High Pressure Sodium Lights vs LED: All You Need To Know

The high pressure sodium lights vs LED debate is getting hotter, thanks to these two being among the best lighting solution, especially regarding low energy costs and high efficiency. 

But we expect one option to offer better results than the other. 

Generally, high-pressure sodium light produces warm, yellowish lights, which we commonly use for illuminating large areas like parking lots and streets. 

However, with technological advancements, manufacturers are now designing LED lights as great alternatives to high-pressure sodium lights. 

LED lights produce light when you allow current through a light-emitting diode and have a longer lifespan and high energy efficiency than all the other options combined. 

Today’s article compares high-pressure sodium and LED lights to help you make an informed lighting decision. Let’s get rolling!

What Are High-Pressure Sodium Lights

These are a type of gas discharge lamp with a sealed glass tube containing a mixture of noble gas, sodium, and mercury vapor. 

These lights function under a high pressure of about 10-50 times the atmospheric pressure. 

The principle behind its operation is that when you pass electricity through the lamp, it’ll ignite the noble gas and vaporize the mercury and sodium.

 Consequently, you’ll get an intense warm, yellowish light. 

One benefit of these lights is their high energy efficiency which is more than fluorescent and incandescent lights

Moreover, they have high durability boasting about 24,000-36,000 hours. 

However, these lights require warm-up time to achieve full brightness. Therefore, we don’t recommend them when high accuracy is highly desired.

 Moreover, they contain mercury which might present a risk to the environment, thus the need for effective disposal mechanisms to avoid such impacts. 

What Are LED Lights

A man looking at LED lights

(A man looking at LED lights)

LED stands for light-emitting diodes, emitting light when current flows through, causing holes and electrons to recombine. 

These lights have gained tremendous popularity thanks to their high energy efficiency and improved versatility.

 Researchers place their energy efficiency at about 90% of the input energy.

 Therefore, they guarantee lower energy consumption, thus reducing the energy costs. 

LED lights could also last over 50,000 hours, translating into reduced maintenance and replacements. 

Most people love them for their color-rendering capabilities that emit a vibrant lighting experience. 

And since these lights come with accurate customization or control features, regulating the intensity and brightness becomes easy. 

Generally, LEDs offer the best lighting solution if energy efficiency, environmental sustainability, and versatility are on your priority list. 

High-Pressure Sodium vs. LED Lights: Differences

A modern villa with colored LED lights

(A modern villa with colored LED lights)

High-pressure sodium and LED lights have the following unique differences.


LED lights are the industrial standard for light efficiency, converting almost 90% of their input energy into useful light. 

And although high-pressure sodium lights are also efficient, they don’t come any closer to LED lights. 

Light Quality

High-pressure sodium lights emit a warm, yellowish light that can reduce visibility and distort the light colors. 

Conversely, LED lights have a better color rendering ability, producing more accurate and natural light. You’ll find LED lights that mimic the quality of natural light. 


Generally, these two have a long lifespan than incandescent and fluorescent light, but LED offers the highest durability. 

Expect a high-pressure sodium light to last for about 24,000-36,000 hours. Conversely, LED lights have the longest lifespan of 50,000-100,000 hours.

 Therefore, you’ll experience limited maintenance and replacements, thus reducing running costs. 

Dimming and Instant On/Off

A comfortable home with bright light

(A comfortable home with bright light)

LED lights don’t experience any warm-up time, meaning they achieve full brightness immediately after switching them on. 

On the other hand, high-pressure sodium lights will need to warm up for some time before attaining full illumination. 

Moreover, LED lights are dimmable, thus allowing you to control the lighting level. However, it’s impossible to dim high-pressure sodium lights, and doing so can impact their efficiency. 

Environmental Impact

High-pressure sodium lights are designed with mercury, presenting a severe risk to the environment and human life.

 Also, they emit more heat than LED lights which might affect your comfort. 

On the contrary, LED lights don’t rely on mercury for performance, thus offering the most environmentally sustainable lighting solution. 


The initial cost of purchasing an LED light is higher than that of purchasing high-pressure sodium lights. 

Generally, LEDs are complex to design and, thus, expensive to manufacture and buy. 

However, LED lamps consume less power and require fewer replacements, thus presenting a lower long-term operating cost. 

High-Pressure Sodium vs. LED Lights: Similarities

Marijuana growing with high-pressure sodium

(Marijuana growing with high-pressure sodium)

Although HPS and LED lights have the above differences, they still have some similarities worth noting. 

Illumination Capabilities

You can use LED or high-pressure lights for excellent illumination, especially outdoors. Some of the places you can use them include sports fields, parking lots, and street lights. 

Directional Lighting

Since both HPS and LED lights can focus lights in a specific direction, they offer directional lighting. 

Therefore, it becomes easy to light the target areas and limit energy wastage in unintended lighting areas. 

Outdoor Durability

When you test or use LED and high-pressure LED lights, you’ll note the high-quality materials manufacturer uses to design them.

 Most manufacturers are intentional about using materials that withstand harsh outdoor conditions.

 And regardless of how the temperature fluctuates or the wind blow, these lights won’t experience any damage.

Lighting Controls

These lights are designed with customizable features that enable you to manipulate light aspects like intensity and brightness.

 Also, both lights are incorporated with control systems to enable critical functionalities that improve performance, like automated scheduling and remote control.

 Therefore, simple tasks like optimizing energy usage or light-level customization become possible. 


What’s the durability of high-pressure sodium lights? 

High-pressure sodium lights present higher durability than other options like fluorescent and incandescent lights. 

You should expect a lifespan of about 24,000-36,000 hours. But with better maintenance, you can exceed this limit. 

We can attribute the high lifespan to their complex and high-quality design, making them resistant to harsh environmental conditions. 

Their high durability makes them ideal for use in outdoor uses like parking lots and street lighting. 

What Are the disadvantages of high-pressure sodium lights? 

Although high-pressure sodium lights have some benefits, they also present the following benefits:

  • First, HPS lights have a narrow light spectrum that causes a limited color rendering. 
  • Secondly, these lights will require a warm-up time to achieve full brightness. 
  • Thirdly, when a high-pressure sodium light fails, you must replace the whole bulb rather than repair a few parts. Therefore, they have a high replacement and maintenance cost than LED lights. 
  • Moreover, these lights emit mercury which is poisonous to the environment. 
  • These lights have limited dimming options making it challenging to adjust brightness. 

Is it advisable to replace high-pressure sodium lights with LED lights? 

Yes! You should replace your high-pressure sodium with LED lights to achieve improved performance. 

Generally, LED lights offer better performance regarding instant on/off functionality, low environmental impact, better energy efficiency, and high durability. 

And although LED lights might have a high initial cost, the running costs become extremely low in the long term. 

Final Remarks

Many similarities between high-pressure sodium and LED lights make them interchangeable.

 But you’ll get better results if you interchange high-pressure sodium lights with LED lights, not vice versa.

 For instance, both options present directional lighting, outdoor durability, and lighting controls. 

However, there are differences like efficiency, light quality, environmental impact, and instant on/off, where LED lights offer better performance. 

Overall, LED lights offer better performance than high-pressure sodium lights.