In the past, when lighting the enormous spaces and high ceilings of commercial facilities, only two high bay lighting options were typically available to contractors: HID and fluorescent lights.
Now there’s another, and better, option: high bay LED lights.
If you’re considering using high bay LEDs on your commercial lighting projects, your customers might wonder what’s changed about today’s high bay lighting products and why LED high bays might make more sense for their project.
To answer these questions, we reached out to Mike Zumbrun, General Manager of Sales at Mid-Atlantic Lighting, a lighting and electrical manufacturers’ representative agency serving the Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia markets. Mike and his team have years of hands-on field experience helping specifiers, architects, contractors, and ESCOs find the right lighting solutions.
Mike offers great suggestions for how contractors and ESCOs should think about switching to LED, the benefits modern high bays offer to end customers, and new features that can provide additional value.
Where You Can Now Use High Bays
High bays have traditionally been used for industrial spaces with 25+ foot ceilings, such as warehouses and manufacturing facilities.
Modern LED high bays don't have to follow those same rules, though. Today, high bays can be used in most commercial applications with ceilings over 12 feet.
Mike says, “With the variety of lumen outputs and features these days, high bays are no longer a 25-foot plus product.”
This is good news for contractors and ESCOs because it expands your market and the types of facilities you can sell to. Instead of just doing the high school gym, for example, you could potentially take on the hallways, cafeteria, and other areas as well.
Why Switch from HID or Fluorescent Lighting?
Businesses and institutions can run into problems when they use outdated lighting fixtures. By exploring these possible issues with your customer’s current lighting setup, you can uncover opportunities to introduce LED high bay lights as a more advantageous solution.
Problems with HID and fluorescent commercial lighting can include:
- Poor lighting quality
- High maintenance frequency
- High maintenance costs
- Energy inefficiency
Let’s explore these issues in more detail.
Poor Lighting Quality
Mike says his team is often replacing fixtures that are 25 or 30 years old. “The CRI, or Color Rendering Index, is terrible on these older products.” He adds that even newer products get dimmer with time; a two- or three-year-old product may generate 30% less light output compared to when it was new.
This can create serious issues in areas where precise lighting is essential, such as printshops or paint shops. Notably, the workers in these areas might not notice the lights getting dimmer over time, but their work outputs might start to suffer.
High Maintenance Frequency
When facilities use outdated products like old high output fluorescents and the old HID metal halide type high bay products, they need to replace lamps and bulbs more frequently. This can quickly become a frustrating and time-consuming recurring task for maintenance staff, taking valuable time away from production equipment maintenance, facility upgrades, or other big-picture tasks.
High Maintenance Costs
More frequent lamp and bulb replacement means higher costs — and not just because of the cost of the lamps and bulbs themselves. High ceiling fixture maintenance can be a major production. The customer may need a special lift to access the lights. Meanwhile, the lack of proper lighting can disrupt operations and potentially create costly downtime.
Mike also points out that even finding replacement parts for older fixtures is getting more difficult. “More and more manufacturers are scaling back production because LED is more popular.” Much like the way car parts for a certain model get more expensive and harder to find when the car has been discontinued, parts for older lights will soon become a very expensive needle in a haystack.
The person responsible for the electric bill knows this well: Outdated fixtures cost more money in energy usage compared to more efficient fixtures like LED. Additionally, sticking with old-fashioned lighting means missing out on some great energy rebate programs.
Why LED High Bay Lighting Is Better
Modern LED high bay products solve the problems of older fixtures and deliver added value:
- Better lighting quality
- Less frequent maintenance
- Lower maintenance cost
- Better energy efficiency
- No “warm-up” time
- Safety and productivity
- Property value
Here are some details to help build your case.
Better Lighting Quality
LED produces better quality light. A powerful and well-directed light can deliver the ceiling-to-floor lumen levels that commercial and industrial customers need for many reasons. As Mike explains, “I've worked in offices before that have bad lighting and it feels like working in a cave. Even if it's a small boost, better lighting boosts safety and morale.”
Less Frequent Maintenance
LED is a more maintenance-free product. LED high bays can last 3-5 times longer than their HID or fluorescent counterparts, almost making it a “set it and forget it” lighting project. Instead of messing around changing yet another burned-out light, maintenance staff can focus on more important tasks.
Lower Maintenance Cost
In high-ceiling facilities, lights can be hard to reach. Long-life LEDs reduce maintenance costs and concerns for the entire life of the fixtures.
Another benefit: LEDs don’t contain toxic mercury, so they don’t require special and costly disposal.
Better Energy Efficiency
LED high bay fixtures are often 30-50% more energy-efficient than the HID or fluorescent fixtures they are usually replacing. That means big savings on the customer’s utility bills. Mike adds, “And that's before you add utility rebates to the mix. Many times, there's very little cost out of pocket to the end user.”
No “Warm-Up” Time
LED is a solid-state light, so it comes on instantly and at full strength, allowing work to take place immediately. According to Mike, this is a big bonus in areas that regularly get cold weather:
“Fixtures like the high output fluorescence or T5HO high bays were the greatest thing in the world 15 years ago. But in cold weather, they come on dim and take a while to warm up.
In the case of HID Lighting, if there's a power outage it can mean 20 to 25 minutes waiting for light.”
Safety and Productivity
For some industries, visibility is key, no matter the ceiling height. Work areas with manufacturing lines, inventory storage, machinery, or where cleanliness and sanitation are required need the kind of high quality, directed light that LED high bays can provide.
In particular, if any work requiring accurate color identification is being done in that space, nothing beats LED for bright, daylight-like illumination.
For property managers, LED lights add perceived value. Mike points out, “If they are going to turn that space over every three to five years, having high efficiency, low maintenance LED lighting warrants a premium. It's a value-added product, especially if you're going to put the tenant in charge of the utilities.”
Upgrades to LED High Bays That Add Value
Clearly, LED high bay lights offer many benefits. But your customers may also find a lot of value in some notable product upgrades, including:
- Occupancy Sensors – In certain areas of a building, you may not need lights on for the full eight to 12 hours a day. Occupancy sensing solves that problem and adds to the savings. Sensors can also impact the rebate your customers may qualify for. “With utility rebates, in some cases you can get almost double the rebate just by adding some sort of a sensor,” Mike explains.
- Daylight Harvesting – Why pay for what the sunlight offers for free? You can set LED high bays to dim to a lower output when photo sensors show there is adequate ambient light in the space from windows or skylights.
- Remote-controlled Lighting – A remote control can be used to fine-tune sensor settings from the ground after installation. The customer can set brightness, occupancy sensor sensitivity, hold time after vacancy, and other controls.
Mike believes that being able to customize the product is one of the big selling points for LED lights. “The customer wants to be able to set the lighting how they want. They want to be able to control it with their phone if necessary,” he says. “It's nice because the building owner or the building engineer can set it up and control it themselves. They don't have to pay someone to come in and commission product for them.”
With all these benefits, features, and added value, modern LED high bay fixtures might be the perfect fit for your next commercial project. To learn more about Litetronics’ industry-leading line of LED high bays, contact one of our sales reps today.