We all know that High Bays are designed to address the lighting needs of large areas where the ceiling height is greater than 20 feet, but what kind of High Bay to use is always a topic of discussion (and confusion). There are two form factors of high bays that are popular in today’s market: the Monopoint or Round/UFO High Bay and the Linear High Bay. Our Lighting Layout Specialists are routinely asked this question:
“Should I use UFO High Bays or Linear High Bays on this project?
In this blog, we’re sharing our take on it:
UFO or Linear High Bays? Consider Your Existing Space
In many cases, the existing fixture configuration of the space determines which High Bay to choose. This is even more so if your project is a retrofit that demands a one-to-one replacement. Since many high ceiling spaces have traditionally been illuminated by Metal Halide lamps that are constructed in a round shape (because the bulbs were round), the first LED High Bays were modeled after them and resulted in the introduction of UFO High Bays. For this same reason, if you are working on a one-to-one replacement for metal halides, then UFO High Bays would be the ones to choose. However, there are also existing spaces that use traditional fluorescent T5HO and T8 High Bays. In this situation, Linear High Bays would be the ideal replacement.
Ask How the Space Will Be Used
If your project is not a one-to-one replacement or is a new build, then choosing the right High Bay should be based on how the space will be used. Some key questions to ask:
- What is the height of the ceiling? Anything higher than 35 feet would be better served with UFO High Bays. Linear High Bays just don’t have the output or beam spread to be effective above 35 feet.
- What is the spacing? If the fixtures will be far apart from each other, then Linear High Bays might be the better way to go as they typically have wider beam angles.
- Is the footprint of the space an open area or does it have passageways or aisles? UFO High Bays are great for open areas such as airports and factory floors, while Linear High Bays are the effective choice for maintenance bays or cold storage areas with high shelves.
- Will the environment be prone to harsh conditions such as dust, moisture or water? The majority of UFO High Bays in the market are IP65 rated, providing the fixture with protection from such harsh conditions. There is less selection of Linear High Bays that are designed in this way.
Think Shape and Beam Sizes
The shape of a fixture is not only for aesthetics. Different fixture form factors cast different beam sizes and shapes. Round-shaped High Bays like the UFO will cast cone-shaped beams (usually 120 or 90 degrees), making them suitable for light distribution in a more focused and controlled way. But this also means that if they are spaced too far apart from each other, you may experience undesirable “white spots” in between where the cone-shaped beams can’t reach. On the other hand, Linear High Bays will cast rectangular beams, so they will efficiently distribute light over areas such as aisles and long workbenches. Keeping shape and beam size in mind will help you when you are creating your lighting design.
Don’t Forget About Installation Costs
One thing that is often overlooked but can typically make or break the budget is the cost of installation. It’s something we always ask our customers to consider. For High Bays, the UFO style has a clear advantage: it only requires one point drop to wire and install. Linear High Bays, on the other hand, require two-point drops to install. It is also harder to level and straighten a square fixture versus a round fixture. All of this potentially doubles the time required for electricians to complete the install.
Still confused about choosing between using our UFO High Bays and Linear High Bays? Don’t worry! While our recommended considerations should help you narrow down a choice, there isn’t a definitive answer as every project has its unique requirements.
Need help with a lighting design to decide on the right High Bay to use? Contact our knowledgeable Lighting Layout Specialists for help!