Should you choose LED Low Bay or LED High Bay for factory lighting?

Choosing whether to use high bay and low bay lights can make a big difference in the safety of your facility, and the efficiency of your operation. Here’s how to know whether you need low bay or high bay lighting.

Before you install either type of lighting, you will need to know:

  • How tall your ceiling is
  • How often you will be running these lights
  • That you can retrofit your current fixture with better options

How to Know When You Need to use High Bay Lighting

If you are lighting up a warehouse, factory, or processing plant, you should probably consider high bay lighting. Often, these facilities can have ceilings up to 20 to 40 feet over ground level. These lights need to be engineered with reflectors, as is the case with HPS/MH bulbs, or lens angles, which are used in LED high bay lighting in order to make sure that the light won’t dissipate to much by the time it reaches the ground. This design also makes them more efficient.

How to Know When You Need to Use Low Bay Lighting

As you may have guessed, lowbay lights are for illuminating lower ceiling lights in open areas. Often these lights will be used for ceilings that are 12 to 20 feet high. If your ceiling is taller than this, you might be better off using high bays. If your ceiling is under the range, you’re better off exploring other light fixtures.

What’s the difference between a low bay and a high bay?

The main obvious difference between low bay and high bay lighting is the mounting height. LED low bays are designed to be mounted at heights up to approximately 8m. Historically, a low bay was probably the rectangular ‘white box’ that you are more used to seeing in a factory and a high bay was a pendant type high bay where the physical properties were ignored.

At LED Save, we classify a low bay as an un-lensed product, typically with a beam angle of 120°, and a high bay as a lensed product capable of delivering a specific light pattern when mounted at higher levels. Overall, the differences between low bay and high bay lighting concern the height and beam angle.

LED Lights: Another Option to Explore When Cutting Costs

LED Lights are far more efficient than fluorescent or incandescent options. Many facility managers from business owners to warehouse and production plant operators discover that they can save on monthly electric bills be retrofitting high bay or lowbay lighting into their space. However, it can be challenging to figure out which retrofit is most appropriate.

What mounting height marks qualify for low bay and high bay?

The height of the low bay and high bay lighting depends on several factors. These include:

  1. Cost: an LED low bay costs less than the equivalent LED high bay, therefore sometimes it’s more cost effective to use more low bays to achieve the same light levels.

  2. At mounting heights of less than 7m a low bay should always be used to reduce spotting and poor uniformity at floor level.

  3. Wall and floor colour – light walls and floors reflect more light.

For example, if you consider a 150W product producing 21000 lumens, it’s important to think about where the lumens will be going. LED low bays will keep traveling until they hit a floor or wall where they will be absorbed because they will be putting light out at around 120 degrees. Of course, the amount of absorption / reflection will depend on the reflective properties of the walls and floors, which is why it pays to have a light simulation before installing your lights.

When Should A Low Bay Be Used?

Each case will be different, for example, if you mount a low bay at 12m in a warehouse with light coloured walls and no racking then it is possible to use an LED Low Bay and get an excellent level of lighting, with relatively few units.

However, if the warehouse had darker walls then you would need considerably more LED low bay units to provide the same lighting level, as much of the light that hits the walls would be absorbed.

In cases where the odds are stacked against your space, and light will be easily absorbed/reflected, an LED High Bay with a 60° lens will direct all the 21000 lumens into a smaller area on the factory floor. This will result in a much higher lux level when compared to an LED Low Bay mounted at the same height, meaning that considerably less units would be required to produce the same lighting level.

For racking applications there is also the option of using a narrow lensed high bay where the lens directs the light exactly where needed down the racking aisle rather than illuminating the top of the racking.

There’s always a balance between the correct luminaire and the cost differences between an LED Low Bay and LED High Bay.

A lighting simulation of the proposed area can show the different lighting levels achieved by using different products.

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