High Bay vs Low Bay Lighting: A Look at the Differences

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High bay and low bay lighting fixtures are quite popular in commercial and industrial places.

A choice between either depends on the region they will be mounted and the level of brightness that is required.

Also, choosing one over the other can significantly impact the safety of your facility as well as the efficiency of operations in your workplace.

That being so, there are several differences between high bay and low bay lighting, which sets either apart and gives it an advantage over the other.

But why do you need to learn about their differences?

Good knowledge of the benefits, limitations, and differences between high bay vs. low bay lights will give you a better understanding of which should be used, where, and when.

It is important to know them since using the wrong fixture could attract unnecessary costs as well as having underlit areas that could indirectly lead to a hazardous condition.

Thus, if you are new to lighting or looking for something new to replace your fixtures, we’ve outlined the major differences between high bay vs. low bay lighting

But first,

What is Bay Lights?

Bay lights are lighting fixtures that are used to illuminate large spaces such as factories, warehouses, processing plants, and manufacturing facilities.

These are facilities that need heavy-duty lighting projects to provide uniform and well-distributed light in open areas.

Also, bay lights are mostly employed in buildings that have up to 10 ft. tall ceilings.

Nonetheless, the height of the ceiling will determine the choice between low bay vs. high bay lighting.

Before these lights are installed, great consideration has to be given to the following:

  • The height of the ceiling in the building.
  • The frequency of lights’ use in the facility.
  • The ease at which the current fixture can be retrofit with new bulbs.

Differences Between High Bay and Low Bay Lights

Some differences between high bay and low bay lights are:

1. Height of installation:

High bay lights are used to light up spaces whose ceilings are higher than 20ft from the floor and around 40ft.

Also, for these lights to operate efficiently from this height, they need specially engineered reflectors in the case of HPS / MH bulbs and lens angles in the case of LED high bays.

What this does is to ensure that the light gets to the floor evenly, and it is not wasted.

On the other hand, low bay lights are intended for use in ceilings whose height is below 20ft from the ground.

Specifically, the ceiling can be between 12 ft to 20 ft.

As such, these lights are mostly used in homes, public buildings, and retail businesses.

2. Application:

High bay lights are used in industrial and commercial spaces, and an instance is the high bay warehouse lighting.

Some areas of application of high bay lights include:

  • Factories
  • Warehouses
  • Airport hangar
  • Municipal facilities
  • School and university gymnasiums

Nonetheless, low bay lights can still be employed some of these locations, but it’s still worth pointing out that some areas of its application include:

  • Ware House
  • Petrol Station
  • Retail Store

3. Beam Angle:

High bay lighting uses common beam angles such as 60°, 90°, and 120°.

A narrow beam helps to create a more focused beam that provides a high lux level on the floor.

In contrast, a wider beam angle allows large open areas with lower roof height to have an excellent distribution of light.

That aside, low bay lights have a beam angle of 120°.

With low bay lights, lens angles are employed to spread the light further to maintain the desired lighting level, and this lens angle helps to direct the light in specific places.

4. Mounting:

High bay lighting fixtures can be hung from chains or pendants, ceilings using hooks, or they can be fixed directly to the ceiling.

A range of fixtures can be used for high bay lights, and some of these include grid-mount high-bays, linear high-bays, round high-bays, and architectural high-bays.

Consideration for the use of high bay lights is it can light vertical surfaces and also light the floor.

There are warehouses where vertical lighting is important since it could help in picking items from the shelf.

Major Differences Between High Bay and Low Bay Lights

Despite the disparity between high bay vs. low bay lights, their most peculiar difference lies in the ceiling height for their installation.

For height below 20ft, low bay lights are suitable, whereas high bay lights can be used in spaces whose ceiling is over 40 ft from the ground.

There is a technical difference between either, which lies in their lumen output and direction of light.

Lower lights will need less lumen output because they tend to lose less light.

In this case, low bay lights use fewer lumens compared to high bay lighting, and as such, they don’t have to perform as hard.

The high lumen output of a high bay light can be attributed to the greater distance they are installed, and as such, it needs to be compensated for, to reach vital areas, and to prevent shadows.

On the same note, the reflector or lens angles may differ since different heights need different direction and light placement.

High bay lights, for instance, will take advantage of reflectors that ensure that the light spreads down and out to provide visibility in the space despite the distance it is installed.

Conclusion

A comparison between high bay vs. low bay lights shows that there are unique differences between either, which is most noticeable in the ceiling height they can be installed.

For high ceilings, high bay lights are most useful, while low ceilings can take advantage of low bay lights.

These lights also differ in their lumen output, where a high bay light needs to have a higher lumen to be brighter from a greater distance.

Nonetheless, these lights are suitable for use in warehouses, factories, and generally, facilities with a large open space.

Upon their installation, they can aid in the seamless completion of work.

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