5 Shopping Tips for High Bay Light Fixtures
High bay light fixtures are industrial lighting fixtures designed to provide wide-area illumination from heights of 30 feet or more. They are commonly used in large commercial and industrial spaces like warehouses, factories, parking garages, gymnasiums and more. Proper selection and installation of high bay fixtures is crucial to sufficiently light large, high-ceiling areas in a cost-effective manner. This guide provides five important tips to consider when shopping for new high bay light fixtures.
High bay fixtures traditionally used high-intensity discharge (HID) bulb types like metal halide or high-pressure sodium. While providing high light output, HID bulbs have some disadvantages like frequent replacement, high heat output, poor energy efficiency and risks of dangerous mercury contamination. More recently, light-emitting diode (LED) and fluorescent options have emerged as desirable alternatives for high bay lighting. LED and fluorescent high bays last much longer than HID bulbs, use less energy to operate, and produce less heat.
The following five tips will help buyers choose the right high bay fixtures for their specific application and budget. Proper shopping pays off in optimal illumination and lower long-term costs.
Tip #1: Determine Wattage and Lumens Needed
The first step is to accurately assess the lighting needs of the space where high bay fixtures will be installed. Consider the square footage that needs illumination and average ceiling height. Foremost, determine the wattage or lumen output required to sufficiently light the area for its intended use.
The wattage or lumen specification will guide your selection of appropriate high bay fixtures. Higher wattage/lumen options provide brighter light but also increase energy costs to operate. It's best not to oversize fixtures since unneeded light wastes money and shortens bulb lifespan through excessive heating.
Look at the space during different times and do a light level test with temporary fixtures if possible. Account for tasks that may require extra light in some areas. Approximate lumens needed can be calculated by multiplying the space square footage by the recommended lumens per square foot for that type of setting and use.
Choosing fixtures with just enough light output suited to the specific high bay application results in optimal visibility without wasting energy long-term.
Tip #2: Choose Energy-Efficient LED or Fluorescent Options
When selecting high bay fixtures, opt for energy-efficient LED or fluorescent styles whenever possible. These bulb types are now very comparable in light output to traditional HID options but provide much longer lifespan and lower operational costs.
Compared to HID bulbs that need replacing every 1-2 years, LED and fluorescent high bays may last over 10 years with less maintenance. This saves money by reducing replacement part and labor expenses long-term.
LED and fluorescent bulbs are also far more energy efficient. They use around 25-30% less power than equivalent wattage HID bulbs to produce the same lumens. Over many hours of usage each day and year after year, this translates to significant savings on utility bills.
Additionally, LED and fluorescent fixtures produce less radiated heat than HID options. This improves worker comfort and safety in hot industrial environments. Cooler operation also prevents heat-related efficiency declines and shortening of bulb lifespan over time.
While the initial investment may be higher, quality LED and fluorescent high bay fixtures pay for themselves quickly through energy and maintenance savings. Their longer functional lifespan also means less frequent disruptive replacement work.
Tip #3: Consider Mounting Height and Method
Be certain to purchase high bay fixtures suited to your specific ceiling or mounted heights. Some fixtures are only rated for heights under 30 feet while others can accommodate heights up to 50 feet or more.
Take measurements to ensure fixtures will provide adequate downlight coverage at your facility's ceiling elevations. Mounting brackets and hangers must also match the room heights.
Additionally, assess whether pendant, chain, or direct rigid mounting is needed. Pendant fixtures dangle from overhead cables or rods. Chain mounts use linked fixtures suspended from above. Rigid fixtures directly mount to ceiling beams or walls.
For stable installations in height safety compliance, rigid fixtures or those with redundant safety cables are recommended over simpler chain mounts. Vibration from machinery matters too - rugged all-metal fixtures withstand industrial conditions best.
Selecting high bays with compatible height ratings and mounting styles constructed for your unique ceiling setup avoids installation problems. Properly installed lights provide consistent illumination levels without wobbling or falling risks.
Tip #4: Factor in Maintenance and Replacements
When budgeting for high bay fixtures, include the long-term costs of maintenance and component replacement over the lifespan.
LED and fluorescent options are easiest and most affordable to service. Replacing burnt-out bulbs only requires a basic ladder and takes minutes. HID bulbs and ballasts are hazardous waste and heavier to handle safely. Their replacement is a more involved process.
Check manufacturers' warranties and rated lifetime hours for bulbs, drivers, ballasts and other parts. Quality fixtures from reputable brands uphold longer warranties, minimizing unexpected early repair costs. Lights closer to the end of rated hours may need parts replaced sooner.
Stock of commonly replaced light components like bulbs is also important to keep replacement downtime minimal. Bulb inventory ensures a burned-out unit isn't left unlit until backordered replacements arrive weeks later.
Simple, tool-less designs allow non-electricians to change lamps. No disassembling of fixtures or complicated ballast work saves money versus paying an electrician for minor fixes.
Longer-lasting, easier to maintain fixtures provide years of reliable light with less facility disruption and out-of-pocket servicing expense over the lifetime of use.
Tip #5: Compare Prices and Brands
Research pricing from multiple suppliers to find high bay fixtures offering the best value. Upfront cost is important, but overall expenses over the 10-15 year life of LED or fluorescent fixtures matters more.
Compare total cost of ownership factors like initial cost, energy consumption, replacement part expenses, warranties and expected lifespan. A more expensive fixture could save substantially in utility bills and maintenance over competitors.
Well-known brands often command a premium but offer a brand you can rely on. Cheaper no-name imports risk lower quality, lesser warranties and support. Consider lifetime operational savings versus a small immediate saving on an inferior light.
Look for suppliers offering assembly, bulb change-out and decommissioning services too. Having reputable installation and service support addresses long-term questions.
Multi-fixture purchases may qualify for volume discounts too. Buying replacements at the same time as installing a new system provides cost efficiencies.
With some research, the right high bay fixtures meeting all needs can be identified within budget through comparison of multiple competitive options. Long-term performance matters most.
Choosing high bay lighting suitable for the specific application and budget takes some assessment of the space and project needs. However, following these five tips helps ensure the fixtures selected will optimally illuminate large indoor areas for years to come at a reasonable total cost. Considering wattage/lumen requirements, energy efficiency, mounting attributes, maintenance, and value comparisons leads to well-informed decisions. Proper high bay installation then delivers consistent, adequate lighting without costly surprises down the road. With a little upfront planning, the right fixtures can be identified to satisfy all requirements.