Warehouse lighting should be able to accomplish two things: enhance safety and increase productivity. The most common industry accidents, according to the Department of Labor, are trips, falls, and slips. Having good warehouse lighting is the best way to reduce the risk of accidents.

LED lights provide a brighter, better light that increases productivity and reduces workplace accidents. But, that’s not all that LEDs will do for you. In a large space, like a warehouse, upgrading to LED lighting can greatly reduce energy costs.

LED lights use less power to produce the same shine as their less advanced counterparts, and they don’t emit any heat, which helps keep energy costs under control. LEDs require zero maintenance, have a lifespan of up to 100,000 hours, and often qualify for rebates. Basically, LEDs are ideal for warehouse lighting. 

What should you know before you switch to LEDs? Read on to find out.

Warehouse Lighting

Making the Right Warehouse Lighting Choice

When it comes to warehouse lighting, you have 3 options: High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lights, fluorescent lights, and LED lights. LEDs are a fairly recent invention, and even after they became available on the market, they were prohibitively expensive.

Because of this HID and fluorescent fixtures have been staples of warehouse lighting for a while. But, in recent years, better technology has lowered the cost of LEDs significantly, making them the ideal option for lighting a warehouse. 

Chances are if you’re upgrading to LEDs you’re probably working with either HID fixtures or fluorescent lights now. It’s always a good idea to be knowledgeable about both the lighting you have now and the lighting you want. So, let’s take a look at some of the most common types of warehouse lighting. 

1. Metal Halide Warehouse Lights

Metal Halide warehouse lights are a wonderful example of “You get what you pay for.” They were often favored for their extremely low initial price, but HID lights are priced low for a reason… For five reasons actually:

  • their lumen depreciation rate is the highest
  • they have very few color temperature options
  • and they take a while to achieve full brightness
  • they consume a lot of energy
  • they don’t work with motion sensors or dimming controls

These issues lead to high electric bills, frequent maintenance requirements, and overall inefficiency. If you are currently using HID or Metal Halide fixtures, switching to LEDs will revolutionize your lighting. 

Some of the most common types of HID fixtures are high-pressure sodium lights (HPS) and Metal Halide lights. HPS lights emit a very yellow that is great for ambiance, but not so great for safety purposes. Metal halide lights have color temperatures between 4000K to 4500K, meaning that their light is much brighter and whiter than HPS lights, but they’re still plagued by the problems that HID fixtures present. 

And, in addition to the issues we’ve already mentioned, HID lights require both a warm-up and cool-down period before they can be used. They do not work with motion sensors and cannot be dimmed, and their lifespan is relatively short. Although these fixtures may have once made sense as warehouse lighting, today there are much better options, LEDs.

2. Fluorescent Warehouse Lights

Fluorescent lights, though still outdated when compared to LEDs, were an upgrade over HIDs. One advantage fluorescent lights have over HID lighting systems is that they consume less electricity. Their color temperature range is also much wider – 2700K to 6500K – which makes them adaptable to different spaces. And, unlike HID lights, they also come in different shapes and sizes. But, they do still suffer from a lack of longevity, amongst other things. 

  • costly disposal of bulbs because of the mercury content contained with the bulbs themselves
  • they don’t work well with dimmer controls.
  • they flicker and hum

Warehouse owners on a tight budget who want lights that are more efficient than HID lights usually go for fluorescent lights. Although this helps ease money concerns immediately, they incur more maintenance and usage costs than LEDs do. And, in the long run, fluorescent warehouse lights will cost more.

Unfortunately, these lights have other flaws, as well. They function very poorly in very cold and very hot areas, and if used in a hot or cold climate, their lifespan will significantly decrease. Their lifespan can also be damaged by turning the light off and on, which is basically unavoidable.

If you have fluorescent warehouse lights, it’s probably time to switch. They may have been the best choice once upon a time, but that time has come and gone. Now is the time of LED lighting.

3. The best choice: LED Warehouse Lights

LED lights are the perfect solution for a warehouse because they are energy-efficient and extremely versatile. They use the least energy of all light sources and discharge better light. When upgrading your warehouse lighting, you can retrofit your existing fixtures with LED or completely replace your fixtures with new LED Warehouse Light fixtures. 

 One of the greatest things about LEDs is that they can last up to 100,000 hours. That’s 100,000 hours of maintenance-free, eco-friendly shining. 

UFO Warehouse

led ufo

Linear Warehouse

led linear high bay fixture for warehouses

High Voltage

led high voltage

Replace 400 Watt

Replace 1000 Watt

LED High Bay

150 Watt LED

And, unlike HID and fluorescent lights, LEDs do not require a warm-up period and aren’t affected by frequent on and off cycles. They also work exceedingly well with motion sensors and dimming controls. All-in-all, LEDs are the best option for warehouse lighting. The initial cost of LEDs may be slightly more, but you’ll recoup your investment plus more in no time.

9 Steps to Choosing the Best Warehouse Lighting

1. Decide the right efficacy (lumens/watt) to maximize saving in your warehouse.

No, we did not misspell efficiency. Efficacy is defined as the ability to produce a desired result. In relation to LED lighting specifically, efficacy is a light’s ability to deliver a certain amount of lumens per watt. The higher a LED warehouse lights efficacy, the fewer watts a warehouse light consumes to produce the same amount of lumens. 

A 150W LED High Bay at 150 lumens/watt produces 22,500 lumens.

A 200W LED High Bay at 112.5 lumens/watt also produces 22,500 lumens.

For each hour both lights operate, the more efficient 150W 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 warehouse lighting bills over the life of the fixture.

The trade-off: Lower cost as the initial purchase versus a lifetime of savings. 

The verdict: The more efficient light will always pay itself off many times over its life.

2. What type of Warehouse LED Lights Do I Need?

UFO and Linear High Bays are two of the most common types of warehouse lighting. Every setting is different, and so are its lighting needs, but chances are, you’ll require at least one of these two lights for your warehouse.

Warehouse Light

LED UFO Round Warehouse Lights are round, compact, and rugged. They’re designed to replace both low & high bay HIDs, Metal Halide fixtures, and High-Pressure Sodium high bays. They’re IP rated for wet locations, so if they happen to get wet, you don’t have to worry about the light being compromised. And, they are smaller and more compact than their linear fixture counterparts.

led linear high bay fixture for warehouses

LED Linear High Bays replace T5 and T8 tube-style fluorescent high bays. They’re great options for LED warehouse lights if you want a look that’s similar to your existing fixtures.  These high bay lights have a low profile. And because they’re panel style with linear led strips, LED linear high bays offer great light distribution. They are much larger than UFO warehouse lights and are usually only recommended for indoor use.

3. How many LED watts do you need to replace Metal Halide / Fluorescent Lights?<

This is a tricky question because LEDs are much more efficient than other types of lighting. Watts are a measurement of the amount of energy consumed, and because LEDs use less energy to produce the same amount of light, you can’t just swap one out for the other. 

General Guidelines for converting to LED wattage

  • 250 Watt Metal Halide, you should choose between 10,000 to 12,000 LED Lumens
  • 400 Watt Metal Halide, you should choose between 15,000 to 25,000 LED Lumens
  • 1000 Watt Metal Halide, you should choose between 36,000 to 55,000 LED Lumens
  • 4 tube F54T5HO, you should choose between 10,000 to 12,000 LED Lumens
  • 6 tube F54T5HO, you should choose between 15,000 to 25,000 LED Lumens
  • 8 tube F54T5HO, you should choose between 36,000 to 55,000 LED Lumens

4. Do you need high voltage fixtures?

LED warehouse lights have these common voltage ranges: 

100-277 Volts (most popular)
277-480 Volts
347-480 Volts (for Canada)

LED warehouse lights don’t need manual voltage adjustment as they do it themselves as per the incoming voltage. However, you must purchase warehouse lights only according to the correct voltage.  

5. Determine the Brightness Your Warehouse Needs

As we said earlier, every warehouse setting is different. And, although you may not be aware of it, your warehouse’s ceiling and walls can have an impact on the illumination. Walls and ceilings with light colors like white and cream reflect light, decreasing the number of lumens a space needs.

While darker colors, on the other hand, absorb light and require more lumens. The fewer watts the light uses, the more savings you’ll experience. So if you have generally well-lit space with access to daylight, switching to low-wattage LEDs can and will significantly reduce your warehouse’s energy consumption.  


6. Pick the Right Color Temperature

Light color temperature is often dismissed as an unchangeable aspect of the light. But, with LED lighting, you have complete control over the color temperature of your light. Why is it important to choose the right color temperature?

Because color temperature dictates how people see objects and also affects mood and productivity. It is usually measured in Kelvins and describes the color characteristics of a light source (warm, cool, bright, natural, daylight, etc.).

The two most common color temperatures are:

4000K – or Warm White
5000K – or Day White

These are by far the most common options used in today’s warehouse conversions to LED. For those who like the bright white of Metal Halide, then 5000K would be your option. If you’re looking for a slightly warmer light, then 4000K should be a consideration.

Color Temperature Bulbs  

7. What CRI Do You Need for Warehouse Light?

First and foremost, CRI refers to the Color Rendering Index which grades a light based on its quality. Light quality is extremely important because it directly affects how well people see and how they discern color. So what is the ideal CRI for warehouse lighting?

Well, it all depends on what type of warehouse you have. 90%+ of all warehouses will be fine with 70 CRI LED Lights. However, in a setting where color differentiation is an important part of everyday tasks, we recommend a higher CRI, somewhere between 80-95.

Switching to LEDs is likely an upgrade in CRI, regardless of their score, because the light they produce is higher quality than the light from HPS, Metal Halide, and fluorescent sources. Just converting to LEDs can greatly improve the light quality in any warehouse.  



8. What About Light Distribution in Warehouses?

Warehouse LEDs

Little known fact: light distribution is just as important as light levels. It’s important to be knowledgeable about your facility’s light distribution to get the best possible results from your lights.  There are many different options to consider for warehouse lighting, and choosing the right optic can mean the difference between good and great lighting. In fact, in some cases, choosing no optic is the best choice.

So how can you determine your ideal light distribution before you purchase new lights? That’s easy, get a photometric light plan. A photometric light plan will help you understand how well the light is distributed throughout an entire area.

It will also help you predict shadows and bright spots, and aid in your goal of achieving even light distribution. It will even let you know if you need to add optics to narrow down the beam angles in the case of high ceiling heights or warehouse rack rows. And, it will help you plan out where and how to install task lighting. The best way to prepare for converting to LED lighting is to use a photometric lighting plan.


9. Occupancy Sensors and Dimming

Although many different settings benefit from motion sensors and dimming controls, there are few that are affected more than warehouses. Warehouses are extremely large spaces, with many areas that are not often occupied or in use.

Occupancy sensors and dimming controls do away with the need to switch lights on and off every time you come and go, saving you time and money. In fact, by using your warehouse lights only when necessary, you could cut energy costs by up to 30%. 


If you want your motion sensor to dim the fixture, you need a 0-10V dimmable LED driver. If you are ok with just On-Off, the driver does not need to be dimmable.


0-10V drivers – 0V doesn’t always mean off. It can sometimes mean 10% on. Ask an LED lighting expert about your specific fixture before purchasing.

LED warehouse lighting

How much will you save when you convert to LED?

Here is the costs savings you can expect if you convert your 400W HID  light source over to LED. In the table below, we show the savings per fixture for every fixture converted over per year. It assumes a run rate of 12 hours per day. We chose a 150W LED Fixture, but what you need may be less than this.

Here is the costs savings you can expect if you convert your 1000W HID equivalent lights over to LED. In the table below, we show the savings per fixture for every fixture converted over per year. It assumes a run rate of 12 hours per day. We chose a 320W LED Fixture for this example.

150 Watts LED replacing 400 Watts HID

12 hrs/day 365 days/yr saving 1358 kw/year *

Calculated savings is per fixture

If your cost per kw/h is Your savings per year
.06 $81
.08 $109
.10 $136
.12 $163
.14 $190
.16 $217
.18 $244
.20 $272

* includes ballast draw 

320 Watts LED replacing 1000 Watts HID

12 hrs/day 365 days/yr saving 3635 kw/year *

Calculated savings is per fixture

If your cost per kw/h is Your savings per year
.06 $218
.08 $291
.10 $364
.12 $436
.14 $509
.16 $582
.18 $654
.20 $727

* includes ballast draw


How many LED lumens to replace 400W Metal Halide Warehouse Light?

We have found that a range between 18,000 and 30,000 offers the best lumen packages to replace 400W HID. For an answer specific to your warehouse we suggest doing a photometric study, which we provide for free.

How many LED lumens to replace 1000W Metal Halide Warehouse Light?

This is a very subjective question. Best can change based on the specific needs of the customer. What is best for one area may not be best for another. Factors may require the use of specific fixtures to solve facility conditions. It may be because of a need to alter light levels, even out light distribution, high ambient heat or higher than normal mounting heights. Or it may be in a hazardous location requiring explosion proof lighting.

We can help you determine the best High Bay LED Light for your application. We can provide you with the guidance to make the best selection.


What are the best color temperatures to use for Warehouse Lights?

The two most popular is 4000K and 5000K. 5000K is a good replacement for Metal Halide for warehouse fixtures. If you are currently using 4000K Fluorescent tube or HPS, 4000K would be a good option.

How many LED high bay lights do I need in my warehouse?

The best way to do this is to create a lighting layout using your warehouse. A lighting layout uses buildings dimensions and other factors and creates a software representation. We can then add your existing light locations and model this with different light options.

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