The Differences Between High Bay vs. Low Bay Lighting
With bay lighting, dimly lit warehouses, flickering storefronts, and shadowy corners are becoming a thing of the past. In recent years, Americans have made the switch from traditional light sources to energy-efficient bulbs like LEDs, which are now being incorporated into bay lights to illuminate commercial spaces and restore proper lighting conditions. Warehouses, factories, hospitals, schools, and parking garages are all utilizing specific types of bay lighting, which begs the question: Should you use high bay or low bay lighting, and what are the differences between the two?
High bay lights are the go-to option for 40 ft. tall ceilings, while low bay lights can be suitable for classrooms, requiring lower lumen output and less brightness. We wanted to put together this guide to answer all of your lighting questions and make you an expert on the topic. Keep reading to learn about the differences between high and low bay lighting, and which one is right for you.
What Is Bay Lighting?
Most homes have a ceiling height of 9 ft., but for spaces with higher ceiling heights, bay lighting is typically used. Commercial spaces like storage facilities, indoor sports arenas, gymnasiums, grocery stores, warehouses, etc. can all benefit from high or low-bay LED lights. Bay lights are energy efficient, reducing energy consumption by up to 85%, and can last over 100,000 hours, requiring less maintenance than traditional lighting sources.
Bay lighting comes in a variety of styles, shapes, and mounting options. They offer glare-free lighting and provide an even output of light. Reaching every nook and cranny with high or low bay lighting is especially important when dealing with heavy machinery, chemicals, and other dangerous equipment.
High Bay vs. Low Bay Lighting
In most cases, high bay lighting is used for ceiling heights that range from 10 to over 25 ft. in length. High bay lights are installed farther up from the ground, which means they have more distance to travel to illuminate the area and prevent shadows. They require higher lumen output, typically 10,000 to 50,000 lumens. High bay lights can be suspended from the ceiling with hook, pendant, and chain mounts, or mounted directly in the ceiling.
On the other hand, low bay lights are installed in rooms with ceiling heights around 10 to 25 ft. in length. Low bay lights have a lower lumen output and would not be able to appropriately light up larger spaces, which is why their recommended ceiling height is lower than high bay lights. Low bay lights use chains, hooks, or pendant mounts to suspend from the ceiling. They also come in more modern UFO styles for a classy look. Low-bay LED lights can be an optimal choice for break rooms and restaurants.
Manufacturing Process for Industrial Bay Lights
High bay and low bay lighting are constructed in different ways to meet their individual purposes. For instance, high bay lights utilize specific types of reflectors to direct light. Aluminum reflectors direct light downwards while prismatic reflectors spread light outwards to cover large swaths of area. This helps to shed light on boxes in warehouses and increases safety when handling dangerous equipment.
Low bay lighting may require more light fixtures spaced out closer together in combination with lower ceiling depths to adequately illuminate spaces. Low bay lights contain more shallow reflectors that reduce glare while simultaneously dispersing light outward for even coverage. This allows you to review paperwork and complete other office tasks with ease.
Where are High-bay Lights Used?
High bay lighting is used to brighten up auto dealerships, retail stores, art galleries, conference spaces, event centers, office buildings, and other spaces with higher ceiling heights. High bay lights properly light up taller objects that are farther from the ground.
Where are Low-bay Lights Used?
Low bay lighting is used in classrooms, garages, hotel lobbies, home offices, museums, and other spaces with ceiling heights that are no higher than 20 ft.
Differences Between High Bay and Low Bay LightingInstallation Height:
High bay lights require ceiling heights that range from 10 to over 25 ft. Some high bay lights can be mounted at over 30 ft. while low bay lights can be mounted at heights ranging from 10 to 25 ft. Specialty reflectors allow light to be diffused evenly throughout the whole space.Mounting:
Low bay lights can be mounted with chains, hooks, or pendant mounts and come in UFO, square, linear, and round shapes. High bay lights have more versatility and can be mounted with hook, pendant, v-hook, and chain mounts, or fixed directly in the ceiling like recessed lighting.Application:
Depending on the size of the space, high bay lighting can be used in places like universities, gyms, factories, warehouses, theaters, and industrial buildings. Low bay lighting is the preferred lighting source for public libraries, businesses, daycare centers, personal homes, and garages.Beam Angle:
The beam angle is the incline at which light is dispersed from a lamp. For instance, the light at a dentist’s office may have a low beam angle to ensure light is poured directly into one direction (like a patient’s mouth). High bay lighting has a beam angle of anywhere from 60 to 120 degrees. The higher the angle, the more coverage is provided. Lights with low beam angles may require more fixtures to properly illuminate a large area. Low bay lighting disperses light widely with a beam angle of 120 degrees, diffusing light evenly over a space.
How to Choose the Right Bay Lighting
While lighting may not always be top of mind, it certainly impacts employees' productivity and their ability to safely complete their work. Determining whether your space calls for low-bay or high-bay lighting will largely depend on the size of the building and its current lighting conditions. Plus, you should also consider the building’s intended purpose. Will you need ample lighting for a warehouse? Are you installing lights in a garage with 15 ft. ceilings? View our checklists below to discover which type of lighting is right for you.
1. LED vs. Fluorescent Bulbs
LED light bulbs are more efficient, longer-lasting, and more widely used than fluorescent lights. LED lights tend to be brighter as well, so consider that before upgrading your light fixtures.
2. High Bay vs. Low Bay LED Lighting
The biggest determination when deciding on high bay vs. low bay led lights is the ceiling height. For rooms with lower ceiling heights, stick to low-bay. Opt for high bay LED lighting for taller ceilings.
3. Beam Angle and Width
A light’s beam angle determines how many lights a space requires and how close together they will be spaced out. Opt for lights with a 120-degree angle to cover more ground.
4. Mounting and Distributing Options
Lights can be mounted with a variety of options like mounting arms and adjustable slip filters and brackets. Lighting footprint (i.e. light distribution) is the pattern on the ground that emits from the light fixture. Choose type II for hallways and type V for even distribution on all sides.
Our LED recessed light kits allow you to replace existing fixtures with updated components. Kits contain everything you need to upgrade your residential and commercial lighting.
Pick a light with enough lumens to properly light up your space and prevent shadows. Avoid weak lumen output while striking the perfect balance between bright light that isn’t too harsh, but still bright enough to light up a space.
7. Color Temperature
Find the optimal color temperature for your space. Choose between neutral white to blue-white light that has better contrast and makes smaller details easier to see.
8. Fixture Shape
Round shape lights have a more simple, modern appearance and are great for office use. Linear, rectangular lights may be better suited for assembly lines or larger gymnasiums.
9. Energy Usage
Both low bay and high bay lighting are cost-saving options. Dimmable lights also conserve power, which can lead to less energy usage and an even lower electricity bill.