Can LED Perform for Exterior Lighting?

When LED lighting first came on the market, it was expensive and inefficient, and definitely not a contender for high-output exterior lighting applications such as wall packs, canopy lights, parking lot lights, and area lighting. You wouldn't have considered lighting a walkway with LED lights, much less an outdoor venue. But times have changed. Advances in LED technology and production have increased light output, increased efficiency, and brought costs down for outdoor security lighting. A typical LED fixture for, say, a building facade or a parking garage, now operates at roughly 100 lumens/Watt with an average lifetime usage of 50,000 hours or more.

But is it worth changing over from high-intensity discharge technologies like metal halide and high-pressure sodium?

Metal Halide and other HID

High-intensity discharge lamps provide great lumen output, and the metal halide lamps especially produce a very nice white light. Average lamp life is around 20,000 hours (and about half that if mounted horizontally) and, while they only produce around 65 lumens per watt, they are cheaper to purchase than LED.

A drawback to HID lighting is that it takes up to fifteen minutes to reach full brightness. It also must cool down after it turns off before it can be switched on again. You're probably not in the habit of turning your parking lot lights on and off, but a drop in current can shut these lamps down. The time it takes for you to be able to turn them back on is called the "restrike time."

LED Lighting

LED lamps have no warm-up or restrike time. If turned off, they can be turned right back on, and they're not as sensitive to current drops. Average lamp life is more than twice that of metal halide, and their operating life isn't diminished by installing them horizontally. They run about 100 lumens per Watt, making them much more energy efficient. LED technology at this point is still more expensive than metal halide, but the fact that you'll burn through two or three metal halide lamps before you need to replace and LED lamp—plus the savings in electricity costs—makes it cheaper in the long run to switch to LED. It's just the initial investment that can hurt a bit. However, there are ways to mitigate that.

Ways to Make Your Lighting Upgrade More Affordable

LED lamps and fixtures that are Design Lights Consortium qualified are eligible for utility company rebates. Check with your local utility to find out how much you can get back per lamp. Often these rebates can make purchasing new significantly cheaper.

If your utility company doesn't offer rebates—or even if it does but you'd like to better leverage your lighting upgrade—you can finance your new lights. One thing people don't think about when looking to upgrade to LED lighting is that the money they'll be saving in electricity costs every month can actually be used to pay for the lights. (In some cases, depending on the lights you're currently running, you may even wind up with money left over after making your finance payment.) offers financing for their lights. Contact them by phone or email to find out whether your lighting upgrade project qualifies for financing. (Most business, commercial, and industrial upgrades do.)

After You Decide to Take the Leap

When you're ready to upgrade the exterior lighting for your business, you'll want to evaluate lights for your application before you make a quantity purchase. offers a free DIALux simulation service, so you can do just that. This program applies to all our exterior LED lighting solutions, including wall pack LED fixtures, LED parking lot and area lighting, outdoor flood lights, and in-ground PAR36 landscape lighting.