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Guide to Retrofitting HID Fixtures with LED Retrofit Kits

Guide to Retrofitting HID Fixtures with LED Retrofit Kits

1. What are Metal Halide (HID) to LED Retrofit Kits?

Metal Halide fixtures are common place in many commercial and industrial locations. You will find metal halide parking lot lights, flood lights, wall packs, high masts and street lights to name a few. 

A LED retrofit kit is a set of LED components that allows you to replace the metal halide components with LED components using the existing fixture.

2. Why would you retrofit a fixture and not just replace it?

Quite simply, replacement is not always the best and most economical option.

Some fixtures are expensive, and replacing it becomes a costly proposition.

Some fixtures would require significant permitting if they were replaced, where as the permitting process can be by-passed if only the metal halide components are replaced.

Some installations require expensive engineering drawings if fixtures are replaced. Retrofitting allows these companies to bypass the costly process of re-engineering.


3. Why are Metal Halide lights referred to as HID Lights?

HID, or High Intensity Discharge, is a family of lights that included metal halide, high pressure sodium and mercury vapor. They essentially are a bulb and ballast combination of very bright lights. In the context of this discussion, when we mention metal halide, the same applies for high pressure sodium and mercury vapor.


4. What parts are you replacing when you convert a metal halide fixture to LED?

Typically, we are replacing the bulb, ballast and socket with a LED Heads, LED Driver and mounting hardware. We can also remove the reflector inside the fixture. It is not needed (LED is directional and there is no light to reflect) and it opens the fixture space up for more cooling air space.


5. Are retrofit kits certified by UL and/or ETL? Will the fixture lose its UL certification?

The retrofit kits we sell are all tested to the UL1598C retrofit kit specification. Which means UL and ETL test the retrofit kits installed inside and existing HID fixture to make sure it performs safely. The UL1598C is a retrofit kit certification.  Your fixture is safe when you follow the installation instructions.


6. What Metal Halide Bulbs can you replace with LED Retrofit Kits?

The retrofit kits we offer can replace everything from 150 Watts Metal Halide to well over 1000 Watts. For the the most common bulbs, here are the most common replacement kits for the most common metal halide wattages.

1. Replace 150W Metal Halide: 30W LED Retrofit Kit

2. Replace 250W Metal Halide: 75W LED Retrofit Kit

3. Replace 400W Metal Halide: 100W LED Retrofit Kit

4. Replace 1000W Metal Halide: 280W LED Retrofit Kit

7. Are Retrofit Kits Water Proof?


Our LED HID Retrofit Kits easily install inside an IP rated indoor or outdoor fixture. Keep them dry and the will perform without issue for years. For outdoor use, your fixture must be rated IP65 or higher.

The retrofit kits are not IP65 rated, so they should never be installed exposed to the outdoor elements.


8. Can LED Retrofit Kits handle higher voltages, like 480V?

We have solutions that cover these higher voltage installations. Constant current drivers can handle everything from 100V to 277V.

Higher voltage drivers can handle 277V to 480V. We can handle single or 3-phase power as well. Talk to our sales engineers and we can get your lighting situation taken care of.

480V High Voltage?

The standard driver with our HID Retrofit Kits are 100V to 277V. Tell our sales engineer that you need a high voltage solution so we can ship you our high voltage drivers.

9. Are LED Retrofit Kits for Metal Halide Dimmable?

Yes, but you need a special 0-10V dimmable driver. These are typically 2 extra wires found on the driver, one grey and one purple. They can be attached to 0-10V dimmer switches or controls that allow dimming, like motion sensors.


10. Will LED Retrofit Kits work with controls like motion sensors and photocells?

Yes! And unlike metal halide, they work perfectly with motion sensors because LED is instant on – instant off, unlike HID bulbs.


11. How much money can you expect to save when you convert over to LED?

Its easy to save 50% and as much as 75%, and even higher when you use controls. For example, our 100W retrofit kit replaces 400W metal halide. When you add in the power consumption of the metal halide driver, then the consumption is actually around 455 watts. That’s 100 Watts replacing 455 Watts. That’s over 78% savings.


12. Some kits on the market use mogul socket adapters to install the kit to the fixture. Is this good?


Many old fixtures have an E39 socket or mogul base. They engineers designed then to hold a 400W and 1000W HID bulb, not retrofit kits that weigh 5X more.

Imagine a shoebox fixture in an outdoor application, 20 ft in the air on a windy day. The fixture will sway, stress the mogul socket and eventually fail. The retrofit kit will fall to the glass of the fixture.

LED Lighting Supply Kits include mounting adapters to replace the mogul socket. This provides a secure, fail safe mount for the LED Head. Our installation procedure includes the removal of the mogul socket.

DesignLights Consortium DLC Premium Qualifications only apply to direct mount kits. So if you want a safer mounting option and a higher rebate, avoid using a mogul base adapter.


13. How easy is it to install a retrofit kit inside an existing fixture?

  1. Turn off the Power to the existing fixture, and open the fixture up to expose the bulb and ballast.
  2. Remove the bulb, ballast and socket from the fixture.
  3. Remove the reflector – only if the reflector is not part of the fixture’s watertight seal.
  4. Install the LED driver in the location of the old HID Ballast. Wire the driver to the same wires that powered the ballast.
  5. Configure the mounting arm for your fixture. Install the arm to the fixture and then install the LED Head to the mounting arm.
  6. Connect the wires of the LED Head to the wires of the LED Driver.
  7. Position and aim the LED Head to optimize light distribution.
  8. Remove the protective plastic cover from the LED head.
  9. Clean the glass of the fixture (if required) and close the fixture.
  10. Turn the power back on.


14. How efficient are retrofit kits?

Efficacy and Lumens per Watt Matter when you want to replace Metal Halide!

LED Lighting Supply has one of the most efficient commercial LED HID Retrofit Kits available. Looking for a 400 watt Metal Halide bulb upgrade? Our 100W LED conversion retrofit produces 15,550 lumens. That’s 155 lumens per watt.

Why does this matter?

Consider other competitive options available. One such product is a 340 W retrofit unit producing 39000 lumens @ 114.7 lumens per watt. In comparison, our 350 Watt retrofit kit produces 50,750 lumens @ 145 lumens per watt. Even our 280 Watt unit produces more lumens (43,120) than their 340 Watt unit. We produce more light and consume 60 Watts less energy. Converting to LED saves money by using less electricity. Why would you choose old and outdated LED technology?


So lumens is one thing, but let’s calculate this another way.

You want to reduce your lighting bill (or grab hold of the other benefits LED has to offer). It’s all about producing the right amount of light and doing it using the least amount of energy. If you have outdoor area lights and are looking to retrofit them, you can choose our product at 100 Watt / 15,550 lumens. Or you can choose their product at 135 Watt / 13,164 lumens. They both have 10-year warranties.

Their product is DLC Standard. Ours kits are DLC Premium Qualified. For every light you replace with our Kit instead of theirs, you will burn 35 less watts and produce 2,386 more lumens.

Converting HID bulbs to energy efficient Commercial Lighting Retrofits will save you money. So before you buy, you need to shop and determine which DLC Qualified LED Retrofit kit will save you the most.

“Never buy a retrofit bulb, lamp or solution based on watts. Determine the lumens you need and get the most efficient retrofit that uses the least amount of energy.”

Fixtures you can install a LED Retrofit Kit in

LED Shoebox – Parking Lot Fixture

Designed for outdoor shoebox fixtures, retrofit kits convert existing parking fixtures to LED. Our 100 watt Retrofit Kit replaces 400W MH and HPS. We have 280W, 320W and 350W to replace 1000 Watt to 1500 Watt HID fixtures.

LED Retrofit Kit
LED Retrofit Kit installed inside Shoebox Fixture

Wall Mounted Wall Pack 

Ideal for proving light around the outside of a commercial or industrial setting. Converting to LED saves you money and provides you with bright, high quality white light.

Wall Pack Retrofit Image

LED Retrofit Kit installed inside WallPack Fixture

Canopy – Garage Light

Designed for your canopy fixtures which mount at a gas & petroleum station. Retro-fitting canopy lights with LED is a cost savings alternative to new canopy fixtures!

Canopy Light Retrofit Image

LED Retrofit Kit installed inside Canopy Fixture

Low Bay

Designed for low bay fixtures in parking garage, warehouse & factory locations.

Canopy Light Retrofit Image

LED Retrofit Kit installed in Low Bay Fixture

LED Lumens Comparison

LED Lumens Comparison

Why is it you can replace some lights with more ‘advertised’ lumens with a LED light with less lumens. Here are 4 reasons why you can use less LED lumens to replace traditional Metal Halide or HID lights.


1. You need less lumens when you have Directional Light 

LED light is directional. Conventional light sources are omni-directional. They require reflectors to gather the light and focus it. Any reflection that is over 1 bounce effectively loses the effect of the lumen. It has been proven that you can lose up to 30% of the effective lumens in this process.


2. You need less lumens when you have better lumen quality

This is related to Color Rendering Index, or CRI. The best explanation is a simple test. Compare LED Light to High Pressure Sodium. It is not uncommon to have customers tell you that 20,000 lumens of LED appear brighter than 60,000 lumens of HPS. The basic truth is you need less quantity when you have higher quality. CRI is a scale between 0 and 100. It measures the quality of an artificial light source compared to a high quality light source, like the sun. Read more about CRI here.


3. Photopic and Scotopic Lumens – It’s real

This has to do with how a camera perceives lumens and how humans perceive lumens. Photopic lumens are lumens detected by a light meter. Light meters register photopic lumens. Scotopic lumens are lumens detected by the human eye. LED produces light within our range of visible spectrum’s. The light created by LED is light we use. It is rare to see a LED light produce IP or UV spectrum. These wavelengths are invisible to people, so they have no value to us from a vision perspective.

Scotopic lumens uses a factor to adjust the photopic value of light. It gives a truer representation of how useful the lumens are. The factor, developed by scientists, is an attempt to level the playing field. The factor’s used to adjust the effective value of the lumen. This factor may move the photopic lumen up or down. HPS lights have a factor that reduces the effective scotopic lumen amount. LED has a factor > 1.7, which means the lumens it is producing is far more effective to us. Less photopic LED lumens are needed, where as more HPS lumens are needed to effectively light up an area.


4. Lumen Degradation of Metal Halide versus LED

It is not uncommon for HID bulbs to have lost up to 50% of its initial lumens after only 5000 hours of life. Yet these bulbs are rated for 20000 hours. That means the customer is using a bulb that is performing poorly for 15000 hours of its life. As well, as lumens degrade, so does the quality of the light (CRI). And so the “effective lumens” of the light is dropping quickly.

We have been very successful replacing 400W Metal Halide fixtures with our 100 Watt to 150 Watt LED Fixture. The comments we here back from our customers is the light is brighter and the area is better lit.


HID Fixture

HID Fixture

What is a HID Fixture?


A HID fixture is a lighting device that consists of a fixture, a HID bulb, a ballast, reflectors and a mount. HID is an acronym for High Intensity Discharge, and applies to a family of high lumen bulbs. Mercury Vapor, Metal Halide. Ceramics, Sodium Vapor and Xenon based bulbs are all considered to be HID bulbs. All HID bulbs need a ballast that converts AC line power into energy used to power the HID bulb.

The bulbs are omni-directional in nature, and they create light in all directions. To focus HID lights, adding reflectors and lenses to the fixture to direct the light where its needed. HID bulbs are very bright, but required a long strike time to produce greatest levels of light. If you switch off a fixture, the amount of time it takes to re-cycle the fixture is considerable. The two most common HID bulbs are metal halide bulbs and sodium vapor bulbs. Both bulbs are distinctive. Sodium bulbs are orange in color, metal halide are whiter.


Applications for HID Fixtures


HID fixtures are for high lumen applications. Indoor applications like gymnasiums, warehouses, bay fixtures, shop lighting, recessed lights and factory lights. Outdoor applications include parking lots, stadiums, street lights and area lights. HID bulbs come in a variety of wattages for different applications.

  • Large fixtures with high wattage bulbs use 1000W, 1500W and 2000W HID bulbs. 
  • Smaller bulbs used in bay fixtures and parking lit lights use 250W and 400W bulbs.
  • Smaller wall mounted fixtures with less lighting requirements, 100W and 150W bulbs.


Life of a HID bulb

HID bulbs have different lifespans, between 12,00 hours to 20,000 hours. During this lifespan, light out degrades with the age of the bulb. It is not uncommon that after 1/2 life of the bulb, the HID bulb has lost over 50% of its effective lumens.

A bulb that has used 80% of its life is only producing 20% of its initial lumens. Thus, it is not uncommon to replace bulbs well before complete End of Life.

 A phenomenon associated with HID lamp wear and aging is discoloration of the light. In whiter based HID bulbs, this means the shift is to a blue or violet shade.


Converting HID Fixtures over to LED


So why are users of HID Fixtures converting to LED? When LED was in its infancy 11 years ago, LED barely produced enough light to replace HID bulbs. LED was inefficient, and expensive.

LEDs have matured, and mass production has brought down the cost of the product. LED options now produce enough lumens to compete against their HID counterparts. LED offer several advantages over the HID fixtures.

  • LED is energy efficient, using 25% of the energy that a HID bulb uses to produce the same amount of lumens.
  • LED’s life spans are longer than HID bulbs. A 20,000 hour HID bulb has a L50 of 10,000 hours. Some LED fixtures currently have a L70 exceeding 100,000 hours.
  • The purity of LED light is better than HID lighting. Some metal halide bulbs have a high Color Rendering Index (CRI), but most LED products have a high CRI. Sodium Vapor bulbs have a horrible CRI.


Replacing HID fixtures or Retrofitting HID Fixtures


There are 2 options that are available converting HID to LED: replace or retrofit. Replacement means removing the fixture and a installing a new LED fixture. Retrofit is removing HID components from the fixture and replacing with LED components. Both options have pros and cons. Which one to use depends on circumstances unique to the fixture and installation.

LED Kits for HID Fixtures are a series of 11 kits designed to replace all HID bulbs ranging from 150W to 1500W. HID Retrofit Kits are a certified retrofit solution. As part of the installation process, remove the reflector as it is not required. Expect energy savings around 75% over their HID counterparts. Life span should exceed 10+ years under normal operating conditions.


LED Lighting Supply HID to LED Retrofit Kits


HID Retrofit Kit

LED HID Retrofit Kits


Shoebox Retrofit Image


LED Canopy Light Retrofit Kit


LED Wall Pack Retrofit Kit

LED vs Metal Halide Lighting: 9 Reasons LED Wins (Especially No. 3)

LED vs Metal Halide Lighting: 9 Reasons LED Wins (Especially No. 3)

We all know that converting from Metal Halide (HID) to LED will save you money. But how much? Are there any other reasons or difference you should know about with LED vs Metal Halide lights?

In this article we break down the factors to be aware of before deciding to convert from Metal Halide to LED. Here are the 9 reasons LED wins over Metal Halide.

Converting from Metal Halide to LED?

We can help!

1. Lamp (Source) Efficiency Vs Fixture (System) Efficiency

Let’s take a look at the information on a typical 400 watt metal halide bulb. A popular online website shows the specifications a new Metal Halide bulb:

Color Temperature: 4000K
Initial Lumens: 32,000 to 36,000
Life Hours: 20,000

A white paper by the Dark Sky Society rated the mean lumens for a 400W Metal Halide to be 20,500 lumens. The rated life expectancy to be around 15,000 hours. But for purposes of this discussion, we will stick with the numbers we are familiar with.

There is a lot of interesting information to look at. Initial lumens is a very high number. But in reality, a Metal Halide bulb starts off very bright and then drops its lumens. It is not uncommon to lose as much as 20% in the first 6 months alone. So while 36,000 lumens sounds impressive, within 6 months, it can be below 30,000 lumens. Lumen depreciation in a metal halide bulb is quick. At half life of the bulb, around 8,000-10,000 hours, lumen depreciation is already at 50%.

Let’s look at the operating nature of the bulb. A Metal Halide bulb is omni-directional. That means light distribution in every direction. So it produces as much light parallel to the ground as it does facing downwards.

To make this light useful, you need to gather it, collect it, and deliver it to where you want it. In fixture design, you add a reflector to do this job. The issue is how effective the reflector is at bouncing light downward. A lumen that bounces off the reflector and bounces back into the fixture a lost lumen. Anything more than one bounce is throw-away. You can lose as much as 30% or greater of the light in this reflective bounce. So lets do the math of a metal halide bulb. In an industrial indoor bay fixture, we assume the initial lumens of the lamp at 36,000 lumens. After 6 months we would expect the fixture effective lumen efficiency to be:

36,000 lumens – 20% (initial lumen loss) = 28,800 lumens

Lumens loss from reflector bounce: 8,640

Total lumens after 6 months in indoor bay fixture: 20,160

This does not take into account any lenses or shields that the fixture might already have. Keep in mind, this is bulb lumens, not fixture lumens. So anything else that gets in the way of moving light to the ground will always take away from effective lumens.

Compare this to LED. If you think of a LED fixture or one of our LED Retrofit Kits that replaces HID, all the light is directional. Reflectors are not required. There is nothing to reflect. Lumen depreciation, it does happen in LED, but it takes a lot longer for it to happen. For example, our retrofits have a L70 (lumen depreciation to 70% of initial lumens) of over 100,000 hours. Metal Halide loses a lot of lumens in the first 6 months of life, LED tends to maintain its lumens for a lot longer.

2. LEDs Superior Operating Life

As mentioned, the operating life of a typical Metal Halide bulb seems to be around 20,000 hours. Larger bulbs, like a 1000 watt Metal Halide, are around 15,000 hours. LED solutions, there are different ways suppliers describe the life of the product. One way is to mention L70. L70 is not a measurement of end of life, but it is a measurement of lumen degradation up to 70% of initial lumens. This does not mean the driver or ballast or some other component might fail.

What we do know is the life of a Metal Halide bulb is around 15,000 to 20,000 hours. What we also know is that at half life, it has already lost 50% of its initial lumens. So while not dead, it’s ineffective. For the record, it still consumes 400+ watts even though it is half as bright.

Compare that to our Retrofit Products rated at 100,000 hours (L70). So by the time the LED head reaches 100,000 hours, you have done 5 or more Metal Halide bulb replacements.

3. Efficiency (lumens/watt) – LED vs Metal Halide

This is the pre-cursor to the next topic, energy savings. But the basic premise is the more efficient the bulb is, the more money you will save. So let’s calculate the lumen efficiency of metal halide versus LED.

Here’s how to calculate lumen efficiency. Take the total lumens produced and divide it by the total watts consumed. In the case of Metal Halide, you also have to include ballast draw. If you recorded the total watts consumed of a typical 400W bulb, it is around 455 watts. The ballast consumes about 15% more energy over and above the bulb consumption.

So calculating lumen efficiency for metal halide: 36,000 lumens / 455 watts = 79.12 lumens/watt.

Let’s compare that with our 150 watt Retrofit Unit: 23,250 lumens / 150 watts = 155 lumens/watt. Almost double of Metal Halide.

Remember the golden rule: Efficiency Saves Money!


Lumens Per Watt Image

4. LED vs Metal Halide Energy Savings

In the above discussion, lets point out something important. Above we talked about the mean lumens of a 400W Metal Halide to be around 20,500 lumens. Our 150W retrofit kit produces 23,250 lumens, but instead of burning 455 watts, it consumes only 150 watts.

That represents a 66% savings in energy consumed to produce more light. But the truth of the matter, 23,250 lumens to replace 400W Metal Halide is over kill. For years, we have been selling our 100W HID Retrofit at 15,500 lumens to replace 400W Metal Halide. Here is a recent example by a customer did. He wanted to compare our retrofit kit vs his existing Metal Halide fixture.

In the comparison picture below, the LED produces enough light to cast a shadow from the pole in the light generated by the metal halide light. LED HID Retrofit Image

5. LED Wins with Savings on Maintenance

We have many customers who convert to LED because of maintenance savings. Think about what we discussed, over the life of the LED product, a customer would have to do 5-6 bulb replacements. The higher the installation height, the higher the cost of replacement. If you have a facility loaded with lights, this can be a significant recurring cost every year.

Reduced maintenance time on lights do not translate into dollars saved. This is because it is unlikely that people will lose their jobs over the fact there is much less work to do. These people will have time to focus on other tasks. Focusing on more important maintenance can be very important to any business.

6. Quality of Light – LED has high CRI

When you take a measurement of light with a light meter, it reads lumens. Foot candle is a measurement of all the fixture contributing to light at a location. But let’s think about that light that is being measured. Metal Halide creates all sorts of light, in all spectrum’s, visible or otherwise. This includes UV and IR spectrum’s, visible to the measuring device but not visible to the human eye. LED does not produce UV and IR. Light produced by LED is all visible to the human eye.

So there is a fun little test you can do. Have 2 light sources, LED and Metal Halide. And first ask, which one is brighter? In many instances, it should be the LED Light source. And then use a light meter, and the light meter may say the Metal Halide area is producing more foot candles. And so now you know part of the reason, but wait, there’s 2 other pieces of information you need to know.

One is Color Rendering Index, or CRI. It is a measurement of Quality of Light. It’s a scale between 0 and 100, 100 is excellent. And LED tends to have a high CRI value. So the other golden rule we say is “You need less quantity when you have more quality”. Metal Halide bulbs can be good, and are much better than High Pressure Sodium. But LED tends to be much better, so we perceive the light generated by LED to be brighter. More about this in the next section.


LED Color Rendering Index (CRI)

7. Photopic vs Scotopic Lumens

Many years ago, the discussion of photopic vs scotopic lumens as voodoo magic talk. There were those who believed in the difference and as many who discounted it. This is a discussion of how humans see light (scotopic) vs how a light meter perceives light (photopic). It is true people are able to see, and light is a big part of why we are able to see. Walk into a dark bat cave and you will understand how important light is. Our eyes consist of rods and cones, and how they work allows us to see colors and perceive objects at night. You will notice that it is harder to see colors in the dark. That is how our eyes work. Cameras and light meters work when detecting light. But what they do read they register and they interpret what it is ‘reading’.

Scientists and physicists tried to make sense of this by coming up with “scotopic lumens”. They then took it a step further and created a series of factors. These factors compare different light sources by how lights appears: scotopic versus photopic. What came out was a series of factors between 0 and 3. Some light sources have reduced effective lumens, like High Pressure Sodium. Some light sources increased by these factors, like LED. The factor associated with LED was higher than Metal Halide. It helps to understand why LED Lights are brighter than other light sources. Even though the light meter tells us something different.


LED Photopic Luemsn

8. Rebates at time of purchase

Utility companies are trying to get their customers to convert to LED. Why? It’s a matter of economics for them. Demand for electricity is growing. So once they reach capacity, they have to choices, build more capacity or reduce demand. Reducing demand is far more cost effective than increasing capacity. Utility companies offer rebates to those who buy LED. They want you to convert from Metal Halide. Every utility company runs their own rebate program. But in general, there are some consistent processes and guidelines. For the most part:

Utilities offer both prescriptive and custom rebate options. A prescriptive rebate specifies which LED fixtures can replace a metal halide fixture. A custom rebate is for those exceptions not covered by prescriptive conditions.

Most LED products need to be DesignLights Consortium Qualified. This is a symbol of efficiency and performance. It is the equivalence of Energy Star for consumer products. It tells the customer the lights passed a specific lighting standard.

These rebates help reduce the cost and will affect the pay back of the investment. With reduced cost, the time to repay the investment goes down with addition of rebate dollars.

With Metal Halide there are no rebates. Sorry.

9. New versus Retrofit – Converting to LED

So at this point you are thinking that converting from Metal Halide to LED is a good idea. But this is where the journey begins. What to choose, what vendor to work with, new or retrofit. Think of the LED Market as the wild west. And with every gun show there are the snake oil salesman trying to get you to buy their lotions. In the LED world, there are many lotions, misconceptions and marvelous marketing ideas. For example, well built LED Retrofits will perform as well as a new LED fixture. It doesn’t always make sense to replace the fixture, nor does it always make sense to retrofit a fixture.


Can I replace metal halide with LED?

Yes, and done so easily. With today’s efficiencies, you can replace 1000W Metal Halide with as little as 240W LED (assuming high lumens/watt). You can replace 400W Metal Halide with as little as 100W LED (assuming high lumens/watt).

What is the LED equivalent of a 400 watt metal halide?

The LED equivalent, in terms of lumens, is between 15,000 and 25,000 lumens. Assuming 150 lumens/watt efficiencies, thats a 100W to 165W LED.

What is the LED equivalent of a 1000 watt metal halide?

The LED equivalent, in terms of lumens, is between 45,000 and 60,000 lumens. Assuming 150 lumens/watt efficiencies, thats a 300W to 400W LED.

Are metal halide bulbs energy efficient?

Metal Halide ranges between 60 and 100 lumens / watt. LED by comparison, ranges between 130 and 180 lumens per watt. (based on 2020 data)

Converting from Metal Halide to LED?

We can help!

Comparing LED to Metal Halide

LEDMetal Halide
Color TemperatureLEDs are available in a wide range of color temperatures from 2700K (warm yellow) to 6500K (cool blue).Metal halide lamps generate a white light between 3000K and 5000K.
Color RenderingCRI for LED is dependent on the particular light in question. That said, a very broad spectrum of CRI values is available ranging generally from 65-95.Metal Halide are a good source of high CRI white light. It is a better light than high pressure sodium.
Turning On and OffLEDs are an instant on and install off. No noticeable strike time is detectable.Metal Halide lights have a long warm up time and can take 15-30 minutes to get to full power.
DimmableLEDs are controllable when equipped with the proper driver. Most industrial dimmers are 0-10V dimmers. Commercial consumer LEDs are triac dimmable using a regular LED compatible dimmer switch.Metal halide lights are dimmable using electric or magnetic ballasts.
Directionality of LightLEDs are directional and the light goes where pointed. Without optics, reflectors are not required unless you need a specific distribution pattern.Metal Halide lights are omni-directional emitting light in a 360 degree pattern. To focus the light, reflectors and lenses can be used to collect the light and then direct it as needed.
Lumens per WattLEDs are very efficient with efficiencies approaching 200 lumens/watt. Not all LEDs are the same, and efficiency varies from product to product.Metal Halide lights average efficiency range between 70 and 100 lumens/watt. This does not include ballast draw which can add another 15% of energy consumption.
L70 in hoursLED L70 times (years passed until lumen output reaches 70% of initial lumens) range from 30,000 to over 200,000 hours.Metal Halide lights have a very quick L70 period, when a bulb reaches 30% of its life, it has reached its L70 mark. When a bulb is at 1/2 life, it is only producing 1/2 of its intial lumens.
Light EmissionsLEDs do not produce Ultra Violet or Infrared Light unless designed to do so. The light it generates is all visible light.Metal Halide lights produce both IR and UV light.
Heat EmissionsLEDs produce very little heat. All LED lights do requires some sort of heat sink to reduce the heat produced by the LEDs.Metal halide bulbs produce a tremendous amount of heat. Fixtures designed for Metal Halide must be large enough to handle the heat generated. A Metal Halide bulb turned on for a few hours is far too hot to touch.
FailureLEDs fail over time by producing less light.Metal Halide bulbs exhibit an end-of-life process called cycling. The lamp may go on and off. The bulb will fail at some point.
LifespanIndustrial LEDs last between 50,000 and 100,000 hours or more. The lifespan of a LED driver is different than the LEDs themselves. It may be possible to replace the LED driver in the fixture to extend the life of the product.Metal Halide lights have typical bulb lifespan values range from 6,000 hours to 20,000 hours. Metal Halide ballasts operate on a different life cycle with it’s own lifespan cycle.
Lifetime CostsLED lighting has higher initial cost and very low lifetime costs. It pays back over time with lower energy consumption and reduced maintenance costs.Metal halide lights have a lower initial cost but are expensive to maintain. Metal halide bulbs consume more energy than a LED Fixture and have a higher maintenance cost.
Maintenance CostsThere are few maintenance costs associated with LED during the lifespan. Only fixture cleaning if needed.Metal Halide bulbs need regular re-lamping and ballast replacement. It is not uncommon to do 4-6 bulb replacements over the lifespan of a comparable LED product.
Shock Resistance and Impact RatingLEDs are solid state lights which are difficult to damage. In extreme conditions, look for lights with an impact resistance rating (IKxx)Metal halide bulbs are fragile. If broken, metal halide bulbs need special handling and disposal.
Temperature ConditionsVaries, but -30C to 50C is pretty common. Extreme LED fixtures are available up to 90CData shows -40C to ??
Warranty5 to 10 years1 to 2 years



There you have it, 9 backed up and legitimate reasons the fight of LED vs Metal Halide is no longer a fight. LED is a clear winner in every aspect of a light. It as the perfect HID Replacement.

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What Does it Take to Replace a 1000 Watt Metal Halide?

What Does it Take to Replace a 1000 Watt Metal Halide?

Before LED lighting became the powerhouse that it is today, the most common form of commercial lighting was metal halide lights. Nowadays, however, metal halide lights are at best, outdated. LED lighting provides a long-lasting, economical alternative that saves you money and minimizes energy usage.

Making the switch from metal halides to LED fixtures may appear to be an intimidating task but in reality, and with the right help, it’s a frictionless process.

We’ve been in this space for a while now, and along the way, we’ve received countless questions about how to replace metal halide lights with LEDs. Some of the most common questions are:

“How many LED watts does it take to replace a 1000 watt metal halide bulb?”

“How can I replace my metal halide light?”

“Is it even possible to replace my metal halide fixture with another technology?”

Answering the last question is simple, “Yes you can replace your metal halide fixture.” The other two require a bit more background to comprehensively cover all the information. If you want to what you need to replace a 1,000-watt metal halide, just keep reading.


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How many LED watts does it take to replace a 1000 watt metal halide?

It seems like a straightforward question but the reality is that it’s a little more complicated than that. LEDs are designed for lower energy consumption, and as such, naturally have a lower wattage. This means that a 60 watt LED light is much, much brighter than its metal halide counterpart. Therefore, you cannot base your decision on watts. Instead, you need to focus on the number of lumens you need. Once you have that figured out, finding a replacement fixture is easy. 

Want help figuring out your facility’s lighting? Request one of our free lighting plans for a customized, lighting layout that eliminates any guessing.

What is a lumen?

Essentially, a lumen is a unit of light. It’s the way in which we measure how bright light output is, and it’s how you’ll determine which LED light is best to replace your 1,000 watt metal halides. 

Brand new, fresh out of the bag metal halide fixtures have an initial output of about 100,000 lumens per 1000 watt bulb. As we mentioned earlier, the wattage of the metal halide does not correlate with the wattage of an LED. So, even though you have a 1,000 watt metal halide fixture, you will not need to replace it with a 1,000 watt LED fixture. Instead, you’ll focus on the lumens. 

In the above example, the light is producing 100 lumens per watt. How do we know this? Well, the fixture produces 100,000 lumens total using a 1,000-watt bulb. And, although these aren’t terrible stats, they leave a lot of room for improvement.

100,000 lumens seems bright because it is bright. However, unlike LEDs, metal halide bulbs suffer from fast and immediate lumen degradation. From the instant you first flip the switch, the bulb becomes less and less bright. Around its half-life point, you can expect a metal halide bulb to be at 50% capacity. And, at about 5,000 hours of usage, you’ll find that a metal halide bulb has reached L70. L70 is the term used when a bulb is performing at 70% of its initial capacity. To give you some context, the L70 time of LED lights is anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 hours. 

LED lifespan

Loss of Lumens 

Even if your metal halide is in fact brand new, chances are that you’re losing lumens to light reflection. LED light is directional so this is not an issue, but HID light sources require reflectors to focus the light. Anytime this light bounces off more than surface, a lumen is lost. Studies estimate that about 30% of light is lost to reflection. 

That means that even if you’re metal halide bulb is still functioning in prime condition at 100,000 lumens, 30,000 of those lumens are being lost.

Quality over Quantity

Thus far, we’ve only talked about the quantity of lumen output for a light fixture. However now, we’ll discuss quality.

To determine the quality of lumens, we’ll be using the Color Rendering Index (CRI). Generally speaking, lumens in an LED fixture have a higher CRI rating than those in a metal halide fixture.

This means that the light from an LED source is of higher quality than light from a metal halide bulb. With an LED fixture, you’ll be able to clearly see vibrant colors in their true form.

Therefore, when replacing a metal halide light with an LED fixture, you’ll likely need fewer lumens. In fact, customers tell us all the time that their 20,000 LED lumens lights seem much brighter than their 40,000 lumen metal halide light.


Photopic vs Scotopic Lumens

Photopic lumens are light that can only be detected by something like a light meter or camera. On the other hand, Scotopic lumens are those that are able to be seen by the human eye. Why is this relevant? Well, LEDs produce predominantly Scotopic lumens. In fact, it’s extremely, extremely rare for LEDs to produce any light on invisible spectrums. This is not the case with other types of light fixtures, including metal halide lights. 

In the LED lighting industry, we use something called the S/P ratio to determine exactly how many of the lumens a light emits are visible to the naked eye. Let’s say that you have a 40,000-lumen high-pressure sodium (HPS) fixture and a 12,000 lumen LED fixture. Based solely on this information, you might assume that the LED fixture will only provide 25% of the light that the HPS fixture does. However, with more comprehensive data, like an S/P ratio, you’ll likely find that this is not the case. Consider the following ratios:

LED S/P ratio = 2.0

HPS S/P ratio = 0.5

The scotopic lumens provided by each light source would then be the following:

         LED scotopic lumens = 12,000 lm x 2.0 = 24,000 lm

         HPS scotopic lumens = 40,000 lm x 0.5 = 20,000 lm

As you can see, although the LED fixture has fewer lumens than the HPS fixture, the LED light emits 4x more visible light, making it brighter.

Converting 1000W Metal Halide to LED

Although there is no exact formula for replacing a metal halide light with an LED, there are a few general takeaways that will help guide you through the process. 

  • Metal Halide bulbs are very bright out of the box but degrade.
  • LED light is directional. 
  • LED lights have a longer lifespan.
  • LEDs stay brighter for longer.
  • LED light is high-quality light. 

 Any metal halide light can be upgraded with an LED light of lower lumens for a brighter, longer-lasting fixture.

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So how many LED Lumens do you need?

Only a photometric can tell you exactly how much you need. But in our 10+ years of selling LED lighting, our general rule of thumb is:

  • Indoors: 45,000 to 65,000 lumens (depends on application and mounting height)
  • Outdoors: 40,000 to 75,000 lumens (depends on application and mounting height)

 You’ll find that in some instances you can cut wattage by up to 75% when replacing a metal halide light. Most LEDs have an efficiency rating of about 100 lumens/watt, but as technology advances you’ll find even more innovative options that run at about 200 lumens/watt.  

 To determine an exact number, request a free lighting plan from our experts.

What Does “Replacing a Metal Halide” Actually Mean?

Of course, there is the obvious, a full replacement of your current light. But there’s also an alternative option to consider: Retrofitting. While a true replacement consists of upgrading both the light source and the fixture, a retrofit kit allows you to just replace the light source. Retrofitting works best in facilities with well-maintained fixtures that are in good condition. If the fixture shell is outdated or damaged, replacement is the most viable option.

Make an Easy Upgrade

If your fixtures are new or well-maintained, Retrofit Kits are the best and easiest way to go. 

Are the LEDs in a retrofit kit as good as a LED fixture?

Absolutely. Despite what you may have heard, there is no reason that a retrofit conversion kit wouldn’t perform as well or last as long as a new LED fixture. As we mentioned, retrofits don’t always make sense. But, if you’re fixtures are well taken care of or extremely important to the branding/visuals of your facility, a retrofit will get the job done just as well as a brand new LED fixture. To further back this up, all of our retrofit kits have a 10-year warranty. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that retrofitting is usually cheaper. This is because it’s easier to work with materials that are already in place. So, if you can retrofit, we recommend that over brand new LED fixtures.

So, What Does it Take to Replace a 1,000 Watt Metal Halide?

Nothing more than a little planning on your part. And, if you choose to use our free photometric lighting plan, it’s even easier. To replace a 1,000-watt metal halide fixture, you’ll need to determine the lumens of your current light and whether or not your fixtures are good candidates for retrofitting. After that, it’s as easy as picking a light and making an investment. 

An investment in LED lighting will pay you back in more ways than one. Not only do they lower energy costs with their minimal energy consumption, but they also provide a better, brighter light that needs minimal maintenance, if any at all. We would say that we’re biased, but the truth of the matter is that these are the facts. LEDs provide a bright, long-lasting shine that more traditional bulbs just can’t match.


What LED is equivalent to 1000w?

The LED equivalent to a 1000W Metal Halide bulb is a fixture or retrofit that produces at least 45,000 lumens. The more efficiently you produce those lumens (in terms of watts consumed) the greater the energy savings.

How many lumens does a 1000w metal halide produce?

Depending on how efficient the metal halide bulb is (between 60 and 110 lumens per watt), a 1000W metal halide bulb can produce around 50,000 to 100,000 lumens. Keep in mind these are initial lumens and these will typically fall within the first 6 months.

Can I replace metal halide with LED?

Yes, and done so easily. With today’s efficiencies, you can replace 1000W Metal Halide with as little as 240W LED (assuming high lumens/watt). You should look for a LED fixture that produces over 45,000 lumens to replace 1000W Metal Halide.

How much does it cost to run a 1000 watt metal halide light?

300 LED Watts replacing 1000 Watts Metal Halide for 12 hrs/day 365 days/yr saves 3723 kw/year. In real terms, at .10 kwh electricity charge, the savings is $372 per fixture per year.

What Does it Take to Replace a 250 Watt Metal Halide?

What Does it Take to Replace a 250 Watt Metal Halide?

Although we’ve covered very similar topics in past blogs, like “How to Replace a 1,000 Watt Metal Halide,” we get questions all the time about replacing metal halide fixtures. And so, we’ve decided to answer some more specifics about this technique. There are a lot of similarities in the process of replacing a 250 watt metal halide light and a 1,000 watt one, but there are some differences as well. 

Some of the most common questions we get asked are:

“How many LED watts does it take to replace a 250 watt metal halide bulb?”

“I just talked to another LED company and they said to use their 75W LED Fixture. How much is your 75W LED Fixture?”

Through no fault of their own, many, many clients are initially led astray by ill-informed salespeople. If you’re not familiar with LEDs and all their inner workings, it would only make sense to replace a metal halide fixture with an LED light of equal wattage.  However, the amount of watts a LED fixture consumes does not guide replacing an existing Metal Halide or HPS light. We want to give you access to all of our LED expertise, amassed through years in the industry and backed by science, so that you can make the best choice for you and your facilities.

How many LED Watts does it take to replace a 250 watt metal halide?

The best advice we can give anyone is never buy a LED product based on watts. Instead, you should focus on the lumens of your current light and find an LED fixture that matches that. More than likely, the LEDs you end up with will be much lower wattage than your 250 watt metal halide lights.

 What is a lumen?

Basically, a lumen is a measurement of light that defines how much light a certain fixture or bulb produces. In order to produce lumens, fixtures use watts. And, although this may seem to draw a direct connection between lumens and wattage, that’s not always the case. LED lights employ the latest technology to produce an energy-efficient shine that uses fewer watts than more traditional bulbs. Which is exactly why you should base your metal halide replacement on lumens instead of watts. 

When we do a photometric calculation, we use the data associated with that fixture or bulb, and input that into advanced software to accurately predict shine and foot candles for the area. A foot candle is a unit of light intensity, defined as one lumen per square foot. We then use this information to predict exactly where the shine from your current lights lies and how bright it is. All of which is essential for replacing old, outdated fixtures with more modern lighting technology.

 A photometric calculation eliminates the guesswork and allows you to deal in specifics. Instead of thinking “I need a 250 watt LED to replace my 250 metal halide,” you can make an informed decision based on desired light output. So replacing a metal halide should look less like “I need X amount of watts,” and more like, “I need an LED that can replace 18,000 lumens,” 

Is it time for you to get rid of the guesswork? Use our free photometric lighting plan to find out EXACTLY what you need.

LED lifespan

Loss of Light due to Reflection

Reflection is yet another factor to consider when determining how many lumens you need to replace in your 250 watt metal halide light. LED light is designed to be directional, which means all the light it produces shines exactly where pointed. LED lights do not need a reflector to collect and deliver their rays. However, conventional light sources are omnidirectional and require reflectors to gather the light and focus it where needed. Any reflection of light that bounces off a surface, more than once, is a loss of that lumen. In fact, studies have proven that you can lose up to 30% of the effective lumens in this reflective process.

If a Metal Halide bulb has 18,000 initial lumens, the loss accounted for reflected lumens drops the lumen output to around 12,600 lumens.


omnidirectional vs LED

Quality of Lumens – CRI

The Color Rendering Index, or CRI, is the best way to compare the quality of light. Light with a higher CRI rating offers better visibility and a more accurate representation of the color. The higher the quality of light, the less quantity you need. How does this affect the replacement of a 250 metal halide fixture? Well, more often than not, our customers find that 10,000 lumens of our high-quality LEDs is noticeably brighter than 18,000 lumens from other light sources, like HPS.

The higher the quality, the fewer lumens need.

Photopic vs Scotopic Lumens

Scotopic lumens and Photopic lumens can be defined as how we perceive light versus how a light meter perceives light. Photopic lumens are lumens detected by a device, like a camera or a light meter, and scotopic lumens are able to be seen with the naked eye.  Oftentimes, light sources emit rays we can’t see, like UV or IR. So although a light meter can and will read these as light output, they do us no good. 

Unlike the majority of bulbs, LED lights predominantly produce rays within the visible light spectrum. This means that although an LED and metal halide light may technically have similar lumens, the LED will appear brighter because more of its light is visible.

Converting a 250W Metal Halide to LED

The two most important things you should take away from all of this are that to replace a metal halide light with an LED you should focus on lumens instead of watts.  And, that an LED requires much fewer watts to produce a brighter shine than HPS bulbs. 

  • Metal Halide bulbs are very bright out of the box, but not so much even after only 6 months of use.
  • LED light is directional and does not lose intensity due to reflection
  • LEDs emit high-quality light. 

How many LED Lumens do you need?

Only a photometric can tell you exactly how much you need. But after over almost 10+ years of selling LED lighting, our general rule of thumb is:

  • Indoors: 10,000 to 15,000 lumens (depends on the application and mounting height). You would find these lights in a warehouse, factory, gymnasium, auditorium or swimming pool.
  • Outdoors: 9,000 to 15,000 lumens (depends on the application and mounting height)

  If you choose a reputable company with a high-quality product, you can cut your wattage usage per fixture by two to three, and sometimes even four, times what you’re currently using. Replacing all your metal halides with LEDs will lead to a large drop in energy consumption & electrical costs, and a higher quality shine.

Reach Out

We know that the technical side of LED lighting can often be confusing. Don’t hesitate to contact one of our LED lighting specialists with any questions. 

What it Takes to Replace a 250 Watt Metal Halide 

All you need to do is find out the lumens of your current light and find a comparable LED. In fact, it is possible to replace any metal halide fixture, of any wattage (30 on up to 1000+), with LED technology. It can be as simple as retrofitting existing fixtures or as complex as completely replacing your existing fixtures. 

It may seem difficult and expensive to upgrade to LEDs, but the initial investment is quickly surpassed by the benefits. An investment in LEDs is an investment in lower energy bills, less maintenance, and better & higher light output.


Can I replace metal halide with LED?

Yes, and done so easily. With today’s efficiencies, you can replace 250W Metal Halide with as little as 40W LED (assuming high lumens/watt). You should look for a LED fixture that produces over 10,000 lumens to replace 250W Metal Halide.

How many lumens is a 250w metal halide?

Depending on how efficient the metal halide bulb is (between 60 and 110 lumens per watt), a 250W metal halide bulb can produce around 15,000 to 25,000 lumens. Keep in mind these are initial lumens and these will typically fall within the first 6 months.

Can I put an LED bulb in a sodium fixture?

Of course you can. However, you will need to remove the sodium ballast and bulb. Our led retrofit kits are specifically designed to do this. Removing the sodium parts and replacing them with our led head and led driver converts the sodium fixture to LED.

How do you bypass a metal halide ballast?

Bypassing is easy when you convert the existing metal halide bulb inside an existing fixture over to LED. In fact, its removed. And in its place you install the LED driver. The LED driver wires directly to the same power source that powered the metal halide ballast. Think of it as a ballast swap.

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