LED Shop Light’s Buyer’s Guide
There are certain settings that require special lighting setups. Workshops are one of those places. They need bright lighting for performing precision tasks. Tasks which are also often potentially dangerous.
But, they also need a hardy, durable light that’s resistant to breaking. And, in especially extreme circumstances, they’ll need a light that is explosion-proof or vapor tight.
Despite all of these complicated needs, shop lights are a very simple, yet effective, lighting solution. Shop lights are most commonly found in garages in workshops, hence the name shop lights, but are not limited to those facilities.
Chances are that if you currently have shop lights, they’re probably fluorescent fixtures. Fluorescents were once known for being an energy-efficient lighting choice with a long lifespan.
And, due to their bright, white light, they’re perfect for precision tasks. However, in today’s world, that’s no longer the case. With LED technology becoming more and more prevalent, fluorescent lighting is headed towards extinction.
These days, LEDs are the go-to for any and all commercial and industrial lighting applications, including Shop Lights. But why are LED Shop lights such a popular choice? And what do you need to know about them before you buy? We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to LED shop lights, so that you can make an informed decision that benefits you, your business, and your employees.
Why Install LED Shop Lights?
To make a long story short, because LED shop lights outshine every other type of bulb across all categories. Not only do advancements in technology allow them to provide a better, brighter light, but they also save you money while they’re at it.
And, in fact, the most obvious and popular reason to replace old fixtures with LED lights is to save money. LEDs were designed to be efficient. They use minimal energy to produce a much brighter light than more traditional bulb types, and they don’t emit any heat. This helps cut both electrical and cooling costs.
LED Shop lights also have a much longer lifespan than other types of fixtures, saving money on maintenance costs. You don’t have to worry about the hassle of changing the light and disposing of the old bulbs because LED lights have an average lifespan of 50,000 hours and don’t contain harmful chemicals.
LEDs offer many more benefits than just saving you money. Shop lights are typically positioned low to the ground in order to provide an adequate shine. However, this proximity to the floor puts them in a position where they can easily be struck by power tools, stray objects, or other equipment.
When a fluorescent shop light fixture breaks, they send glass and potentially harmful mercury gases everywhere. Luckily, this is not the case if you have LED Shop lights. LEDs are made from durable plastics, so they’re much less likely to break. And, even if they do break, you won’t have to worry about mercury poisoning or glass shards. You can just sweep it up and toss it in the trash.
These are just a few of the many benefits that LED lights present over other types of bulbs. But, it’s safe to say that choosing LED shop lights is the bright choice.
How you should choose LED Lights for your Shop
If you’re upgrading from fluorescents, or really any light, LEDs will be a noticeable improvement regardless of which fixture you choose. But, choosing the right fixture for your specific application can create the ideal workspace. Which will, in turn, help improve employee morale and productivity.
But, choosing the right LED light for your shop may not be as easy as it would seem. There are plenty of things to consider before you make your decision, and we’ll walk you through them all.
But, even before you start looking at LED shop lights, there are things you should keep in mind about your current lights that will help you make the right choice. Before choosing your lighting, you should consider these things:
- The mounting height of your fixtures
- The amount of time the operation your shop lights run
- Retrofitting older inefficient shop lights with energy-efficient LED shop lights
Best Applications for LED Shop Lights
As we said, shop lights are a simple but effective lighting solution. That is unless your facility requires another type of lighting. LEDs come in many many different styles, sizes, and capabilities. Each one with its own special purpose.
Shop lights are the ideal options for providing a bright, focused light in spaces with ceilings under 20 feet. LED shop lights provide a bright light with little glare that illuminates smaller areas. Think garages, workshops, and more specifically workbench lighting.
On the other hand, if your ceiling heights are over 20 ft high, then consider installing a LED high bay fixture. This will be much better suited for providing a bright general light to the entire space. They are also used to illuminate warehouses, gyms and recreational facilities, but can pair well with shop lights to provide a complete LED lighting setup.
Fluorescent Shop Lights vs LED Shop Lights
How many lumens does your shop need?
Because LEDs can give off a brighter light using less energy, watts are not a good measurement to base your replacement lights off. Even a fluorescent light, which is the most energy-efficient next to LEDs, uses a considerably larger amount of energy to produce a less powerful shine. For this reason, we recommend paying attention to the lumens you’ll require instead of the watts.
The best way to do this is to create a photometric report using your facility. A photometric layout takes the dimensions of your building, (length, width, and height) and other factors and creates a realistic software representation of the light.
From there, you can add your existing light locations, and then model updates and changes with different LED lighting fixtures. This allows you to see your space and how it would look with new and improved LED Lighting. It eliminates the risk of purchasing too many or too few lights and lets you map our your ideal lighting setup.
Any switch to LEDs will be a huge improvement over older bulb types, but to really experience the magic of LED lighting, it’s important to create a custom lighting scheme that is designed specifically to suit your facility.
Types of Shop Lights
As with all types of LED lighting, LED shop lights come in a variety of different styles, each intended for a different purpose. We’ve gathered three of the most popular choices for shop lighting below, and chances are that one of these lights will be perfectly at home in your space.
4 ft Shop Lights
These are the most common type of LED shop light. 4 ft Integrated LED shop-lights are ideal for commercial retail stores, warehouses and storage rooms.
They can be mounted directly to the ceiling or suspended lower, using chains. If you’re looking to replace fluorescent shop lights, then this style is the best option.
100-277V options available as well as linkable led shop lights.
Hardwired Shop Lights
This type of LED light is best for providing a bright, general light over work spaces. Hardwired fixtures connect to your lighting with j-box connections.
For ease of installation, we also offer plug-in models that plug directly into the existing electrical box.
Options available in 100-277V or 277-480V.
8 ft Shop Lights
These are the exact same fixture as the 4-foot length, just doubled in size. 8 ft Integrated LED strip lights are ideal for larger areas where you need more general light.
These LED lights produce a high lumen output and are the perfect replacement for 8′ fluorescent fixtures. They also have high efficacy and offer more energy savings over traditional style fluorescent lights.
7 Things to Consider When Upgrading to LED Shop Lights
1. What Efficacy (Lumens Per Watt) do you need?
Efficacy defines a light’s ability to produce a certain amount of light. LED shop lights are available in a range between 100 and 180 lumens / watt. The higher the efficacy (lumens / watt), the fewer watts the fixture needs to consume to produce the necessary light levels.
While the initial cost of an LED light with a high efficacy rating may be slightly higher, the payback period and reduced utility bill will more than offset this negligible additional cost.
If one of your primary concerns about switching to LED shop lights is the ability to find a light that’s as bright as your current ones, have no fear. Generally speaking, LEDs have a much, much higher efficacy rating than other bulbs, so even if the wattage is less than the fixture you have now, the light will be significantly brighter.
Our selection of LED Shop lights ranges from 3000 lumens to 100,000 lumens per light, so you can replace any light with something just as bright, if not brighter.
Higher efficacy LEDs will save you more money. Over the life of a product, the higher efficiency product will be the best choice. The higher cost will pay itself off and back many times over during its lifespan.
2. What are Wet Location (IP rated) Shop Fixtures?
IP rating designates a fixtures ability to keep out both dust and water. Unlike a wet-rating, an IP rating provides specific grades of water resistance so that you can be positive you’re making the right decision. The first digit of the IP score represents dust protection, while the second number signifies water protection.
LED Lighting Supply offers IP ratings of IPx5 and IPx6. This allows you to install these fixtures outdoors, exposed to the elements, if required. So if you need wet rated LED Shop lights, choose a light that is IP65 or higher.
IP68 is for full, permanent submersion in water up to 13 feet.
IP67 is for temporary submersion in up to 3 feet of water for no longer than 30 minutes.
IP65 protects against water jets at any angle.
3. What is the highest voltage I can get a shop light in?
High voltage fixtures are designed to mitigate energy usage over a long distance. This makes them especially helpful in large areas where a light is far from the power source. The constant current drivers that we carry are equipped to handle everything from 100 Volts up to 480 Volts.
For reference, a standard driver in our kits can handle anywhere from 100V to 277V. If you’re concerned about high voltage capacities, double-check with the manufacturer to ensure that the light will suit your needs.
4. What Kelvin Color Temperature should you choose?
In layman’s terms, color temperature describes the color appearance of light. Most white light produced by light sources has a tinge of other colors in it. Warm white light colors have a yellow/red/orange glow while cool white lights have a blue tint to them. Between cool light and warm light lies daylight white, the most popular of all light colors.
Finding The Right Color Temperature
As you can see, LEDs come in a wide range of color temperatures. Which color is best for you will depend on the application. However, generally in working environments, a blue-toned light is better, while warmed toned lights work best for ambient lighting needs.
If you are replacing Metal Halide and want a similar look, choose 5000K. To find something slightly warmer, look for a fixture that has 4000K. Stay away from anything over 5500K, which may be too bright, or less than 4000K, which is likely, not adequate.
5. What CRI (Color Rendering Index) is best for LED Shop Lights?
Unlike Kelvins, the Color Rendering Index doesn’t disclose the color of a light, but rather how colors under that light will appear compared to sunlight. When it comes to HID lamps and fluorescent fixtures, people often find that it’s hard to determine the true color of objects. Light color is extremely important in low bay fixtures, like LED shop lights because it has a huge impact on clarity and contrast.
What CRI do you need?
Most LED fixtures are offered between CRI 70 and 85. We can special order almost any CRI you might need. Typically, for general purpose lighting, 70 CRI is all you need.
If your shop requires superior color identification, opt for a higher CRI in the 80-90+ range.
6. How can you get Optimal and Balanced Light Distribution?
Well, the easiest way to do this is to use a photometric lighting plan. But, it’s always a good idea to have some base knowledge about light distribution. The beam angle of a fixture is what determines the distribution of light.
A wide beam angle produces softer light but distributes it better, making it ideal for large spaces and general lighting. A narrow beam angle produces concentrated light that’s good for accent and task lighting.
For lower ceiling applications, like garages and workshops, we recommend a wide beam distribution to offset the lower ceiling mounting heights and adequately cover the area.
7. Do you need Lighting Controls like Motion Sensors?
Need may be a strong word, but any business would benefit from the addition of lighting controls. According to Energy Star, waste accounts for 30% of all energy utilized in buildings.
Light systems can help enhance energy-saving measures through specialized light control features. Light controls can also increase security while simultaneously enhancing the comfort of the building’s occupants.
Just switching to LED shop lights can help save up to 80% in energy costs but light controls can help cut down on energy wastage even further, giving you more savings. Use light controls to enhance energy efficiency and control of the lighting.
Light Control Features
Daylight sensors, motion sensors, dimmers, and wireless technology are just a few of the light controls available. Motion sensors ensure that your lights are never in use when they’re not needed and help to cut back on electrical costs by only turning the lights on when movement is detected.
The addition of photocells allow a light fixture to read daylight levels, turning the light on only when it’s too dark. And, dimmers allow you to control the intensity of the light. Which in turn provides you with the ability to actively reduce the light’s energy consumption.
There is a minimal cost associated with installing motion sensors, dimmers, and photocells, but you’ll see payback immediately. And, these controls also help to further extend the life of your LED shop lights.
If you need a control, then you may need a 0-10V dimmable LED driver that works in coordination with your control. For example, some motion sensors can dim the light after a period of inactivity. To do so, the led driver must be capable of dimming. Not all LED drivers are dimmable.
LED Shop Lights
It’s easy to see why so many commercial and industrial facilities all over the country are switching to LED lighting.
Aside from just the savings, which are nothing to turn your nose up at, LEDs are a huge improvement over fluorescent fixtures and other bulbs. They can improve employee productivity and satisfaction. They reduce maintenance costs. And, they help you maintain a safe and usable work environment.
Switching to LEDs just makes sense. And now, you’re armed with all the information you need to make the right choice for your facility. LED shop lights are an inexpensive way to update your workspace and increase efficiency.
They’re designed to handle the sometimes rough environment found in garages and workshops, and they’re more adaptable than traditional bulbs. LED shop lights are just the thing to completely transform your shop.
What is the best lighting for a shop?
The best lighting is dependent on your shops layout and conditions. Are the ceilings tall? Consider a high bay. Is it dusty? Consider a vapor tight fixture. Are you thinking of using LED or fluorescent fixtures? LED will require zero maintenance and lower your lighting bill. We can help you pick the best lighting for your shop.
What are the best LED Shop lights?
This is a very subjective question. Best can change based on the specific needs of the customer. What is best for one area may not be best for another. Conditions may exist that requires the use of a specific fixture over another. It may be because of light levels, distribution, heat, mounting height. Or it may be in a hazardous location.
We can help you determine the best LED Shop Lights for your application. We can provide you with the guidance to make the best selection.
What is the brightest LED Shop Light?
Typically, LED High Bay lights used in a shop will be the brightest. These fixtures are designed to replace up to 1000W Metal Halide. You probably will not need that much brightness. For a bright shop, try to get an average of 50 foot candles or higher if fine detail work is performed.
Are LED Shop Lights worth it?
LED, compared to fluorescent shop lights, may cost a bit more at time of purchase, but you can quickly recover that extra cost in reduced lighting bills and lower maintenance costs. The lighting is high quality (CRI), and it will make your shop brighter and safer. So we think LED Shop Lights are worth it.
How many Lights do I need for my shop?
The best way to determine how many lights you need is to create a lighting plan . A lighting plan calculate lighting for an area is to create a lighting plan using special lighting software. LED Lighting Supply specializes in creating these lighting plans. To start, you can purchase a light meter or install a light meter application on your smart phone.
Walk to different locations in your area and take readings in foot candles or lux. Tell us what those readings are, and whether you think the light is good, too bright or not bright enough. Tell us if the light is even across the area.
From this information, we can model your area in our software and give you options before you purchase and decide. We provide this service for FREE. It takes the risk out of buying LED.