High Mast Lighting Explained For Beginners

What Is High Mast Lighting?

A high mast lighting system is a kind of area lighting system that is mounted high to illuminate a larger piece of land. It is usually a tall pole with lighting attached to the top pointing towards the ground.

The Poles on which these lights are mounted are normally 40 to 150 feet tall. Usually, 02 to 16 lights are mounted on each pole. A high mast lighting system is used for uniform illumination across a large area.

Because of the effectiveness of the high mast lighting in terms of higher lighting pointing toward the ground, it is the most effective one for illuminating highways, larger outdoor areas, railway yards, sports stadiums, parking places, and airports.

These high mast lights are cost-effective LED lights, have high illumination, easily adjustable, and are durable ones making them perfect for the use in many outdoor areas.

 These lights must have the enough strength and the resistance to bear the most difficult conditions of the outdoor environment.

To illuminate a large areas or sites, normal lighting poles are not practical so high mast lighting is used. These types of lights are used in parks, airports and municipalities.

Besides this, it is also used in sports venues like stadiums, etc. While talking about the structure high Mast Lighting Utilize High-intensity discharge lamps as (HID). An HID lamp includes Metal Halide and High-Pressure Sodium. Nowadays LED lighting fixtures are used instead of HPS and MH lamps.

Differences between conventional and high mast lighting

Conventional Lighting

High Mast Lighting

Installation cost depends upon the nature of the application. For interchanges it is a bit expensive than the high mast lighting but other than interchanges the initial cost of conventional lights is less than the high mast lighting.

Cost of high mast lighting for the urban interchanges is quite less than the conventional lighting because of the quite less number of the poles required to serve the purpose and the less complexity of the conduit and the conductor.

Mounting heights for the conventional lighting system is usually 50 feet or less.

Mounting heights for the high mast lighting system is usually 100 feet or more.

Maintenance cost of conventional lighting system is quite high. It requires the bucket truck, road closures, signs to close the road, and the sizable control of the traffic flow. Notable traffic disturbances are there during the maintenance process.

Maintenance cost of high mast lighting is quite less than the conventional lighting system. For maintenance, only one or two persons required with the pickup truck. So it reduces the risk of working of more persons near high traffic.

Applications of the high mast lighting?

There are many applications of high mast lighting including but not limited to:

  • large warehouse areas
  • vas area of shipyards
  • railways yards
  • highways
  • parking lots of big shopping malls
  • cricket/hockey/football or any sport stadiums.

In general we use the high mast lighting in large areas, where we need a powerful lighting. In my work, we use high mast lighting in large outdoors storage areas, playground, oil and gas processing stations and airport lighting. Yep, we have an airport in work location, we use it for transportation because our work location is in the middle of the desert.

Benefits of High-Mast Lighting

It provides maximum illumination to sites or areas that require illumination. It consists of High Mast LED that generates light via a semiconductor as opposed to HID Lamps. Some of the benefits are, Energy Saving, Reduction in Maintenance Cost and higher Lighting Performance

  • Energy Saving

It is quite obvious that larger areas require more energy to lighten up the whole area uniformly. In the past HIDs lamps were the standard lamps when lighting large areas. But these lamps have drawbacks, this is because they contain gases like mercury vapor, metal halide, and high pressure sodium.

So many manufacturers switched to LED lamps. One of the main advantages of LED is energy saving. Besides energy saving LED lamps are environment friendly.

The LED used in the high Mast lighting ranges from 209 to 750 watt.The construction of the LED is made in such a manner that it consume50 to 80% less electrical energy than other HIDs. The continuous use can save the amount in thousands of dollars.

  • Reduction in Maintenance Cost

High mast lighting system have longer life, so it minimizes the maintenance cost. Usually the life of a good quality LED fixture is more than the 50,000 hours.

The manufacturing process of the LED ‘s Used in High mast lighting is different. The generated voltage is degraded slowly with the passage of time. Therefore, the life span of the LED is maximum. This feature reduces the maintenance cost of High mast Light fixtures for a long interval.

  • Lighting Performance

For an end user, obviously performance of the lighting is one of the critical factor in deciding whether or not to buy a high mast lighting system.

High mast lighting systems do not emit the heat or the infra -red light and provide amazingly higher illumination with less consumption of the electricity and it makes them energy efficient too.

Due to the multi-point design, the LED used in the high mast distribute the light in multiple directions. Even if you move away from the lighting pole still the lighting level will be maintained.

Besides this LED’s are available in a different range of color temperatures. Due to which the visual perception of brightness increases.

Basic Rules for installation of High Mast Lighting

  • Masts should be located at a place that the highest levels of illumination are in the areas of greatest informational needs, such as geometric changes and traffic conflicts.
  • Masts should not be located in gores, at the beginning of sharp curves, or other locations where there is a relatively high probability of an out-of-control vehicle
  • High Mast poles should not be located in the direct line of sight of drivers on the roadway.
  • Masts should be co-ordinated with signing to ensure that the light source is not directly behind the signs at a critical point.
  • Transitional effects should be considered on unlighted approaches to the interchange.

Why the high mast light is so high?

It is obvious that visibility of the road is not clear even with the headlight of the vehicle in the night time. So there is the need of such a light which is mounted on a height and throws the light from above pointing towards the ground.

The higher the high mast light, the more visible will be view for the vehicle drivers. The higher the high mast light from the surface the more light will be the reflected off the surface.

The main purpose of using high mast lights is their efficiency as they throws light to a wide area and serves the purpose of getting light for a larger area.

High mast lighting manufacturers in the USA

High mast lighting manufacturers are present in different state of the USA. Some of the manufacturers of high mast lights in USA are listed below:


LumEfficient is based in Brentwood, Tennessee.Lumefficient manufactures LED lights and its related products. Their products have wide range of applications including logistics, complex worksites, street lights, and the flood lights .LumEfficient products includes high mast lights, street lights, and the flood lights.

Union Metal Corp:

Union Metal Corp is based in the canton, Ohio.They are the mainly manufacturers of street lighting system, and the traffic support systems. Their products are used for brighten up the roads for the motorists. They also offer some amazing accessories including transformer bases, breakaway couplings, and thevibration dampers.

iGlo LED:

iGlo LED is based in the Fort Worth, Texas.They are the manufacturers of High Mast lights, tube lights, flood lights, and the decorative lights. They also offer different accessories including low voltage drivers. Their products and accessories have wide range of applications for home and commercial purposes.

Larson Electronics LLC:

Larson Electronics LLC is based in the Kemp, Texas.They are the manufacturers and distributors of 1000 watt to 1500 watt high mast lights. Mounting plates are also available. Optional electric winches are also available.


Holophane is based in the Granville, Ohio. Their products have quite a wide range of applications including but not limited to highways, airports, water treatment plants, parking slots, storage areas, and shipyards.

Smart Lighting Solutions, LLC:

Smart Lighting Solutions, LLC is based in the Gresham, Oregon. They are the manufacturers of LED lights, induction lights, and the yard lights. Their products are mainly suitable for the warehouses, parking slots, and food production facilities.


Easter-Owens is based in the Arvada, Colorado. They designed products have quite a vast range of applications including many prominent industries like telecommunication, aerospace, security and defense, and the transportation.

Why high mast lighting installed around the urban interchange?

There are several advantages of installing high mast lights around the urban interchange. Some are listed below:


Installation of the high mast lamps can improve the safety around the urban interchange by increasing the visibility of the road. It provides minimum glare and this makes them perfect to install at the urban interchange. It is pretty cool for the drivers as they can easily and clearly see the movement of the vehicles and risk of the collusions of the vehicles reduces to a considerable extent.

Traffic flow

It improves the flow of the traffic. Drivers can see the interchange more clearly with the illumination of high mast lighting. The extra light of the high mast lighting helps the drivers to see the interchange more clearly and make it easier for the drivers to navigate. It reduces the congestion and improves the travel times a lot. As the visibility increases, ultimately the probability of the accidents reduces.

Attractive and aesthetic look of the interchange

The use of the high mast lighting around urban interchange increases the aesthetic appeal of the interchange. Safety prospect as well as attractive look can be achieved with the use of high mast lighting at the urban interchanges.

Is high mast lighting system maintenance necessary?

Yep, maintenance of high mast lighting is necessary for smooth operation like all electrical equipment. There are various preventive maintenance reasons in the high mast lighting system. Proper and timely maintenance minimizes the risk of damaging poles.

In my workplace two high mast poles didn’t get proper maintenance, the result was they stuck and we have to hire a winch with a bucket to lift a worker to the top of the high mast pole to fix it. We learned the lesson, now we have a good PM program for the high mast poles, to keep them work properly.

For more information about electrical maintenance, read my detailed articles:

Some PM for the high mast are listed below:

  • There can be a loose wire connection and heated parts in the feeder pillar box.
  • Looseness can be there with time in the junction, control gear, and the luminaire box.
  • Oil of the GearBox must be checked and replaced every year for the better operation.
  • There can be any flash marks and if found any then light load and loose connection should be checked.
  • Cleaning and smooth opening of doors of the high mast poles is also affected with time.
  • Motor chains can be too much tight or loose with the time.
  • There can be some loose in screws and the nuts.
  • Although LED lights have quite longer life than the High intensity discharge lamps but regular preventive maintenance should be performed to check any damage.

What is the high mast lighting maintenance procedure?

As all equipment high mast poles need regular maintenance and electrical inspection. There are a lot of things in high mast lighting about which preventive maintenance is required. These are listed below:

Control Box maintenance:

Condition of the Clock controller, Circuit breaker, and AC contactor is checked and damager parts are replaced if any.

Firmness of the wire connection is checked, poor contact, and short circuit is checked. Fastening or replacement of the wire is done if required.

Dust in the distribution box must be cleaned.

As per the need of the seasonal changes, time of the control controller is adjusted.

Lifting System maintenance:

The lowering mechanism and wires. Make sure they works smoothly. Perform lowering down process every 3 months to check this process.

Motor’s condition is checked properly in maintenance. “Low voltage motor specification” is checked for the motor’s preventive maintenance.

Breakage of the steel wire rope strand is checked. Fastening of the buckle at the connection is done to prevent the breaking of steel wire rope. This also reduces the probability of falling off during lifting procedure of lamp panel.

Motor lifting handle and cable’s condition is checked. Damaged parts are replaced during this maintenance process.

During maintenance process, high pole lamp is lowered and lamp panel is fixed with the body of the rod to avoid the lamp panel from rising because of the weightlessness condition.

Lighting system maintenance:

Cleaning the dust inside and outside of the lampshade with a small piece of cloth.

Checking of the screws must be done that are responsible for fastening of the lamps.

Replacement of the lamp is done if lamp is faulty.

Corrosion inside the lamp is checked, replacement must be placed if corrosion level is severe. Checking of the sealing strip is performed, if it is aged, then replacement should be done.

Checking the connecting wire’s condition, if it is damaged and looks like it is aged, then it should be replaced.

Maintenance of lamp foundation:

Completion and firmness of the fixing bolts of the high pole lamp base is checked. If one or more are missing, fix new ones and tighten if any bolt is loose.

Checking of the grounding resistance, its value should be less than the 10 ohm.

Safety measures during lifting of high pole light

Always avoid lifting of the high pole light trough manual methods. Lifting handle should be used for conducting the electrical operation on high pole light.

The operator who is responsible for the operation on the high pole lamp should stay at least 5 meters away from the high pole light. No one should be there beneath the lamp panel during the lifting process of high pole lamp.

With the process of replacement of high pole lamp, cleaning of the bird nest and other related work should also be done together as lifting the high pole lamp is quite a dangerous task.

For more safety detailed articles, I recommend visiting my SafetyFrenzy site.

Ensure that all fixture are working
Ensure that all fixture are working

Does high mast lighting need lightning protection?

Yep, high mast lighting need lightning protection, When the lightning surge touches the metal mast, it protects the cable installed in the metal mast. Combined lightning arrester present at the base of the metal mast discharges the current of the lightning across the network of the distribution.

With its low voltage protection level, it shields the LED mast light. According to the cable routing requirement, an additional surge arrester should be installed at the LED mast light to protect it from the lightning.

Another best way to protect the high mast lighting from lightning is to bond the anchor bolts to the rebar in the foundation.

Does High mast lighting need grounding?

Yes, high mast lighting system needs grounding protection like any other electrical device. A grounding rod can be used to serve this purpose.

A copper conductor is attached to the wiring system’s metal rod and to the terminals for the ground connections. Grounding cable protects humans against electrical shock in case of short circuit to ground fault.

Providing a low resistance path for the fault current, drives the current to the earthing rod instead of passing through the human body.

Like any metallic body in an electrical system, high mast lighting poles require a good earthing connection to the grounding network. The resistance of the grounding network should be lower than 5 Ohms in general locations, and lower than 2 Ohms in oil and gas plants.

You can increase the protection level by adding a RCCB (Residual Current Circuit Breaker), this current trips in case of any earth leakage due to earth fault. It measures the difference between the current in the phase and the neutral. In case of any difference it trips.

For more details about grounding, read my other article Grounding system in electricity

What is the winch in high mast lighting?

The winch in the high mast lighting is specifically used for the servicing purpose, It is used for lowering the luminaries to the human height level to meet the requirements of maintenance and replacing any damaged luminaries. Winch is an actually a mechanical device which serves the purpose of adjusting the tension of the wire rope.

Usually a high mast lighting system consists of mainly three sub-assemblies namely: mast structure, a head frame, and the lights. The head frame can be of two types, fixed or mobile head frame. In mobile head frame systems, a winch system is used for lowering the head frame to the ground level for servicing the luminaries.

High mast winches can be powered via the electric or the mechanical drives for smooth operation. It enables the high mast light fixtures to be lowered to the ground level on a single or double wire ropes.

You should make proper regular use for the lowering system to ensure it works smoothly. In case of not using it for a long period, the lowering system would stuck. In this case you may require a lifting machine to lift a person to fix the system.

Why high mast lighting need a motor?

High mast lighting system needs a motor for the lifting system with which maintenance platform can be accessed easily.

As head frame can be of two types: fixed and a mobile one. In fixed head frame type, a motorized lift system is used for the easy access of the maintenance platform.

The high mast motor is portable, and should has a proper connection power plug to feed it. This motor should has a bidirectional control circuit. one direction for lowering the head frame, while the other is for lifting it up again after maintenance.

The motor power plug should has IP rating suitable for the environmental condition to stay clean and ready for use any time.