I’ve heard about Big Ass Lights numerous times now since they were released last year, but never really felt like posting about them. Big Ass Lights are LED lighting fixtures that pump out a lot of light and are advertised as being nearly indestructible.
Big Ass Lights seem like decent products – and are made in the USA** – but they’re also the type of product that not everyone could benefit from. They might be superb products, but that doesn’t mean they’re suitable for your needs just because you want one.
Update: Hi, Stuart, thanks for your email. All of our Big Ass Light fixtures are manufactured right here in Lexington, Ky., where we employ more than 130 people on our production lines. Use of the “Made in the USA” statement or logo in advertising dictates a very specific set of guidelines, so we only put that label on one of our products, our Haiku with SenseME residential ceiling fan.
In other words, some of the components, such as the LEDs, come from outside the USA, but the lights are built/tested/etc. here.
I was always under the impression that, along with Big Ass Fans, Big Ass Lights were more designed for huge high-ceiling structures, such as warehouses, factories, and aircraft hangars.
Seems to me that Big Ass Lights would be more suitable for lighting the aisles of a Target, Walmart, or Home Depot, than one’s garage.
Big Ass Light also makes a Garage Light product that is said to be suitable for personal spaces such as garages, workshops, boathouses, and more that have ceilings up to ~14-feet. They say that just one light is enough for a single-bay garage.
The guys at Tools in Action did a great job with their latest video, discussing how these are “the best shop lights money can buy,” but I’m still really skeptical about Big Ass Lights.
Here’s the thing… LED lights are very highly directional, even with some diffusion. That, and the fact that the Big Ass Garage Light delivers 13,000 lumens – presumably undimmable – makes me believe that these LED lights would be completely unsuitable for most residential garages and workshops.
Over at the Garage Journal, there’s a discussion about garage ceiling heights, which seems to average about 8 to 10 feet. That’s a lot different from the “up to 14 feet” ceilings that the garage light is said to be suitable for. The closer a light is to the ground, the brighter, presumably harsher, and narrower the illumination might be.
That might not be a big deal, as there’s one Home Depot user review that says these lights produce marginally more light than the fixtures it replaced.
The inherent directionality of LEDs is a big concern of mine. After that, there’s the $400 price tag to consider. The price is probably a bigger turn off for consumers and those looking to upgrade their garage lighting.
These lights are said to be flicker-free, and deliver bright white lighting. But if you hang them from a low ceiling, you probably won’t see optimal results. They come pre-wired and with hardware to hang them up with S-hooks.
Prices: $399 for a 2-foot Big Ass LED Shop Light, $439 for the same with added occupancy sensor.
Buy Now(via Home Depot)
Buy Now(w/ occupancy sensor via Home Depot)
Like I said, I was hesitant to post about these lights. Tools in Action’s video did a great job of going over the light’s benefits, but it also brought back to the surface my concerns and doubts about the product. I drafted this post 3-4 times in the past couple of months, but this pushed me to finally wrap it up.
I have no doubt that Big Ass Light’s garage light could very well be an incredible LED light fixture, but it looks to be scaled down from their industrial facility lighting products. It doesn’t look to be designed any differently (which is ordinarily something to laud) – it just looks smaller.
Do any of you have these lights, and if so, what do you think about them? I’ll give Dan a call later to see if he can comment on how they might perform in a garage or shop with low ceilings.
Holy crap those are expensive. You know they still LED florescent tubes, obviously they aren’t florescent. They are shaped like florescent tubes but are actually LED.
4 for $80 with a 5/5 stars @ 100 reviews
just like their residential fan series the Haiku. it’s for larger homes with bigger budgets and mostly for wow factor. which makes since when you figure their bread and butter work is making quality larger commercial air movers.
and they do work well in hangars.
that light though I think I’ll pass on.
I have one mounted 5 feet over my lathe, works great. Very expensive but great light.
The $400 price tag seems over the top to me.
Costco had this Feit LED Shoplight on sale last month for about $35.00 each. I bought two of them and they have been working great. If I see them on sale again I would buy more. Amazon sells them as well.
But it's me!
I picked up several of the Costco Feit lights to use for seed starting and wintering over plants. So far, so good. Probably not the best for plants but sure beats fluorescent bulb disposal.
$400 for the BA lights is well out of my price range, but sure are impressive.
I picked up 3 to light my garage. I would have needed probably 5-6 4′ florescent lights to do the same . My dad got about a dozen to use in his garage and various parts of the house. They are a very big improvement. The two stores here were selling out a pallet every 1-2 days when they were on coupon.
I work at Costco, and those light sold really fast, I bought 14 of them for my garage.
I got three of those light when it was on sale in Costco. Still haven’t put them up yet, it have been cold in Texas :). Glad to hear some good feedback.
When I saw these in early Feb, I did some math:
I decided to compare my current fluorescent shop lights to the BigAss (which I’ll call BA) light. From what I researched, turns out fluorescent is still more efficient than LED, and way, way cheaper. In the real world (in common light fixtures, not labs or super expensive fixtures like the BigAss light) fluorescent produce 80-100 lumens per watt, while most LED fixtures produce 60-80 lumens/watt. The BA light is producing 114 lumens/watt which is very high compared to most LED fixtures. Basically the BA puts out for $439 what three of my fluorescent fixtures with daylight bulbs put out for $75, and I can distribute or cluster those three to get the light distribution I want. In use, the BA light is slightly more power efficient than the fluorescents, but the payback period would be decades.
sounds like you may be quoting HO T5 lights. not the typical T8’s that you typically find.
Another factor is that LEDs have directional output, flourescents waste alot of their energy inside their reflector. cheap fixtures only contribute to that.
With that said… these do sound very expensive for what they claim to be, and LEDs are better with multiple smaller fixtures spread out then to try and light a whole bay from 1 point. Its particularly ideal for a shop since you can easily identify where you want the light and where you dont care. a smaller spotlight over the work stations would be perfect and efficient
This isnt that though.
Nope, mine are Philips T8 Daylight 48″ tubes. 32W each, putting out 2750 lumens each, for $3.50 per bulb. So a two-bulb fixture uses 64W to put out 5500 lumens for about $25 total (fixture plus bulbs).
Feit led shop lights 3700 lumens@ 38w, 97 lumens/watt
your tubes 5500 lumens @ 64w, 86 lumens/watt
both sets of numbers are per fixture
There are several errors in your calculation. First, although the lamps require 32W each, the entire fixture is NOT 64W. The ballast that drives the lamps consumes power as well, and you will need to look at the specifications on it to determine just how much it uses. Second, the number of output lumens is NOT directly comparable between LED and legacy technology. The lumens listed in the specification sheet for the fluorescent tube is measuring light that is directed in all directions. As a result, almost 1/2 of those lumens do not directly go towards the area you are trying to light. They instead go UP and either reflect off the back surface of the light fixture, or off the ceiling of your room. Neither of those surfaces will reflect 100% of the light, so you lose some lumen output. As your fixture ages, the reflective surfaces will oxidize and collect dirt, and the amount of light reflected will go down substantially as a result. Also to note is that the lumens from he fluorescent light specification sheet is when the lamp is new. As lamps age they loose a large amount of their output, and several thousand hours into their life you could be as much as 10 – 20% below the rated output, while still drawing the same wattage. When comparing to LED lighting, one needs to keep in mind that the rated lumen output of the LED fixture is the actual lumens leaving the fixture, in the direction the light is aimed. No lumens are lost in the fixture design, or going in useless directions. LED fixtures, will slowly dim over time, but with L90 numbers (the time it takes for the fixture to loose 10% of output brightness) currently in the 100,000 hour range (as compared to the total lifespan of fluorescent tubes in the 10,000 hour range, and their life to 10% loss closer to 5,000 hours), there are no lamps to replace (and then have to dispose of through a special waste collector) while retaining high output brightness for exponentially longer times.
This article does beg the question though; what kind of shop lighting *do* you recommend?
I could certainly see the value in an article that discusses the best types of lighting for different shops.
I don’t use traditional shop lighting, although that will change when we move and I gain more workspace, and so I’m not the best to ask.
A while back, when I thought about this, I debated between T5 and T8, and settled on T5, although I don’t recall why.
When I have shop space, I’ll likely seek out high CRI LED fixtures or fixtures that can accept LED bulbs.
If I were looking to outfit a space, the Garage Journal forum is probably the second place I’d go with my questions, with the first place being Google for a rough overview of what’s available.
Right now, I mainly use a fluorescent lamp, CREE bulbs, and sometimes inexpensive photo/video LED lighting panels.
Are you talking about CRI (color rendering index?) or color temp in Kelvins?
With all this talk in this discussion about best light I’m very surprised no one is comparing the CRI’s which is the most important quality in a light bulb.
All of you can compare color temp all day long till your blue in the face but at the end of the day it’s the CRI that should be discussed and compared, something that LED and fluorescent is lacking way behind Halogen or even regular incandescent and makes a big difference between good light and bad light.
LED manufacturers really don’t like to advertise the CRI spec of there bulbs because it’s usually pretty embarrassing, cranking the color temp higher does don’t necessarily improve CRI.
I completely agree. The CRI is a deal maker or breaker for me. Especially now that studies are coming out showing the detrimental effects of blue light in LED sources. Cree seems to be hitting the mark on CRI with their lights coming in at ~193 or so but they are nearly impossible for electricians to get through normal distribution channels. We recently just retrofitted about 100 T8 florescent bulb with LED tubes to drop wattage down from 32 to 18 per bulb with only a slight decrease in lumens. No one even notices the difference.
Everything looked good to me and I was essentially sold on this light for an installation I am considering until I found the CRI spec was on 170. CRI needs to be over 190 to get my consideration these days. Also, these are priced a little too high to be competitive.
Compliments to Big Ass Lights for moving in the right direction on design.
Thank you for reminding me about CRI, I’m testing some LED shop lights and tubes now and need to search for their CRI — I have a feeling I won’t find it though.
CRI is on a scale from 0 to 100%. Where are you getting your numbers?
I even visited the Cree website here:
They are talking about their 90+ CRI lights.
One of the problems with fluorescent, which I have and like is that you have to be careful not to hit it and shatter it because of mercury contamination, from what I understand. If this is over a worktable, like mine, that is a hazard. I rigged a grill to go over it for this reason but then you can’t get at the fixture easily to change the bulbs. I think the bulbs are going, though it was a cheapie hd unit so not sure, so that’s frustrating. Also to recycle the bulbs costs $5 per in our community, so add that to the cost.
I’m ready to upgrade what I have but would love to see a post comparing light fixtures/lights. For sure it won’t cost $400. Hope they get better and come down in price.
Yup, We all recycle our florescent bulbs. 😉
Where do you live?
Here in AZ my local Home Depot and Lowes will take fluorescent bulbs for free. Lowes won’t take the long tubes but Home Depot took my 8ft tubes. I bought my replacement tubes at HD specifically because they took my old tubes.
I have found from my experiences, that I would rather have several smaller lights, spread around my work area, instead of one or two very high output lights. This helps minimize shadows. An additional lit above a certain machine helps, as well, but these lights almost seem overly bright for that.
For new homes, or additions — energy regulations (here in California where I live, called title 24 regulations) require high efficacy lighting (read: occupancy sensors on incandescent lighting, or CFL/fluorescent, or LED). As a builder, I almost exclusively install LED products because they meets title 24 regulations, and the technology has come a long way with warmer LED drivers in the 3000 kelvin range. For garages, I would only install a big ass LED if my client wanted to spend a ton of money for something that we could achieve via other means. Downlighting (cans) aren’t an appropriate light for a garage, as you want to take advantage of the ambient reflective light you get in a big space where task lighting is a priority.
There are many large surface mount LED lights available that are considerably cheaper. We get addicted to lumen ratings, which can be deceiving considering the correlating focus of the light. One would be wiser to spend $400 on four surface mount LED light fixtures, spreading the light out and allowing balance — rather than one high output light that would create a considerable amount of shadows.
I agree with Stuart and the other posters, while this may be a high output light — its attractiveness suits the buyer who wants high class things that may not be highly effective.
There are still lighting fixtures made in the United States? That is really awesome! Yes, these are expensive, but for the quality and the fact these do seem bright is quite the deal. I just can’t get over the fact these are USA made, as I thought that industry collapsed along with USA made power tools.
Chances are most will disagree with my post, but this is a really cool product. Sure cheaper versions can be found, but that is almost always the case with most products. I’d figure these would have a one year warranty, but turns out to be seven. Not a lifetime warranty, but better than I’d expect.
See the update above – there’s a chance they’re NOT made in the USA.
A couple of brands make photo and video lighting products in the USA, but they’re quite pricey.
Go figure, I had a feeling this wasn’t 100% USA made. Some time ago I remember reading about some USA companies that make some lighting equipment here still, but wasn’t sure if that was the case anymore.
If I had to guess the plastic and maybe even metal parts are made in USA, but the lights are imported from China. For $400, I’d was at least hoping the lights would be partially American made.
Only BA lights has further details.
In any case I don’t think there are any semiconductor fabs for high efficiency, high output LEDs in the US, so the most important part of the fixture would be Asian made.
I just called BA lights (1-877-244-3267) and spoke to a woman named Kelsey. I had to be transferred three instances to speak to someone with any technical information and they were VERY reluctant to provide this. But after 20 minutes, I was able to find some information out.
Turns out the motor/driver and the cord are made in South Korea, while the LED lights are American made by Cree. Hard to say if they are truly USA made or just assembled here.
After seven years, should any of the lights fail, you can purchase a light board, but I can’t imagine this being cheap.
Boy are they pushy with trying to sell you this unit once you call them, so be prepared to recuse yourself if you don’t want to buy this right away if at all.
I looked into the BigAss lights but came to the same conclusion as most here regarding the cost. I am in the process of replacing the meager lighting I have now in place in my 2 car garage. I was considering LED tubes in CFC fixtures but I had found some DIY solutions using LED strips and simple roofing flashing that I am going to experiment with that if works could be real cost effective and I could place in many areas for a non-directional lighting solution.
An example of this approach can be seen here:
I’m still a diehard incandescent user. Mostly dual track Lightolier fixtures. They’re aimable and both task and general illumination with the appropriate fixtures. Both in my garages and shop areas. My model railroad too.
That said while I love the CRI 2800-3000 Kelvin color I’m been testing various LED relamping options and think that’s my future. Far less heat build up too.
As for dimming that’s a circuit by circuit issue and all LEDs don’t dim equally. Nor do CFLs. Dang.
As for the LED T-12/8/5 replacement tubes I think economically and overcast “look” we’re just beginning to see some parity with fluorescent tubes.
Amazon sell 4 led tubes for $49.00. Just bypass the ballast in the old fixture. save it if you might want to revert to flourescent tubes later
We just use these in my father-in-law’s fab shop. Screws into a regular light socket and throws tons of light.
I can’t justify the price of this. A few years ago I switched from T12 to T8 electronic ballast after reading this article:
Buying cheap American Fluorescent 48″ 2-Light T8 fixtures (they were made in the USA, but I can’t find that info anymore) and standardizing on 4100K T8 bulbs, I cut my electric bill, made my shop brighter, stopped the humming, all for well under half of one of these lights.
How about this instead : http://www2.costco.com/Browse/Product.aspx?prodid=11980933&whse=BD_579&topnav=BC&cat=99896&hierPath=97105*97112*99896*&lang=en-US
Sounds like a more reasonable solution for shop lighting…
I purchased 3 of these for a 3 bay garage ~ 25 ft. deep x 30 ft. wide with 9.5 ft. ceiling height. After hanging one, I have to say I was a little disappointed in the light dispersion for one bay. The lights are bright and attractively designed although I would have preferred a surface mount.
We moved into this house from a home where I had a 2 bay garage with two 8 ft. fluorescent lights in each bay. I though those put out more light that was better dispersed. I wouldn’t necessarily go back to the 8 ft. fluorescents (they were noisy and being located in western NY, wouldn’t light off sometimes when it was really cold). To get the level of lighting I’m looking for I’m faced with purchasing 3 more Big-Ass lights. At $400 a pop, that’s a lot of money to light a garage.
I found out country of origin information some time ago by calling this company, but I figured a separate post to just show this information might be more helpful. This item isn’t 100% American made sadly.
Rather, the motor/driver and the cord are made in South Korea, while the LED lights are American made by Cree. Hard to say if they are truly USA made or just assembled here. Kelsey at BAL (the company) (1-877-244-3267) told me this.
I’m no sure there are any power cord let alone “motor/driver” manufacturers remaining in America after the Federal tax subsidized outsourcing craze of the Great Communicators era.
RIP Middle Class.
Harry J Epstein sells 100% made in the United States of America Coleman branded extension cords, but that is the “power cord” I’ve seen in years that is American made.
As for motors or drivers, the days of those being produced in America probably are long over. Maybe not for military operations, but the end consumer level has been destroyed entirely. Too bad the “powers that be” no longer for the most part care about the middle class blue collar workers. After all, money is more important than human lives this seems.
I am willing to bet those LED light bulbs aren’t 100% American made either. Likely assembled here, but when I called the person I spoke was very reluctant to provide information. In the very unlikely chance anyone at BAL is reading this, for $400+, you’d think they would be more willing to provide information such as coo and other information for that much money.
Coleman cords! I forgot about them but actually have some. That said what is the yellow, Yellow Jacket brand, that has the lit tips when powered? Are they USA made or ?
To the best of my knowledge, only the Coleman extension cords listed at Epstein’s are what is USA made. I don’t think there are any other manufacturers left that make them other than them. Maybe there are, but not sold locally or to my knowledge.
You won’t find these USA made Coleman extension cords at Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware or traditional brick and mortar shops. Only imports these days.
So as for Yellow Jacket, I’d say no at this time, but I could be wrong. Might be worth calling Yellow Jacket as well as Coleman Cable.
Coleman and Yellow Jacket have the same corporate owner. They’ve also share the same 800 number. Let’s see who remembers to call first tomorrow morning!
Sorry for the lousy iPhone edit. Groan.
Jim, I called but was given the run around twice with being transferred and the person I spoke to not having any idea. I hope you have more luck, but I can assure that there is two USA made Coleman cable extensions at Epstein’s.
Hope when you call they give you the information you need more easily.
We had these high dollar lights all over the factory. They lasted about a year. Then they started to burn out one by one. So we .ived to home deport $15 dollar lights they cover more area a d have been running 9 months non stop and work great $