Commercial LED Wall Packs - Outdoor Wall Lights
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LED Wall Packs and Exterior Dusk to Dawn Lighting - The Definitive Guide
An Introduction to Wall Pack Lights
Wall pack lights...
...are typically used to illuminate entrances, pathways, walkways, warehouses, office complexes, parking lots, convenience stores, landscapes, and building perimeters. They also go by the names wall mounted lights and wall packs. These lights usually illuminate ground areas that are frequented by pedestrians and vehicles. They can be mounted on any vertical surface and provide accent or area lighting. Sometimes the lights are mounted on poles.
...are designed for both outdoor and indoor spaces. However, commercial wall packs are mostly used in outdoor applications. The light fixtures have a high lumen output, which makes them perfect choices for lighting up areas that are difficult to observe and require constant supervision.
...are highly durable and are built to endure harsh and humid weather conditions such as snow, hail, sun, and rain. You can install them in the toughest of environments and they will function optimally every day. They are also resistant to impact and have low glare, features that make them perfect for different types of applications.
...are mostly used for security purposes and work perfectly as security lights because they can be paired with lighting controls that switch off the lights during daylight hours and switch them on at nighttime.
Before LED technology was introduced, wall pack fixtures used high intensity discharge lamps (like metal halide and high pressure sodium lamps). The most commonly used luminaires were 70W high pressure sodium lamps and 175W metal halide lamps. Much older wall pack lights used mercury vapor lamps.
When choosing wall pack lights, you must examine the space that needs to be illuminated, the energy consumption of the fixtures, the size of the fixtures, cost, and other variables. Below, we will examine the main types of wall packs, the different lighting technologies used, and how to choose the right wall packs for your application.
Different Types of Outdoor Wall Packs
There are 5 different types of wall packs and each serves different purposes and distributes light in different ways.
Full Cutoff Wall Packs
These lighting fixtures are fully covered except at the bottom. Their unique design ensures they only distribute light downward. Because the light is tightly controlled, the fixtures are usually dark sky compliant.
The full cutoff design also ensures that light trespass is significantly reduced, or eliminated in most cases. The lamp can only be seen when one stands below the luminaire. Full cutoff wall pack lights only illuminate the walls and areas beneath them. They usually have visible conduit entries at the bottom and on the side.
Semi-Cutoff Wall Packs
A semi-cutoff wall pack merges the design of a traditional wall pack and a full cutoff wall pack. The luminaire in the fixture is slightly covered by a top that comes down to the front. While the design of the fixture prevents light pollution to some extent, it doesn't make the fixture dark sky compliant.
A semi-cutoff wall pack distributes light downward but some of the light goes upward. Just like a traditional wall pack, this wall pack can be mounted on the wall to provide light to a specific area. The light fixture can also accommodate a myriad of light sources.
Adjustable Wall Pack Lights
These wall packs feature a full cutoff or a semi-cutoff design and a tilt mechanism that allows for precise light aiming. Full cutoff adjustable wall pack lights minimize light spillover and glare.
Adjustable wall packs offer full adjustability of the module so the light can be focused upwards, downwards, or in between. The light can be directed downwards for dark sky compliance or outwards if more light is needed. These wall packs are ideal for outdoor areas and perimeter lighting. They use different light sources and some include photocells. They make perfect replacements for conventional wall packs and floodlights.
Architectural Wall Pack Lights
These types of wall packs don't fit the typical categories; they are usually designed to compliment or accentuate the architecture of a building or an area. Their high-end architectural designs make them ideal for spaces that need the exceptional placement and contemporary appearance of light, such as the exteriors of car showrooms.
Many architectural wall packs are usually dark sky compliant and distribute light downward and outward. However, they are mostly purchased for their designs, not their functional purposes. Their conduit and power entries are not noticeable and their power cables enter from the back.
Traditional Wall Packs (Forward Throw Wall Packs)
At one time, these were the most common wall packs because of their ability to discharge light further out from the wall. They are usually mounted on walls and used as area lights. They have a low profile design and are found in older tunnels, entryways, building facades, and loading docks.
Traditional wall packs come in different sizes and consume different wattages. They also use different lighting technologies.
*They are not dark sky compliant without the use of a shield mounted at the top of the fixture.
What is Dark Sky Compliance?
It is a campaign to help decrease the amount of light pollution. Dark sky lighting greatly minimizes light pollution. The lighting fixtures are usually covered on the top and sides to ensure that the light is not distributed upwards, interfering with the night sky. The International Dark Sky Association usually certifies fixtures as dark sky friendly.
The dark sky lighting concept was initiated in the 1950s by Flagstaff, a city in Arizona. The city uses dark sky compliant light fixtures which ensure the skies are dark enough for people to see the stars.
The Various Lighting Technologies Used in Outdoor Wall Lights
The most noteworthy thing about high pressure sodium lamps is that they provide a high lumen output for a low price. In the past, businesses and organizations that didn't care much about aesthetics or light quality installed high pressure sodium lamps because of their lower costs. Back then, the lifespan (20,000-25000 hours) and luminous efficacy were considered quite good.
These lamps also perform well in the cold, which is why they were the go-to luminaires for outdoor lighting fixtures like wall packs and street lights. But high pressure sodium lamps have a very low color rendering index (22) and cannot be used in areas where security is a priority – as they won't help security cameras to capture footage clearly. They also cause glare.
While high pressure sodium and metal halide lamps are both high intensity discharge lights, there are many differences between the two. HPS lamps generate light in the yellow, orange, and red spectrums while metal halide generate light in the blue and white spectrum.
High pressure sodium lights last longer than metal halide (whose rated life is 15,000 hours) and also produce more lumens per watt. They also cause less glare than metal halide. However, since both lamps contain some mercury, none is good for the environment.
The good thing about metal halide lamps is that they have a high color rendering index of 65. They also function well in a range of temperatures. Metal halide wall packs are normally used in parking lots, stadiums, and streetlights.
Fluorescent lamps use ballasts and their cost is similar to that of HPS fixtures. Their rated life is up to 25,000 hours and their high CRI (of 80+) means they render colors very well. But despite their low price for wall pack installations, their lumen output is drastically affected by colder climates. When used in cold temperatures, they must be allowed to warm up and must be installed in closed housings. Their lifespans are also affected by high ambient temperatures.
Wall packs with CFL technology use commercial fluorescents with remote ballasts that improve efficiency and prolong the lifespan. The most common compact fluorescents for outdoor wall packs are 42W PL. At times, a single wall pack may contain 2 lamps. But since Fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, burnt-out bulbs are hazardous waste and need special handling and disposal.
An induction lamp produces light by using an electromagnetic field to stimulate light particles combined with an inert gas (like krypton or argon). The mercury produces a UV light and a phosphor in the bulb’s interior transforms the energy into visible light. The lamp is a type of fluorescent light. However, unlike standard fluorescent lamps, it doesn't contain electrodes.
Induction lamps are popular for their long lifespans and are frequently used in areas where lamp replacement is costly or difficult, like tunnels and airports. They are ideal for cold climates because their light output is low temperature, which means the lamps start at very low temperatures. The light they produce is crisp white and they have a high color rendering index of 80+. However, these lamps use ballasts and they are sensitive to high temperatures, so care must be taken to make sure the fixtures have proper ventilation and heat sinking.
When it comes to life expectancy, energy efficiency, maintenance, eco-friendliness, and flexibility, LEDs are hard to beat. They can lower energy consumption by more than 75% and they maintain 70% of their lumen output over their lifespan, which may be more than 100,000 hours. Thanks to their long lifespans, they get rid of the high maintenance costs associated with traditional lighting systems. And because they draw less electricity, they reduce demand on the power grid and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
LEDs are sold in all the popular Kelvin color temperatures and are suitable for different wall pack fixtures. Their color rendering index is typically 80 and above. They produce focused light, whereas high intensity discharge lamps distribute light in all directions and need reflectors for efficacy. And unlike many traditional lighting systems, they don’t contain any dangerous components and don’t have an intricate disposal process. LED wall pack lights are available in different designs to suit different applications.
10 Important Factors in Choosing Outdoor LED Wall Pack Lights
Wall packs are not made equal; some are small while some are big. Big wall packs are specially manufactured for design purposes or to house light sources with higher lumen output. The size of the luminaire usually depends on factors such as placement, aesthetics, and other concerns.
Wall pack manufacturers also make large fixtures in order to achieve higher lumen output and wattage, as the fixtures can house big lamps and ballasts as well as heat management systems. In addition, more space inside the fixture helps decrease the impact of heat on the driver and the ballast.
Besides making the fixtures bigger, wall pack manufacturers also increase the size of their fixtures by adding deeper boxes to the backs of the luminaires. If you are in the process of replacing older wall packs with new energy-efficient ones, consider where you’ll be placing the new fixtures. The older fixtures may be bigger than the new ones or may have left marks on the wall as they were being removed.
As we wrote earlier, wall packs distribute light in four ways. Traditional wall pack lights distribute light outwards and downwards, semi-cutoff wall packs distribute light mostly downwards, full cutoff wall packs distribute light downwards, and up/down wall packs distribute light to the ground and to the sky. Wall pack lights are very useful for getting rid of shadows in areas where the architecture is recessed.
When it comes to light distribution, LEDs beat all the other lighting systems. A lighting expert can create a layout and use the right fixtures and the correct light distribution to lower fixture count and illuminate the area better. You may have the best wall pack lights, but if you don't direct the light where it is needed, you will never know their potential. Light distribution is all about the projected pattern a light fixture disperses onto a surface.
A major indicator of luminaire performance is luminous efficacy, which is calculated as the lumens delivered for every single watt of electricity drawn. Luminous efficacy is the true measure of a luminaire's efficiency as it accurately measures how well a light source generates visible light. Visible light (or luminous flux units) are usually measured in lumens.
Because of the advancements in LED technology, the standard luminous efficacy is currently 100 lumens per watt. This means that a LED that pulls 20 watts should be able to generate approximately 2,000 lumens. According to The Department of Energy, the LED with the highest luminous efficacy at the moment is one that produces 210 lumens per watt.
Another important thing to consider is LED equivalency. Currently, there is no way to precisely determine LED equivalents for traditional light fixtures. However, manufacturers of LED fixtures provide certain replacement estimates based on the lighting application, the lumen output, and the light distribution.
This defines the color appearance of a light source. It is usually measured using the Kelvin scale which is very good at measuring extremely cold and hot things. Warm lights are around 2700K, neutral white lights are around 4000K, and cool white lights are around 5000K or more.
The color temperatures that are often used for most outdoor LED fixtures are 4000K and 5000K. While 5000K may seem very bright to some people, it is more consistent with metal halide lamps. When selecting color temperature, consider the purpose of the light fixture, where it will be used, how far apart the light fixtures will be, and whether the light has dark sky compliance and restrictions (because of neighboring properties).
LEDs offer several benefits related to color temperature. Their lumen output is flexible, they have excellent color maintenance, and have a variety of light colors.
In simple terms, this means inappropriate and excessive artificial light. It is comprised of four components that may overlap or mix.
- Light Trespass: Light falling where it is not needed or intended, exceeding the borders of a specific area
- Glare: Excessive bright light which causes visual discomfort. Too much glare can affect visibility
- Sky Glow: Artificial light generated upwards, lighting up the night sky
- Light Clutter: Excessive groupings of light sources that are bright and confusing and are often found in over-illuminated urban areas. The proliferation of light clutter can contribute to sky glow, glare, or light trespass
Many areas have certain requirements regarding light pollution, especially urban areas where dark sky compliance is important. Wall pack lights used in these areas must be cut off or semi cut off and ensure that light is distributed either downwards or slightly forwards.
As a facility manager, business owner, or entrepreneur, we know you’re looking to optimize your expenditure on lighting products in your commercial property. It is wise to buy lighting devices that are ideal for your business and are also cost-effective and energy-efficient. However, you should also remember that the light fixtures you get must be approved and certified for your specific location.
Different industrial regulatory bodies have set rules concerning working conditions and safety standards to be maintained in commercial applications. There are also specific guidelines that apply to the lighting products to be installed. If you fail to adhere to these guidelines, you invite penalties. It is your responsibility to follow them and install lighting products that have been certified by the trusted regulatory bodies.
Wall pack fixtures are usually rated for the applications they are meant for. There are four major certifications:
UL Listed Mark
UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories. The mark is the most familiar in the United States and shows that the light product has been tested by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory and has met the requirements of product safety standards.
CSA (Canadian Standards Association) International tests and certifies electrical, plumbing, gas, and mechanical products (among others). The regulatory body is recognized in the United States, Canada, and around the world.
ETL Listed Mark
The ETL (Intertek Testing Services) Mark gives proof that a lighting product complies with North American safety standards. Code officials in the U.S. and Canada as well as Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) accept the mark as proof of product compliance to the set industry standards
International Dark Sky Association (IDA)
The association is a top body that researches light pollution with the aim of restoring the natural night environment. Its certification is given under the Fixture Seal of Approval program.
Since wall pack lights are used outdoors, they must be extremely durable as they will be subjected to varying temperatures and wet conditions. High-quality wall pack housings are usually made out of sturdy materials such as cast aluminum. The housings are also treated with conversion coating to prevent corrosion. The best conversion coatings for extruded aluminum are chromate conversion coatings as they passivate the aluminum. To make wall pack housings more durable, finish coats are usually applied to them through a powder coating process.
If the fixtures will be used in wet locations, they should be Ul Listed for Wet Locations. Wet locations are interior or exterior spaces where water or other liquids may flow, drip, or splash on or against the electrical components of lighting fixtures.
If you live in an area that is close to the ocean, get wall pack lights that have passed ASTM B117 salt spray or salt fog testing. This helps prevent corrosion of coated metal fixtures and premature degradation of the light.
Of all the lighting technologies in existence, LEDs have the lowest maintenance – thanks to their exceptionally long lifespans. As we mentioned, metal halides have a rated life of 15,000 hours, high pressure sodium lamps have an average lifespan of 20,000 hours, while fluorescent lamps have a rated life of 25,000 hours. The average life expectancy of LEDs is 50,000 hours, which means you won’t have to replace them for many years. Some LEDs have a rated life of 100,000 hours.
LED lighting lowers maintenance costs in two ways:
- Money that could have been used to repair non-functional lights is saved
- Labor costs for the replacement of burnt out bulbs are eliminated
It is important to note that LEDs do not use ballasts or strikers like some conventional lighting systems. This results in much lower maintenance needs.
When thinking about the maintenance costs of different light sources, you must take into consideration the maintenance requirements that arise from system characteristics such as bulb life, ballast life, striker failure, vibrations, and general environmental conditions.
Accessibility to the wall packs is also very important as some fixtures require lifts when being serviced or changed out. Industrial plants may need to be shut down when bulbs are being replaced, which will affect the bottom line. The light fixtures must also be accessible as cleaning their lenses improves efficacy.
High intensity discharge lights and fluorescent lamps need sensitive electrical components – such as starters and ballasts – in order to function properly. However, these components do not last long and need to be replaced often. What’s more, the cost of replacing them is usually very high. LEDs do not require sensitive electrical components to work well.
However, it is worth noting that LEDs are not made equal. Some are made using high-quality components while some are made with low-cost components. And while low-cost components may lower the overall cost of a LED bulb, they significantly affect the lifespan of the LED as they may fail and require maintenance, resulting in higher costs over time.
High-quality LED bulbs usually have drivers with a 5-year warranty (the industry standard). They are made by reputable companies like Mean Well, Phillips, and Inventronics. When buying LED wall packs, be sure to check the warranty for the LED head as well as the driver.
This is a very important factor when choosing wall pack lights because the higher the fixtures will be, the more lumens will be required to ensure light consistency.
In the past, traditional lights with high wattages were used in wall packs as a higher wattage meant more lumen output. But advancements in LED technology have led to the development of low wattage fixtures with higher efficacy and higher lumen output.
Another important thing to consider is whether the wall packs will be installed in new buildings or retrofit existing fixtures. If they will be installed in a new building, you can plan the layout of the fixtures as per the lumen requirements. In a retrofit project, the mounting height may be fixed depending on the pre-existing wiring, forcing you to choose fixtures that will deliver the required lumen output in the space.
Retrofitting your wall pack? We have solutions.
We have wall pack retrofit solutions where you can install LED inside your existing fixtures. We can easily replace your HPS or MH lights with a simple conversion - its as easy as a bulb and ballast replacement.