I reviewed the Rockler Lights of America 4 ft LED shop light last December, and since then I’ve been looking to replace the rest of my fluorescent lights with LED lights. Why? Because LED lights are brighter, start faster, last longer, and they don’t fragment into thousands of tiny shards when I’m moving wood around the workshop and accidentally hit one.
I’ve been eyeing the Feit shop lights and fluorescent replacement tubes at Costco for a while, and recently saw more people touting them on various social media outlets, driving up my interest. I was at Costco a few months ago, spotted the lights, and bought a few to test.
The Feit shop light is rated for an output of 3700 lumens, and has a color temperature of 4000K. It is a plug and go product, everything you need is right in the box. You hang the light, plug it in, and turn it on.
There’s more talk about color temperature in our Zebralight headlamp review.
The Feit fluorescent replacement tubes are rated for an output of 1700 lumens each, with a color temperature of 4100K. No rewiring is necessary — they can be used to replace any 4ft T12 or T8 tube, although the box says the ratings apply to T8 fixtures.
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I wanted to see how these two LED options compared to my current fluorescent tube lighting and to the Rockler LED shop light I already have. In order to do so, I created a quick test fixture to make sure I could compare the lights in as close to the same conditions as possible.
I created the above test fixture consisting of a table, some clamps, and a white folding poster board. I hung each light so the bulbs were the same distance above the table (30″). Then, for each light I photographed the drill to compare the colors and captured the lux reading on my phone.
I used the free Android Lux Meter app on my phone to get a general intensity reading in lux, but without a standard in which to calibrate the app, the lux readings aren’t very accurate. I tried to eliminate some of the error by calculating the relative intensity. I divided the lux reading for the light under test by the lux reading of the brightest light — the Rockler light.
To find the actual watts used and the power factor for each fixture or bulb, I used a Kill-A-Watt. (You can find energy usage monitors for as low as ~$20.)
Since I ran the fluorescent tubes and the LED replacement tubes in one of the 2-bulb T8 fixtures from my shop, the measurements for these tube includes that fixture too.
- Upper Left: Feit Shop Light
- Upper Right: Rockler Shop Light
- Lower Left: Fluorescent Tubes
- Lower Right: Feit LED Tubes
The composite picture gives you an approximation of the color differences among the lights. It’s not a true color representation, but it’s as close as I can get with the equipment I have. Each square is only lit by the light under test.
I set the camera white balance to “daylight,” because unfortunately you can’t turn it off. Daylight color temperature is around 5600K. With the white balance set to daylight, warmer illumination, such as a 4000K source, will appear to be yellower, despite appearing “whiter” in person.
I set the camera to manual mode, and adjusted the exposure settings so that the resultant photos would be relatively close to the same exposure level. To do this, the focal length, ISO, and aperture were fixed, with only the shutter speed being adjusted. The intent was to show the relative color and illumination spread (if any) differences, and not relative brightness.
The chart below shows a summary of the specs and the data I recorded from the tests. Color temperature, lumens, and rated wattage are manufacturer specifications.
I do not have the CRI (color rendering index) for any of these lights. (A higher CRI means more accurate colors.)
I contacted Feit, and they gave me the run around on the phone. I was told that I should instead contact them via email, which I did, and then they either ignored, missed, or blew off that email. So not knowing the CRI for those two lights, I didn’t think it made much sense to try to get the CRI values for the others.
In my opinion, the Rockler light gives off the best quality of light — I feel it reproduces color better, but that could also be because the color temperature is in the daylight range. The color of the original fluorescent tubes, the Feit shop light, and the Feit replacement tubes are all pretty similar, but I think the Feit LED replacement tubes have a slightly better color, and the fluorescent tubes have the worst overall color.
What is really surprising though is the relative light intensity. I ran the test twice and got similar results both times. The Feit replacement tubes delivered greater illumination intensity directly beneath the light than the Feit shop light, even though the shop light has a slightly higher lumen rating. At first I thought this might be because the replacement tubes have a built in reflector, but I examined the Feit shop light and it uses a similar internal reflector.
Lumen ratings just tell you how much light a fixture puts out, whereas lux measures the intensity of that light at a certain location. Since I was measuring the intensity directly underneath the lights, it is possible that the distribution of light from the Feit shop light and the replacement tubes is different. Perhaps the shop light disperses more light to the sides.
Both the fluorescent tubes and the LED replacement tubes use a fluorescent fixture with an electronic ballast. This makes them less efficient and gives them a poor power factor. The efficiency difference between the Feit shop light and the Feit replacement tubes isn’t really enough to worry about, but the power factor might make a difference if you are in an industrial setting or if you use a motion detector to turn on the lights when you enter the shop.
Motion detectors, timers, and home automation switches can be rated differently for different types of lighting. For example a typical device might say that it can handle up to 800W of incandescent bulb lighting, or something like 400W for fluorescent lights, or sometimes they’ll say 800VA.
For example, both the Feit shop light and the replacement LED tubes in a fluorescent fixture use about 38 watts, but since the power factor of the fluorescent fixture is 0.6, this means it uses more VA – about 63VA, so you’d be able to control fewer fixtures.
What to Buy
While I was working on this comparison, Costco sold out of the Feit LED replacement tubes and started selling a similar Feit replacement tube under a different stocking number and packaged in a different box.
After comparing both sets of replacement tubes and repeating all the readings from the Kill-A-Watt and my Lux Meter app, the only real difference between the two products I could find was that the old product had a part number “T48/4K/LED/2,” while the new product had a part number “T48/41K/LED/2.”
The Feit LED shop lights can be found at Costco for $30 , but I’ve seen them go on sale for as low as $24. I can’t find the old Feit tubes anymore but the newer seemingly identical tubes regularly run $18.
They are on sale for $14 each, thru 10/23/16.
If you are looking for the best bang for the buck, the Feit LED replacement tubes seem be the winner. If you already have fluorescent fixtures, they are the cheapest option and compare favorably to the Feit shop light.
If total efficiency and daylight color are what you are after, and you don’t care about paying more, the Feit lights can’t beat the Rockler light.
The Rockler LED shop light regularly retails for $60, but it goes on sale regularly for $50.
Sorry, but I don’t have any links for the Feit products. I’ve looked and I cannot find anything close enough to either the Feit shop light or replacement tubes, at least not close enough to where I could recommend without having to retest them. The closest I’ve found is people reselling Costco products on eBay.