LED vs Metal Halide Lights. Which one is better for your Commercial LED Project?

Metal halide lights and LED lights are two very different lighting options with very little in common except that they both offer a very high quality light.

It’s important to understand their differences well in order to be able to make the right choice for your lighting needs. So let’s find out how the traditional metal halide lights stack up against the modern lighting option in LED lights.


Metal Halide Lights: An Overview

Metal halide lights contain a fairly complex compound that is formed when metal and halogen elements come together. They use mercury and metal halide gas for producing light, where light is the result when electricity passes through this combination of elements.

They are not much different than other gas-discharge lamps, but the one major difference is their gas composition. Metal halide works much better than most other elements in this case and helps pave the way for improved efficiency and a better quality of light.


Advantages of Metal Halide Lights

When it comes to efficiency, metal halide lights blow away their more traditional counterparts like incandescent bulbs, as they are up to 5 times more efficient. The color temperature of metal halide lights is impressive as well and is up to 5500k.

Put simply, this makes metal halide lights a great choice for applications with high intensity like vehicle headlamps. However, the most important feature they bring to the table is their excellent quality of light.


Disadvantages of Metal Halide Lights

You can’t go with a worse option than metal halide lights if the warm-up period is important to you. They take 15 to 20 minutes to properly light up, which can cause a lot of inconveniences.

Similarly, metal halide lights have a far shorter lifespan than LED bulbs. Their average lifespan is between 6,000 to 15,000 hours, while LED lights may easily last you up to 5 times more.

Moreover, the cost difference is far from significant between metal halide lights and LED lights, though it may vary a bit depending on the type of bulb you choose.

In addition, the wastage of energy is pretty real with them as metal halide lights are omnidirectional and need to be reflected to make them focus only on the desired area.


What is an LED (Light Emitting Diode) Light?

LED lights are made from electrical diodes that are made using semiconductive materials like selenium or silicon. These materials have some unique characteristics that make Commercial LED lights much more versatile and efficient than other lighting options out there.


Advantages of LED Lights

LED lights have the longest lifespan of all types of lights out there, particularly including metal halide lights which are far, far behind. Compared to the lifespan of metal halide lights which is between 6,000 to 15,000 hours, LEDs can last as much as 50,000 to 100,000 hours.

LED lights also tend to be the most efficient option in terms of energy usage, thanks to only wasting about 20 percent of the energy they consume in producing heat. This is a significant advantage over metal halide lights that tend to use as much as 75 percent of the energy they consume just to produce heat, with only 25 percent being used to produce visible light.

Similarly, LEDs also have an advantage over their metal halide counterparts in the form of 180 degrees light emission. So unlike with the 360-degree emission of metal halides, LEDs don’t have a need for any kind of reflecting or redirecting to emit light at the right areas.

And while metal halide lights are impressively high quality, LEDs still have a clear edge on this front as well. The light LEDs produce is very bright, clear and clean, and there are no “bright spots” on a particular area like with many traditional lighting options.

Due to being amazingly efficient and having the longest lifespan, LEDs also cost you way less in maintenance and other issues than other types of lighting, metal halides included. This is particularly because, with the latter’s significantly shorter lifespan, they will need to be replaced at least twice and up to 5 times as often as LED lights.

There are also no other maintenance costs associated with LEDs like other traditional lighting options.


Disadvantages of LED Lights

We can think of no other downside to LED lights except their relatively higher initial costs. LED lights are believed to be the most expensive lighting option, but that is quickly changing with the prices going down steadily with time.

However, in this case, this downside isn’t really worth taking into consideration, as we just mentioned above that metal halide lights are fairly expensive as well and cost almost as much as LEDs.

The general range for both the lights is between $10 to $30 per luminaire, although there might be some initial savings with metal halide lights if you go with a cheaper option.

Some might also want to point out that the color temperature for LED lights can be lower, but that may not necessarily be the case depending on the type of LED light you choose as the general range is between 2700K to 6500K. So as you can see, there are LED lighting options that actually offer a higher color temperature than metal halide lights.


Final Verdict

All said and done, there’s little doubt that LED lights are an absolute no-brainer. They outperform metal halide lights in pretty much every department, and also offer the convenience and lighting experience unmatched by the latter.

And with the initial pricing difference not being significant as well, there’s no reason to choose metal halide lights over the highly versatile and innovative LEDs.