Outdoor LED lighting, such as LED high mast light fixtures, provide some excellent benefits for large areas or sites requiring illumination because of how they generate and distribute light. However, not all LED lighting is created equal, and as such, neither is every LED manufacturer and supplier. We’re not here to throw stones, but we hear a lot of promises about LED lighting and we think it’s important to be transparent about the benefits (and they are many) of LEDs. In this case, let’s talk about the potential LED high mast light benefits.
What they say: “Convert your existing fixtures to LED and save money without as much upfront cost.”
What to consider: Converting or retrofitting existing fixtures to LED lighting is absolutely an option, and in many cases the right one. What you need to consider in the case of high mast lighting is the existing structure, specifically the light pole and lowering/raising mechanism. A 10 year warranty on your new lights doesn’t mean much if the pole is compromised, or if your fixtures are stuck at the top. Those initial savings are going to look a lot different if you need to budget for another lighting project before you’re seeing the ROI from the first one.
Additionally, even if the existing high mast pole is in good shape, you must consider the eventual maintenance costs. You don’t have to look hard on this site to find where we talk about how much LED lighting saves on maintenance costs, and that’s still true here. With an average lifespan of 100,000+ hours, LEDs last much longer that high pressure sodium. If your led high mast lighting fixtures are mounted 50-100 feet in the air, or in a place that is difficult to reach with service equipment, like a rail yard, highway, or port, then installing poles with a functioning lowering/raising mechanism will significantly reduce both the time and money spent servicing your lights.
What they say: “By switching to LED, you will achieve comparable performance while cutting your luminaire quantity in half.”
What to consider: That is absolutely a possibility, and an ideal one at that! However, when it comes to high mast lighting, we must consider again those pesky poles and raising/lowering mechanisms. If you’re not planning on replacing those, or the existing layout of your property prohibits a lot of flexibility in where you place your lights (i.e. rail yard or port), then you may not be able to expect this level of luminaire reduction. Another key benefit here is a lowering/raising mechanism that will allow you avoid the negative effects of an imbalanced light structure. Meaning, if you reduce the fixture quantity on an existing mechanism, you must be certain that the fixtures on the mechanism are properly balanced and mounted. Otherwise, the likelihood of the fixtures getting stuck at the top of the pole are very high. The advantages of LED high mast lighting are plenty, but simply going off of fixture reduction is not enough. Ask your lighting provider to do a photometric layout which will show the foot-candle levels specific to your site, accounting for mounting height and fixture spacing.
What they say: “A simple survey of your site is plenty to provide a quote.”
What to consider: Don’t just go with your lowest price. Does that proposal include the potential cost of a structural engineer? Did it include a photometric layout, design flexibility, and dimensional drawings? No matter the size of your space, the quantity of fixtures or poles, the accessibility, or anything else – transparency is key, and it is important to work with an LED Lighting provider that will put in the work to show you all the options, and work with you to provide the solution that makes sense for your project and organization.