A while ago I replaced all the old lighting in my shop. I used to have four dual-bulb T-12 fixtures. Not one fixture or bulb was the same brand, and the light was a weird mix of colors.
I wanted something more efficient, that wouldn’t hum, and would turn on instantly, even in cold temperatures, so I switched to T-8 fixtures with electronic ballasts and used 4100K bulbs throughout.
I was happy for a while, until one of the fixtures stopped working.
Then I started having bulbs randomly go out in other fixtures until I rotated them a few times — then they’d work again for a while. Frankly I’m also sick of the hassle, not to mention having to recycle bulbs that are considered hazardous materials.
I’ve been looking into LED shop lights. When Rockler agreed to ship out a review sample of the 4′ LED shop light they sell, I was excited to try it.
LED lights have a number of advantages over fluorescents. They are usually more efficient (even if only slightly), they last so long you don’t have to deal with replacing bulbs, and they don’t explode into tiny shards of glass when you accidentally hit them with a board you are maneuvering.
This particular shop light sold by Rockler is a Lights of America unit, model #8140SE2-WH5. It has 240 bright white (5000K) LEDs organized into two 120 LED “tubes.” It’s the same size and shape as a standard T-12 dual bulb fixture and is rated for 50,000 hours – that’s almost 6 years of continuous use.
It’s not clear whether the 50,000 hour longevity rating is determined using the common L70 rating standard, which tells you how long it might be before the light dims to 70% of its original light output.
Installing the Shop Light
The shop light comes with all the hardware you need for hanging it from the ceiling: S-hooks, chain, screw hooks, and drywall anchors.
As far as I can tell there is no way to surface-mount this light, and I don’t think I’d want to risk running screws blindly through the sealed compartment for the electronics on top of the light.
Rather than replacing any of the fixtures in my shop, I decided to test and use the LED shop light as task lighting over my workbench. First I had to clear out some wood I was storing above my bench.
To hang the light, I drove the screw hooks into two joists four feet apart. After attaching the chains to the light with the S-hooks, I hung the chains from the screw hooks, plugged in the light, and turned it on.
I was immediately impressed at how bright the LED shop light was. It seemed to visibly outshine all of the fluorescent fixtures in my shop.
Specs and Reality
One of the biggest reasons for buying LED lights is efficiency, so let’s look at some numbers. The shop light is rated for 4500 lumens at 40W, which puts its stated efficiency at 112.5 lumens per Watt. From what I’ve read this puts it at the higher end of LED efficiency (a good thing).
On the shop light, it says it draws 340mA, so I pulled out my trusty Kill-A-Watt and measured the actual energy consumption. It drew 0.33A from the 120V plug, giving 39 VA. The power factor was a pretty good 0.95 and the Kill-A-Watt said it was drawing 38 W. Given that LED bulb drivers usually have a lousy power factor, they must be doing some active compensation.
I left the light on for 2.5 hours and it used 0.09 kWh, which is approximately 40W per hour. All this means the specs match reality.
For comparison I checked out one of my new fixtures with T8 bulbs. It draws 0.77A from the 120V plug giving 93VA. It’s power factor is a horrible 0.57 and the Kill-A-Watt said it was pulling 55W.
I left it plugged in for about an hour and a half and it measured 0.08 kWh, which is approximately 50W per hour. Given that I have two 32W bulbs in the fixture, either the light bulb specs are off, or fluorescent tubes draw less power as they age.
While Rockler claims that the light comes on instantly, there is a very slight delay ( less than 1 second) between pulling the chain and the light illuminating. It’s actually slower than my T-8 fixtures, but when it comes on, it is on 100% full brightness. Also when you turn it off, the LEDs keep glowing dimly for a few seconds and then gradually fade out.
Although the color temperature of the LED shop light is different than the rest of my lights, it doesn’t really bother me as much since it’s positioned as the central light in my shop. Having another light in my shop has also made photography in my shop much easier, since now it’s bright enough so that I don’t have to use a tripod to stabilize every shot.
I like this light, but I don’t know if I would pay the full Rockler list price of $75. The $50 holiday 2015 sale price is more digestible.
I’ve also found a few retailers that also sell the 8140SE (which is the 4200 lumen version) for $36 to $42.
This LED shop light has definitely improved the lighting of my workshop.
Right now it’s temporarily oversold at Rockler. If you order now, you lock in the $50 price and get a place in line for when they receive a resupply. We’re not sure when the holiday promo pricing ends.
Use free shipping coupon code AFAZ1 at checkout. It gives you free ground shipping on $25+ orders, and we believe it expires at the end of December 2015.
Thank you to Rockler for providing the review sample unconditionally.