What is a wall pack light, and what applications benefit from it?
Wall pack lights or exterior building lights are terms that describe the outdoor lighting that is commonly mounted on the outside facing walls of buildings. This type of exterior lighting is generally used to provide illumination to ground areas frequented by vehicles and pedestrians. They also function well as an added layer of security for property owners. It is not uncommon to see multiple fixtures mounted on a single building or wall, with the fixture spacing designed to provide even lighting around the grounds. Below are a few image examples of conventional wall pack lighting mounted on an exterior wall.
Most existing industrial light fixtures and commercial light fixtures such as wall pack lights and building lights utilize high intensity discharge (HID) lamps such as metal halide (MH), high pressure sodium, and if they are very old, mercury vapor lamps.
Why LED wall pack lights instead of conventional lighting solutions?
A typical outdoor wall pack light is likely to be a sodium vapor light. Sodium vapor lights are the ones that tend to be very deep yellow (or orange) in hue. Low pressure sodium vapor lights produce a monochrome emission that tends to render color very poorly in exchange for relatively good energy efficiency for a legacy bulb technology. Interior solutions for wall pack lighting include conventional incandescent bulbs, but more typically mercury vapor bulbs. While each of these technologies has their merits, industrial LED lighting outperforms all of the conventional alternatives in important ways. Let’s take a look at some of the various considerations when deciding whether an LED retrofit is appropriate for your wall pack lighting.
- Industrial LED wall pack lighting vs sodium vapor wall pack lights: If you’ve ever walked around a parking lot or building exterior at night and noticed the deep yellow glow, the lights you’re looking at are more than likely sodium vapor. Low pressure sodium lights emit a very deep yellow, monochromatic light while high pressure sodium lights have a slightly whiter (but still generally yellow) light. These lights were the best option on the market for efficiency prior to advances made in LEDs. MH lamps are common in sporting and warehouse/industrial uses (as well as any setting where large, high spaces need to be illuminated). Benefits of MH lights include decent color rendering and comparatively adequate foot-candle levels (as opposed to other types of conventional bulbs). Some of their major drawbacks are that they take a long time to warm up (sometimes 15-30 minutes and they are expensive to maintain. Their failure characteristics include flickering on and off, and wasting energy through heat. Read more about LED vs Metal Halide Lights.
- LED high bay lighting vs high pressure sodium (HPS) lights: HPS lights are often used in warehouse, industrial, business, and recreational facilities where high bay lighting is appropriate. Their benefits include cheap selling price, high energy efficiency (low operating costs), and relatively long lifespans. HPS lighting technology retains these advantages over most conventional bulbs, but they lose on all three counts to LED high bay lighting. The downsides of HPS bulbs include the worst color rendering on the market and a warm up period. Read more about LED vs High Pressure and Low Pressure Sodium.
- Industrial LED lighting vs fluorescent lighting: Though somewhat less common, fluorescent lighting is sometimes utilized in warehouse or industrial applications (primarily T12, T8, and T5 lights). The benefits of fluorescent lights include cheaper initial costs and relatively high efficiency (especially when compared to other conventional bulbs). Downsides include the presence of toxic mercury (which requires certain waste disposal procedures), decreased lifetime if switched on and off frequently, and requiring a ballast to stabilize the light. Read more about LED vs Fluorescent Lighting.
What are three major benefits of using LED lighting technology for all applications?
It’s no secret that LED lighting technology has surpassed the capabilities of conventional lighting in important ways. In addition to the considerations discussed above, there are three general benefits of LED lighting that apply to all lighting applications, not just high bay.
- Decreased maintenance requirements. As discussed above, LED lights have a lifespan that is four to forty times longer than conventional bulbs. This means fewer replacements for bulbs that wear out. LED lighting technology also generates light differently than typical fuel and filament lighting because it uses a diode instead (learn more in this blog). This means that there are fewer moving pieces to break and, consequently, fewer repairs or replacements. Maintenance is an especially important consideration when it comes to industrial lighting or warehouse lighting. Wall pack lighting most often has higher mounting heights, which means that changing a bulb requires, at a minimum, a ladder and, in some cases, specialized hydraulic lifts. All of this adds up in the form of maintenance, labor, and equipment costs. The lifespan of industrial LED lighting means that fixtures need to be changed much less often, which means savings for your bottom line.
- Improved lighting quality. LED lighting for wall pack lights typically score better in a head-to-head comparison against most other bulbs when it comes to color rendering index (CRI), correlated color temperature (CCT), and foot candles. CRI is a measurement of a light’s ability to reveal the actual color of objects as compared to an ideal light source (natural light). In non-technical terms, CCT generally describes the “glow” given off by a bulb - is it warm (reddish) or cold (bluish white)? Foot candles compare the amount of light coming from a source and the amount of light hitting the desired surface; they’re basically a measure of efficiency. On all three fronts, LED lights perform very well. (Read more about CRI, CCT, and foot candles here.)
- Increased energy efficiency. Not only do LED lights generate light differently, they also distribute light differently than conventional lighting solutions, which results in less energy required to provide the same output. How does that work? First, many conventional lights waste a lot of the energy they produce by emitting it as heat (this is especially the case with metal halide lighting). Second, most conventional lights are omnidirectional, which means that they output light in 360 degrees. So, a lot of light is wasted pointing at a ceiling or being diluted because it has to be redirected through the use of fixtures. Industrial LED lighting for applications that require wall pack lights eliminates these two problems of wasted energy (through heat loss and omnidirectional emission).
Do you have more questions about wall pack lighting?
We’ve compiled a lot of resources to help facility managers and owners learn about LED lighting and how it can benefit particular applications. Visit our Lighting Education page to learn about specific types of fixtures (such as wall pack or other industrial LED lighting fixtures), or view case studies for similar organizations to see results from LED retrofits. We also have a free Return on Investment calculation that can help your organization discover how long it will take to recover the initial investment through reduced energy needs and maintenance costs. As always, please feel free to reach out and ask us any questions directly - we would be honored to help you on your way to improved energy efficient lighting solutions.