High Bays have become the cornerstone of indoor commercial and industrial lighting for large indoor facilities. Until around 2005, the primary type of lighting technology used for high bays was HID (High-Intensity Discharge). This included Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium lamps. Linear fluorescent lights were also a popular choice.

Since then, LED lighting technology has improved to a point that it is now the top high bay lighting option. At first, it was too expensive and lacked the output necessary to compete with HID and fluorescent. But things have changed on both fronts.

Today’s LED lighting outperforms its traditional counterparts in every way while being much more efficient and affordable at the same time. Our high bay buyers guide will give you everything you need to know about these amazing products.

Warehouse LED

15 Tips to Help You Make Your High Bay Buying Decision Easier

1. Lighting Plans are the Key to Success

The first thing you’ll want to do before buying LED lights is to create a lighting plan. This is because different spaces need different types of lights. For instance, a storage room may only need a light with 30 foot candles. A large warehouse might need 50 foot candles. Assembly areas need more, 70+ foot candles.

Spaces like gymnasiums need bright and balanced lighting. Manufacturing facilities need bright lighting to keep the production area safe.

Creating a lighting plan is perhaps the most important thing you can do. It will dictate the rest of your lighting decisions and ensure that you get the lights you need and nothing else.

How Many High Bay Lights Do You Need?

The most accurate way to determine this is to create a high bay lighting plan.

A high bay lighting plan will show how bright your indoor space can be and how evenly the light will be distributed. It will also show you the locations of the lights. We can create a custom high bay lighting plan for your indoor area for free.

This takes the risk out of your LED purchase.

We have done thousands of free lighting plans. We have hundreds of lights to choose from to meet almost any requirement or budget.  We have a warehouse full of LED lights ready to ship.  The progression from your lighting plan to purchase can be quick and easy.

Warehouse Lighting Plan

Let us Calculate an Ideal High Bay Lighting Layout Using Your Foot Candle Requirement.
Get a Free Lighting Plan Today.

2. Determine the Light Levels You Need – Forget About Watts

This is arguably the hardest part of the decision. Starting with an understanding of the light levels you need will greatly improve your chance of success.

Never start this process by thinking you need a high bay fixture with a certain number of watts. 

Once you understand that, then most of the hard work is done. Creating a lighting plan will almost always find the ideal fixture. That means you don’t have to guess. It will tell you what the the right fixture is.

The right fixture will provide optimal light levels and balanced lighting. Too often we see bad results because fixture choice was made without enough information.

There are some guidelines we usually start with, and one of them is mounting height. The higher the ceiling height, the more lumens you will need. Here’s a simple guideline you can follow.

  • 10-15 feet mounting height:  10,000-15,000 lumens
  • 15-20 feet mounting height: 16,000-25,000 lumens
  • 25-35 feet mounting height:  36,000-50,000 lumens
Coca Cola Warehouse 150w High Bay

3. Decide on the Type of High Bay That Fits Your Need Best

There are two main types of LED high bays: linear (panel style lights that replace fluorescent fixtures) and UFO lights (rugged, compact) which are a good choice to replace metal halide.

  • Linear high bays can perfectly replace fluorescent lights in large spaces. If you have tube-style high bays, this is a good choice for you.
  • UFO high bays are also perfect for high ceiling applications but are more robust than linear fixtures and most are IP (wet) rated. They have higher impact ratings than linear fixtures.

These are sturdy, small, and circular high bay lights. These fixtures can be a great replacement for all other conventional high bays like metal halide and high-pressure sodium.

UFOs can be the best option to go with if you want lights for warehouses and gyms. They are also good for locations that are exposed to dampness since they are typically IP65+ rated.

  • Wattage Options: 100 Watts to 600 Watts
  • Lumens: 13,000 to 96,000
  • Efficiency Ratings: 130 to 180 lumens per watt
  • Replaces: 250-Watt to 2000-Watt Metal Halide
  • Optimal Color Temperatures: 4000K or 5000K
  • CRI: 70+
  • IP Rating (Wet): IP65
  • Voltages: Standard = 100V-277V. High = 277V-480V (on select models only)
  • Impact Ratings: IK08 or above
  • Mounting Options: Eye hook (most common) and Pendant
  • Surge Protection: Available
  • Motion Sensors: Available

These lights will be best for gyms and warehouses and be great replacements for T5 and T8-style high bays. You may also know linear high bays as panel-style.

Most of these fixtures are not impact-rated or wet-rated, so make sure your area is dry and void of impacts before choosing them.

  • Wattage Options: 80 Watts to 500 Watts
  • Lumens Range: 11,000 to 42,000
  • Efficiency Ratings: 135 to 140 lumens per watt
  • Replaces : 4 to 8 tube T5 54-Watt HO
  • Optimal Color Temperatures: 4000K or 5000K
  • CRI: 70+
  • IP Rating (Wet): On select models only.
  • Voltages: Standard = 100V-277V. High = 277V-480V (on select models only)
  • Rating for Impact: On select models only.
  • Mounting Options: Pendant, Cable Mount, and Ceiling Mount
  • Surge Protection: Available
  • Motion Sensors: Available

Comparing Beam Spread: UFO LED Lights vs LED High Bay Linear Lights

Our linear (panel) high bays are physically bigger than our UFO fixtures. The LEDs attach in strips over the length and width of the fixture.

A UFO is around 12-15 inches in diameter. The LEDs are densely packed. By the nature of the design of a linear fixture, it produces a wider beam spread.

You cannot add optics to our linear fixtures. Ceiling heights above 30 feet, the broad spread would work against the linear fixture. A UFO fixture with a tighter beam angle would be a better option.



UFO vs Linear


4. Decide on the Efficacy That Works for You

Efficacy is a measurement of how well an LED converts electricity into light. With LEDs, efficacy refers to lumens per watt, or how much energy the fixture needs to consume to produce a certain amount of visible light.

The higher an LED light’s efficacy, the fewer watts a high bay consumes to produce the same number of lumens.

How important is efficacy, or lumens per watt, to you? LED lights with a lower efficacy will typically cost less to purchase but will consume more energy over the lifetime of the light. This means that you will have a higher energy bill. Over the lifetime of a fixture, a high-efficacy light will save you a lot more money.

  • ​​A 100-Watt LED Fixture at 150 lumens/watt produces 15,000 lumens.
  • ​​A 150-Watt LED Fixture at 100 lumens/watt also produces 15,000 lumens.
  • ​For each hour both lights operate, the more efficient 100-Watt light consumes 50 fewer watts. This is real energy savings.

​More efficient lights typically cost a bit more at the time of purchase. But they will save you a lot more money in reduced lighting bills over the life of the high bay.

Takeaway: A more efficient high bay will save you a lot more money in reduced energy bills over the life of the product. It will easily offset the slightly higher purchase price.

Mllg Led Hbc 150 50 Fc Shop Lighting

5. Make Sure You Know Your Voltage

The typical voltage range in most commercial and industrial indoor spaces ranges between 100 and 480 volts. LED Fixtures can accommodate these areas and offer several different drivers. These drivers switch to the incoming voltage automatically, so there is no need to adjust the high bays during installation. The common LED Driver voltage ranges are:

  • ​​100V-277V (Standard – included in the cost of the fixture)
  • ​​277V-480V (High Voltage Option)
  • ​347V-480V (Another less common High Voltage Option)

Takeaway: LED Drivers are auto-switching based on the voltage you have. There is no need to set the voltage if the voltage you have is within the voltage range allowed by the fixture.

37 Voltage Web Icons
39 Voltage Web Icons

6. What’s the Best Color Temperature for Your Needs?

This can be a difficult decision. Color temperature is measured by the Kelvin scale where a high number represents yellow-warm light and a low number represents blue-cool light.

  • 4000K is a good replacement for fluorescent lights or lights used in a commercial environment.
  • 5000K is a great color for industrial applications – a perfect replacement for metal halide and HID.

Takeaway: 90%+ of all fixtures we sell are 5000K. The other 10% is 4000K.

7. What CRI (Light Quality) Should You Select?

CRI is the abbreviation for Color Rendering Index. It is the measurement of the real quality of the light produced by any light source.

Takeaway: The better the quality of light, the less quantity of light you will need. For most applications 70 CRI is fine.

8. Using Light Controls Such as Motion Sensors

Light controls facilitate the automation of light capacity and power on/off handling. While choosing from the various dimming controls available for LED fixtures, motion sensors are the best option for indoor lights.

PIR and Microwave are two major types of motion sensor controls.

  • Microwave sensors work best at detecting common movements in big spaces.
  • PIR or Passive Infrared sensors use infrared beams to detect movements in target areas.

While the industrial-commercial facilities make use of microwave sensors, the smaller facilities or areas use PIR sensors. A 0-10V dimmable driver must be installed in the LED fixture to work with these controls. These drivers allow motion sensors to automate low light levels. Without them, you can only control on/off. Depending on the driver, 0V doesn’t always mean power off. Some drivers will only dim to 10% at 0 Volts.

Takeaway: Future-proof your purchase by ensuring your fixtures have dimmable drivers.

All 2700 6500
Indoor Horse Arena

9. Standard Mounting Options

You will find that new fixtures can use the existing mounting options you may currently have or need. The common mounting types are:

  • Eye hook
  • Pendant
  • Ceiling Mount
  • Suspended wire/cable mount.

We even offer a trunnion mount which is common with flood lights but is also an acceptable mount for high bays.

10. Is There a Chance the Fixtures Might Get Hit?

Bigger spaces like manufacturing facilities, warehouses, and school gymnasiums are more likely to encounter high impacts on their light fixtures due to flying objects. This raises the need for rugged and impact-resistant lights for such areas.

The impact resistance with the performance retaining ability of any light is represented by IK ratings.

IK ratings range from IK01 to IK10 where IK10 denotes lights with the highest resistance to impacts.

Thus, if you have any such spaces where the lights are prone to any accidental impact like gyms go with the IK08+ rated lights.

Takeaway: UFO fixtures are typically your best solution if you need impact-rated fixtures.

Led Gym Lighting

11. Do You Have Hot Rooms with High Ambient Temperatures?

You also need to decide if you require high-temperature-resistant lights for your facility. Most LED lights are rated to withstand around 122 degrees F. If your facility gets hotter than that, then you should consider a high-temperature high bay.

We provide high-temperature fixtures rated for 149 to 212 degrees F.

12. Is Your Location Wet? Do You Need to Wash Your Fixtures?

If your fixtures are installed in areas that can get wet, then you need to consider an IP-rated fixture. The most basic of all water protection is IP65. For high-pressure washdowns with hot water and steam used in food processing environments, make sure it’s IP69K rated.

Takeaway: UFO’s and NSF rated fixtures are all IP Rated for wet location installations. For the most part, linear fixtures are not IP Rated (we do have some that are though).

13. Do You Have Hazardous/explosive Conditions?

If your fixtures are installed in hazardous locations where fire and explosions could occur, then you need to consider explosion proof rated fixtures. These fixtures are designed to work in the most hazardous of all locations and keep your facility and workers safe.

14. Do You Need Food Safe/NSF Rated Fixtures?

If you need Food safe lighting, a standard high bay will not work. NSF has a program that certifies light fixtures for these environments. These fixtures are tested to be safe in food processing or pharmaceutical manufacturing environments and designed to withstand frequent hot water high-pressure washdowns.

Led Lights In Helicopter Hangar

15. Calculating the Reduction in AMP Load When Converting from Metal Halide to LED High Bays

Amp load is a very simple calculation and the reduction of amp load is significant when you convert from metal halide to LED. For example, let’s say you’re current service is 277 Volts. We will run two scenarios.

Converting from 400 Watt Metal Halide with 150 Watts LED

This calculation includes an additional 15% watts consumed by the metal halide light for a total of 460 Watts

Metal Halide: 460 Watts / 277 Volts = 1.66 Amps per fixture

LED: 150 Watts / 277 Volts = 0.54 Amps per fixture

The total reduction in amp load per fixture is: 1.12 amps

Converting from 1000 Watt Metal Halide to 300 Watts LED

This calculation includes an additional 15% watts consumed by the metal halide light for a total of 1150 Watts

Metal Halide: 1150 Watts / 277 Volts = 4.15 Amps per fixture

LED: 300 Watts / 277 Volts = 1.08 Amps per fixture

The total reduction in amp load per fixture is: 3.07 amps

Video Resources to Help Educate You

Dwayne Kula

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About the Author

Dwayne Kula is President of LED Lighting Supply. On any given day, Dwayne is writing content for the site and helps manage the marketing initiatives that are on-going. He has a Software Engineering degree and still dabbles in writing software for the company as needed. When not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, working out, playing the occasional game of golf and exploring New England.

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