High bay and low bay lighting are terms used to describe the indoor lighting that is commonly mounted via a pendant or chain, or directly to a ceiling or ceiling girder. These types of lights are often mounted higher than recessed troffer or fluorescent lights. Common uses for this type of lighting are: warehouses, industrial facilities, commercial lighting spaces, retail areas, and gymnasiums.
Despite the ubiquity of these types of lights there are some inherent characteristics that can lead to problems, below we will look at the three most common problems with high bay lights. they are: high energy costs, high maintenance costs and poor overall lighting performance.
High bay and low bay lights range from 175 watts to 1000 watts depending on the fixture and application. Generally speaking, the higher the light wattage the higher the light output. The variables here are a function of the area illuminated, combined with the height of the ceiling and fixture mounting. These factors all play a role in the wattages utilized.
To put a dollar value to this wattage, a 400 watt or 1000 watt HID fixture (which are common wattages for high bay lighting and low bay lighting) can cost up to $209 and $525, respectively, to operate per lamp, per year, in electricity costs alone. Depending on the facility, these costs can really add up and unnecessarily inflate your energy costs.
In addition to the high energy costs, maintenance concerns are often a factor for those individuals managing commercial light fixtures, warehouse lighting, and gym light fixtures.
As stated before, high bay lighting is commonly mounted on ceilings in excess of 15 feet. These lights typically require the use of a lift to change out a lamp or a ballast. Typically, a building doesn’t own a lift and therefore must hire an outside contractor to maintain these types of fixtures.
These maintenance expenses can really add up over the course of a few years. To give a tangible example, it can easily cost up to $1,200 in labor and materials to maintain a single high bay light fixture over the course of three years.
The characteristics of your high bay lighting and low bay lighting can vary significantly depending on the type of lighting installed in your facility. Metal halide lamps produce a “whiter” type of light, however these types of lamps tend to have accelerated lumen degradation, meaning the light output of the lamps decrease quickly after initial install. It’s possible you’ve seen these high bay lights rendering a very “pink” light. While operational, they are barely providing any light on the intended surface below.
On the other hand, if you are using high pressure sodium lamps, you may see a longer useful life as these lamps see less lumen degradation than metal halide. However, their fuel structure produces a very “orange” light with a very low CRI (color rendering index). So basically you trade a longer life for a poorer quality light, in regards to visual perspective.
High energy costs, frequent maintenance costs, and overall lighting performance issues associated with metal halide and high pressure sodium lamps should be motivators to consider an LED retrofit.