LED Wall Pack Buyers Guide
Wall pack lighting fixtures are a popular choice for commercial and industrial customers across the globe for many years, due to their low profile and high light output. These fixtures have traditionally used HID or high-pressure sodium lamps, due to their strong light output. However in recent years LED technology has progressed to the point where it is now dominant in this category of lighting, with far greater efficiency, service life and overall quality of light produced. This huge progression in technology has allowed users to save a considerable amount in operating and maintenance costs, as well as improve their workplace safety and reduce liability risks.
Many first time buyers of LED wall pack light fixtures find it difficult to shop for these lights due to differences in wattage to lumen ratios produced as well as there being a much larger range of options and choices than what was previously available with traditional lighting. Recognizing this need for clarification, we have compiled one of the most extensive buyers guides available to assist customers in selecting the best LED high bay light for a variety of applications. Also included in this guide is information regarding the improved technical and performance attributes of LED lighting technology, in order to help educate buyers as to why choosing LEDs over conventional types of lighting fixtures is always the best choice, especially for commercial and industrial applications.
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LED – Short for “Light-Emitting Diode”, this is a solid state type of lighting that uses a semiconductor diode that glows when voltage is applied. Dating back to the 1960’s, this type of lighting has been commonplace in electronic and computer equipment since the beginning. However, as LED technology has steadily improved over the years, the lumen output produced has increased dramatically and today can outperform virtually all other types of commercially available lighting options.
Lumens – When someone refers to the amount of light a bulb produces, they are actually referring to its lumen output. Lumens are the technical measure of the quantity of visible light that is emitted by a light source. Generally speaking, in the past a light’s output was quantified by its wattage instead of lumens. This was common in the lighting marketplace due to a consistent linear relationship between wattage and lumen output in traditional incandescent lights. However due to the wide variance in lumen to wattage ratios of various LED lighting, this is no longer an accurate way of measuring a lights output. Because of this, the lighting industry has shifted towards using lumens as the standard for measuring a lights output.
Wattage – Used as the standard measurement of power consumption for the lighting industry, wattage is often combined with lumens in order to create a ratio used to determine a light’s energy efficiency. A watt is defined as the rate at which work is performed when one ampere of current flows through an electrical potential difference of one volt. This is expressed as [1W = 1V * A].
Voltage – This is defined as the potential for energy to move. It is considered analogous to water pressure, since the characteristics of voltage are similar to that of pressurized water flowing through a pipe.
DLC Listed – An acronym for “Design Light Consortium”, when a lighting product is listed under the DLC standard that means it has been officially certified to perform under high levels of energy efficiency.
Color Temperature – This is the industry standard way of defining the color hue of a light. Color temperature is measured using the Kelvin temperature scale ranging from 1,000K to 10,000K. The color temperatures in today’s commercial and industrial lighting world range from 3,000K to 6000K, with 5000K being the most common and the closest to the color of actual sunlight.
Wall Pack Lights – This is a specific type of light intended to mount on the side of a vertical surface, providing a wide angle light facing down to illuminate walkways, building exteriors, etc. These lights are usually mounted above head level in order to provide ideal illumination coverage. Because they are intended to be mounted outdoors, these lights will come with an IP65 or IP67 rating, meaning they are sealed for weather and dust resistance.
CRI – Short for “Color Rendering Index”, this is the measurement scale used to determine a light’s accuracy and its overall performance in proper color rendering. This scale ranges from zero to 100, which is the CRI of daylight and is regarded as the perfect light source. The higher the CRI of a light the better it will illuminate the surrounding area.
See our comprehensive article on CRI illumination for more information.
Wattage Selection for LED Wall Pack
There are a variety of different wattages available for wall pack lights in order to suit a wide range of applications and illumination requirements. In the past with traditional lighting, lighting output was measured in watts due to performance attributes for certain wattage ranges being generally consistent across various manufacturers. This made the shopping process quite easy for buyers as they would really only need to know the appropriate wattage required for their application. This was especially true for large scale operations with many fixtures, such as in new construction projects.
Things are different now in today’s marketplace as there is a wide variance in performance between different lights in the same wattage range, with certain manufacturers’ fixtures providing a considerably more efficient lighting output than others. In addition to this, LED lights do not require anywhere near as much power as traditional lighting fixtures, which makes a simple replacement based on wattage impractical when comparing it to HID and sodium lamp technology. In order to make the selection and shopping process easier, below is a chart that highlights the most common traditional lighting fixtures ranges and how they correspond to modern LED lighting technologies.
Low Wattage (12-28W) – Designed for applications that do not require significant light output but instead focus on cost savings and efficiency, these lights are popular for illuminating small areas such as walkways and interior corridors. They are also physically smaller and therefore fit into smaller places where larger wall packs would be unable to.
Medium Wattage (30-50W) – The most popular range of lights offered, these are commonly purchased in bulk by contractors for commercial and industrial construction or retrofit projects. They are popular due to their ability to be used for the majority of wall pack lighting needs and occupy a middle ground position by balancing lumen output and efficiency.
High Powered Wall Packs (80-120W) – As the most powerful wall pack option, these are used for applications where the primary focus is sheer lumen output, with electricity consumption being a secondary concern. The most common usage for these powerful wall packs is in applications requiring light fixtures to be mounted several stories up. The extra light output of these high powered lights allows for proper illumination on the ground from these extended heights.
Selectable Wattage (40-120W) – These are a unique type of wall pack, in that the wattage consumed can be user adjusted up and down depending on the application requirements. These are often selected when buyers are unsure as to what power output is required for an application. They are also selected when buyers are looking to simply ordering and purchase just one model of wall pack for the entire project – using the adjustability to tailor the light for different areas.
Appropriate Lumen Choice
When shopping for LED wall packs, it is crucial to select the correct lumen rating in order to ensure proper performance and maximum efficiency. As mentioned earlier, in today’s marketplace lumen output has supplanted wattage as the primary measure of a lights performance. Considering that for decades lighting performance has been measured based on the wattage of a light fixture, it can be difficult and confusing for many people to transition into understanding light output based on lumens. However this is the way in which the lighting industry will be measuring performance for the foreseeable future and therefore understanding how lumen ratings translate into real world performance is vital in order to make the correct lighting selection choices.
For specific generations of LED lighting technology, the number of lumens produced is normally proportional to the wattage of the light fixture, however this does vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Because of this, we have listed three of the most common lumen ranges used in wall pack lighting applications.
Low Lumens (1,000 – 3,000) – At the lowest end of the lumen range, these lights are generally designed for applications that do not require intense lighting output but instead focus on value and energy efficiency. They are commonly used for illuminating small areas such as walkways and areas under overhangs.
Medium Lumens (3,300 to 7100) – The most common lumen range, lights in this category are used for the majority of wall pack applications and usually offer the most options. These lights are often purchased in bulk for commercial and industrial applications requiring a large number of fixtures that strike a good balance between power and efficiency. They are most suitable for general illumination purposes along the sides of buildings and vertical walls.
High Powered Wall-Packs (11,000 – 17,000) – The most powerful of all wall packs, these are the best suited for applications where maximum light output is the priority over all else. These are usually seen in applications where lights are mounted several stories up and require significant lumen output to be able to properly illuminate the ground below.
Selectable Lumens (5,000 to 15,000) – A unique offering in the lighting industry, selectable lumen wall packs are designed to be flexible for multiple applications. This makes the selection process much easier for buyers who are either unsure as to the exact lumen requirements for their application or for those looking to purchase one model of light that is flexible enough to be applicable for their entire project.
Color Temperature (Kelvin)
In addition to wattage and lumen output, color temperature is one of the key points to consider when selecting a wall pack light. Color temperature is measured on the Kelvin (K) temperature scale, and normally ranges between 3,000K and 5,000K in commercial LED lighting applications. The range selected will depend on what the end user is looking to accomplish, whether that be to simply increase visibility, change the mood of the lighting atmosphere or both.
Wall pack lights typically fall in the 5,000K range. This cool white color most closely replicates natural sunlight and is the most versatile overall. It is ideal for general illumination purposes outside of warehouses, large buildings, vertical walls and any other commercial, industrial or municipal spaces that require high visibility lighting. Additionally, this range also happens to have the best overall CRI ratings out of all color temperature options, providing optimal visibility for critical areas such as tunnel lighting or footpaths.
Wall Pack Applications
Exterior Building Lighting – The most popular application for wall pack lighting, exterior building lighting is an integral part of an overall building lighting system. Especially popular for large scale commercial and industrial buildings, wall pack lights are mounted on the vertical walls of a building and are intended to illuminate the ground area immediately adjacent to the building, such as walkways and parking spaces.
Tunnel Lighting – Tunnels and walkway corridors are another common application in which wall pack lights are used. Due to overhead space limitations, many tunnels and walkway corridors require lighting to be mounted on the sides of walls and other vertical surfaces. This provides wide lighting while keeping the fixtures tucked up and out of the way.
Walkway Lighting – Another common application for wall pack lighting is walkway lighting. Many walkways do not have the ability to utilize traditional post lighting, but have walls and other vertical surfaces upon which lighting can be mounted. Wall packs are ideal for this purpose as they are designed to be mounted on surfaces and offer a wide angle light that illuminates a large area.
Wall Lighting – Interior and exterior walls are a ubiquitous application for wall packs across all industries. Exterior wall lighting is primarily used in large buildings, although they are also used in applications such as the exteriors of convenience stores and gas stations with high foot traffic. Interior wall lighting is common in warehouses and repair shops that have shelving or other overhead obstructions preventing overhead lighting from illuminating an area.
Entryway Lighting – Wall packs are commonly seen mounted over entryways in practically every commercial, industrial and retail building across the world. They excel at this role, due to their compact size and inherent weather resistance. Almost every non-covered entryway is equipped with wall pack lighting, and in many cases is required by local building codes to ensure personnel safety.
Wall Pack Options
There are several options available for those looking to upgrade their existing lighting setup or planning a lighting layout for a new construction project. Due to a wide variety of application needs and requirements, there is a large selection of different options available. In order to alleviate the confusion that often occurs due to this large selection, below is a list of the most common types of wall pack lighting fixtures available.
Standard Wall Pack – This is by far the highest volume wall pack, due to its price point, good light output and straightforward design. Standard wall packs come in a wide range of fixed wattage levels depending on the application requirements. Sealed from weather conditions and water ingress, they are the lowest profile wall pack with a streamlined housing and a wide beam angle. These are commonly used on the outside of commercial and industrial facilities and buildings, as well as any vertical surfaces such as dividing or privacy walls.
Adjustable Head – These adjustable head wall packs are designed to provide directional exterior illumination instead of a general wide beam. These are popular for facilities and building exteriors that are looking to illuminate specific landscape design features or to highlight important areas for safety or security purposes. With a 90° beam angle adjustment and a focused beam, these lights can illuminate areas immediately adjacent to the fixture or farther away.
High Output – Designed for applications requiring exceptionally high lumen outputs, these are the most powerful wall packs available. These high output wall pack lights are typically installed in facilities with tall walls that require light fixtures to be mounted several stories up. The strong lumen output of these fixtures allows them to provide adequate light coverage despite being mounted several times higher than a normal wall pack.
Photocell – Similar in shape, size and power output as a standard wall pack, photocell wall pack lights offer the capability to use photocells to automatically turn on and off depending on ambient lighting. This is especially useful for applications where the overall outdoor lighting system is not already controlled by an automatic master system to adjust when lights turn on and off, as these lights offer the capability to do that themselves through photocells.
Tunable – A unique and increasingly popular option, tunable wall pack lights offer the option to adjust light lumen output to perfectly suit the application. This offers users and buyers the ability to purchase a single series of lights and use them for multiple applications requiring different lumen outputs. It also helps buyers who are not entirely sure what lumen output they need to select a fixture that gives them flexibility.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What are LED wall pack lights?
These are weatherproof outdoor light fixtures designed to mount on vertical surfaces, directing light downwards to a surface area such as a sidewalk, walking path, parking lot or landscaping. Utilizing LED technology to generate exceptional lumen output and lighting accuracy, these fixtures are popular for building exteriors, tunnels and vertical walls such as privacy dividing walls.
Q. How are these lights mounted?
Most wall pack lights are mounted using internal fasteners that pass through the back case of the light, although some attach via brackets that they hang from. They are designed to be mounted flush against the vertical surface they’re attached to, in order to provide the lowest profile possible.
Q. How many wall pack lights do I need?
The number of wall packs required for your specific project will depend on several factors. The first factor is determining what lumen output is required for the application. After this is calculated, you will need to calculate the number of fixtures required for the application based on the lumen output of each individual fixture. This is where it can become a bit difficult to calculate as some find it is best to use a smaller number of high powered fixtures, while others find that a larger number of moderately powered fixtures is the optimal choice.
There is no right or wrong answer, but choosing the best configuration possible is often best left up to a commercial LED lighting expert who can properly design your project. Consulting with an expert can help to minimize initial costs and lower long term operating costs while maximizing illumination in the area.
Q. Why choose LEDs for wall pack lighting?
There are many benefits to using LED technology for wall pack lighting. The main reason most users choose LEDs over traditional lighting technologies is its dramatically improved energy efficiency. In addition to this, LED fixtures do not have any of the maintenance costs of traditional fixtures – in fact they require no regular maintenance at all. This saves a considerable amount in both labor and parts costs throughout the lifetime of the fixture. Finally, a benefit not often considered but immediately noticeable upon upgrading is the increased quality and accuracy of the light produced by LEDs, which improves visibility and safety when compared to traditional lighting sources.
Q. How do I upgrade my existing wall packs to LEDs?
There are multiple routes to retrofit LEDs into currently installed lighting systems, depending on how the existing system is set up. In many cases, lighting technicians find that the easiest and smoothest way to upgrade to LEDs is to simply replace the entire unit with a new LED fixture that provides the appropriate lumen output. In other circumstances it may be necessary to configure an entire lighting system layout in order to effectively make the switch to LEDs, due to the exceptionally high lumen output of LEDs often meaning a lower number of fixtures are required.
Under select circumstances it may be possible or even the best choice to upgrade an existing fixture with an LED retrofit kit, especially for existing fixtures that are specially built into a wall or are an integral part of the building’s design. However installing an LED retrofit kit does require some electrical expertise in order to properly complete.