Metal Halide V LEDs: What You Should Know Before Upgrading Commercial Lighting

By April 3, 2020 LED


The debate about metal halide vs LED lighting is not a foreign concept to anyone in the lighting maintenance and installation industry. While both can be good  options for commercial and industrial spaces they each come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages that are pertinent to know before any major lighting renovations begin.

If you’re lighting a large facility, for example, like a sports field or a parking structure, metal halide lights have been the go-to solution to cover large, outdoor areas that experience high levels of traffic from day to night. For indoor lighting in offices, stores, and warehouses, it may be beneficial to use LEDs to create an environmentally friendly solution while also providing workers with adequate light.

Get to know the various features of LED bulbs as well as the technology behind metal halide lamps in order to make the best choice for your facility and keep customers and employees well-lit in any circumstance.

Features of LED Bulbs and Metal Halide Bulbs

One important component of choosing the right lighting options for your facility is understanding the differences between metal halide vs LED lights and their standard uses. Both have been used widely in many commercial lighting situations, but depending on your lighting needs, one may be more beneficial than the other.

Metal halide lamps create light with an electrical arc and vaporized gas. As the light heats up, two opposing electrodes pass a charge back and forth, causing the metal halide salts and mercury to evaporate into gas, producing white light. This process causes metal halide lamps to start up more slowly than LEDs, which can make it difficult to adequately light a facility, like a store or an office building, that turns the lights on and off with some frequency.

LED bulbs, on the other hand, use a semiconductor to conduct an electrical current within the bulb that produces light. This self-sustaining system is one of the many features of LED bulbs that makes them a more energy efficient source of light. Additionally, one of the advantages of LED lights is their low maintenance costs and longer life. Many facilities that switch to LED lighting end up saving money, even though the initial cost of the lights themselves is higher.

Proper Uses and Applications for LEDs and Metal Halide Lamps

In the debate of metal halide vs LED, it’s also important to understand which facilities these lighting systems are best suited for. Office buildings and retail space, for example, benefit greatly from fixtures that use LED lights because they require no warm up in order to turn on fully and their maintenance is very low.

A large parking lot or warehouse, on the other hand, may benefit from the type of light produced by metal halide bulbs, especially in the form of high bay lights or floodlights. Metal halide lights produce a versatile white light that can have many applications. But while they may create a softer light, they do require more maintenance than LEDs and contain mercury.

Advantages of LED and metal halide lights come down to the user’s intended purpose and maintenance capabilities. If you’re able to properly care for them, metal halide lights might serve your space better, but if you need a low maintenance, energy-efficient lighting system, LEDs offer a better solution.

Choosing Between Metal Halide Vs LED Lights

Once you have a better understanding of the different benefits each lighting option has to offer, you can perform an audit of your current lighting system, check energy bills, and determine square footage to create a list of your lighting system needs and cross reference advantages of LED lighting or metal halides for your space.

For example, if your facility is currently using HID lamps and wasting energy, it may be beneficial to switch to an energy efficient LED solution to improve light quality  while using less electricity. If you are lighting an industrial space in which the lights are shut off at the end of the day and turned on in the morning, metal halides would provide you with adequate, natural white light while using less energy than incandescents and at a lower initial cost than LEDs.

Lighting is a very important variable to take into consideration when upgrading a space. The right lighting solution can help prevent workers from injury, create ambiance for your patrons, and even save you money on energy. Choose the right lighting solution for your space and if you aren’t sure where to begin, take a look at some of our projects we’ve worked on, and then contact the experts at Imperial Lighting can help you get started.