One of the most common questions we get is "Should I use a UFO high bay or a linear high bay?" Both are a great option for many different applications. But there can be one better than the other for certain applications. UFOs have become very popular due to their compact size, cheap price, and good light output. Linear high bays are also popular, have a more traditional look, and are a little larger. So which is better? We offer both so we will "shed some light" on that question.
To start, the first thing to consider is the beam pattern of the light. UFO lights are round so they naturally have a round beam pattern. While linear are rectangle with a rectangle-like beam pattern. Depending on your application, this may not matter. For places such as livestock buildings, warehouses, and cold storage sheds, the UFO beam pattern will be fine as completely even lighting isn't that important. However, in places like farm shops, repair shops, or retail spaces, much more even lighting is desired. The picture below shows the difference in the beam pattern between the UFO and linear. Both examples have a single light in a small room.
As seen in the example above, the UFO light leaves corners darker due to the round beam pattern. The linear projects more light into the corners due to the rectangular beam pattern. This also tells us the UFO will either have overlap or dark spots depending on how the lights are spaced, whereas the linear should provide the most even light. Think of it as the "round peg in a square hole" saying.
The next thing to consider is how long the lights will be on continuously for a period of time. Why does this matter? To put it simply, heat. Heat is the number one enemy of LEDs and their drivers. The more heat they are exposed to, the faster the light degrades.
UFO lights have their driver and LEDs both tightly packed into a small fixture. This creates a lot of heat. That's why most of them are seen with a thick aluminum housing to dissipate heat. If you are putting the lights in an unconditioned space, open space, or a building where the lights will never be on for more than an hour or so, cooling isn't a big issue. But in conditioned enclosed buildings (especially those that are heated) with long light run times, this can cause a heat buildup issue and result in a drastically shortened lifespan of the light.
Linear high bays spread out the LEDs and divers over the area of a larger fixture. This results in much better cooling and keeps the LEDs and drivers from heating each other up. Most times they are separated within the fixture. This is especially important in heated buildings where the ceiling may be warmer than normal with little airflow.
With all this considered, heat and design is the main reason our (and others) UFO lights are listed for 50,000 - 75,000 hours and the linear are listed for 100,000 plus hours.
The last consideration is mounting. The UFO lights are easily hung by a single hook and either plugged in or hard-wired. Linear lights can be hung or flush mounted directly to the surface. They can also be both hard wired or plugged in. However, the UFO lights will hang down and take 12" or more of clearance. On the other hand, in open buildings, the linear lights can be subject to birds nesting due to the larger surface area.
Lastly, UFO lights are generally IP66 rated. This means they are waterproof. So for situations such as wash bays livestock barns, or other areas that may be subject to high moisture, these are a better option. Linear light have some water resistance but cannot be subject to long periods of high moisture. However occasional washing inside a building will not harm them.
To recap, UFO lights are simple to mount, small, bright, waterproof and are a good choice for unconditioned spaces or situations without long run times. Linear lights can be surface mounted, have a better beam pattern, cool well, are not waterproof, and are a good choice for conditioned spaces with long run times.
We hope this helps clear up a very popular question. As always feel free to contact us with any additional questions.