The ELEDLights Guide to Converting Canopy Lights to LED

Outdoor overhead lighting is important for both the security of your property and the peace of mind of your customers and employees. However, if your canopy, overhang, breezeway, or parking garage lighting was installed more than a couple years ago, the electricity and maintenance requirements are almost certainly taking up a bigger chunk of your budget than they need to.

You can cut your costs significantly over the long term by simply updating these metal halide, HPS, and fluorescent power-suckers to long-life, low-energy-consumption LED. Doing so, you can realize as much as a 75% reduction in the cost of running your outdoor overhead lights. Additionally, the extended operating life means much less frequent maintenance is required—another big cost savings, especially for lighting that’s installed high off the ground.

If you’re interested in exploring this simple cost-cutting measure, ELEDLights has put together a basic guide for upgrading canopy lights—or you can just get started shopping for new canopy LED light fixtures.

ELEDLights Guide to Upgrading Canopy Lights

Why Upgrade Your Canopy Lights to LED?

• Cost • Hassle • First and Lasting Impressions

Three Ways to Convert Your Canopy Lights to LED

• LED Corn Lights • LED Retrofits • LED Canopy Light Fixtures



Traditional canopy light fixtures, the ones most commonly in use in gas stations, car washes, loading docks, parking garages, pavilions, and other covered outdoor locations, utilize metal halide (MH), high pressure sodium (HPS), or, for low ceilings, compact fluorescent lamps (CFL). These bulbs are all inexpensive to replace when their light output degrades, which is an attractive feature. However, you pay for that initial low cost with high kilowatt hours that very quickly eclipse your initial investment.

Let’s say you have eight canopy light fixtures with 175W HPS bulbs, and you’re running them about 84 hours a week. That costs you roughly $736/year. LED fixtures, offering the same light output, would cost you just $315/year. By the time you’re halfway through your second year with LED fixtures, you’ve completely paid for converting all eight of your fixtures. From that point going forward, you pocket all the savings every year. With an average operating life of 50,000 for those fixtures, you’re looking at as much as $4000 in savings before you even start thinking about needing to replace your lights again. If you just keep replacing your MH, HPS, or CFL bulbs, on the other hand, you’re going to spend around $100 in replacement bulbs over that same time period—plus $4000 in completely avoidable electricity costs. Why would you do that?


Those traditional HPS, MH, and CFL bulbs need to be replaced fairly frequently. Because these fixtures are often installed in locations with clearance height requirements accommodating semi trucks, it’s rarely a simple matter of getting the step-ladder out. And while your electrician has his scaffolding set up, he’s blocking two rows of gas pumps, a lane in your parking garage, a bay in your car wash—in other words, costing you not just money but business as well.

First and Lasting Impressions

Each of the traditional bulbs used also has its unique foibles that can affect the impression your customers, investors, and business partners have of your business. For instance:

Cold temperatures, something experienced in many parts of the world for at least part of every year, negatively affect the light output from CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs. At 60˚F, the lights work fine; drop down to 20˚F and you lose as much as half your light. Winter is cold and dark enough already: you don’t want your business to look like a remote polar outpost. With LED lights, your business will be a bright, welcoming island, no matter how dark or cold the night.

Intrinsic with MH and HPS lamps are slow warm-up times, with MH lamps taking as long as 20 minutes to reach full temperature. This means that lights have to be turned on before they’re needed, an unnecessary energy expense. But what about power outages after dark? The slow warm-up can leave your property under-lit for up to 20 long minutes after power is restored. How many cars will stream past on a busy road, drawn like moths to the instant-on LED lights your competitor is running?

It also needs to be mentioned that neither HPS nor CFL bulbs are great at color rendering. Customers may never look upward and appreciate your light fixtures, but the way objects appear under those lights will be noticed, consciously or subconsciously. If that appearance comes off as dated or cheap, that impression will carry over to your business as a whole. Modern LED lights provide significantly more accurate color rendering and leave customers with the impression of simply a “clean, well-lighted place.”

Finally, should you have a dream of switching your business to solar one day with a full bank of panels installed at your location, you’re going to need to be running LED lights to make that work. Metal halide and other high intensity discharge lighting simply draws too much power. If that is your dream, you can think of switching to LED lights now as the first step in your investment in energy independence and a green brand profile.


To recap, you can:

  • Save a whole lot more on electricity bills and maintenance work than you’ll spend on upgrading;
  • Have lights that come on instantly;
  • Have no light degradation on even the coldest days of the year;
  • And have customers remember you as that “bright, welcoming, well-lit space…

…all simply by switching to LED canopy lights.

The sooner you do it, the sooner your light bill drops, and the longer you’ll go before you even have to think about lighting maintenance again. Plus, you’ll benefit from the impact of bright, more-color-accurate lighting on your business.

If you’re not familiar with LED, you may be thinking, “That’s great, but I don’t even know where to start.” We’ve got you covered!


Install LED Corn Lights in Your Canopy Fixtures

Just about any canopy fixture can be converted to LED using an LED Corn Lamp, which replaces the bulb currently in your fixtures. A small amount of very basic electrical work is required to remove each fixture’s ballast. This is the least expensive option of the three, and it’s suitable for fixtures that are in good repair with plenty of durable life left in them.

When you’re selecting your bulbs, we recommend flat corn lights rather than the round ones for canopy lights. This way, all of the energy you’re spending on lighting is pointing downward, rather than getting lost into the fixture’s housing. Flat corn lights also have a slimmer profile—necessary for some of the more compact housing in use.

Install LED Retrofits in Your Canopy Fixtures

If your current fixtures are 400W or higher, another way you can convert them to LED is through an LED Retrofit for Metal Halide. Instead of screwing into a lamp socket, like the corn lamps, these kits replace the insides of your fixture entirely. If your fixture housing is in good shape, but the lamp socket is declining, these retrofits can extend the life of your fixtures while converting them to LED.

Replace Your Fixture with an LED Canopy Light

Finally, you can simply replace each fixture with a brand-new, all-in-one LED Canopy Light fixture. You would go this route if your fixtures are aging or dated and could use replacing anyway, but you also just might prefer a style upgrade or to have your fixtures look as nice as the light they put out.


We recommend you start by looking at what is available to get a feel for the options—you might find something you like better than your current fixtures. But, if you’d like to retain your current fixtures while taking advantage of the energy savings, low maintenance, and excellent performance of LED lighting, check out our corn lights and LED retrofit kits.

Have questions about updating your canopy lighting? Our team has answers. Use our Live Chat button, call 215.355.7200, or email