It hopefully comes as no surprise that the LED light is sounding the death knell for halogen work lights. The thing is, though, energy efficient LEDs are fast becoming the go-to solution for commercial applications and, now, home garage and workshop applications. The Big Ass Garage Light (or “The Garage Light” as they call it) is a compact lighting system that comes with 13,000 lumens of output. That means a single light like this can turn your garage, workshop, or storage shed into a brightly lit space akin to what you’ll find in most halogen-lit warehouse spaces (think The Home Depot or Lowe’s). What’s more, the Big Ass Garage Light (by the way, that really is the name of the light and their logo is a donkey, so don’t assume we’re being crass) has a color temperature of 5000K, so it’s a hare yellower than typical daylight, casting a color that’s easy on the eyes, but still fairly true to “real” white (there’s no such thing as “real” white, unless you figure 6500K sunlight is the determining factor, but you get the idea).
Physical Characteristics of the Big Ass Garage Light
The parent company, Delta T Corp, makes fans and lights of various form factors and sizes. The Garage Light is a smaller lighting system that features a dual row of LEDs that are protected by lumen maintenance trays (LMTs) that not only protect the LEDs from impacts or dust, they also serve to diffuse the light a bit so you don’t see individual LED chips so much as twin bars of light. If you do get some bugs in there, you can simply slide them out and clean them with soap and water…then slide them right back into place. Their larger LED lights have several choices of LMT for different dispersions, but The Big Ass Garage Light comes with a Diffused LMT which gives you a nice, wide 112° light distribution. The result is a bright, but smooth dispersion of light across your work area.
The Garage Light Specs
- SKU: BAL-SHL1-13050104100900
- Dimensions: 23.1″ × 9.2″ × 4.6″ (59 × 23 × 12 cm)
- Color Temperature: 5000k
- Lumen Output: 13,000 lm
- Wattage: 122W
- Efficiency: 114 lumens/watt
- Reliability: L70 predicted to exceed 150,000 hours at 25 C (77 F)
- Lumen Maintenance Tray: Diffuse Only
- Cord Length: 10 ft (3 m) with plug
- Weight: 16 lbs (7.3 kg)
- Warranty: 7-year complete fixture warranty (includes power supply)
Big Ass Garage Lights Installation
We installed two Big Ass Garage Light kits—one in a 12×14 shed and another in the corner of a large 2000 square foot steel building to light a particular corner where we’ve been doing some fabrication and project builds. Both installed quite easily. The Garage Light comes with a rugged eyebolt integrated on each end, and steel S hooks and eyebolts take care of the rest. In the shed we used some chain to drop it down to where we needed it, and in the steel building we used quite a bit more. Steel cable is also a great solution for getting it where you need it. With the 120 degree dispersion/diffusion, these lights cast a very wide net, and you get a remarkable amount of coverage from each fixture. For a light that’s just under 2 feet long and less than a foot wide, The Garage Light put out an astounding amount of lumens (13,000) and takes up very little space. In our shed we replaced a florescent T8 fixture and got over twice the light output in half the space!
The Garage Light is really well built. The back of the light is designed as a giant heat sink, with heavy-duty anodized, extruded aluminum across the entire frame. You get the feeling that the Garage Light can be bumped and knocked around without too many problems. Try that on a florescent lamp-based system and see what happens! While designed for hanging, you can also order the Big Ass Garage Light with wall and column mounts to give you more options.
The Garage Light vs Florescent Fixtures
What really impressed us about these lights was the amount of light you get out of them vs the energy consumed. Forget about halogen or incandescent lighting—but even against fluorescents, the Big Ass Garage Light wins on specs over time. Let’s do some quick math:
The Garage Light
- Lumens: 13,000 lm
- Color temp: 5000K
- Power consumption: 122W
- Load/current: 1.0A
- Lifespan: 150,000 hours
Florescent T8x4 fixture = 11,200 lumens = 128W = 1.0A load
- Lumens: 11,200 lm (2800 lm x 4)
- Color temp: 4100K
- Power consumption: 128W
- Load/current: 1.0A
- Lifespan: 25,000 hours
I don’t want to argue with the engineers who come up with calculations on how long florescent bulbs last, but I have yet to find one that lasts the amount of hours specified by the manufacturer. It seems like every 2-3 years I’m replacing them…and fiddling with them about 5X that amount as they twist and fail to properly make contact and stay lit. On top of that, ballasts stop working, and the fragility of the system leaves a lot to be desired (hit one with a piece of EMT and you’ll understand what I mean). Energy efficiency of LED vs halogen, metal halide, and incandescents can’t be argued. For florescent shop lights they’re at least in the ball park when it comes to T8 quad fixtures. Where you really see systems like The Garage Light pull away, however, is in the longevity of the LED lamps. 150,000 hours is long enough to run your shop for 8 hours a day…for 51 years straight! (You can add even more years if you plan to take weekends off.) And, that’s not a half-life number, either. The specs for the Big Ass Garage Light claims you’ll see 70% of the initial light output at 150,000 hours. That’s nothing short of amazing. If you want to install a light that will last longer than you’re likely to own your garage or workshop—this is it.
I ordered my Garage Light with an occupancy sensor. While you probably wouldn’t want this for a multiple light installation in a larger shop or garage, this is a great feature for a small workshop or shed. The sensor lets you set it for sensitivity to ambient light (so it doesn’t turn on in broad daylight) and gives you the ability to set a 30 second to 30 minute shut off delay. It exists as a dome-protected sensor at the bottom center of the light and has two trimpots that let you set the light level and time delay. There’s about a minute delay when you first turn it on—the sensor needs time to warm-up. What that means is that you always want power going to the light once you configure everything to your needs. That way, you don’t engage the delay every time you flip the switch. If you want a switch to control your lights, then go for the model without the sensor—they’ll come on instantly.
With the occupancy sensor set, the Big Ass Garage Light turned on immediately in my shed—every time. It’s the most convenient feature in a light I can think of, and it’s been fairly foolproof. For $40, it’s a no-brainer option for those who can use it.
You can pick up the Big Ass garage Light for $399 ($439 with occupancy sensor). Is that a lot of money? Yes, particularly when compared to a $50 florescent lighting fixture. But, if you wanted to look long-term, you could figure on saving yourself the hassle of repeated florescent bulb replacements every few years. Plus, if your lights are spread out and located in a high bay shop, that’s a significant amount of man-hours and hassle you’re doing away with. I also just like this light. It gives a nice even throw, and it lights up my shop and shed unlike any of my former T8 systems. Since I spend so much time in there, it’s not a hard sell to make sure my lighting is excellent. I can highly recommend this light.