Comparing High Wattage Commercial Lighting Fixtures

August 3, 2015

Comparing High Wattage Commercial Lighting Fixtures

LED lights in a commercial warehouseHigh wattage commercial lighting fixtures play an important role in your business.  They literally light up your business.  They light up work areas and products and are a vital safety factor.  They affect your employee’s attitude and accuracy.  They are absolutely essential and a big ticket item to purchase and maintain.  It’s important to know your options and compare the key factors when determining the right lighting type for your business.

Things to compare would be light output, energy consumption, lifespan and safety (in terms of chemical use).

The most common high wattage commercial and industrial light fixtures come in 2 categories:  High Intensity Discharge (HID) and Light Emitting Diodes (LED).

HID LAMPS include Mercury Vapor (MV), Metal Halide (MH) and High Pressure Sodium (HPS).  You can think of HIDs as very large light bulbs. The bulb is a sealed chamber filled with gas.  An HIP lamp creates a bright light when electricity arcs between two electrodes.  Mercury, Sodium or Metal Halide GASSES act as the conductor. (picture old school mad scientist light bulb arcing).  Different color, light spectrum and efficiencies are created depending on which gas and chemicals are used.

HID Lamps

HIDs require a ballast for power.  They can take up to 10 minutes to produce their maximum light because the ballast needs time to establish the electric arc.  A disruption in the power can produce longer wait times as the ballast first needs to cool down and then re-establish the electric arc necessary for light.

The ballast technology in HID lamps is old and often inefficient.  Add to that the fact that interfacing with controls is difficult and dimming is impractical, you can begin to see why LEDs are edging them out of the market.

  • Mercury Vapor lamp is a gas discharge lamp that uses an electric arc through vaporized mercury to produce light.   MVP lamps are the oldest form of HID lighting.  Combined long start up times, poor lumen output and unflattering bluish-green tint add to the fact that MVPs are fast becoming obsolete.
  • High Pressure Sodium lamp, (also known as a sodium-vapor lamp) produce light by creating an electric arc through vaporized sodium metal.  Additional materials (including mercury) and gases are used to help start the lamp or control its color.  High Pressure Sodium are not widely used in the US any more due to the highly volatile sodium used, which, when exposed to air, may explode.
  • Metal Halide lamps add a few more chemicals to the mix, and you end up with a superior light output and a longer lifespan compared to the Mercury Vapor or High Pressure Sodium lamps. Metal Halides produce light by an electric arc through a gaseous mixture of vaporized mercury and metal halides (compounds of metals with bromine or iodine).  

Metal-Halide lamps have high luminous efficacy of around 75 – 100 lumens per watt, which is about twice that of mercury vapor lights and comparable, if on the low end, to LED lumens.  The MH lamp life is 6,000 to 15,000 hours (which is about 1/5 the lifespan of an LED).

Metal Halide lamps used to be considered one of the most efficient sources of high CRI white light, and were widely used for wide area overhead lighting of commercial, industrial, and public spaces, such as parking lots, sports arenas, factories, and retail stores, as well as residential security lighting and automotive headlamps (aka: xenon headlights).

LED DiodesLIGHT EMITTING DIODES (LEDs) emerged strongly into the US business scene only in the past few years. They are a Solid State electronic device that emits light when an electrical current is passed through it.  Unlike any other light source to date, they use no toxic chemicals and require no ballast.  Additionally, they are very durable because there is no filament to break.

LEDs are easily adapted to virtually any commercial or industrial need inside or out.  They are commonly used for street lights, parking lights, security wall packs, flood lights, interior warehouse high bay and low bay, gymnasium, stadium and even office applications.  They are available in an endless variety of sizes, wattages, color temperature, direction and beam angles.  LEDs produce instant on light (no waiting time) and are adaptable to all sorts of control systems.

LEDs deliver remarkable light output at a fraction of the wattage used by HIDs.  They have extraordinarily long life spans, typically 50,000 hours or more (you can do theCommercial LED lighting math depending on the hours of your operation).  In addition, they burn much cooler than other sources.  Businesses can save significantly and immediately on 3 levels: electrical costs, maintenance & replacement costs and cooling costs.

Every business today is trying to do what they can to help reduce their carbon footprint.  Not just to reduce costs, but to help the planet.  Because of the lack of harmful chemicals and significant reduction in energy use, a business that chooses LED lighting will be choosing the environmentally conscience option.

For businesses interested in learning more, CooLED offers a free lighting audit.  With just a few bits of information about your current lighting we can design an LED system unique to your needs.  Our comprehensive proposal will spell out all of the details including how much electricity you’re currently using, how much less you will be using, your monthly and yearly savings in dollars and the all-important number of months to return your investment.

For your free audit, contact us today at 231-421-5981.



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