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Before LED lighting became the powerhouse that it is today, the most common form of commercial lighting was metal halide lights. This is because metal halides are extremely bright lights that can be purchased for a relatively cheap price. Nowadays, however, metal halide lights are at best, outdated.

LED lighting provides a long-lasting, economical alternative that saves you money and minimizes energy usage. And, as the technology becomes more and more mundane, LEDs are also becoming less expensive. Making the switch from metal halides to LED fixtures may appear to be an intimidating task but in reality, and with the right help, it’s a frictionless process.

We’ve been in this space for a while now, and along the way, we’ve received countless questions about how to replace metal halide lights with LEDs. Some of the most common questions are: 

“How many LED watts does it take to replace a 1000 watt metal halide bulb?”

“How can I replace my metal halide light?”

“Is it even possible to replace my metal halide fixture with another technology?”

Answering the last question is simple, “Yes you can replace your metal halide fixture with LED lights.” The other two require a bit more background to comprehensively cover all the information. If you want to know what you need to replace a 1,000-watt metal halide, just keep reading.

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How many LED watts does it take to replace a 1000 watt metal halide?

It seems like a straightforward question but the reality is that it’s a little more complicated than that. LEDs are designed for lower energy consumption, and as such, naturally have a lower wattage. This means that a 60 watt LED light is much, much brighter than its metal halide counterpart. Therefore, you cannot base your decision on watts. Instead, you need to focus on the number of lumens you need. Once you have that figured out, finding a replacement fixture is easy. 

Want help figuring out your facility’s lighting? Request one of our free lighting plans for a customized, lighting layout that eliminates any guessing.

What is a lumen?

Essentially, a lumen is a unit of light. It’s the way in which we measure how bright light output is, and it’s how you’ll determine which LED light is best to replace your 1,000 watt metal halides. 

Brand new, fresh out of the bag metal halide fixtures have an initial output of about 100,000 lumens per 1000 watt bulb. As we mentioned earlier, the wattage of the metal halide does not correlate with the wattage of an LED. So, even though you have a 1,000 watt metal halide fixture, you will not need to replace it with a 1,000 watt LED fixture. Instead, you’ll focus on the lumens. 

In the above example, the light is producing 100 lumens per watt. How do we know this? Well, the fixture produces 100,000 lumens total using a 1,000-watt bulb. And, although these aren’t terrible stats, they leave a lot of room for improvement.

100,000 lumens seems bright because it is bright. However, unlike LEDs, metal halide bulbs suffer from fast and immediate lumen degradation. From the instant you first flip the switch, the bulb becomes less and less bright. Around its half-life point, you can expect a metal halide bulb to be at 50% capacity. And, at about 5,000 hours of usage, you’ll find that a metal halide bulb has reached L70. L70 is the term used when a bulb is performing at 70% of its initial capacity. To give you some context, the L70 time of LED lights is anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 hours. 

LED lifespan

Loss of Lumens

Even if your metal halide is in fact brand new, chances are that you’re losing lumens to light reflection. Every time a particle hits a surface, one of those lumens is lost. Because metal halide lights require reflectors to ensure that their light is focused, even at max lumen performance, you’re losing some of the light as it leaves the fixture.  

LED light is directional so this is not an issue, but HID light sources require reflectors to focus the light. Anytime this light bounces off more than surface, a lumen is lost. Studies estimate that about 30% of light is lost to reflection.

That means that even if you’re metal halide bulb is still functioning in prime condition at 100,000 lumens, 30,000 of those lumens are being lost.

Quality over Quantity

The Color Rendering Index is a measurement of the quality of light that a light source emits. If you want to learn more about CRI, you can read about it here. It’s a fairly complex concept, but boiled down it’s just how close a light is to matching the ultimate light source, the sun.

Thus far, we’ve only talked about the quantity of lumen output for a light fixture. However now, we’ll discuss quality.

To determine the quality of lumens, we’ll be using the Color Rendering Index (CRI). Generally speaking, lumens in an LED fixture have a higher CRI rating than those in a metal halide fixture.

This means that the light from an LED source is of higher quality than light from a metal halide bulb. With an LED fixture, you’ll be able to clearly see vibrant colors in their true form.

Therefore, when replacing a metal halide light with an LED fixture, you’ll likely need fewer lumens. In fact, customers tell us all the time that their 20,000 LED lumens lights seem much brighter than their 40,000 lumen metal halide light.

Cri

Photopic vs Scotopic Lumens

Photopic lumens are light that can only be detected by something like a light meter or camera. On the other hand, Scotopic lumens are those that are able to be seen by the human eye. Why is this relevant? Well, LEDs produce predominantly Scotopic lumens. In fact, it’s extremely, extremely rare for LEDs to produce any light on invisible spectrums. This is not the case with other types of light fixtures, including metal halide lights. 

In the LED lighting industry, we use something called the S/P ratio to determine exactly how many of the lumens a light emits are visible to the naked eye. Let’s say that you have a 40,000-lumen high-pressure sodium (HPS) fixture and a 12,000 lumen LED fixture. Based solely on this information, you might assume that the LED fixture will only provide 25% of the light that the HPS fixture does. However, with more comprehensive data, like an S/P ratio, you’ll likely find that this is not the case. Consider the following ratios:

LED S/P ratio = 2.0

HPS S/P ratio = 0.5

The scotopic lumens provided by each light source would then be the following:

         LED scotopic lumens = 12,000 lm x 2.0 = 24,000 lm

         HPS scotopic lumens = 40,000 lm x 0.5 = 20,000 lm

As you can see, although the LED fixture has fewer lumens than the HPS fixture, the LED light emits 4x more visible light, making it brighter.

Converting 1000W Metal Halide to LED

Although there is no exact formula for replacing a metal halide light with an LED, there are a few general takeaways that will help guide you through the process.

Metal Halide bulbs are very bright out of the box but degrade.

As we discussed previously, metal halide lights quickly begin to lose functionality. From the get-go the fixture loses lumens use and refractions.  

LED light is directional.

Because LEDs are inherently directional, you don’t have to worry about lighting up unused spaces or leaving high-traffic areas in the dark. Metal halide lights, even with reflectors to help direct their shine, often produce an uneven light distribution that leaves important areas in the dark. 

LED lights have a longer lifespan.

This doesn’t factor directly into upgrading from metal halide lights to LEDs, but it does offer many benefits. LED lights have the longest lifespan of any bulbs. In fact, their usable lifespan is literally seven times longer than metal halides. So, you can save money on maintenance costs and worry less about your lighting. 

LEDs stay brighter for longer.

While metal halide lights start burning out within their first use, LED lights offer a longer lifespan. This means that when you’re converting to LEDs you don’t have to up lumens in anticipation of light lost over the course of the fixture’s lifespan. 

 LED light is high-quality light.

This touches on the high CRI of LEDs that we discussed earlier. LED lights produce a higher quality light, that allows you to perceive colors better. Because of this, many people note that a lower lumen LED light seems to be brighter than a metal halide fixture that produces more lumens.  

 Any metal halide light can be upgraded with an LED light of lower lumens for a brighter, longer-lasting fixture.

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So how many LED Lumens do you need?

If you haven’t noticed by now, there really isn’t an exact answer. Only a photometric can tell you exactly how much you need. Between higher CRI, lower energy consumption, and adjustable color temperatures, replacing metal halide lights with LEDs can get a little bit complicated. But in our 10+ years of selling LED lighting we’ve picked up on some general rules of thumb.

  • Indoors: 45,000 to 65,000 lumens (depends on application and mounting height)
  • Outdoors: 40,000 to 75,000 lumens (depends on application and mounting height)

You’ll find that in some instances you can cut wattage by up to 75% when replacing a metal halide light. Most LEDs have an efficiency rating of about 100 lumens/watt, but as technology advances you’ll find even more innovative options that run at about 200 lumens/watt.  

To determine an exact number, request a free lighting plan from our experts.

What Does “Replacing a Metal Halide” Actually Mean?

Of course, there is the obvious, a full replacement of your current light. But there’s also an alternative option to consider: Retrofitting. While a true replacement consists of upgrading both the light source and the fixture, a retrofit kit allows you to just replace the light source without having to buy an entirely new housing.  Retrofitting works best in facilities with well-maintained fixtures that are in good condition. Retrofitting is also popular in instances where the fixtures are just as much of an aesthetic addition to the setting as a functional one.  If the fixture shell is outdated or damaged, retrofitting is not a good fit and a total replacement is the most viable option.

Are the LEDs in a retrofit kit as good as a LED fixture?

Absolutely. Despite what you may have heard, there is no reason that a retrofit conversion kit wouldn’t perform as well or last as long as a new LED fixture. As we mentioned, retrofits don’t always make sense. But, if you’re fixtures are well taken care of or extremely important to the branding/visuals of your facility, a retrofit will get the job done just as well as a brand new LED fixture. To further back this up, all of our retrofit kits have a 10-year warranty. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that retrofitting is usually cheaper. This is because it’s easier to work with materials that are already in place. So, if you can retrofit, we recommend that over brand new LED fixtures.

So, What Does it Take to Replace a 1,000 Watt Metal Halide?

Nothing more than a little planning on your part. And, if you choose to use our free photometric lighting plan, it’s even easier. To replace a 1,000-watt metal halide fixture, you’ll need to determine the lumens of your current light and whether or not your fixtures are good candidates for retrofitting. You’ll also need to decide whether or not you’ll be retrofitting or doing a complete overhaul. After that, it’s as easy as picking a light and making an investment.

An investment in LED lighting will pay you back in more ways than one. Not only do they lower energy costs with their minimal energy consumption, but they also provide a better, brighter light that needs minimal maintenance, if any at all. We would say that we’re biased, but the truth of the matter is that these are the facts. LEDs provide a bright, long-lasting shine that more traditional bulbs just can’t match.

Frequently
Asked
Questions

What LED is equivalent to 1000w?

The LED equivalent to a 1000W Metal Halide bulb is a fixture or retrofit that produces at least 45,000 lumens. The more efficiently you produce those lumens (in terms of watts consumed) the greater the energy savings.

How many lumens does a 1000w metal halide produce?

Depending on how efficient the metal halide bulb is (between 60 and 110 lumens per watt), a 1000W metal halide bulb can produce around 50,000 to 100,000 lumens. Keep in mind these are initial lumens and these will typically fall within the first 6 months.

Can I replace metal halide with LED?

Yes, and done so easily. With today’s efficiencies, you can replace 1000W Metal Halide with as little as 240W LED (assuming high lumens/watt). You should look for a LED fixture that produces over 45,000 lumens to replace 1000W Metal Halide.

How much does it cost to run a 1000 watt metal halide light?

300 LED Watts replacing 1000 Watts Metal Halide for 12 hrs/day 365 days/yr saves 3723 kw/year. In real terms, at .10 kwh electricity charge, the savings is $372 per fixture per year.

Last Updated: 10/13/2020
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