Choosing Effective LED Warehouse Lighting

LED lighting has been adapted for just about any application you can think of, including warehouse lighting. With their expanded size, high ceilings and productivity-focused layout, warehouses require a different type of fixture than you would see in a home or small business.

LED warehouse lighting products are designed to throw a lot of lumens over a larger area and are relied on for general and task lighting applications. As they are the primary source of illumination in most warehouses, you’ll want efficient, reliable lights adapted for large areas. In other words, you’ll want LED lamps paired with bay fixtures.

Bay Lighting is the First Choice for Warehouses

Bay lighting is the primary – and usually only – option for warehouses. Among lighting experts, bays are fixtures specifically designed for large scale illumination, like warehouse applications.

Bays are categorized in a couple of ways. One major distinction is between high bays and low bays, which are designed for different ceiling heights. Low bays work best for ceilings between 12 and 20 feet high, while high bays are designed for ceilings between 20 and 45 feet tall.

Technically, what makes them different is their output and optics. High bays generate a larger amount of lumens and are designed with optics that disperse those lumens over a greater area. Low bays aren’t as intense in terms of raw lumen output, but their lower position means more of those lumens reach the floor.

Linear or UFO – Which Bay Lights are Better for Warehouse Applications?

In addition to high vs. low, bays are also categorized based on their shape. Some of them are linear bays while others are called UFO bays. Here’s the difference between the two:

  • Linear bays – Linear bays are, like the name suggests, rectangular-shaped fixtures that look much like standard T5 or T8 fluorescent tubes. Linear LED lights are ideal for illuminating tall shelves and wide aisles, both common features in warehouses.
  • UFO bays – UFO bays look like the kind of classic flying saucer you would see in a B-movie. That’s where they get their name from. UFO bays are better at illuminating large spaces than linear fixtures, but they aren’t as effective at illuminating elevated shelving.

Of course, you can pick and choose which types of bays to use, and where to use them. For example, you may stick with linear bays for aisles and storage areas, while UFOs will work well in reception, verification, and dispatch areas.

Why LED Lighting is the Preferred Choice for Warehouses

LED lighting is now the first choice in most lighting applications, including warehouse lighting applications. There are numerous reasons for this, such as:

  1. Unmatched energy efficiency – LEDs offer the best energy efficiency on the market, and this efficiency can help control the cost of operating your lighting. Compared to metal halides, LED fixtures are about 60 percent more efficient, and LEDs derive most of this advantage at the system level. That’s because LED lamps can be easily aimed for optimal light distribution.
  2. Color temperature options – LED lighting is available in a full range of color temperatures, including the brilliant, neutral tones that are typical for warehouse lighting projects. You can find LED lights at every part of the color temperature spectrum, from 3000K to 5000K and beyond.
  3. Low maintenance – LED lighting is also the most durable and reliable form of lighting on the market. This one-two combination means LEDs can typically go years without significant maintenance. LEDs also last much longer before hitting their failure point, so replacement isn’t necessary as often. This all adds up to savings on the operational end.

A Few Things to Consider When Placing Bay Fixtures

A little bit of planning goes a long way when installing new bay lights. Before settling on a layout design, consider the following:

  • Mounting height – Bays are versatile in that they can be mounted at varying heights. However, the higher the bays are mounted, the more powerful they’ll need to be to provide adequate visibility. For example, with a 15-foot mounting height, you’ll want bays that output around 15,000 lumens. At around 35 feet, you’ll need about twice the lumen output.
  • Light distribution – LED lighting is available in several distribution patterns. Each one is designed to emit illumination in a specific pattern and matching the right distribution pattern to your application will be critical. For example, Type I fixtures are better for narrow aisles while Type V fixtures are better for intersections and large spaces.
  • Task vs. general lighting applications – You’ll also want to match the right fixture and fixture position to different warehouse applications. General lighting, powered by LED high bay and low fixtures, provide adequate visibility wherever your team is working. Task lighting, though, may be required for stations where detailed work is required. Task lighting can be delivered with precision, using smaller linear fixtures like LED T8s. Combining task and general lighting effectively is one way to improve worker productivity.

Lighting Controls Can Provide Additional Benefits to Warehouse Lighting Systems

LED bay lighting is a good starting point for most LED warehouse lighting solutions, but additional lighting controls will lower operating costs, control power usage, and improve safety as well. Here are some of the controls worth considering:

  • Occupancy controls – Occupancy controls detect motion via heat, sound, or microwave signals and respond when someone enters or leaves the space. With occupancy controls, you can program the lighting to switch on when someone is nearby and off when the space is empty. This will prevent unnecessary lighting usage and minimize electricity costs further. LEDs are a perfect fit for occupancy controls because they start instantly and are not stressed by rapid on/off cycling.
  • Photocells – Photocells are typically reserved for exterior lighting, but if your warehouse receives a lot of natural light during the day, photocells can help take advantage of that. With photocells, your lights will only switch on when ambient illumination falls below a predetermined level.
  • Timers – Timers allow facilities to program the exact days and times the lighting should operate. Like occupancy controls, the use of timers will unlock additional efficiency out of the system and reduce wear on the fixtures.
  • Dimmers – Dimmers are used to control the level of lighting output from the system. In warehouse applications, dimmers can raise output levels when people are nearby and drop lighting levels when no one is around. Like other lighting controls, dimmers can be used to minimize lighting waste and ensure maximum visibility when it’s needed most.

Looking to Upgrade Your Warehouse Fixtures?

LED warehouse lighting systems are extensive, heavy-duty solutions that require a number of fixtures, lamps and components to function properly. If you’re not sure where to start with your warehouse lighting project, work with an experienced lighting team that is familiar with the ins and outs of warehouse lighting to help you select and source the perfect bays, bulbs and accessories for your project.