have helped businesses, organizations, and institutions to save a lot of money on electricity and have better light in their spaces.

If you have a large indoor space that needs to be illuminated (a manufacturing facility, warehouse, factory, large department store, or a gymnasium) high bay led lights are recommended. These powerful lights provide the right amount of light for large spaces with high ceilings. The light fixtures are attached to ceilings via chains, hooks, pendants, or directly fixed to a ceiling.

Since LEDs come in various designs, it can be hard to choose the best lights for your high bay fixtures. We’ve written this post to make it easy for you to choose the best high-bay lights.

What is high bay lighting, and what applications benefit from it?

Whenever a large indoor space needs to be illuminated, high bay lighting is usually appropriate. Consider spaces like manufacturing facilities, gymnasiums, warehouses, large department stores, factories, and more; these facilities are typically vast and cover a lot of vertical as well as horizontal space. This requires powerful lighting to provide the appropriate foot-candle levels to adequately illuminate. High bay lighting fixtures typically hang from the ceiling via hooks, chains, or pendants, or they may be fixed to the ceiling directly (similar to troffer lights). The image above features high bay lighting in action.

Various industries and facilities require high bay lighting. Some of the most common are:

  • Warehouses
  • Industrial facilities
  • Manufacturing facilities
  • School and university gymnasiums
  • Municipal facilities like community centers or recreation centers
  • Commercial applications like department stores

Why choose LED high bay lights instead of metal halide, fluorescent, or other conventional high bay lights?

Historically, various lighting technologies were (and still are) used in warehouse and industrial settings when high bay lights were required. Some of the most common include metal halide (MH), high pressure sodium (HPS), and fluorescent. While each of these bulbs have their merits, industrial LED lighting outperforms its conventional counterparts in important ways. Let’s take a look at some of the various considerations when deciding whether an LED retrofit is appropriate for your warehouse or industrial space.

  • Industrial LED lighting vs metal halide high bay lights: If you’ve ever been to a ballgame, you’ve likely seen metal halide illuminating the field. MH lamps are common in sporting and warehouse/industrial uses (as well as any setting where large, high spaces need to be illuminated). Benefits of MH lights include decent color rendering and comparatively adequate foot-candle levels (as opposed to other types of conventional bulbs). Some of their major drawbacks are a long time to warm up (sometimes 15-30 minutes) and a high cost to maintain, and their failure characteristics include flickering on and off. This is in addition to the fact that much of the energy they produce is wasted as heat. Read more about LED versus Metal Halide Lights.
  • LED high bay lighting vs high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights: HPS lights are often used in warehouse, industrial, business, and recreational facilities where high bay lighting is appropriate. Their benefits include cheap selling price, high energy efficiency (low operating costs), and a relatively long lifespan. HPS lighting technology retains these advantages over most conventional bulbs, but they lose on all three counts to LED high bay lighting. The downsides of HPS bulbs include the worst color rendering on the market and a warm up period.
  • Industrial LED lighting vs fluorescent lighting: Though somewhat less common, fluorescent lighting is sometimes utilized in warehouse or industrial applications (primarily T12, T8, and T5 lights). The benefits of fluorescent lights include cheaper initial costs and relatively high efficiency (especially when compared to other conventional bulbs). Downsides include the presence of toxic mercury (which requires certain waste disposal procedures), decreased lifetime if switched on and off, and requiring a ballast to stabilize the light.

13 Buying Tips for LED High Bay Lights

1. Create a Layout

The first thing you should do when buying LED high bay lights is to design a layout. This is because different spaces need different types of high bay lights. For instance, a storage room may only need a light with 30 foot candles. However, in a warehouse, you need 50 foot candles lux so that the environment can be conducive for work. Retail stores need very bright light so that consumers can clearly see the products they’re buying (80 foot candles or more). Before you do anything else, determine the lighting requirements of each room.

2. Determine the Lumens and Watts You Need

While you should look at the watts when buying LED high bay lights, lumens are more important. Lumens measure the total amount of visible light produced by a light source. As LED technology continues to advance, new LEDs are manufactured that use less watts to produce more lumens.

Watts don’t tell you how bright a bulb is, lumens do. Watts only indicate the electricity a light source consumes. A good rule of thumb is 2 lumens for a cubic foot (for normal light) and 3 lumens for a cubic foot (for bright light).

When choosing LED lights for high bay fixtures, consider where they will be installed as different watts are recommended for different heights.

So, now that we’re talking lumens, we can narrow down what you need based on the height of your space’s ceiling:

Ceiling Height Use a fixture rated
Over 40 feet 40,000 lumens & up
30 to 40 feet 30,000 to 39,000 lumens
20 to 30 feet 20,000 to 29,000 lumens
15 to 20 feet 15,000 to 19,000 lumens

Just where your application falls in that range depends on a few additional factors—for example, what your space is used for. Retail and manufacturing require brighter light at ground level than warehouse and recreation, for instance, and straight-up storage requires even less. Additionally, the size of your space and the color of your walls will affect your light choices.

3.How far apart should LED high bays be installed?

The closer together you install your fixtures, the more overlap the light at ground level will have—and the brighter that light will be. The farther apart you install your lights, the less overlap. Put them far enough apart and, instead of overlap, you’ll have gaps. The bigger the gaps, the more uneven your lighting will be at ground level.

Therefore, you’ll want at least some small degree of overlap. How much depends on how bright you need your lighting to be at ground level.

Additionally, your spacing will depend on your ceiling height. Light is cone-shaped. At the light source, it’s concentrated. As it travels away from the source, it spreads outward. The farther from the source, the wider the spread. So, a light installed 15 feet off the ground has only 15 feet of travel before the light reaches the ground, making its circle smaller than that of a light installed at 30 feet, where it has twice the distance to travel—and spread—before reaching ground.

So, lights installed at only 15 feet high will need to be closer together to achieve overlap than lights that are installed at 30 feet. You can use this chart as a basic rule of thumb:

Installation Height Normal Brightness High Brightness
Over 30 feet 25 ft spacing 20 ft spacing
20 to 30 feet 18 ft spacing 16 ft spacing
15 to 20 feet 14 ft spacing 12 ft spacing

4. The Number of Lights Needed

When you figure out the spacing the fixtures need between them in order to produce adequate light, you can determine how many LED lights you need. A lighting plan will determine how many lights you need, where they should be spaced (or in case of an existing facility, using the existing light locations).

The lighting plan will show you how bright the light will be (foot-candles).

5. Decide on the Type of High Bay Lights

High bays come in a variety of designs. There are long, large lights known as linear high bays and round ones known as UFO’s. Linear high bays are perfect for large spaces for replacing fluorescent tube fixtures. UFO high bays are also perfect for high ceilings but are more robust than linear fixtures and most are IP (wet) rated. Wide angled linear high bays are perfect for lower ceiling applications.

6. How important is efficacy, or lumens per watt, to you?

The higher a high bays efficacy, the less watts a high bay consumes to produce the same amount of lumens.

A 100W LED High Bay at 150 lumens/watt produces 15,000 lumens.
A 150W LED High Bay at 100 lumens/watt also produces 15,000 lumens.
For each hour both lights operate, the more efficient 100W light consumes 50 less watts. This is real energy savings.
More efficient lights typically cost a bit more at time of purchase. But they will save you a lot more money in reduced lighting bills over the life of the high bay

The trade off: Lower cost at time of purchase versus more savings over the life of the high bay.

7. Do you need a high voltage high bay fixture?

Typically voltage ranges for LED High Bays are:


LED High Bays automatically adjust to incoming voltage. There is no need to set the voltage. But it is important to make sure you have the right voltage selected for your commercial or industrial space.

8. What Color Temperature should you choose for your High Bay?

The two most common color temperatures are:

4000K – or Natural White
5000K – or Day White

3000K is a light that is well suited for homes. Most people find lighting above 5000K too harsh and bright to look at or work under. You should choose 4000K if you need a warmer, more inviting light. 5000K is great for completing tasks or replacement of metal halide.

9. What CRI should you consider when choosing High Bay LED Lights?

70+ CRI is a good option for a typical commercial or industrial high bay application. If you have manufacturing processes where color rendering is important, then choose a higher CRI, like 80 or 90. CRI is the equivalent of light quality. You typically need less quantity (lumens) when you have better quality (CRI).

10. You should remember this rule – Light Distribution is just as important as light levels

Making sure you have the right light levels is important, but making sure the light is even in your indoor space is as important. How can you tell how well a light will distribute light based on its specifications? You can’t. You need to do a lighting plan. That is why we offer free – no obligation – High Bay lighting plans.

11. What if you need to add light controls to your LED High Bay?

The most common light control for indoor LED High Bays are motion sensors. The two most common sensors are microwave and PIR (Passive Infrared). Fireflier lighting provides a microwave sensor for our high bays.

Make sure your LED High Bay is equipped with a 0-10V Dimmable driver. Motion sensors work with dimmable drivers to set a lower light level. Otherwise, all you have is on or off.

0-10V drivers – 0V does not always mean off. Make sure you ask us this question if you want the light to be off when no one is around. Otherwise, the lowest it will go is 10% on.

12. Do you need High Temperature LED High Bays for a hot environment?

Most high bay fixtures are rated to 50℃ Ambient Temperature. What if you need more than that? Fortunately, we offer High Temperature LED High Bays rated to 65℃.

13. Do you need Rugged Impact Resistance High Bays?

In this case, you are looking for a fixtures impact rating, or IK rating. Fixtures are rated from IK01 to IK10. IK10 are the toughest. So if your commercial or industrial space is prone to knocking fixtures, or you have a gym where ball impact is common, consider an IK rated fixtures. Our UFO LED High bays are all IK08 or IK10 rated.

Our lighting team has assisted with countless LED high bay lighting projects, from gymnasiums to warehouses, from equestrian arenas to airplane hangars, and much more. Call (0086-130-8886-9086), email ([email protected]), or hit up our Live Chat. With just a few questions we can tell you what lumens to look for in your new high bay LED lighting. Getting this right will save you from overspending on too much light or, worse, installing inadequate lighting you’ll have to supplement later.

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