Shop Lighting For Woodworkers

Light placement

Keep it Simple!

shop-lights-t8I had been periodically working on this article for a while and had made good progress on it. Then, this last week, I attended an energy conference in Portland, Oregon. One comment resonated above all the others made during the conference: “Why do we bombard our customers with facts? They DON’T CARE!! They either like the light or they don’t. CRI? What the heck is CRI, anyway? Does anyone actually know the IESNA (Illumination Engineering Society of North America) definition?” I was attending a session on LED lighting, where the technology stands now and where it’s going in the next couple of years. Prior to this session, I had planned to give a lot of detail on the science of lighting, phototopics versus scotopics, how the color rendering index affects our ability to see color. I even toyed with the idea of giving a tutorial on how to use Visual Basic, which is a free lighting design software. This one comment made me realize all that information was really just a lot of useless noise to most people. Honestly, it’s not how I did the lighting design of my shop, either. It all really boils down to buying a few light fixtures at either a hardware store, big box retailer, or an electrical warehouse and trying them out in your shop to see what you personally like. Keep the receipts, in case you want to try something else.

Three Lighting Options

There are three basic technologies to choose from right now for the main, or ambient lighting. There are high performance T8 or T5 lamp and ballast combinations, or LED. As far as longevity, LED is the winner in this category, although the cost of a LED tubular lamp or an entire LED troffer, which is the basic two foot by four foot fixture you see in most office buildings, is still quite expensive. T5 systems are an option, but I generally don’t recommend them for heights less than 15 feet, due to their intense output and subsequent glare they create at lower levels. My suggestion would be to go with a T8 system. They are the least expensive of the choices, have a really great life of around 30,000 hours and are easy to get your hands on.

Color Temperature

kelvin-scale-woodworkingThe main factor to consider in your lighting design is color. Kelvin is how the color of light is measured. It not only is a factor in things like productivity, it also helps keep or inhibit our circadian rhythms. Early in the morning, as the sun rises, the color is close to 2700 Kelvin. As the day goes on the Kelvin temperature rises into the 5000 – 10,000 Kelvin range, then falls again toward 2700 for our beautiful sunsets. The perfect office environment will probably someday mimic the exterior conditions, but today most offices employ 4100 Kelvin lamps. For extended periods of sedentary work, this seems to be what most lighting designers have chosen. Enough “daylight effect” without making us antsy. For work such as we do in the shop, a higher color temperature is more beneficial. Not only does it promote activity, but we see detail much better in the 5000 to 6000 Kelvin range. Any higher than that and the color goes very blue. Some may like that, but it’s not to my tastes. Also don’t neglect reflectance, or basically, the color of the surfaces that will reflect the light. Without sheeting your shop in stainless steel or some other extremely reflective material a white wall will provide your best reflectance. Again, it’s a matter of taste. As long as you keep the surfaces on the light side, you should be fine.

Lighting is one of those areas that, while there are general rules of thumb, the reality is everyone perceives light and responds to the different attributes differently. There is no one size fits all solution. As we age, our ability to see detail decreases and therefore a white light is beneficial. I currently have 4100 Kelvin lamps in my shop, but will be biting the bullet and changing everything out to a 5000 Kelvin weighted lamps.

What to Get

Before you buy anything, consider your space and the tasks you intend to perform within that space. Generally, you’ll want one type of light for ambient lighting and some type of spot lighting for detailed tasks. Examples of some different scenarios for ambient lighting would be ten foot ceilings versus seven foot ceilings. If you have a greater ceiling height, the fixture will allow the light to spread more before it hits the working surface, which is generally about three feet off the ground. So, you will probably want a higher lamp count fixture and will space them further apart. Inversely, if your ceiling height is only seven feet, you will likely be happier with a one or two lamp T8 fixtures and have more of them spaced closer together. In my shop, I found I could negate shadows in the general work area by spacing my four lamp fixtures ten feet apart, on center. Here are some general suggestions:

Less than 10 foot ceilings | 2-lamp T8 fixtures
10-15 foot ceilings | 4-lamp T8 fixtures
15 foot and higher ceilings | 6-lamp T8 fixtures or 4-lamp T5 fixtures

Buy at least two fixtures for testing purposes and hang them up in a temporary fashion and see how far apart, or close together you need to place them to avoid creating shadows.

Do Your Research

4-bulb-fixtureIf you’re purchasing T8 lamps and ballasts at big box store, you may find it difficult to get a quality lamp. I got general service fixtures at Lowes (4-bulb version pictured left). I opened a fixture to make sure it was of quality, but had to purchase my lamps at a electrical warehouse. Your experience will differ depending on how big a city you’re in. I strongly suggest checking the lamp and/or ballast against the approved list. With today’s smart phones, this is easy to do at the time of purchase. If you’re purchasing T5s, you’re in luck. I’ve yet to see a T5HO (High Output) that doesn’t meet our program requirements. If you’d like to go down the LED route, you have three lists to check. LightingHouseLab.com, which will list lamps and fixtures that have not yet been approved on this list. And finally EnergyStar.gov.

Task Lighting

For task lighting, I would just head straight over to the LED aisle. I’ve never been a fan of compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) and incandescents are being phased out. You can still get 60 watt lamps, but they go away in 2014. Pricing has come down by more than half in the last two years and LEDs are becoming more cost effective each day. Cree just released a really nice “A” lamp (looks like a standard incandescent bulb). It is a remarkable bulb. Unfortunately, you will not find this on the Energy Star site. The reasons are inconsequential and serve no purpose for this article, but I can tell you first hand it is a really nice lamp.

clamping lampI primarily use the old swing arm lamp fixtures. I tried the clamp on type and I purchased several cheap swing arm fixtures before I found this site, which sells a sturdy fixture with metal gussets at the pivot points. Although what is pictured is blue, I have white and stainless models. I employ a simple holder that allows me to move them along the French cleat system, but be creative. After all, we are woodworkers, right!?! Enjoy your well lit shops!

vic_hubbardVic Hubbard is the Commercial, Industrial and Agriculture Energy Services Specialist for Franklin PUD in Pasco, WA. A core function of his service is in the implementation of non-residential lighting programs. He currently serves on the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance’s (NEEA) Commercial Upstream Lighting Advisory Board. He is an amateur woodworker, photographer, and blogger. Check out his site Tumblewood Creations or find him on Twitter at @Tumblewood.

Category: The Shop

Comments

  1. Greg June 5, 2013

    Actually, as a scientist, I’d sort of like more stuff on “the science of lighting, phototopics versus scotopics, how the color rendering index affects our ability to see color. I even toyed with the idea of giving a tutorial on how to use Visual Basic, which is a free lighting design software. ” But I understand that this isn’t your audience here.

    I’ve been slowly migrating to LED bulbs in my house – I’m hoping they get cheaper though.

    • Greg, feel free to contact me if you’d like more information. Also, since LED technology has finally appeased the energy efficiency programming gods, the manufacturers can finally move beyond the R&D phase and start focusing on production efficiencies. LED lamps have reduced by about half in the last two years and are expected to fall into parity with CFL (compact fluorescent lamps) within the next ten years. I believe linear will always be sold at slightly higher pricing than the fluorescent counterparts, but they will also last almost twice as long.

  2. Thanks Vic! Really good perspective and information. Like how you focused on the useful and practical over the technical. I’m in the planning/dreaming stages of a new shop (next year or so), so I will tuck this information away.

  3. Will Stokes June 5, 2013

    I’m not sure how common this is but I’ve found that if you mix two different color temperature bulbs you can get really great lighting. That way your shop is both bright and friendly feeling and doesn’t feel like a sterile operating room if you just use more blueish bulbs.

    • Not for me! :) For anyone who takes pictures or video, mixed lighting presents major issues. Though I might be in the minority here. ;)

    • Like I said, play with it. Lighting tends to be a very personal thing. Mixing colors is a major faupaux in the lighting world, though. It tends to look really bad.

    • Jack in TN August 8, 2013

      Back when my Dad re-engineered the lighting at Bell Helicopter (60’s) the thoughts were that mixing cool and warm white for office environment (and home) were best for desktop and study use. So we re-did the ‘study’ areas on our home (kitchen table) and the garage.

      Yes, the fixtures looked odd, with a warm and a cool white in them, but it worked well for us. … And whenever Bell ‘re-bulbed’ some areas of the plant (done on a time frame) we got lots of used bulbs. Still had some 15 years later. Some had rings on the end of them (showing they were nearing end of life) and some didn’t. But we still were able to use them till we got lots of use at home from them.

      Oh, all were 4′ T12 bulbs.

      I have recently put t8’s in my ‘new to me’ shop, and all are 5500K bulbs. Makes it nice to work there.

  4. Dan O'Donnell June 5, 2013

    I have one small disagreement with this recommendation Vic. I think you need to take into account where your project is going. This is especially important in the area of your shop where finishing will be done.

    Most projects will be seen in warmer light than the 4000K you suggest.

    • Dan, I agree that most pieces will be placed in the home and the color temperature of home lighting tends to be in the 3500 and less color temperature. What is more important is choosing a lamp with a very high color rendering index (CRI). We require 85 CRI for our programs, but for finish area, I would recommend choosing a lamp with the highest CRI possible, which is currently around 95 for fluorescent lamps. It is all about studying the specification sheets for the product you are intending to use. For the purposes of finishing, I would still go with a daylight balanced lamp, weighted in the 5000-5500 Kelvin range and a CRI of 95. By the way, incandescent lamps have a CRI of 100. Although CRI and color temperature are closely connected, they are a bit different. The color temperature is the color you see looking at the light source. (see the chart in the article. While CRI is more about the ability to render colors correctly. A lamp in 5000K range with poor CRI will show blues very well, but red will be washed out. By choosing a high CRI lamp, you will get the entire spectrum reflected from the the surfaces.

  5. GaryO June 5, 2013

    I’ve been using H.O. fixtures in my shop for quite a while now and they are by far better than the regular fluorescent ballast. Much cleaner light without that flickering effect you sometimes get with the older bulbs.

    • Gary,

      The difference is the ballasts. The older magnetic ballasts cycled at 60Hz, which caused the perceptible flicker. Although I’ve never actually heard of a case, it is theoretically possible to start your tablesaw and have it in sync with the lamp’s strobe effect, in which case it would look as though it was not moving. Again, probably similar to the combustion theory of PVC for dust collection problems. Today’s ballast cycle well above 20,000Hz and have helped many who used to suffer migraines under the flicker of the old magnetic ballasts.

  6. Mark Loughran June 5, 2013

    Hi Vic

    Excellent article, very well researched and written!! Many thanks!!

    Mark

  7. Vic, your simplified explanation is something I can wrap my feeble brain around. Thank you!

  8. Aaron Marshal June 5, 2013

    Thanks for the great info, Vic! I am starting from scratch on a new shop in the next couple months, so your timing is great. I used to work in an auto plant, and always remember the paint inspection room which was a clean white space with fixtures all over the ceiling and down the walls. You could almost get a tan in that space!

    Out of curiosity, what’s the downside of a T8 bulb that’s not on the “approved list”? Reduced life, poor light quality, or just inconsistent results?

    Also, is there a guideline for how much total light is needed for woodworking, or is it simply enough to make sure you don’t have any shadows?

    • Aaron,
      The only downside of not choosing off the “approved list” is that you will need to do the math to make sure what you buy is of quality. The basic things I look at are initial and mean lumens, life greater than 24,000 hours at a 12 hours strike for the lamps, power factor over .95 and total harmonic distortion less than 20% for the ballasts, and a total overall efficacy of 95 lumens per watt. All this can be found on most specification sheets from the manufacturer.

      Calculation for lumens per watt: ( (initial lumens * # of lamps) * ballast factor)/input watts
      T8 ballast will have either an L, N, or H in the suffix of their model number. L will have a ballast factor ~.77, N ~ .88 and H ~ 1.15.

      I equated a woodshop environment to an autobody shop. There you should have 50 lumens per square foot at the work height for general tasks and up to 100 lumens per watt for detailed tasks. The task lighting will take care of the detail tasks, although I think it may be prudent to boost the ambient lighting over a handtool workbench and a finish space to the higher lumen levels. The guidelines I gave for “general rule of thumb” for how many lamp fixture and ceiling height will be in the 50 lumens per watt up to about the 15 foot level. If you have a ceiling height above that, you may want to go to a six lamps T5 fixture, but 4 will probably suffice.

      • Aaron Marshall June 5, 2013

        Sweet! You gave me a formula – you know me too well, buddy. The 50 to 100 lumens per square foot is a great guideline, thanks.

        • Yea, you may want to dig into Visual Basic, if you plan to do a formal lighting layout. Fir that, you will also need the efficacy of the particular fixture you plan to use. On most fixtures a great deal of the lumens get trapped in the fixture. If you have any questions, justholler at me.

  9. Ted June 5, 2013

    I purchased over 400 – 100 watt incandescent lamps (bulbs are what you plant in the flower bed) while I still could. Hopefully they will last me until LEDs are affordable. I tried a few CFLs and they didn’t last any longer than an incandescent due to the on/off cycle shortening their life. Huge waste of money.

    • I agree. Although I’m supposed to be a cheerleader for CFLs because of their efficiency, I’ve not been a fan either. I have found some that are “decent” in quality of light and longevity, but you really pay for those. I found a Sylvania product with 5 phosphers which I was able to get into my wife’s reading lamp without her noticing, but it was over $7.oo. I also thought seriously of hording 100W incandescent, but missed the boat on that.

  10. I have “soft white” T8’s (~3000ºK) in my shop, and they provide more than adequate light for me. My reason for picking soft white bulbs instead of something up around 5000ºK was that having lighting in my shop that has a similar color balance to where the project winds up would be better for seeing how my finish will appear to the end user. Assuming that the brightness of the lights you install is going to be adequate for building the project, why wouldn’t matching the white balance of your shop lights to people’s house lighting be better?

    • Wilbur, see my response to Dan O’ Donnell.

    • I guess this is where the personal aspect comes in. I have both tangible and intangible reasons for preferring 5000K lights. For me, a 5000K environment is one in which I feel productive and alert. 3000K lights make me feel like I should be kicking back in a recliner reading a good book.

      Even with less actual quality of light, to me, 5000k “feels” brighter than 3000K. I also feel like I can more easily spot surface flaws as well as being able to make out fine marks on tools like 64ths.

      Concerning finishes, I think the concern about color temperature is a little overblown for most of our purposes. I think we can all spot an ugly colored finish in 5000k just as easily as we can spot it in 3000k. And if we can make it look great in 5000k light, you can bet it will look fine in a real home interior.

      Of course the exception might be someone who’s trying to do exact color matching. Even then, you usually have a sample with you in the shop that then becomes subject to the same light which should mostly nullify the concern.

      So at least in my shop, 3000K doesn’t really offer any advantages but 5000k does. I think if someone were to be real picky about it, they could simply have some interior light task lighting in the finishing area by which to judge their colors.

      • Thanks Marc. Yes, Wilbur Marc’s points are a better reply. Lighting is very subjective person to person, but most will be more productive and have better visual acuity in the whiter light of the 5000K range. My 4100K lamps are bugging me enough that I’m hoping to replace all of them. My age is showing.

  11. BigBen June 5, 2013

    Great timing for this, I am at the stage in my shop build where I am about to do the light. Marc you have confirmed what I have researched.

  12. Paul D. June 5, 2013

    You can´t imagine how much I thank you guys for this article. I am lighting not one but TWO sheds. One has a very high ceiling and dusty environment so I will have to hang the threaded fixtures from their cables, but the other goes with T8. Thanks again!

    • Paul,

      How dusty are we talking and how high? For storage, I suggest going with the same lamp everywhere, as it’s just easier to store one lamp type. If the environment is extremely dusty, consider a sealed fixture.

      • Paul D. June 7, 2013

        Like this, without the traslucent tiles
        http://goo.gl/6SQEl
        I gave up, I will be lighting the particular working area with a standing lamp and hang only 4 lamps just so I don´t trip up with stuff. The other ceiling is only 9ft high with an area of 16 x 40 ft so maybe 4 fixtures with 2 T8 tubes each will be enough to do woodworking, what do you think guys?

  13. Dean J June 5, 2013

    I’ve had great luck mixing lighting temperatures in the room; while 5000k lights make it easy to see, it feels really uncomfortable to me.

    I’ve tossed in a mix of 6000ish, 4300ish, and two 2500k task lights; it gives a much, much, much more “natural” lighting look in my shop.

    • As long as you like it, that’s what counts. Personally, it bugs the heck outta me to look up and see different colored lamps. They used to not be consistent at work and it drove me NUTS! The place is beautiful then the lamps kinda ruin it. But, seriously, if it works for you, you like the light, can see well and it doesn’t drive you nuts, then enjoy the fact you’re not nearly as OCD as me. That would be nice.

  14. Kicker June 5, 2013

    Rather than mixing lamps, there are other options. An FT835 (3500 Kelvin) will provide a white light than is very comfortable. Many office environments have switch to these rather than the standard “warm” or “cool” lamps.

    Also, if you have painted drywall and some ceiling height to work with, please consider suspended indirect lighting. You can utilize an energy efficient T5 lamp, with no glare concerns. It also make the space feel much bigger and brighter with the whole ceiling lit up.

    Hope that helps!

    • Kicker,
      Very true. Most offices in my area will either use the T5 60/40 fixtures or the standard troffer 4100K T8 fixtures. I didn’t get into the indirect lightly, because those are much more expensive fixtures and aren’t generally available at local home centers or even off the shelf from my local warehouses. However an indirect fixture like a 60/40 split provides a much more natural and even light. Being a shop environment, I recommend the 5000K range because that is what is being used in the design of production facilities because the psychological affects light. The warmer tones are fine in a home environment and even in some office environments, but I never see them in any environment where the goal is to have the inhabitants up and moving on a regular basis. I’m a huge fan of mild indirect and task lighting for office environments where workers are in front of monitors for long periods of time.

  15. John Fitz June 6, 2013

    Vic, thanks for a boatload of practical lighting info. If you had asked me what lighting I had in my shop, I would have said “fluorescent” – and not known much else. I actually had to go down to see what I have and look them up online (I had purchased a box of bulbs some years ago and am still working my way through them – they had the “F40/etc designation but no temperature info). My lighting is not the best to begin with so I plan to add more – so I might just swap wholesale into the T8 5000k to see how it looks.

  16. Kevin Kronewitter June 6, 2013

    Thank you for this information. Lighting is one of the hardest things for me to figure out and one that has a lot of impact on the workshop. I just bought new lamp fixtures and bulbs. I will need to check what I have and see if they are still what I want before I install them. I would definitely like a brighter light to work by.

  17. jHop June 6, 2013

    having an outdoor shop, I can attest to the variations between hours, let alone days, when the light is just not the same. The consistency of lighting appeals very much to me.

    But I do have a question: can the T8s run off solar power? I’m thinking of a small system with one panel, a sealed gel-cell 12v battery, a power inverter, and a small float charger to recharge the battery using the panel. Will this be effective enough to light a shop for a few hours a day? (Keeping in mind that different areas of the world receive different amounts of “quality” sunlight, solar recharging in my area is limited to 4 to 4.5 “quality” hours of daylight. I found this page: http://www.freesunpower.com/radiation.php to help determine the amount of hours, but I’m not an electrical guy… I just like to tinker.)

    Thanks!

  18. Kicker June 6, 2013

    One more suggestion. If you are wiring a new shop, split some of you lights onto a second switch. It’s really nice at night / early morning when you can hit one switch and just have a couple lights come on, rather than everything.

    There are some ballast out there that will do a dimming, but the poor mans solution is just to run a seperate $1 light switch.

    Vic, thanks for all the great responses. I hear you in the D/I & indirect lights not being common. They are special order at most wholesalers here too. Once you’ve worked under uplighting for a couple years though, its sure hard to go back to dark ceilings!

    • Yes, although I didn’t get into wiring for this article in hopes of keeping it concise, the banner photo is my shop and each row of 3 is separately switched. I will often have only the lighting over the workbench area on the left on or only the three on the power side. Maybe at some point in the future, Marc can talk an electrician into writing a how to article on shop wiring. Even though I wired my shop and feel comfortable with doing that, I wouldn’t give advice on the subject. It’s a bit beyond my expertise.

  19. Matt June 7, 2013

    Vic,

    Great article and perfect timing. I had just returned from the home center with some T5 lights for my new basement shop and then saw your article. As it turns out, I have 7ft. ceilings and you suggested the T8 two lamp fixtures over the T5’s. I went back to the home center, returned the T5’s and picked up a bunch of Energy Star rated T8’s. Thanks again for the advice. Not only did it provide some guidance where I had no clue, but the T8’s were also $13 per fixture cheaper.

  20. Dan Power June 7, 2013

    Hey Marc,
    I am just finishing my shop with a 9′ ceiling, it is 22 x 26. The inside is sheeted with 1/2 ” plywood. But I did something a little different. I wired receptacles in the ceiling. I used 12, 4′ fluorescent fixtures that I got from HD and then I used the daylight deluxe lamps rated at 6300 K. Being in the electrical field for the last 25 years helped. The fixtures had 5 ‘ cords on them so I just plugged them into the receptacles. That makes them a bit flexible because I can easily move the lights as I need. I also have extra receptacles to add more lighting as I need it. Being in the late 40’s as you mentioned you need more light. But I also wired in 4 incandescent lights on a separate circuit just so I can sit back. They’re good for back up as well. Having rectangles in the ceiling give great flexibility. By the way, you shop is very nice.
    Dan P.

  21. Dave Schutze June 7, 2013

    Nice article. I actually prefer the higher temp T8s. I have an 11′ x 22′ shop with four 8-ft T8 fixtures with four bulbs each at 6500k. It definitely feels brighter than the 5000k and keeps me alert through the later hours I’m usually working in there.

    I did accidentally grab a set of 5000k and wound up putting them in the car side of my garage next to the 6500k and there is a noticeable difference in brightness. Definitely prefer hot white light.

  22. Jason June 10, 2013

    Hi there thanks for the article. It has inspired me to deal with my lighting situation. I currently have about a 600 sq ft shop with 8ft ceilings and
    When I built it went with 6 100 watt daylight lights. This seems to be ok but not great. I’ve purchased some t8 fixtures with 5000k lamps. My question is should I orient them parallel or perpendicular to my bench and work area for best results.

    Thanks

    • Jason,

      I have mine perpendicular, but I’m not sure that is any better than parallel. The main issue is whether you can eliminate shadows to see your work well. If your layout in either direction has them too far apart, you will reveal shadow, so take a couple, hang them up and see what you think. If you have shadows, adjust as necessary.

  23. Ryan June 10, 2013

    Thanks for the posting. It’s basically the same conclusion I came to 2 years ago when I did my shop. I ended up with 2-bulb 4′ t8s in the 5K range (5500 maybe?). My ceiling height is about 7.5′.

    Two things not mentioned.

    1. I put my lights on two zones. I generally only use the main zone, so I save half the electricity keeping the other half of the shop dark.

    2. When I looked this up two years ago I came across an article that mentioned vision versus age. I believe that you need almost twice as much light for a 70 year old to see the same as a 25 year old. I was 29 at the time. However, I do have members of the local club (mainly retirees) over to the shop on occasion. So I made it brighter than I needed to accommodate them.

  24. DrTebi November 14, 2013

    I have been a big fan on LED lighting pretty much since they came out. It took some time to find out which manufacturer made good products, and which one didn’t.

    When we moved into a new apartment about four years ago, the previous owner had lights everywhere, and all loaded with 100-150 Watt bulbs. When all lights were on (in a 2 bedroom apt.), she was draining more than 2000 watts. It was insane. I invested quite a bit and replaced most of the light bulbs with LEDs, and now I am down to less than 400 Watts when everything is on.

    In the workshop, I also installed LEDs, T8 tubes. I have a small (about 180 sq. feet) basement shop with low ceilings. I installed three 2-Light fixtures, one above the table saw, one above the bench/cabinets, and one in the center of the shop. That works out perfectly for me.
    My first T8 LEDs were from EagleLight. While they produced a fair amount of light and used little energy, they didn’t last too long. Today, about three years later, they are all out.
    I replaced these with Philips EnduraLED T8 lights. I was extremely astonished about the difference between these and the EagleLight ones–not only do these power on immediately (the others had a strange one second delay), the Philips ones are much brighter and the color is just perfect. No more fiddling with light balance settings on the camera, it’s really just like daylight.

    The LED tubes don’t use glass for protecting the actual LEDs, it’s rather a thick transparent/milky plastic that also acts as a reflector. This is great news in a shop with low ceilings–bumping into one of these will most likely not break anything.

    In regards to the light fixtures itself–I did not buy high-quality fixtures. I didn’t really see why I should. The cheap ones at the home center were crude, but stable enough and had reflectors at the right locations; they hold the T8 tubes just fine. I don’t know what else one would need in a “quality” fixture? That’s the part of this article I don’t get.

    When it comes to wiring LED tubes, one has to disassemble the light fixture and stick strictly with the wiring diagram that comes with the LED tubes–in fact, the EagleLight and Philips ones had different wiring, so that’s something to watch out for. I prefer to solder all electrical wire, which results in strong connections that will last. The original ballast is not used and can be discarded (one less thing to break…)

    All that LED lighting was not a cheap affair, but in the end I just love it. Apart from the EagleLight tubes, NONE of the LED lights I installed in the apartment or workshop have ever failed. Imagine that–not one light bulb needed replacing in four years. My favorite brands of the many LED light brands I have tried are Philips and Cree. These are high quality lamps with very true color output. Others were OK… Geobulb works well but is a bit reddish, EagleLight’s “floor lights” are quite nice, Earthled’s 1000 Lumen bulb is bright but has a noisy fan.

    So much for some hand-on LED lighting experience.

  25. Yves Kuypers September 10, 2014

    Hi all,
    I may shed some light (excuse the pun) on why light color and/or CRI may not be the most important factor to complete a project flawlessly, nor to produce a spot-on colored finish. As my main hobby I am (wel, …’was’) a musician and in this capacity have often done studio work, which is how I finally got involved in the subject of acoustics and mixing. Normally, mixing is a very specific job, requiring a very specific working environment consisting of (again) specific, state of the art equipment, and a meticulously acoustically treated room. The pro’s will always prefer to stick to that, but on the other hand they do not absolutely need it if it is not available. It is a known fact that one multiple Grammy Awards winning mixing engineer won at least one of his prizes with albums, mixed in a bedroom, speaker backs against the wall, throwing their sound across the width of the room (as opposed to the length), while sitting on the side of the matrass. An absolute horror scenario. But he referenced the sound of that setup to finished mixes of material he knew, and so he could, in his mind, compensate for all the incorrect soundscape in that room, so he knew exactly what he was doing while mixing new material. But it is this ‘automatic compensating’ ability that separates the boys from the men!
    I guess it’s just the same with lighting. Good tools are half the job. But apart from that you also need at least some training, talent, skill and experience. Good tools can be bought, but the rest comes in various degrees, and those who have it in abundance could not care less if they have to work in semi darkness, or with the spot lights of a video-recording shining straight into their eyes, they will just deliver the goods. Impeccably. And what can we, punters, do, other than to envy them, and try as much as possible to gain some of that experience too?

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    November 14, 2014
  • Video: Finish

    November 21, 2014
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