Commercial & Industrial LED Lighting 101

The lighting set up at your commercial building directly impacts your lifecycle building and labor costs, workforce, and ultimately, the bottom line. In fact, the lights at your facility are either working for you or against you, by either contributing to efficient, safe operations or increasing hard and soft costs. Industrial LED lighting is powering businesses worldwide because of its flexibility and cost-effectiveness.

Aside from the obvious energy savings benefits, strategic lighting has been shown in studies to improve worker productivity and wellness, reduce errors, increase safety, and much more.

Getting the Best ROI on Your Lighting Investment with LEDs

LEDs now use 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last 25 times longer. Not only that, they reduce HVAC energy usage due to having significantly lower heat levels than HIDs.

Consider that:

  • From 2016 to 2018, the estimated total energy consumption of low and high bay applications decreased by 8.0%, due to the increased use of LEDs
  • Switching all 105 million installations of high or low bay lights to the most efficient LED lamps and luminaires would result in global savings of approximately $10 billion
  • On average, 30% of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted
  • Lighting makes up 18-40% of energy commercial costs
  • LED light bulbs are now the second most common bulb in use in U.S. commercial facilities and are quickly becoming the most popular choice

In an environment like a warehouse, where the lights have to stay on the majority of the time, optimizing your warehouse lighting is one of the best steps you can take to protect your bottom line

Learn about the best industrial LED lighting products for:

Lighting Upgrades vs. Relamp

If you’re looking to upgrade the lights in your facility to LEDs, you have a couple of different options:

Upgrade HID or Fluorescent Bulbs with LEDs

You might be surprised how easy it can be to make the upgrade to LEDs, by retrofitting LED light bulbs into your existing fixtures to reap the benefits of lower maintenance costs, energy savings, and more control over your lights. Read more about the benefits of LEDs over HIDs here. It’s often possible to use rebates to help pay for your LED retrofit project. 

Our universal bulb finder can help get you started. You may also want to learn about different certifications and IP and UL ratings. Understanding different details, such as how the base type impacts your light bulb selection, can help you select the right option. Kits are another popular option for retrofitting.

Full Relamp Project

LED technology is incredibly flexible, which means there’s a wide variety of LED commercial lighting products available to you. How you combine them can have a big impact on the atmosphere in your facility. It’s possible that you could configure your lighting differently to get an even better set-up than simply replacing what you have now. This is very likely the case if you’re retrofitting an existing building, as opposed to a new build.

Knowing Where to Start with Your Commercial Lighting

When it comes to lighting your operations, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Every commercial space has unique needs, including making sure there is enough light to help people spot hazards, read labels, and protect quality and production levels. This all needs to happen without wasting energy (and therefore money) lighting the wrong parts of the building. You’ll want more light where customers will be viewing merchandise, compared with storage areas (though you have to give workers enough light to do their jobs!).

Selecting the right LED lights for your layout ensures that you achieve the required illumination type and intensity at each part of the building, while eliminating waste.
This efficiency comes in the form of reduced energy consumption, lower maintenance costs, and increased control and customization.


Basics of LED Lighting

It’s useful to understand that while light can create strong feelings in people, achieving the desired result is based in science. Like any other aspect of your operations, understanding how to measure it is critical to knowing its impact on your bottom line.


Here are the quantifiable aspects of light:


Lumens measure the peak total calculated output—sometimes called intensity or brightness—of a light.

Foot Candles

Foot-candles show the available light per surface area at a specific distance from a light source. As a unit, one foot-candle is equal to one lumen per square foot.


Watts refers to the amount of energy used
by the light.

These metrics help you understand if people have enough light to perform their jobs safely and efficiently, or if customers will have the right amount of light to feel comfortable shopping. We also have a glossary of key lighting terms that may help you as you research your solution. 

Characteristics of Light

Light comes in specific colors. Traditional, incandescent light bulbs have a slightly yellow hue, while other bulb types have colder, more blue-tinged hues. This is referred to by Correlated Color Temperature (CCT), which is measured in Kelvin values. As a quick reference, CCT is usually loosely categorized as warm (3500K or less), natural (4000-4500K), or cool (5000K or more), based on the colors. Learn more about the technical aspects of light here

The most appropriate color temperature depends on the specifics of the application and how people will be using the space. Cooler temperatures can keep people slightly more alert, but warmer colored light can encourage a better atmosphere for spending in retail applications. Some LED products can adjust the CCT, while others are fixed. 

How To Select the Right LED Products for your Workplace Lighting Requirements

Lighting for industrial and commercial spaces requires having the right tools for the job. It means understanding the technical aspects of the lighting products, but also understanding the quantity and quality of light required in each part of your facility. This involves everything from making sure order pickers can easily read labels to increasing forklift safety with additional lights. There are several factors that determine how many lights you’ll need to achieve the correct result

Some industries, like food and beverage processing, have specific requirements for lighting equipment to protect against contamination and disease. Other hazardous conditions mean you have to opt for explosion-proof fixtures and lights or use wet location light fixtures. 

It’s worth noting that more light isn’t automatically better. Too much light can become overpowering, which makes it harder to function in any given space and creates discomfort. That’s why establishing the correct foot candles for each part of your space is important. 


Light Fixtures for Commercial and Industrial Use

One of the main advantages of LED solutions for industrial and commercial buildings is their inherent flexibility. No matter what recommended lighting levels you need to achieve, there is a way to achieve it and reduce your energy costs at the same time.

The shape, output, and location of your chosen light fixtures all have a large impact on the end result. Higher ceilings require more lumens to achieve the same foot candle levels on a factory floor.

High Bay UFO

UFOs are saucer-shaped light fixtures that emit powerful beams and are highly popular due to their aesthetic appeal, especially in retail settings. UFOs provide round illumination of soft and even light, with easy installation. Occasionally, if spaced too far apart or used in the wrong environment, they can lead to “hot spots,” bright pockets of light that are unintentional and detract from the usage of the space.

High bay UFO fixtures are necessary for ceilings 20 feet tall or higher. Facilities with lower bays and ceilings can take advantage of lower wattage fixtures to get the same brightness using less energy.

High Bay Linear

Linear high bay LED light fixtures provide the most even spread of light, excellent for areas with significant shelving, like warehouses. These are the most efficient option for large spaces, but long, skinny linear lights are also excellent choices for narrow spaces, like aisles between shelving units.

High bay linear fixtures are necessary for ceilings 20 feet tall or higher.

Strip Lights for Low Bay Solutions

LED strip lights are easy to install and come in a variety of color temperatures, to provide even illumination and durability for applications with ceilings under 20 feet. They come in vapor tight, LED ready, integrated LED, corner lights, and retrofits.


Popular with art studios, retail spaces, and museums, commercial track lighting offers the flexibility to install almost anywhere in your space and draw attention where you need it. 


There is a distinction between “high bay” lighting products and other light fixtures, because high bay lights are designed for spaces with higher ceilings, they use more power to ensure the appropriate light levels reach the floor of the building. 

High bay lights are necessary for many commercial spaces. However, for areas with ceilings under 20 feet, you can use other products, which will save you some lumens to reach the desired impact at each part of the building. That in turn, means using less power for a similar result.

Contact our team of dedicated account representatives to learn more about quantity discounts or how many light fixtures you need for your facility. 

Standards and Certifications for Lighting

Standards and certifications comprise a vast number of companies and compliances that serve specific purposes—primarily addressing safety, environmental impact and energy efficiency, and sanitation.

Top Commercial and Industrial Products

Getting the Desired Effect from Your LED Commercial and Industrial Lights

Industrial LED lighting is a powerful tool, one that can be used in a variety of ways. How you combine different types of light bulbs and fixtures will ensure that you have the coloration and brightness you need in each part of your building, to ensure your workforce is safe and productive and customers feel comfortable.

Power and Required Lumen Output

There are a couple of different metrics that will help inform your decision making. It’s critical to have the correct foot candles at each location, based on the specifics of your industry (which can vary greatly based on the exact type of work being conducted).  

The beam angle, placement of the light fixture and distance to the area,  as well as the lightness or reflectiveness of other surfaces (or presence of windows), will contribute to the required Lumens output for your application. 


Beam Angle

The beam angle refers to the angle at which the light is emitted. You may also hear this referred to as “light distribution” or “beam spread.” The wider the beam angle, the more power is needed to achieve the same brightness (foot candles or lux) at any given part of your facility. 


Walls, Floors, and Ambient Light

The color, brightness, and sheen of the surfaces in your building all impact the lighting solution you need. For example, if you have large windows or skylights, you might not need as many luminaires to achieve the desired effect. If your floors have reflective epoxy or other treatments, you need to make sure you don’t end up with a glare that could irritate your workers and make them less efficient. 

Dark walls and floors will absorb light from your systems, while lighter colors will reflect it back, which can make an enormous difference in how your space looks and feels, which in turn impacts your operations.


Other Considerations for your Commercial LED Lighting


If your lights will be exposed to harsh elements, such as extreme temperatures (either hot or cold), excessive moistures or water, or dust and other particles will all impact the best options for you. In general, LEDs emit significantly less heat than their HID counterparts, but some facilities may require additional heat sinks in order to divert the heat away from the fixture to enhance performance and lifespan.


Not every part of your building needs the same effect or treatment, but you don’t want to end up with mismatched light across areas that need to feel the same or have the same color temperature. Creating continuity of light means factoring in the shape of light fixtures and beam angle, the required lumen output to achieve the correct foot candles, as well as installation and mounting requirements.

You also may need to account for keeping the effect of the light the same across different parts of the building, which may require some thought and planning.

Benefits of LEDs Lights in Industrial Use

Commercial lighting is a big part of your operations for both employee and customer experience. The long lifespan of LED lights frees up your maintenance team from having to change out bulbs constantly. Consistent, high-quality light means your workers are able to avoid eye strain that makes them feel tired. In addition to keeping your operations lean and productive, lighting is a significant variable in workplace safety. People need to be able to see clearly, to avoid distractions, avoid and clean up spills, protect themselves from hazards, and focus on operating their machinery. That’s why OSHA has outlined specific requirements for workplace lighting standards

Something as simple as the color temperature can increase productivity and worker wellness. The benefits of natural light are well documented, but not every organization has the luxury of providing large swaths of windows, if that’s even safe or advisable. 

How you light your facilities is a key part of how your organization manages resources and cares for employees and customers. You don’t want to rely on outdated or substandard solutions. 

Contact our team today to learn what products will help you make the most of your lights. 

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