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A lot of time we are asked what is the equivalent LED to convert from Metal Halide. A lot of time, we have a product in mind that works based on previous experience.

But how did we come up with that product, and how did we make the original decision on what was the proper replacement? There’s a lot of science that goes into light, color, quality, and each light had it’s own characteristics.

For example, it takes less LED to replace High Pressure Sodium than it takes to replace MH. And we are talking a lot more than just lumens. We are talking about color temperature, quality of light and something called photopic / scotopic lumens.

In the world of lighting, we measure foot candles with a light meter, this is called a photopic measurement. The light meter picks up everything, including spectrum’s that are invisible to us. Now, we humans see things to, and this is called scotopic lumens.

Our rods and cones read and interpret light. And it does so differently than what a light meter does. So it is not uncommon when we demo a LED Light against a HPS light or Metal Halide, we first ask “Which is brighter” before we show the light meter reading. It leaves a few people scratching their heads.

Well, that’s the science of of it all, and fortunately there is some handy tables called SP ratios that allow us to take the lumens of a particular light (photopic lumens) and multiply it by the S/P ratio to get the scotopic lumens equivalent.

How to use the SP Ratio Calculation

The S/P ratio for High Pressure Sodium is 0.40. The S/P ratio for LED at 5000K is 1.8. So if you take 40,000 lumens of HPS and multiply it 0.4, the effective scotopic lumens is 16,000.

To get the same amount of lumens from LED, take the 16,000 and divide it by the S/P ratio and you get 8888 lumens. So the 8888 lumens of LED is the photopic measurement, the 16,000 LED lumens is the scotopic lumens measurement. So in an nutshell, you need 8,888 lumens of LED to replace 40,000 lumens of HPS from a scotopic point of view.

These results apply to all light fixtures, whether its an outdoor fixture like a shoebox, wall pack or flood light. It also applies to indoor light fixtures like high bays, warehouse lights and linkable led shop lights.

SP Ratio Light Source Chart

Light Source S/P Ratio
1700K Low Pressure Sodium (LPS) 0.25
2100K High Pressure Sodium (HPS) 0.40
2700K Incandescent 1.36
3000K Fluorescent (830) 1.29
3000K LED 1.21
3000K Quartz Halogen 1.50
3500K Fluorescent (735) 1.24
3500K Fluorescent (835) 1.41
3500K LED 1.41
4100K Fluorescent (741) 1.54
4100K Fluorescent (841) 1.65
4100K LED 1.65
4300K Metal Halide 1.49
5000K Fluorescent (850) 1.96
5000K LED 1.80
6000K LED 2.00
6500K Fluorescent (865) 2.20
6800K Mercury Vapor 0.80

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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