Looking for LED Lights to Use on the Job Site? Read our Guide First!
LED lights are one of the hottest items for the job site right now. They run cooler, use much less power, and there are more cordless options than ever. Before you make the switch, there’s a lot to consider. Just because they’re better than halogen doesn’t mean they’re cheap. So it’s best to go in with a head full of knowledge. To help you out, we got our Pro team together to find out what they look for on LED lights to use on the job site.
LED Lights for the Job Site: What to Consider
Should I stay or should I go now?
The first question you need to answer is if you’re looking for temporary lighting to install or lighting that’s going to travel back and forth with you. Companies like Southwire and Milwaukee are making LED bay lights to cover long-term temporary install on major projects. LED string lights are another option. There aren’t as many players in this sector to choose from, but we like what we see so far.
Most Pros are going to pick LED lights that travel every day. Not only are they safe from job site thieves, you can also reposition them through the course of your day and keep light exactly where you need.
Corded or cordless? What about both?
Cordless and hybrid power options are sexy right now, but they come at a cost. Most of the major manufacturers have at least some options, and Milwaukee goes deep in their line. If you want to go cordless, start by seeing what your current cordless tool brand has and decide if they cover your needs or if you need to branch out.
Cordless is definitely more convenient, but there’s still something to be said for corded power. Yes, there’s more setup time to run cords to the generator or outlet. On the other hand, you don’t have to worry about runtime.
Bigger is better, right?
Well, bigger lumen numbers certainly mean great output. If you need to light up a warehouse, you either need powerful lights or a bunch of mid-range ones. How much light you really need depends on what you’re trying to replace. Part of that is the wattage of the light. Inconveniently, that’s a measure of how much power your old light requires and LED lights measure their output in lumens since their power draw is so much less.
For example, a 500-watt halogen light puts out roughly 10,000 lumens. Did I create some crazy-complex equation?
Not this time. Here’s a great resource to help you decide how many lumens you need to replace your old lights. Just punch in the watt rating of your old light and select the type from the drop-down menu. The calculator then tells you how approximately how many lumens it was producing.
If you’re keeping up with LED lighting trends, you’ll see “5000K” a lot. This is the color temperature with the sun directly overhead. More importantly, it’s the purest light we see without the influence of the blue or yellow sides of the spectrum. For electricians, it ensures that you’re seeing wire colors correctly. For painters, it helps you accurately see what paint color will look like in neutral light.
For the majority of Pros in the construction industry, the accuracy of the color isn’t as big of a deal to do your job well. However, it is a comfortable light for eyes to work in.
Most lights that have a 5000K temperature boast it on the package and the website. No matter what the temperature is, you’re pretty much stuck with it. Unless you’re using Ryobi’s Color Range Light – a hybrid power source light that lets you shift the color from 2700K to 5000K to see how different lighting affects your results.
The throw of an LED work light depends greatly on the style of light you’re working with. Area lights will have a 360° throw, flood light will be in the 90° – 180° range. For the most part, LED job site lights look exactly like the lights they’re designed to replace. Need a standard two-light stand light to replace a halogen model? It’s available and looks almost identical.
One of the differences you may notice is that some brands are working with different diffusers. Some lights have what looks like a frosted lens – a move that softens the light as it comes out so it’s not quite so tough on your eyes. In general, area lights are good to diffuse while lighting for a specific area should have a clear lens.
Some LED lights offer smart controls that you can use your phone to control. You can flip them on or off without having to get to a switch or even set them on a timer so you don’t have to be onsite.
You’ll need to be within range of the lights to make any changes to the settings, but it can be an awfully convenient feature to have in some cases.
Many times, you don’t need the light’s entire output for every job. Mostly found on cordless lights, you can work with a percentage of the total output to cut down on the extra light and extend your battery runtime.
Area light pretty well stand on their own, but some LED work lights give you more options. When you need a lot of light on an area you’re working, a tripod stand is a great way to get the lights up in the air and flood the area.
Smaller LED lights can have several options. Nearly all will stand on their own and most will have a keyhole or frame design that lets you hang it from a nail. Some take it a step further with a frame that will fit on a 2 x 4. Others add magnets to the base for working around steel.
Job sites aren’t exactly known for their cleanliness and sometimes the work has to continue in spite of the weather. If your LED light is going to spend time outside for work or security, check its IP rating and make sure it can stand up to the dust and rain that it’s likely to encounter.
For specific recommendations, check out our LED Work Light Buying Guide!