Product Reviews, Retail

High bay lights for retail

There used to be two sorts of light fitting used for retail. If it was a large store, the lighting was predominantly fluorescent either as ceiling panels or linear battens.

Boutique and fashion stores generally had rows of spotlights mounted on a track and we will be reviewing spotlights later this year. Some shops rather daringly used a combination of both!

High bays were used in factories and warehouses and had huge, spun aluminium reflectors; the better high bays had glass prism ‘reflectors’. Large, high wattage multi-lamp fluorescent fixtures were also sometimes called high bays.

Times change and industrial chic is the style in many stores and cafes.  Those huge aluminium reflectors have been reduced in size and painted bright colours.

One major difference between the two applications is that no-one cared about the appearance of a high bay in a factory whereas in a retail application the high bay also has to look good. Hopefully, you won’t find any ugly ones in this review.

Most of the fixtures here emit between 7,000 and 14,000 lumens. This is plenty for a small or medium-size shop.

Another difference between industrial and retail applications is colour rendering. In Europe, fixtures must have a colour rendering index, CRI, greater than 70 for industrial and warehouse applications and more than 80 for offices and other indoor workspaces.

For general retail applications a CRI of 80 may be sufficient but where fine colour discrimination is required, a higher CRI, say 90, is recommended. Some LED sources are specifically designed for retail applications to make colours appear stronger or more saturated than they are in ‘real life’.

Many high bay manufacturers offer a choice of LED source depending on the application. All the luminaires reviewed here have a colour rendering greater than 80; some are higher and some are colour tunable.

Finally, always consider the life of the LEDs. Some stores are open for up to 8,000 hours annually. That means the LEDs might only have a functional life of six years before you have to replace them.



Legatto – Delta Electronics

This fixture has its roots in industrial lighting but the Legatto, with its various diffusers, is intended for retail applications. It is also a manufacturer we haven’t reviewed before. Delta is best known for its LED drivers and controls and it claims the Legatto will operate at 55C. The Legatto’s main selling feature is its connectivity and controls. There is a wide range of sensors that means it can respond to just about any input signal.

The other feature is the choice of anti-glare diffusers and you would need these for a retail application. The diffusers are either opal or have small internal prisms. They certainly spread the light, and being prisms, they also sparkle on the edges and points.

One disadvantage of the current diffusers is that they are made of thin acrylic which is quite weak. We are informed that these will be redesigned with thicker material.


Aspen Ice – Hacel

The Aspen is a newly launched range aimed squarely at the retail sector. The heavily finned aluminium upper section – in white, graphite or black – blends smoothly in to the clear acrylic refractor bowl. It has an industrial style but would look attractive in most interiors.

What I like about the Aspen is that it’s available with a colour rendering of CRI 80 and CRI 90 in both 3000 and 4000K. There is also an opal version of the bowl and there is an aluminium one which will be coming soon.

Wattages range from 20W to 62W and light output from around 3,000 to 8,000 lm.

One small niggle is that the prisms are on the outside of the bowl so they can easily collect dust.



Gem – iGuzzini

When I first had the idea of writing about high bays for retail, this is exactly the type of fixture I had in mind. In essence, it is made of two, clear polycarbonate shells joined together (an IP66 joint) to make a flattened sphere shape. The outside is smooth and the inside is patterned with a satin finish. The pattern diffuses the light and also give a sparkling appearance. There is a downlight version emitting 5,000 lm and also a higher output one which emits an extra 2,100 lm upwards. It is suspended by three thin stainless steel wires and the power comes via a single, silver-coloured cable.

You can easily imagine this being used in a hotel, large entrance hall or retail store.



Forum – Lledo

The Forum has an unusual shape. You might call it a gull wing or broad T-shape. However, it’s designed this way for a purpose. The LEDs are mounted vertically in the sides of the aluminium extrusion. The light from the LEDs then reflects off the curved vertical profile of the reflector.

The Flood version has a matt white reflector and this gives good general illumination on both vertical and horizontal surfaces. The Forum can also be fitted with specular (mirror finish) aluminium reflectors. These are particularly designed to be used on shelving or racks to give good vertical illumination.

The standard version of the Forum is 4000K with a CRI of 80 but a 3000K CRI90 version is also available.

The body of the Forum is a very rigid aluminium extrusion with a quality stove enamelled paint finish but this is slightly spoilt by the plastic end caps which have small gaps at some of the joins.




Arena – Riegens

The Arena can be used in DIY and garden stores but, in my opinion, is may be more suited to light industrial applications. The light output ranges from 8,500 – 11,500 lm in either 3000K or 4000K, all with a CRI> 80.

An advantage of the Arena over some of the other luminaires is the hinged gear tray which makes installation very fast. You simply loosen two screws and make the mains connection. Unfortunately, this construction does make the steel spine less rigid than other luminaires of a similar shape.

The PMMA LED lenses are under a smooth plastic cover so they are easy to wipe clean. The body is white painted sheet steel and there is a choice of three beam widths.



Revo – Tamlite

There are two versions of the Revo, the Focus and the Comfort. Both are attractive to use in retail and leisure applications or upmarket areas such as airports.

The Focus has six different beam options for applications where you need precise beam control. The Comfort has an opal polycarbonate diffuser to soften and spread the light over a wide area.

There are two aspects of the luminaire I particularly like. The extruded aluminium body means that despite its length, 1.5m  ( 5’), it remains straight and rigid. There weren’t any gaps at the end.

The other feature is that there is a large diffuser on the upper face which emits light upwards. This helps avoid the tunnel effect you get with some ‘downlight only’ fixtures.

A good value, good looking product.




Tecton – Zumtobel

This is described as a continuous-row LED system and encompasses a huge range of options. In essence, it is a rectangular steel section finished with a good quality white or silver polyester paint finish. It carries not only the electrical conductors and fixings for attaching luminaires, but it can also act as a continuous luminaire itself, like a line of light.

As a luminaire, there is a wide range of optics. There are wide and narrow beams, micro-prismatic lenses, vertical beams to suit shelf lighting, low glare options, wallwashers etc.

This, alone, would make the Tecton a very versatile and useful product. However, it also contains additional mains power conductors, independent emergency lighting circuits and two Dali control lines; a total of 11 conductors so you can attach a wide range of separate accent and display spotlights.

The construction, attention to detail and paint finish means that you could not only use it for retail applications but also for art galleries and museums.



Aerial Twin – Whitecroft

The Aerial range is designed specifically for retail and industrial applications where 500 – 1,000 lux is required. The twin section luminaire has a hexaprism diffuser over the lines of LEDs to minimise glare. This does a good job in completely obscuring the LEDs.

The body is made of aluminium and has a good quality white paint finish. The white plastic end caps have concealed fixings so there are no visible screws on the outside of the luminaire.

This is a powerful luminaire, with light output from 9,000 to 33,500 lumens. It is available in three lengths approximately 500mm, 1m and 1.5m long by 280mm wide (20”, 40”, 5ft x 11”).