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Metal halide lights have been the de facto standard for illumination of outdoor and large indoor spaces for more than fifty years. As that technology has aged, however, building owners and facility managers are seeing its drawbacks. An industry shift to LED lighting systems has increased in the last few years as an understanding that these systems provide more effective illumination, lower maintenance needs and costs, and smaller energy bills.


Notwithstanding its many years of service, metal halide lighting has many downsides. Most metal halide fixtures, for example, lose 5% to 10% of their brightness annually, which requires facility operators to replace them frequently. In one example, a company saved over $5,000 over the course of 3 years in just maintenance costs by switching to LED.

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Metal Halides operate at very high temperatures, which translates into significant energy losses and higher operating costs. One MH fixture can cost over $500 per year to operate, and a small facility has an average of 50-100 fixtures operating at all hours of the day. You may have had a long relationship with Metal Halide, but it was definitely not a give and take. Switching to LED can reduce energy by 40-60% - significantly reducing your facilities operating expenses.

Metal Halide vs. LED

From a performance perspective, Metal halide fixtures also require ten to twenty minutes of warmup time to come to full illumination. Metal halide fixtures served their purpose well when better technology was unavailable, but the new technology of LED lighting systems is changing the status quo. In illumination coverage alone, LED systems are far superior to their predecessors. Metal halide fixtures emit light in all directions and require reflectors to focus their illumination across different areas. In contrast, LED fixtures can be controlled more precisely to provide broader and more uniform illumination.

When comparing LED vs. Metal Halide, the winner is clear. LED Lighting is the premiere choice in a variety of very broad or specific applications, like outdoor LED lighting or as specific as industrial LED high bay lights. For a long time Metal Halides served their purpose well, but like any technology, things change and better solutions arrive. We can’t say that we’ll miss the Metal Halide light, but we certainly thank it for its service.