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Best shop light 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated January 1, 2020
Best shop light of 2018
There’s a product for every kind of user on the list of affordable options below. Many brands have introduced shop light on the market. These brands have resulted in a variety for the user. These require that the consumers be well aware of what they are buying so as to make the best choice.
I browse the various shop light available on the market and list three of the very best. Come with me.
Test Results and Ratings
Why did this shop light win the first place?
The rear part fits perfectly! It is mounted really tight and reliable. I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch!
Why did this shop light come in second place?
This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office. I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money. Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed.
№3 – Hykolity 4ft 36 Watt Integrated LED Shop Light Hanging Garage Lamp 82+ CRI 3600 Lumens 5000K Daylight White 64 Watt Fluorescent Equivalent-Pack of 4
Why did this shop light take third place?
It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment. This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. We are very pleased with the purchase — the product is great! It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time.
shop light Buyer’s Guide
CNET’s LED Buying Guide makes sense of the light bulb…
It’s been more than years since Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 200(EISA). In doing so, they put the age of inefficient incandescent lighting on notice. The law mandated strict new energy standards designed to kick-start a new era of greener, longer-lasting, more cost-efficient light bulbs — and that meant kicking outdated, inefficient bulbs to the curb.
The rising standards have already long rendered 100W and 75W incandescents obsolete, and in 2014, their 60W and 40W cousins met the same fate. Congressional budget waffling briefly seemed to put the new standards on hold, but it was largely too late — the industry had already moved on, and wasn’t interested in reversing course.
After lumens, the next concept you’ll want to understand is color temperature. Measured on the Kelvin scale, color temperature isn’t really a measure of heat. Instead, it’s a measure of the color that a light source produces, ranging from yellow on the low end of the scale to bluish on the high end, with whitish light in the middle.
An easy way to keep track of color temperature is to think of a flame: it starts out yellow and orange, but when it gets really hot, it turns blue. You could also think of color temperature in terms of the sun — low, yellowy color temperatures mimic the tone of light at sunrise or sunset, while hotter, more bluish-white color temperatures are more akin to daylight (sure enough, bulbs with color temperatures like these are commonly called “daylight” bulbs). This is also why a lot of people prefer high color temperatures during the day and lower color temperatures in the morning and evening. Some smart bulbs can even shift back and forth throughout the day.
Generally speaking, incandescents sit at the bottom of the scale with their yellow light, while CFLs and LEDs have long been thought to tend toward the high, bluish end of the spectrum. This has been a steady complaint about new lighting alternatives, as many people prefer the warm, familiar, low color temperature of incandescents. Manufacturers are listening, though, and in this case they heard consumers loud and clear, with more and more low-color-temperature CFL and LED options hitting the shelves. Don’t believe me? Take another look at those two paper lamps in the picture above, because they’re both CFL bulbs — from the same manufacturer, no less.
Sylvania often color codes its packaging. Blue indicates a hot, bluish color temperature, while the lighter shade indicates a white, more neutral light.
As you’re probably aware, light bulbs come in a fairly wide variety of shapes. Sure, it’s easy enough to tell a hardware store clerk that you want “one of those flamey-looking lights,” or “just a normal ol’ bulby light bulb,” but knowing the actual nomenclature might save you some time.
Your automated-lighting options
It used to be that if you wanted your lights to turn on and off automatically, then you had to rely on a cheap wall socket timer, the kind you might use to control a Christmas tree. These days, it’s easier than ever to dive into the sort of advanced automation controls that can make any home feel modern and futuristic. Use the right devices, and you’ll be able to control your lights in all sorts of creative ways, and make your life a little bit easier in the process.
The most obvious way to get started with smart lighting is with the bulbs themselves. You’ve got plenty of intelligent options from brands both big and small, and to find the one that’s best for you, you’re going to need to understand what sets them apart.
The first thing to look at is how the bulbs communicate with you. Some offer direct connections with your smart phone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, which makes setup as simple as screwing the thing in and following the in-app pairing instructions.
Cree Connected LED and the
GE Link LED, cost a lot less up front, but don’t come with their own gateways — that means you’ll need a compatible third-party hub in order to control them.
If you’re looking for a little more color in your life, then be sure and take a look at a product like the Philips Hue Starter Kit. Aside from being fully automatable via a mobile app and control hub, the Hue LED bulbs are capable of on-demand color changes. Just pull out your phone, select one of millions of possible shades, and the light will match it. And if you’re into voice control, Hue bulbs hit the compatibility trifecta — they’ll work with Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant.
Because Philips opened its lighting controls to third-party developers, you’ll also find lots of fun novelty uses for Hue bulbs, like changing the color of your lights in rhythm with whatever music you’re playing. There’s even an app that’ll sync your Hue lights up with certain TV programming. Philips plans to double down on the idea in a big way this year.
Hue lights are also directly compatible with the popular web service IFTTT, with recipes already available that will change the color of your lights to match the weather, or to signal a touchdown from your favorite football team or even to indicate when your stocks are doing well.
Pros & Cons of LED Light
CFL stands for compact fluorescent lighting, which is simply a smaller version of a fluorescent tube. CFL bulbs contain a mercury vapor that lights when it is energized. Because CFLs contain mercury, they must be disposed of carefully, at designated drop-off site (Home Depot, Lowes, recycling centers, etc). An average CFL bulb should last 7,000 hours.
Pros & Cons of Incandescent Light
Incandescent light is an electric process that produces light with a wire filament that is heated to a high temperature by an electric current which runs through it. This is the type of lighting which was the standard in homes up until the 1990’s. Due to its poor energy efficiency, it is being replaced with the newer technology of LED and CFL bulbs. Incandescent bulbs last roughly 1,000 hours.
Pros & Cons of Halogen Light
Similar to incandescent light bulbs, halogen bulbs use a similar electric-filament technology with one important difference; with incandescents the filament degrades via evaporation over time whereas, with halogens, filament evaporation is prevented by a chemical process that redeposits metal vapor onto the filament, thereby extending its life. Halogen bulbs have a lifespan of roughly 3,000 hours.
Color Temperature & Lighting Color temperature is a characteristic of visible light. The temperature of light refers to its warmness or coolness, or hue. This temperature is measured using the Kelvin scale, which for most use ranges from 2,700°-7,500°K. Incandescent and halogen lighting are the most limited in the temperature range at 2,700°-3,000°K. LED and CFL have each expanded their color range to now offering warmer options. Most task lighting, however, benefits from cooler lighting options which include LED, full spectrum, and CFL.
The distribution of light on a flat surface is called its illumination and is measured in footcandles. A footcandle of illumination is a lumen of light spread over a one square foot area.
The illumination needed varies according to the difficulty of a visual task. Ideal illumination is the minimum footcandles necessary to allow you to perform a task comfortably and efficiently without eyestrain or fatigue. According to the Illuminating Engineering Society, illumination of 30 to 50 footcandles is needed for most home and office work. Intricate and lengthy visual tasks — like sewing — require 200 to 500 footcandles.
1,000-1,400 Lumens is a commonly accepted range for most applications of task lighting. An average of 50 Lumens per square foot is a common measure. efficacy. Efficacy is the ratio of light output from a lamp to the electric power it uses and is measured in lumens per watt.
Demystifying LED Light
The reading area should have a bright task lamp. A bright desk lamp can prevent eye strain which is helpful in preventing eye damage in the long run. With bright task lamps in the reading area, you can keep headaches away. Thus, you will surely enjoy reading as well as other activities like writing letters or completing puzzles.
Your kitchen is another part of the home that requires task lighting. The dangerous nature of the activities you do in your kitchen is reason enough to get additional task lighting. More importantly, you need enough light to read recipes and to see the ingredients as they cook as well as other practical things. For kitchens, common task lighting fixtures are under cabinet lights that provide extra illumination to supplement the ambient light.
LED vs. CFL vs. Halogen
Now that most incandescent lightbulbs are pretty much a thing of the past, consumers now must choose between LED (light-emitting diode), CFL (compact fluorescent), and halogen bulbs to light their homes. But which is the best option? It all depends on your needs. We’ll take you through the various kinds of lighting, and the benefits that each offers.
LEDs vs. Incandescent Bulbs
Traditional incandescent bulbs measured their brightness in watts; if you wanted a brighter bulb, you bought one with a higher wattage. However, with the advent of LEDs and other types of lighting, that yardstick has become meaningless, and as a result, a bulb’s brightness is now listed as lumens, which is a more accurate measurement of how bright it is, rather than how much energy it consumes. Below is a conversion table which shows how much energy, in watts, an incandescent bulb and an LED typically require to produce the same amount of light.
Other Lightbulb Alternatives
EISA will also stop the manufacturing of candle-and globe-shaped 60-watt incandescent bulbs (the types used in chandeliers and bathroom vanity light fixtures). However, the law doesn’t affect 40-watt versions of those bulbs, nor three-way (50 to 100 to 150-watt) incandescent A1bulbs. So, those will continue to be an option for you, as well, in fixtures that will accommodate them.
LED Lightbulb Options
Traditional bulbs for table and floor lamps are known by their lighting industry style name “A19,”while floodlight bulbs made for track lights and in-ceiling fixtures are dubbed “BR30.” Your best long-term alternative to either style is extremely energy-efficient LED technology.
The LED equivalent of a 60-watt A1bulb consumes only between and 1watts, and provides about the same light output, measured in lumens. A 40-watt equivalent LED bulb consumes only to 8.watts. And a 65-watt BR30 (floodlight) replacement LED bulb consumes only to 1watts.
For example, GE’s equivalent LED bulb has a rated lifetime of 15,000 hours or 13.years. Philips’ equivalent LED bulb has a rated lifetime of 10,000 hours or 9.1years.
LED bulbs will continue to light up even after their rated lifetimes expire; however, brightness may drop or the color cast of the light may change.
GE, Philips, Sylvania, Cree and other brands (including IKEA) all offer LED bulbs that output the most popular “soft white” light, at retailers including Home Depot, Target and Walmart. In addition, GE ‘s Reveal lineup of color-enhancing lightbulbs (a coating filters out yellow tones to enhance colors lit by the bulb) with LED replacements equivalent to 40-watt and 60-watt A1bulbs and to a 65-watt BR30 bulb.
Bike lights explained
Lights that make you seen can greatly improve your visibility to road users when riding at night. They ensure that car drivers can see you from a distance and be alerted to your presence. Almost all bicycle lights use LED bulbs as they are more reliable and use much less battery power, whilst also offering much higher levels of brightness. Used in flashing mode, they are very good at attracting attention from other road users.
Multi-Shade with Bar
You can have multi-shade lights with 2, 3, 4, or even shades on it. They often hang from a chain or a rod, which is adjustable to the desired length. Since these lights typically hang from more than one chain / rod, they offer better weight distribution from its hanging point.
Best of all, the TP-Link bulbs don’t require any sort of smart hub to function, so there’s no need to buy a starter kit or pay extra for a hub – once you buy a bulb, that’s it, making these an especially good choice for anyone who only wants one or two smart lights, and not a whole house worth.
All of the bulbs other than the cheapest LB100 model also come with energy monitoring, so you can see how much energy you’ve used and plan your usage accordingly.
Connectivity is reliable, with only one brief network drop in our testing time, and our biggest complaint is that at just 800 lumens these aren’t the brightest bulbs around – but they should be enough to suit most uses.
Lightwave is a smart lighting solution that’s a bit different to the others in this round-up, since it requires you to replace your light switches rather than the light bulbs themselves. It is ideal for homes with multiple spotlights that would otherwise be incredibly expensive to individually replace, and also means that when one bulb blows you can just buy a regular replacement. Sadly, it’s UK-only for now.
The Web Link will also manage other smart home devices from the company – you can set up devices that control your hot water and individual room heating, motion detection, and the opening and closing of blinds or curtains. You can also install smart switches on your plug sockets that allow you to turn on and off power when required.
Lightwave has a companion app through which you can turn on and off the switches from your phone or tablet, and through which you can set up schedules or timers that are ideal if you are going on holiday.
Elgato Avea Flare
You create ‘rules’ for the lamps to work and these can be for them to turn on and off at sunset and sunrise, or at times you choose. They can be individually named and controlled, and you can even set a dimming period so the lamp fades in to your set brightness over a few minutes (or even up to 30 minutes). You can also define a sleep period, so the bulb will turn off after a set time, just like a TV or radio.
Features of a mountain bike light
Lamp body (head unit): This houses the LEDs, the lens in front, the reflectors behind, the circuitry that makes it all work and the fins or ribs that radiate away as much heat as possible.
LEDs: Most lights now use LEDs (light emitting diodes), because they produce more light for less power than a conventional bulb and are far less fragile than HID lamps. Technological advances mean performance has leapt forward in the past few years and each new season brings significant upgrades.
Optics: The reflector and lens in front affect how the light is thrown down the trail. Focused spot beams are great for seeing a long way for a given output; wide flood beams give good peripheral vision.
Mount/bracket: How you attach the light to your bike. Most mounts use clips and spacers but O-rings are a great simple solution. If you are thinking of using a helmet mounted light, you need a lamp that’s light enough to be comfortable and secure on your lid, rather than a neck snapper. You’ll need an extension cable and helmet mount too, so check if that’s included or an optional extra.
Battery: The bit that powers the light. Lighter, tougher, far more random charge resistant lithium ion (Li-Ion) chargeable batteries have revolutionised mountain bike lighting compared with older lead acid and NiMH batteries — but battery and lamp efficiencies still vary dramatically. Most brands sell extra batteries (often at a discount if bought with the light) so you can always swap halfway. Check your batteries are properly prepared for maximum performance (this should be in the instructions) and take a back-up until you know you can rely on their run times.
Switchgear: The switch not only turns the light on, but also lets you change power output levels. It needs to be easy to operate while riding, even with gloves on, but hard to operate accidentally. Many lights now use backlit switches that double as mode and/or run time indicators using traffic-light-style colour changes. Switchgears now range from a simple push button sequential mode switch with low battery warning light to wireless bar-mounted units or switches that can also change the different output levels and menus.
Head or bars
Most lights come with both bar and helmet mounting options. Which is better comes down to personal preference, but here are the pros and cons of each.
The result — it’s a draw! In reality the best solution is to use helmet and bar-mounted lights, even if you have to buy lower powered units to afford both. It also means you have a backup should one battery die.
Being stuck on a wet winter’s night, miles from anywhere with a failed light or everything suddenly going pitch black halfway down a technical descent is a really serious matter. That’s why we take our lights testing extremely seriously.
There’s no substitute for time on trail in all weathers to find out this crucial stuff — and we’re not just talking about lights used in the past few months. We also reference the sets we’ve run long-term to get in-depth, worst case use feedback that’s directly relevant to the riding you do.
The science side
As is often the case with mountain biking, the scientific part of the testing is the easiest bit. Lights (lamp body plus handlebar bracket) and batteries are weighed on our scales.
We then measure the useful maximum power run time (to when the output fades and low battery warning lights come on) with pre-conditioned (used and recharged) batteries in the highest power setting on an air cooled rig to mimic the cooling effect of riding at night. We also measure the maximum casing heat of the lights with a thermal probe to see if any get dangerously hot.
This method does favour spot beams over flood beams, but it’s still a more trail translatable measurement than the lumen potential of LEDs. The coverage, density and other specific characteristics of the beam are often more important than the peak brightness though, so we also take beam photos to make it easier to compare the lights.
The practical side
It’s the feedback we get from real world usage that really sorts out often very similar lamps in terms of trail performance. When it comes to our test conditions we’re talking serious sorties, often two or three times a week all year round in every trail condition imaginable. Baked hard river bed runs that’ll shake a poor bracket or fragile circuit board apart in seconds or leave a badly bagged battery hanging by its lead; sub-zero tundra trudges that freeze a battery to horribly low maximum power run times; drownings in downpours and hip-deep bog crashes.
Most of our lights have seen it all and, if the most recent versions have only been hammered through summer, we’ve certainly put the models preceding them through the most testing ride schedule possible. Repeated group riding, bike switching, recharging and battery flattening gives us the perfect comparative testing cluster too, so any failures or fading is immediately obvious rather than going unnoticed in isolation.
In other words, if a light scores well, you know it’s gone through some proper optical and electrical purgatory to prove itself. For that reason, for all of our latest lights testing we’ve deliberately stuck with established (at least a year old) lights manufacturers to ensure anything we recommend is a fully supported product.
A non-standard downrod is used when the ceiling height is greater than feet. See our downrod sizing guide to determine which length you will need for your ceiling height.
A sloped application is intended for room where the ceiling slants at 3degrees or higher. The fan installs into the ceiling with the use of an adapter, like this Modern Fan sloped ceiling adapter.
Lastly, look for a ceiling fan with a blade span that matches the room’s square footage and height. If you choose a fan that is too small for the space, it will struggle to move air. If you choose a fan that is too large for the space, not only will be off putting, but it will waste too much energy.
Sizing Tips: Here are some additional dimensions to consider when you buy a ceiling fan a new ceiling fan.
CEILING FAN LIGHTS
To add lighting or not to add lighting, that is the question. Choosing a ceiling fan with lighting is a matter of personal preference. If you plan to install the fan in a space with good natural lighting or sufficient light fixtures, buy a ceiling fan without a light kit.
If the space could use a boost of general lighting, choose a ceiling fan with a light kit. Today’s fans offer a range of lighting sources, including halogen, fluorescent, and LEDs.
Fluorescent light sources use 7percent less energy than incandescent light sources and have an average lifespan of 10,000 hours. Ceiling fans with CFL bulbs emit cool or warm lighting.
LED light sources consume very little energy and have an average lifespan of 50,000 hours. These ceiling fans with energy-efficient bulbs emit cool or warm lighting.
Antique Ceiling Fan Designs
Antique and vintage style ceiling fans complement traditional and vintage home decors. They often feature decorative filigree and scrollwork on the motor housing and blade brackets. Many light kits include a warm globe light. To achieve a vintage-inspired look, buy a ceiling fan that features an antique-style and pair it with American Empire furniture, floral prints and textiles, and warm brass and copper finishes. A warm pastel palette ties the space together.
Contemporary Ceiling Fans
Contemporary ceiling fans are a great addition to any modern and transitional space. The modern style ceiling fans feature clean lines, smooth metallic finishes, and minimal adornment. Buy a ceiling fan with a contemporary feel and pair it with casual contemporary furniture (avoid wood carving and adornments), natural textiles such as cotton, linen or wool, and chrome, nickel or stainless steel hardware. A bold color palette and geometric accents bring the look together.
Rustic Ceiling Fans
Rustic ceiling fans pair well with country, mission and western interiors. These rustic-inspired ceiling fans feature straight lines and dark wood finishes with homespun accents. To achieve this look, buy a ceiling fan with a rustic look and pair it with lodge-style furniture, checkered or striped prints, handmade accents, such as baskets, carved wooden bowls, and pottery, and hand-forged metal accents. Soft, muted colors, rough hewn wood and hand-forged metal accents round out this look.
Tropical Ceiling fans
Tropical ceiling fans complement coastal, island, and nautical home interiors. The island-inspired fans feature bamboo, natural palm leaf, and rattan blades with distressed wood finishes. To achieve this look, buy a ceiling fan with a tropical feel and pair it with rattan furniture, bright colors and natural patterns, tropical flowers and plants, and handcrafted items.
CEILING FAN EFFICIENCY & AIRFLOW
Ceiling Fans with Remote Control
The handheld remote control offers the most convenience of all the fan control options. The lightweight and portable control operated within a 30 to 50-foot range, making it ideal for high ceiling fans and hard to reach places. Handheld remote control ceiling fans are also ideal for bedrooms.
The fan speed wall control option allows you to operate the fan speed, direction and lighting with the press of a button. The stationary remote has a range up to 40 feet, making it ideal for families with kids. A wall control is ideal for kitchens, dining rooms, living rooms and multipurpose rooms.
Led Light For A Garage Or Workshop
The Big Ass Light is a new product that uses the latest in LED technology to deliver high quality light in a compact 23.1”x9.18” housing. Instead of installing a few big fluorescent light fixtures, that really don’t produce a good light color output, a two car garage only requires two of the LED light fixtures from Big Ass Lights. You heard right, Big Ass Light suggests that you only need one of their fixtures for each car bay of your garage; of course it never hurts to add more.
Installing a Big Ass Light is as simple as can be in both new and existing buildings. It comes with a 10-foot cord to reach the nearest outlet and two s-hooks for hanging to ceiling joists. I have mine plugged into a switched outlet, but they also offer a motion activated sensor option that can completely eliminate the need for a power switch.
After more than 50 hours of research and interviews with five experts—including one who designed plant lighting for Antarctica and the moon—I can say that the Hydrofarm Commercial T2FT Tube Fixture is economical, is low-maintenance, runs cool in small spaces, and provides bright light for stout plants. It’s the one we would buy if we were starting seeds indoors.
We’ve confirmed that our picks are still good and available, and have rewritten parts of this guide to match our current style. Our research shows that these recommendations will continue to be solid, so we won’t be monitoring this guide as closely going forward.
For growing greens
Go with a setup like this if you plan on growing leafy greens like lettuce, kale, spinach, and herbs indoors.
Lettuce farmers and those who grow other greens are a special case. Growing a plant to maturity indoors requires far more photons than sprouting a seedling. If you’re thinking of attempting indoor lettuce, kale, spinach, herbs, or other leafy things, you need stronger stuff than a T5, which simply won’t give you enough photons in a day. Go directly to a setup with two Fluence RAY22 lights, and don’t look back. If you’re on a budget, and junglelike growth is not a priority, Hydrofarm’s Fluorescent Grow Light Fixture will get the job done. But because they only go up to a DLI of (or if you run them at least 2hours a day) your seedlings will be a bit anemic, and will grow up to about ½-inch high at most.
How we picked and tested
Flaws but not dealbreakers
As mentioned earlier, the Hydrofarm Commercial Twill not bring your tabletop greens to their full potential. If you keep this light on 2hours a day, you’ll still only get a DLI of 9—considerably below the DLI of 1that greenhouse growers consider necessary for producing lettuce, herbs, spinach, and other greens. If you’re hankering for leafy greens, read on to see our choice for lettuce farmers below.
The Sun Blaze is a good runner-up if our main pick is unavailable. It’s essentially the same light, but there’s less information on its long-term performance.
The Sun Blaze F24T5-HO Fluorescent Grow Light Fixture is more or less an exact replica of the Hydrofarm Commercial T5, but there’s slightly less information available about its long-term performance. If our pick is sold out, or if you can get the Sun Blaze for cheaper, it’s a good bet.
The lamps higher than 200 watts were obviously overkill. They’re designed to light a 3’ by 3’ area, produce a DLI of in three hours, and need to be suspended at least 2inches over seedlings according to this Sunlight Supply Information Sheet. I eliminated the (now unavailable) G8LED 240 Watt LED Grow Light, the Horizon Grow Light Kit, and the ViaVolt 250 Watt HPS Grow Light Fixture. That left three low-wattage HPS fixtures: Horizon Grow Light Kit (now unavailable), Hydrofarm SBM150S, and the Sun System 150 Watt HPS Reflector, Ballast and Bulb.
Some Tfluorescent fixtures are a little different from our main picks, but they aren’t any better. The 2-foot Flora Hydroponics Fluorescent Grow Light System has the same features as the Lights of America Tfixture, but comes with bulbs that have a light temperature of 5000 K, not 41000 K like Lights of America, which means that light will look slightly bluer. If that matters to you, go ahead and spend a bit more on this light, but don’t expect your plants to notice the difference. If you still haven’t spent enough money on Tbulbs, you could choose to buy “full spectrum” T1grow bulbs, which will fit into the same fixture, such as the Agrosun T1or an Agrobrite 24-inch 20-watt T1bulb. I’m sure they’re charming, but they’ll only get you to a maximum DLI of if you leave a two-bulb fixture on for 2hours a day less than a foot away from little leaves. That’s enough light to raise ferns, African violets, and orchids, but seedlings of other species won’t live up to their full potential. If you have a little more to spend on bulbs and a fixture, you should just give up lattes for the week, save up, and buy the Hydrofarm Commercial T5 instead.
LEDs shoot out photons at single wavelengths, not across a spectrum.
1) LEDs shoot out photons at single wavelengths, not across a spectrum.
Bugs can’t see the leaves as well if you leave out near-red and green spectrum lights, Harwood said, and some diseases and funguses are inhibited if you leave out certain spectra as well. “White” LEDs are actually groups of three or more single-wavelength LEDs put together to make light that looks white to humans—and to make your plants look like they belong on Earth instead of Pandora.
The second point—that LEDs can’t deliver as many photons per watt for a given area—is partly due to the state of technology.
The light plants need
Grow lights exist to get photons to plants. Unfortunately, it’s extremely hard to tell if a grow light will do that from the information retailers list on their web sites. Listings commonly say something like “Lumen output rated up to 8000” or “6400 K bulb” or “280 Watts Super Bright Output.” None of these statements really tell you what to know: How many photons will get to your plants’ leaves.
As you may remember from high school physics, light is a type of electromagnetic radiation that acts as both a wave and a particle. Light comes in different wavelengths, and the wavelengths that humans can see (called the visible spectrum) roughly measure between 400 and 700 nanometers. Make the wavelengths shorter—say, 350 nanometers—and you’ll get ultraviolet radiation, which humans can’t see, but is visible to bees, birds, fish, some amphibians, reptiles, and cats. Make the wavelengths slightly longer (700 nm-mm) and you’ll get infrared radiation. Some snakes, insects, and bats seem to be able to perceive infrared radiation, but not with their eyes—they have special heat-sensing organs.
Regarding the last question, if you’ll be handling your own lighting during performances, features such as remote control, foot pedal control, and programmability will be important considerations.
LED vs. Conventional Lighting Fixtures
Inexpensive LED fixtures typically have smaller, low-power LEDs while larger, high-end fixtures are equipped with one-watt or three-watt diodes for much more impact. Smaller LEDs are often designated by their sizes—typically 5mm or 10mm. A 10mm diode is proportionately much brighter than a 5MM LED.
Strobe and Laser Effects
Strobe effects use a pulsing white light beam to create a visual stuttering effect similar to viewing old-time films. They’re very popular in dance clubs and are available with both traditional filament bulbs as well as LEDs in a range of power levels to match various venues. You can choose from standalone models or DMX-controlled strobes that can be programmed with custom patterns. Sound-activated models can create a particularly exciting ambience on the dancefloor. Note that many LED PAR cans and effects lighting fixtures include strobing functions that may be adequate for your needs.
Laser effects produce very intense single-color beams and often include built-in display programs as well as sound-activated functions using a built-in mic. Motorized units allow scanning and burst effects, and the inclusion of gobos can create patterned laser beams. More advanced laser effect fixtures can produce 3-D effects and detailed backdrops, skyscapes, and much more. Lasers are especially effective when used in conjunction with fog machines.
Black Lights and UV Lights
These fixtures are a simple, low-cost way to add a special ambience to performance spaces and other venues. They enhance the appearance of white and fluorescent colors in darkened spaces creating a ghostly glow. Black lights are available in standard fluorescent tube and incandescent bulb formats that use standard lighting fixtures as well as newly developed LED fixtures.
PAR Can Lighting Fixtures
These lights are a staple of stage and live-sound lighting. These basic fixtures have a metal housing, mounting bracket, reflector, and socket that can accept a variety of different lamp types. They’re often used in large numbers to illuminate certain performers or stage areas and are usually mounted on overhead trusses. They do not offer a true hard-edge beam; the width of the beam is determined by the shape and positioning of the PAR can’s reflector.
PAR cans come in a wide range of sizes and are identified by their diameters in eighths of an inch. A PAR64, for example, has an 8″ diameter (because 6eighths of an inch equals 8″). Most include a holder allowing colored gels to be mounted in front of the lens.
Note that PAR3lamps are sometimes designated as simply SP (Spot) or FL (Flood).
The power requirements of PAR cans with incandescent lamps can add up fast. Those for smaller stages are typically in the 75-150 watt range. PAR3cans typically run between 50-150 watts. PAR46s usually have 200-watt lamps, PAR56s usually range from 300-500 watts, and PAR 64s range from 500-1000 watts. This is where the LED technology really shines (pun intended). They not only use a fraction of the power required by incandescent fixtures, but also reduce the number of fixtures needed in order to create a wide range of color options.
A common lighting setup for bands involves the use of a pair of light trees on either side of the stage, each holding enough PAR3cans with spot lamps and amber or light pink gels to light each frontline band member. Drummers are usually lit from the back and sides. Mounting the light trees to the tops of your main speakers is a space-saving strategy.
PAR cans and other lighting fixtures that have a double-yoke support system are something to look for if you want maximum placement flexibility. Double yokes allow mounting the fixture from a truss or placing it on a floor, speaker, or stage without a separate mount.
The Thinpar6from Venue uses 100 bright LEDS to generate intense static or pulsing colors plus sound-activated and automated programs with master/slave or DMX-controlled operation.
Dimmer and Switch Packs
PAR cans with incandescent lamps require dimmer packs to control them. They operate in the same way household dimmer switches function, allowing you to set the relative brightness of connected lights. Most small bands and DJs use satellite dimmer packs with several channels that are typically mounted to the T-Bar or truss holding the PAR cans. The cans are plugged into the dimmer and they’re connected to a DMX controller. Dimmer packs are available with various numbers of channels, and some include built-in programs or chases.
Some units offer both dimmer and switch capabilities. Switches only provide on/off functions, and should be be used on LED and non-DMX effects fixtures to avoid shortening their life.
Lighting and Effects Packages
On the Musician’s Friend website you’ll find affordable lighting and effects packages that range from economical multi-PAR can packs to full systems that include a complete set of stage lighting and effects fixtures plus a controller, stands, and cables—everything needed to light your show. Aside from the savings these packs offer, you can be sure each fixture is compatible and designed to maximize the overall visual impact of your performance.
Non-DMX lighting fixtures have their own on-board controllers. Many such fixtures are designed to react to sound picked up through an internal microphone. Sound-activated fixtures usually include settings allowing the unit to create effects when insufficient or no sound is present.
Selectable, built-in programs allow you to automate non-DMX fixture operation—an advantage for bands and DJs who handle their own lighting. Fixtures in this category with incandescent lamps are often manufactured to operate for a specified period of time before they must be turned off, which may make it necessary to use multiple fixtures to create a continuous show. Look for the duty-cycle specification to determine if a specific model makes sense for your needs. This is another advantage of LED fixtures—they have no duty-cycle limitations. Examples of common non-DMX lighting include beam effects, flower effects, and gobo projectors.
DMX Lighting Fixtures
Also called intelligent lighting, these fixtures can be controlled via DMX-51controllers or interfaces. A DMX controller allows you to program stage lighting and effects remotely, ideal when you want complete control of the look and timing of lighting effects. DMX fixtures offer more control attributes or “traits” than non-DMX fixtures.
DMX-51is the communication/cabling protocol that most entertainment lights and controllers use to communicate with each other. DMX acts like a post office. For control, you assign an address between and 51However, unlike your house, which only has one address, your fixture needs a number assigned to each of its channels. A 6-channel DMX fixture uses addresses, or channels on a controller. Each channel on the fixture handles a specific control attribute such as pan, tilt, color, etc.
Controllers run the gamut from simple non-DMX switchboxes and relay packs that allow you to power multiple lighting and sound channels to highly sophisticated DMX units that provide control over every aspect of multiple lighting systems composed of hundreds of DMX-compatible fixtures. Some simpler controllers have a dedicated purpose such as controlling specific effects such as strobes or fog machines. Some controller models allow foot control—a great feature for solo acts and small bands who control their lights in realtime during performance.
The basics of DMX controller operation are generally quite simple. Each slider on the controller corresponds to a channel on the fixture being controlled. DMX fixtures have specific values that correspond to their various control settings such as color, gobo, pan, tilt, strobe speed, etc. By moving a slider on the controller to a specific value, the fixture follows suit. The various control values of each button or slider used to create an overall effect can be saved into a “scene”, which triggers the specific action or state you set. The scene is then saved into a memory bank. Numerous scenes can be combined into an entire program, which, for example, can be synchronized with cues for a show. This is called a “chase.” Chases can be adjusted via a myriad of input functions, depending on the controller being used. Examples of control triggers include MIDI and clock/calendar events.
Software-Based DMX Control
As with software-based audio recording and performance functions, there is a revolution in progress involving a shift in lighting control from hardware-based controllers to PC software and mobile device apps. That said, also as with audio functions, there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches.
Dedicated hardware lighting controllers with physical sliders, buttons, switches, and legible displays offer intuitive and tactile control and workflow without delving deeply into menus and mastering steep software learning curves. On the other hand, software-based lighting control offers enormous control potential with nearly unlimited creativity in designing elaborate lighting programs. Software may also be more affordable route.
The compact Chauvet Xpress 51Controller and USB Interface works with Windows or Mac computers and gives you powerful software-based control over an unlimited number of shows.
Many hardware lighting controllers come bundled with their own proprietary software and/or are compatible with other lighting software. Deciding which approach to lighting is right for your needs comes down to the complexity of your lighting and your willingness to master sophisticated lighting programming.
The Elation Show Designer 2CF DMX Controller offers 102channels of controls and has a huge fixture library for simplified effects programming.
DMX Controller Features and Specs
Number of channels: Much like calculating the connections needed on an audio mixer, count the number of devices and each device’s number of channels in coming up with an adequate channel count. You’ll of course want to allow some additional capacity for future needs too.
Number of channels per fixture: Some fixtures have many control attributes or parameters. If you plan to include such fixtures in your lighting system, a controller that can handle up to 3channels per fixture will make sense. However, if your system will be largely comprised of simpler effect fixtures and PAR cans, a smaller, DJ-type controller is likely to be adequate.
Number of programmable scenes: As noted above, a scene is a set of control values or slider positions that can be saved for instant recall. Some controllers allow scenes to be saved on external memory devices while software-compatible controllers offer scene storage and editing on external computers or tablets.
Number of programmable shows: A complete sequence of chases and other settings that comprise a complete performance that can be saved and recalled.
Fixture libraries: These collections of fixture profiles streamline the process of setting attributes and functions.
Tap/sync: This function allows the operator to sync lighting effects with the music by tapping in the tempo.
Joystick/trackball controls: These make tilt/pan and other positional functions easier to control.
Keyboard input: Allows connection of a computer keyboard for faster programming and naming of scenes, chases, and shows.
MIDI I/O and control: Allows control of the lighting system with a MIDI-enabled pedalboard, keyboard or other controller—a valuable feature for performers and DJs who control their lights in realtime. MIDI in and out connectors also facilitate programming on external computers and other MIDI-compatible devices.
USB Connectivity/Software-based DMX control: A USB connector plus MIDI implementation opens up a world of control possibilities using PC software and/or mobile apps to program and control your lighting.
Wireless operation: Some DMX controllers are compatible with wireless adapters so as to deal with situation where very long cable runs would otherwise be needed. Such systems have a wireless transmitter at the controller and receivers located near lighting fixtures. These systems convert DMX control messages to radio frequencies at the transmitter then convert the signal back to DMX signals at the receivers which are connected to the fixtures.
Each fixture produces output at a specific beam angle, which denotes the width of beam being produced. Assuming that you have two fixtures with the same wattage lamps, the fixture with the smaller beam angle will appear brighter. This is because the same amount of light is being focused into a smaller area. In addition, because a smaller beam angle creates a more focused and intense projection, the light can be placed further from the subject being illuminated. The larger (wider) the beam angle of a fixture, the larger the area that can be covered by the unit.
Fixtures should also be placed in proximity to the subject based on output. Lights that have a lower output need to be placed closer to the subject than a high-output fixture in order to be perceived as having the same brightness.
Having a combination of wash and spot fixtures illuminating an area will greatly enhance the look of any show. By using contrasting colors, the spots will pop out more, appearing brighter within the wash effect than if used alone.
Assigning Effects and Programming Shows
The key to good lighting design is to mix and match fixtures and tones to create a desired mood and effect. When programming, use color schemes that complement or contrast with one another, depending on the mood you want. Using a wash to create an ambient light in a color that will complement your spot, or effect, will make it appear brighter and richer. Clean, crisp complementary colors, along with fluid movement and symmetry produce an air of professionalism. Contrasting colors add high energy and drama to a venue. The best way to increase your design skills is by visiting different venues and shows to see what other designers have done. Note the elements that struck you as the best, and attempt to emulate and improve on them.
Connecting a Controller to Lighting Fixtures
A DMX signal begins at the controller and follows the path of the cable to the first fixture and then to each fixture in line down the cable run. The following diagram shows the proper method and order for connecting multiple fixtures to a single controller. The DMX line pictured here runs from the controller to the “DMX In” connection on the first fixture. From the “DMX Out” connection of the first fixture, a cord is connected to the “DMX In” connection of the next fixture in the line, and so on until all units have a cable connected to the “DMX In” connection. The last fixture in the line should have a DMX terminator installed to maintain the quality of the DMX signal.
When setting up your lighting, you need hardware that will safely and securely position and hold your fixtures where you need them. Raising your lighting fixtures increases their coverage and keeps them safe from accidental contact and damage caused by vibrations. Musician’s Friend offers a broad selection of clamps, mounting brackets, and safety cables to accomplish this.
If you perform in a variety of venues, it’s likely you’ll run into challenges in setting up your lights. Having an assortment of lighting stands can help make setup simpler. Basic T-bar stands with tripod bases make a good all-around lighting support. A pair of such stands with an integrated truss affords more positioning options, support, and stability. Read specs carefully to make sure that the light stand or truss system you choose is rated for the weight of your fixtures.
The fixtures you select will determine the cables required to connect your system. In general, you will need one power cord per fixture, along with the appropriate extension cords (if needed). In addition, if you are connecting your fixtures via DMX cable, you will need one DMX cable per fixture. DMX cables use XLR connectors and come in 3- and 5-pin varieties. Check the user’s manual of your fixtures and controller to determine which type will be needed for your application. It’s a good practice to have extra cables on hand to deal with failures and venues requiring longer cable runs. That goes for extension cords, switchboxes, and AC power strips too.
Attribute » a controllable parameter on a fixture such as gobo selection, color, tilt, pan, etc.
Beam angle » The width of a beam of light, often designated by the number of degrees; the greater the number the wider the beam. Sometimes designated with qualitative terms such as narrow, medium, and wide.
Chase » A sequence of lighting effects or on and off sequences. A simple example is the apparent movement of theatre marquee lights along a string, caused by the rapid sequential illumination of each fixture.
CMY » System of light color mixing using Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow. This system entails the use of colored gels or filters to create a wide palette of colors. Also see RGB.
Color temperature » A measurement of how relatively blue (“cold”) or amber (“warm”) a given light is.
Color wheel » A circular metal disc containing colored glass filters and is motorized to rotate in front of a light source.
DMX51» The protocol used to control lighting systems and individual DMX-compatible effects.
Fixture » In lighting systems, any lamp or lighting effect is considered a fixture.
Focus » A qualitative statement of how relatively hard or soft a gobo’s projected image is. The hardness of a projected image is largely a function of the distance that the beam is projected; the greater the distance, the softer the image. Focus may also refer to the X/Y position of a moving light in relation to the performance space or stage.
Gel » Also called a color gel or color filter, it’s a transparent colored polyester or polycarbonate sheet used in stage lighting in front of a light beam to alter its color.
Gobo » A usually spherical glass or metal template containing patterns that are projected by light sources mounted behind or within the gobo.
Gobo wheel » A disc within a moving light fixture that has several gobos placed around its perimeter. A motor steps through each gobo pattern in sequence, or fixtures may be programmable to select custom sequences.
Joystick » A device that allows control of a moving light’s pan and tilt functions. See trackball.
Kelvin » The measurement of a lamp’s color temperature. Incandescent lamps typically range between 600-3200 Kelvin. Arc and discharge lamps range 6000 and 9000 Kelvin. The sun has a temperature of 577See color temperature.
Moving head fixture » A lighting fixture in which the entire optical system, including gobo wheels, lamps, prisms, etc. move with the emitted beam(s).
Moving mirror fixture » Often called scanners, these lighting fixtures employ a mirror to animate and project beams of light. They typically offer faster movement than moving head fixtures.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your shop light wisely! Good luck!
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