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.
Quick Article Summary
- Consider portability
- Decide on corded or cordless
- How much light output?
- What color temperature do you want?
- What kind of throw pattern is best for your needs?
- Do you need “smart” controls
- Check the IP rating
LED Lights for the Job Site: What to Consider
Should I stay or should I go now?
First, consider whether you need to install temporary lighting or you need portable lighting that travels with you. The Southwire low bay and Milwaukee high bay LED lights cover long-term temporary installation on major projects. LED string lights present another temporary lighting option. Many players exist in this sector, but not from the more well-known brands.
Most Pros are going to pick LED lights that travel with you every day. This not only protects against job site thieves but also allows for repositioning throughout the course of a day…or night. This keeps the light exactly where you need it.
Corded or cordless? What about both?
Cordless and hybrid power options are sexy right now, but they come with 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 whether your current cordless tool brand covers your needs or if you need to branch out.
Cordless definitely brings convenience, but corded power still wins on run-time. Yes, there’s more setup time to run those cords to the generator or outlet. On the other hand, if you need large amounts of light output all day/night long, AC power has your back.
Bigger is better, right?
Well, bigger lumen numbers certainly mean more light 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 required. Newer LED lights state their output in lumens since they require so much less power for the same output.
For example, a 500-watt halogen light puts out roughly 10,000 lumens. That may equate to a 120W LED lamp system.
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 often see labels with “5000K” or “Daylight”. This approximates the color temperature with the sun directly overhead. More importantly, this describes a white without much blue or yellow coloration. For electricians, it helps ensure that you seeing wire colors correctly. Painters use them these lights to accurately see what paint colors 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. We do, however, find it to be a comfortable light for your eyes to work in.
No matter what the color temperature of the light, you’re pretty much stuck with it. Unless you’re using the Ryobi 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. Some newer in-ceiling LED lights also come with selectable color temperatures. Be aware that lower color temperatures reduce the overall lumen output.
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 and floodlights 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. These soften 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 control using your phone. 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 the Bluetooth 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 lights pretty much stand on their own, but some LED work lights give you more options. When you need a lot of light in 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. 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!