One of the most common applications you will come across with retrofitting lighting to LED is the highbay. It might be a 400W metal halide highbay fixture in a warehouse, or a 6-lamp T5 fixture at a hockey rink. There are countless styles of traditional lighting fixtures used as highbays, and there are just as many options to retrofit them to LED. One thing that is consistent is that converting to LED results in upgraded lighting and quick paybacks, but before you invest it is important to know your application and the possibilities.
Application #1 – Retrofit 4′ Fluorescent T8 with LED T8 Tubes
Before LED became prominent in recent years, many of the old HID fixtures were retrofitted to fluorescent tubes. While these were an upgrade at the time, these systems have lost their edge due to the superior technology and lowered cost of the LED.
Fluorescent T8 lamps run off ballasts which create heat and act as another failure point for the system. They must constantly be maintained. Ballasts in highbay applications are almost always high ballast factor, meaning your 32W fluorescent is actually drawing almost 37W. If your ballasts are relatively new (within the last 2-3 years max), you might consider using Type A LED T8 tubes that utilize the existing ballast. You have to be careful with this method however, as you need to make sure whatever ballast-compatible LED T8 you purchase is compatible with your existing ballast. And again, you are stuck with maintaining those ballasts forever.
The other option that is far more desirable is to bypass the ballast and eliminate it from these fixtures. You can then get Type B LED T8 lamps that wire direct. Some are single-end wired which requires they be rewired to one end with a non-shunted socket, or if your existing sockets are in good shape you can get double-end wired for a faster install. One lamp in particular is a no-brainer in these situations and that is the Keystone KT-LED18.5T8-48GC-850-DX2. It is an 18.5W 5000K LED T8 lamp that bypasses the ballast and delivers 2600 lumens. It will blow away the light levels of a fluorescent while still saving 50% on energy and lasting 50,000 hours. It can also be installed via single-end power or double-end power.
Application #2 – Replacing 400W HID Fixtures with new LED Highbay Fixtures
Sometimes it is nice to start anew. You might be able to re-use and retrofit your existing 400W metal halide fixtures, but new LED Highbay Fixtures provide numerous benefits and sometimes the cost is near or equal to getting an LED retrofit bulb.
Going from a 400W metal halide to a new LED fixture, the light quality will be more uniform and clean. To get equal or greater light levels from the 400W HID, you will want an LED fixture in the 150-170W range with over 20,000+ lumens.
Some added perks with getting a new LED highbay include having various mounting options, optional sensor for saving even more energy, or a step-down transformer if you are dealing with 480V. Most LED high bay fixtures these days also come with 0-10V dimming standard as well as an IP65 rating to withstand the elements.
Application #3 – Retrofit 4′ 6-Lamp Fluorescent T5HO with LED T5 Tubes
Looks similar to #1, but notice the difference. T5 instead of T8. The same issues persist from a fluorescent standpoint. You are married to using the ballast so long as you use the fluorescent system, and any time a fluorescent T5 goes out you have to determine whether the ballast itself is dying or if it is the lamp.
Until recently, LED T5 lamps were rare and the ones that were on the market tended to be ballast compatible. This was nice for installation sake but as with LED T8 lamps, the majority favor ditching the ballast and wiring direct. But then Keystone released 2′, 3′ and 4′ LED T5 lamps that bypass the ballast and wire direct. They can also run on 120-277V. The most popular for highbay purposes is the Keystone KT-LED25T5HO-48GC-850-D/G2 which at 3400 lumens can replace a 54W T5HO fluorescent. One under the radar benefit with this retrofit; with the ballast and fluorescent lamps gone, you will greatly reduce the heat emitted from this fixtures. This makes a big difference in HVAC savings.
Application #4 – Retrofit HID Fixture with LED Downlight
If you need a quick and easy way to retrofit your highbay fixtures, you might try an LED HID replacement bulb. In most cases that means an LED Corn Cob style bulb. The trick is that these come in various base orientations. Some LED Omni Cobs have a 360° spread with a horizontal base, while others will have a vertical base and act similar to a flood downlight. Ultimately it will depend on the fixture you are retrofitting, but in most instances you will need a downlight LED HID replacement bulb like the one shown in the picture above. This will do a better job of mimicking the HID and will ensure all light emitted from the bulb hits the application area. Another key with this retrofit is ensuring the new LED bulb will fit, as many LED cobs are larger than their HID counterparts. GE in particular does a good job of having a small form factor with their HID LED Replacement bulbs.
Application #5 – New Construction LED Highbay Fixture
Possibly you are encountering a situation that is new construction or there are no existing lights to replace. This obviously eliminates the retrofit option but allows you to consider a wealth of LED fixture options. Ask yourself (or the site owner) what is needed from the area. Is dimming necessary, on/off sensor, or is a certain footcandle rating needed? As mentioned, most (but not all) new LED highbay fixtures come with 0-10V dimming standard and IP65 wet rating.
There are various styles of LED Highbay fixtures you could go with, from a round LED Highbay to a traditional 2′ LED Highbay fixture. Maybe the most cost effective option is an LED Tube-Ready Highbay Fixture (with the aforementioned 18.5W LED T8 lamps from Keystone).
No matter the application, make sure you invest in an LED fixture or bulb from a reputable manufacturer that has been in the game for many years. 5-year warranties with 50,000+ hours is standard, but be wary of new manufacturers that boast a 10 year warranty. Many of these new companies offer 10 year warranties to get business but they haven’t been around for half that time and won’t be there down the line when you need them to warranty the fixture and/or components.
If you have any questions on your particular highbay application, don’t hesitate to contact us. At Premier Lighting we have been distributing lighting since 1991 and have a support staff that has seen it all and is always willing to find the optimal and practical solution for you.