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High Bays have become the corner of indoor commercial and industrial lighting for large indoor facilities. LEDs have been available in a factor that would allow them to replace HID since around 2005. Early on, it was hard to find a LED Fixture that would or could replace a metal halide or fluorescent T5 high bay fixture. They were inefficient, and it was hard to find high power versions.

Since then, efficiencies have improved. High Power models are now available and common place. And the question has changed from “Can a LED replace my High Bays” to “What’s the best High Bay to replace my old High Bays”? We designed this High Bay Lighting Buying Guide to answer those questions.

What Are the Best High Bay Light Applications?

Large open spaces are perfect for LED high bays, these include:

Recreation Centers
Convention Centers
Industrial Facilities
Manufacturing Facilities
Large Retail Box Stores


1. Lighting Plans are the Key to Success

The first thing 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 1000’s of FREE lighting plans. We have 100’s of lights to choose from to meet almost any requirement or budget.  We have a warehouse full of LED lights ready to ship.  So your lighting plan to purchase can be a quick and easy.


2. Determine The Light Levels you need – forget about watts for now

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 X watt high bay fixture. 

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 is the right fixture.

The right fixture will provide the optimal light levels and provide balanced lighting. Too often we see bad results because fixture choice was guessed.

There are some guidelines we usually start with, and it has to do with 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

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 high bay: Linear Panel Style High Bays (panel style lights that replace fluorescent fixtures) and UFO Style Round High Bays rugged, compact) that are a good choice to replace metal halide.

Linear high bays can perfectly replace the fluorescent lights in large spaces. If you are familiar with 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.

UFO Round High Bays

LED UFO High Bay

These are sturdy, small, and circular high bay lights. These fixtures can be a great replacement for all other conventional high bays like Metal Halides, High-Pressure Sodium, and HIDs.

UFOs can be the best option to go with if you want lights for warehouses and gyms. They are also good for the locations vulnerable 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 Halides and HID

Best 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: Pendant and Eye hook (most common)

Surge Protection: Available

Motion Sensors: Available

Linear Panel Style High Bays

Linear Panel High Bay

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 tube to 8 tube T5 54 Watt HO

Best 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, Wire Mount and Ceiling Mount

Surge Protection: Available

Motion Sensors: Available

4. Decide on Efficacy That Works for you

Efficacy is measurement of how well a LED converts electricity into light. With LED’s, 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 a LED lights efficacy, the fewer watts a high bay consumes to produce the same amount 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 lighting bill. Over the lifetime of the 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 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 as long as 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 you?

This can be a difficult decision. Color temperature is measured by the Kelvins 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.

LED lights for the commercial and industrial application should have a CRI of 70 or above.

For fine detail work, or places where painting and finishing occurs, 80+ CRI is a good option

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 like 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 fixture, 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 for detecting 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.

9. Standard Mounting Options

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

Eye hook


Ceiling Mount

Suspended wire / cable mount.

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

10. Do you have Hot Rooms with High Ambient Temperatures?

You need to also decide if you would want high-temperature resistant lights for your facility. Most LED lights are rated resistant to around 122 degrees F. If your facility gets hotter than that, then you should look into a high temperature high bay. We provide High Temperature Fixtures rated for 149 to 212 degrees F.

11. Is there a chance the fixtures might get hit?

Bigger spaces like manufacturing facilities, warehouses and school gymnasium are more vulnerable to facing high impacts  on their light fixtures. This raises the need for rugged and impact resistance 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 the strongest lights.

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 High Bays are typically your best solution if you need impact rated fixtures.

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 its IP69K rated.

Takeaway: UFO High Bays 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 worker 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 / pharmaceutical environments and designed to withstand frequent hot water high pressure washdowns.

Led Nsf Food Grade Light
Led Nsf Food Grade Light Side
4ft Linear Nsf Vapor Tight

Video Resources to Help Educate You

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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