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Looking to convert your existing metal halide or high pressure sodium to LED? Are unsure of whether the time or investment is worth it? We put together this comprehensive guide on some essential items to make your conversion to LED simpler.

There are many good things that will happen when you convert to LED, but there are some pitfalls to avoid. This Buyers Guide to Canopy Lights will show you the pathway to a successful LED Conversion.


1. Starting the process – converting your canopy lights over to LED?

If you’re reading this, you have made a partial decision to do the conversion.

For the most part, it makes sense to convert but the reasons to convert will vary for every customer.

Here are the top 5 reasons to do a LED Conversion.

Reduce your utility bill. The more you use your lights, the bigger the savings will be.
Reduce your maintenance costs. No more replacing bulbs and ballast.
Creating a brighter, safer environment. Good, high quality lights makes it safer for everyone.
No more flickering and humming. That’s just what you hear when old metal halide and fluorescent bulbs die. 
No more costly disposal bills. With LED, there’s no mercury. So no costly disposal.


2. Taking inventory – what are your needs?

By taking inventory, you have an understanding of your current canopy lights. And your current needs or improvements as part of this LED Conversion project.

Here’s a list of items to consider:

Determine the type of your current canopy fixture. If you’re not sure, take a picture and send it to us.
Determine the type of bulb. Metal Halide, High Pressure Sodium, Halogen or Fluorescent?
Determine the wattage. Is it 100 Watts? 250 Watts? 400 Watts?
What’s the line voltage? 277 Volts? 480 Volts?
Calculate the cost of electricity. You need to know this to help calculate your savings and payback period.
Does your utility company offer rebates to offset cost of conversion?
How long do your lights run each day? Knowing this helps calculate savings and payback time.
Would you like to use controls like photocells or motion sensors? You may not have been able to use motion sensors with metal halide or high pressure sodium.
Assess your current canopy lighting requirements and needs. The new led light solution can fix many issues.

3. Choose the right type of Canopy Light.

There are several options available. Here is a list of your best options.

Surface Mount

LED Canopy Light

Surface Mount canopy comes in either square or round fixture styles. Both mount on the face of the ceiling surface.

LED Surface Mount fixtures have a lower profile height. Its lower than High Pressure Sodium or Metal Halide Canopy lights they are trying to replace.


Recessed Mount

These style of lights install in recessed cavities in overhead structures. These are the lights you see overhead self serve gas stations.

Low Bay Style

Canopy Low bay

This is a new style of canopy light. They combine the esthetics and power of low bay lighting for the use of canopy lighting.

Some of these lights are color changeable – so you don’t have to decide what color temperature you want. You can try them all and decide which one you like the most.


4. Choose the right optic and distribution pattern?

Canopy lights mount at lower heights, and it not uncommon they have to deal with structural beams as well.

Getting the light distributed to a wide pattern makes the space seem inviting, safe and well lit.

To do this, you need to decide on what optic and/or distribution pattern to use.

The two main options are: specific beam angles or industry standard “Type” Distribution

Specific beam angles, when you have low ceilings, should be as wide as possible. 120, 150 or even 180 degree distribution pattern.

Common distribution patterns are Type 3 and Type 5. Type 5 works well in central areas, Type 4 works well when mounted near a wall.

Street Light Optic Patterns

5. What Canopy wattage do you need?

Watts are a measurement of power consumed. It is not a good sign of how bright a light will be.

That is because LED Lights can vary on how efficient they are creating lumens.

The better ones do it well, the cheaper ones not as good.

That is why you will see vast differences in pricing for a “50 Watt LED Light”.

An inefficient light will do it poorly. You might be able to use less watts with a more efficient LED light.

And less watts consumed equals lower lighting bills.

So rather than picking a canopy light based on watts, pick it based on the amount of lumens you need to light up your area

Check the lumens produced on the spec sheet of the canopy light. Divide it by the watts. This is the efficiency of the light. Some manufacturers list this as lumens/watt, efficiency or efficacy rates. The higher the number, the more efficient the light is at converting electricity to light.

If this rate is less than 130 lumens per watt, then this light may be using old LED Chip technology.

Above 130 lumens per watt is the target you should be looking for.

6. What’s the best color temperature for Canopy Light applications?

That is  good question. The most common choices are 4000K and 5000K.

The higher the number, the ‘bluer’ it looks. The lower the number, the warmer, or more yellow it appears.

If you are unsure of what color temperature you should select, here’s a quick guide

5000K is a good choice to replace Metal Halide

4000K is a good choice to replace High Pressure Sodium or fluorescent lighting

Color Temperature Bulbs

7. Adding controls to your Canopy lights can save you even more energy

Switching to LED  will bring lower your light bills. Adding lighting controls will add to the savings.

Why? These smart controls will make sure your lights are only on when they’re needed and people are around.


Photocells for night time operations

Photocells are smart controls that detect the amount of ambient day light.
At dusk, it turns the light on. At sunrise, it turns the light off.
These controls don’t care if its summer or winter. It only cares about the amount of sun light that is or isn’t there.

Motion sensors turn the lights on when there’s motion.

Motion sensors are perfect for lowering your lighting bill even more.
They make the light brighter when they detect motion and dim when no one is around.
In many common canopy applications, this is the perfect add-on!

8. Create a lighting plan to end all the guess work.

We offer free canopy lighting plans for commercial and industrial customers.

A lighting plan plots your area, inside software, including light locations.

We can also suggest new light locations. 

A canopy lighting plan shows foot candle readings and how even the lighting is across the entire floor space.

Bright light is important. Even, balanced lighting is as important. 

parking garage lighting calculation

Neil Peterson


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About the Author

Neil Peterson is Chief Operating Officer at LED Lighting Supply. He has been active in the LED industry for over 10 years and is responsible for product planning and management as well as revenue and operations at LED Lighting Supply. Much of Neil’s time is focused on customer engagement for large commercial and industrial lighting requirements. When not working, he enjoys family time, camping, fishing, and sports..

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