HID to LED”.
By Foreverlamp, Inc. – The industry leader
in high bay LED l ighting solutions
Jim Sekinger - 844-533-8811
Commercial warehouse and industrial
buildings have an energy problem: HID
high bay lights are expensive to operate
and provide poor quality light. The wide-
range of new LED technology now
available offers owners and tenants
more choices than ever, but navigating
all the options has become increasingly
difficult. Nevertheless, these recent
product innovations and the advent of
Lighting as-a-Service ("LaaS")
makes this the time to upgrade your
N O M A D I C | 2 4
Recent innovation in LED technology and dramatic cost reductions of LED chips, has greatly expanded
the range of lighting solutions for high bay applications. This includes new thermal management
systems and significant improvements in lumen/watt efficiency that allows for higher lumen output light
sources. In addition, new up-light designs have improved LED options for many applications, especially
There are two main approaches to warehouse lighting retrofits: lamp replacement (plug-and play or by-
pass lamps) and fixture replacement (installing new integrated LED fixtures). Our comparison below
explains the benefits and drawbacks of each approach.
Plug-and-p lay lamps By-Pass lamps
What is it?
Using the existing magnetic ballast, simply screw
out the old lamp and screw in the new LED.
Typically saves 50% on of the lamp energy (e.g.
400W to 200W)
- Highly sustainable – re-uses entire existing
- More lumens for high mounting heights
- Does not require a licensed electrician for install
- Works with any input voltage
- If ballast goes bad it must be replaced
What is it?
An electrician cuts the power from the ballast to the
socket then re-wires the socket to incoming line
voltage. Screw out the old HID lamp and replace it
with the voltage specific lamp.
For ballast bypass retrofits, where the wiring is
disconnected from the ballast and directly
connected to the bulb socket, a fast acting fuse
should also be installed to prevent explosions in
case a conventional metal halide is later installed
without reconnecting the ballast. This is a safety
precaution that will add to the overall cost of the
Typically saves 50% on of the lamp energy (e.g.
400W to 200W)
- Cost effective when existing ballasts are bad
- Good solution for low mounting heights (20’ or
- Low lumen output
- Requires licensed electrician to install
- Left with line voltage on socket
New LED f ix tures
New LED fixtures are available in a wide range of designs from the
inexpensive UFO style to a high performance, classic high bay. To help
make the best decision for you and your facility start with these five
1) Establish a budget. As you might expect there are many price points
in the LED market. Low quality, inexpensive fixtures can be purchased
for as little as $150 whereas top quality fixtures can easily run $450 or
more. Speaking with a quality manufacturer or contractor can help
determine the performance/quality you might need. You should also
consider new alternatives to cash purchase such as Lighting as-a-Service
("LaaS"). LaaS (see page 5) allows customers to upgrade to LED with zero
upfront costs and provides immediate energy savings.
2) Assess. Take a walk through your workspace – talk to employees
working underneath the light and begin to assess your existing lighting
system. Are you happy with the light level? Is the current lighting layout
adequate for your tasks? Do you have enough light where you need it?
3) Audit. Audit your existing system: What is the wattage and type
of lamp you have in your existing HID system? How many fixtures exist
and are there any existing lighting controls? How many hours each week
are the lights on? Answers to these questions will help establish a
baseline to calculate a simple payback.
4) Strategize. If you’re happy with your light levels and how the
workspace is illuminated, then it's time to decide which retrofit strategy
is best for you and your facility. On the following page our case study
provides a useful comparison to help inform your decision. This is also a
good time to consider lighting controls, such as occupancy sensors, in
your retrofit plan. Unlike HID lamps that are incompatible with most
controls due to long re-strike times, LEDs work easily with various
controls - a key energy saving strategy.
5) Pick your luminaire. Generally speaking you should look for LED
luminaires that exceed 26,000 lumens (if replacing 400W HID), efficiency
that exceeds 140 lumens per watt, have acrylic or aluminum lenses to
prevent glare, and a minimum 5 year warranty. If your mounting height
exceeds 30’ or is less than 20’ than you might require more or less
lumens for optimal lighting levels.
Replacing 100 metal halide lamps (400W) with LED using plug-and play lamps, by-
pass lamps and new fixtures.
Annual operating hours: 4,000
Energy cost: $.16/kWh ($0.12 rate +$0.04 demand charge)
Labor cost (replacement lamp): $30
Labor cost: $100/hour (licensed electrician) $30/hour (plug-and-play installation)
*Calculated without potential rebates
All inclusive subscriptions known as Lighting as-a-Service* (LaaS) provide
customers with new, better lighting systems at no upfront cost. The customer
makes a single operating expense payment (off balance sheet treatment) to the
service provider for the system while retaining enough of the immediate savings
to stay cash flow positive. Tenants and owners can take advantage of the
financing as the pay backs are usually 3 years or less.
Contracts typically run for 3-7 years (depending on the product type and
customer needs) which allows this structure to work with both owned and leased
facilities. During the contract period the service provider is responsible for
maintaining the system and performance (in the form of saving
a specified reduction in kWh usage) is often guaranteed.
*Terms and conditions may vary. Subject to credit approval.
Replacing your warehouse or manufacturing site HID lighting with LED’s offers great benefits. However,
with many options to choose from it takes careful analysis to identify the best overall solution for your
Plug-and-play LED replacement lamps are clearly the most cost effective retrofit solution. As a simple
screw in bulb you save the expense and hassle of other upgrade options. These bulbs have a wide range
of lumen options to satisfy almost any application and mounting height. With the lowest up-front cost of
all the options, the payback is typically under 1 year.
Ballast by-pass lamps are a good solution in situations where the existing site has a large percentage of
failed or failing ballasts. A by-pass lamp removes the existing ballast so that the concern of on-going
ballast failures is eliminated. Since the lamp is direct wired there is no ballast loss and the resultant
efficiency is improved. However, since the lamp is internally driven it normally operates at lower lumen
levels so is generally useful only for lower mounting heights.
If high performance and a long term solution are right for you, than new LED fixtures are your best
choice. While the paybacks are generally longer due to higher initial cost and labor, in return you’ll get
very high efficiencies, longer lifetimes (100,000 hours) along with high quality photometric performance.
Choosing manufacturers with high quality LED drivers and refractors is important to avoid issues such as
glare, uneven light distribution, and LED driver failures.
Regardless of the LED technology you select, a Lighting as-a-Service package can eliminate any budget
issues from your LED upgrade plan. LaaS allows end-users to enjoy all the benefits of a LED upgrade,
including immediate savings and better lighting, without any upfront capital expense. The flexibility of a
LaaS agreement also allows this solution to work for both facility owners or tenants, as contract terms
can be tailored to an existing lease.