Heavy duty lighting projects, like those often done in large buildings such as warehouses, factories, and processing plants, typically require high bay or low bay lights. These high lumen output lights are designed to provide well distributed and uniform light in open areas.
This is what high bay and low bay lights have in common.
But how do they differ? Below, we settle the low bay vs high bay lighting question.
What are High Bays?
High bay lights are used in open, high-ceiling areas. Typically, we define high bay lights as those that are designed to be installed anywhere between 20 ft to 40+ ft above the floor. For these lights to be effective this high up, they need specifically engineered reflectors (for HPS / MH bulbs) or lens angles (used in LED high bays) to ensure light reaches the floor evenly and reduces wasted light.
What are Low Bays?
As the name portrays, these bay lights are often used with lower ceilings in open areas. Low bay lights are often designed to illuminate open areas with ceilings between 12 ft to 20 ft. Anything over this height will qualify for the use of high bays, and anything lower is very uncommon in large open area facilities, and would otherwise require a different type of light fixture entirely.
What is the definitive difference?
In short, the height in which these lights are used is the main difference in terms of their application differences. For technical differences, there are two main things: lumen output and how they direct their light. Commonly with lower lights, they will require less lumen output due to their nature to lose less light. Secondly, the reflector or lens angles vary greatly as different heights call for different direction and placement of light.
All of this matters because using the wrong fixture (high bay in a low-ceiling area, or a low bay in a high-ceiling area) can result in unnecessary costs along with under-lit (or over-lit) areas – which can easily cause hazardous conditions. To avoid this, we always recommend asking a pro for advice before committing to one fixture over another.
If you know the height of your open area facility, it will be easy to make the call between needing high bay vs low bay lights. If you need help with the process – be sure to get in contact with The Lighting Center and one of our lighting professionals will gladly help you settle your high bay versus low bay debate.