When I was given the opportunity to evaluate our sponsor Rockler’s new LED shop light, (item #51898), I jumped at the chance. I’ve been in love with LEDs (said “ELL-E-DEES”) since childhood and was extremely curious to find out for myself whether white LEDs are actually good enough for use as room, or in this case, shop lighting. I’ll admit that I was a little skeptical.
But, when asked to review a product, I always try to approach with a fair and open mind. Who knows? Maybe it’s true. Maybe an LED shop light actually can be bright enough and its light white enough to suit my needs. Rockler sent us one to evaluate for this review, so Let’s find out!
LED Shop Light – First Impression
Please welcome to the stage: Rockler’s 4ft. LED shop light, manufactured by Lights of America. I really expected this light to be somewhat dim and underwhelming. But from the instant I turned it on I was proven wrong. The light feels brighter and whiter than that from a 4′ fluorescent fixture with two 38W cool white T12 tubes (which is what I used as a control). In fact, it may be brighter than me! I’m no genius but, I’m not a complete dimwit either; not completely. I was pleasantly surprised that an LED-based shop light could actually be worthy of the name “shop light”!
The fixture’s end caps have holes for hanging (hardware included) and allow for it to point straight down or angled forward/backwards. At 4.84lbs, it weighs slightly less than some of the dual T12 (your “regular old 4ft shop light”) fluorescent fixtures I have.
Pulling The Good Ol’ Switcheroo
One thing about this unit that I really appreciate is the fact that it has a pull chain power switch. I’ve owned a lot of fluorescent shop lights and none of them had a power switch unless I added one myself. It can be really inconvenient having to plug in and unplug a light fixture all the time. So this welcome feature earns brownie points with me.
But Wait! There’s More!
The positives don’t stop there. Here’s a list of what’s right with this shop light:
* White light: The color temperature is 5,000K, which is like a cool white fluorescent tube.
* No ballast means no humming noise.
* Runs cool: No ballast also means that much less heat is produced.
* Includes hanging hardware.
* There are no mercury-containing bulbs.
* Outputs 4,500 lumens of brightness
* It’s energy efficient.
* Has a rated lifespan of 50,000 hours. That’s over 5.7 years of continuous use (or – as Rockler puts it – 8 hours a day, every day, for over 17 years)!
* There are no glass tubes to break.
* There are no tubes to replace.
* There’s no warm-up time: Comes on at full brightness regardless of the ambient temperature. Fluorescent fixtures often take time to reach full brightness, and it can be much worse when it’s cold.
* White, reflective enclosure.
Over my 20-something years as an electronics technician, I’ve found that power claims are often under or over stated, depending on the product. So I put the 40W claim to the test. My trusty Triplett multimeter with true wattage measurement found the power claim to be as accurate as you could ask for. The real time power consumption drifted between 39-42W.
Rockler’s shop light is as bright as (or brighter than) the dual 38 watt fluorescent unit I compared it to and consumes less power. The fluorescent fixture I’ve been comparing it to actually has an average power consumption of 61W (50% higher than the LED fixture). So The LED fixture really does save energy. Saving energy = saving money.
Shadow Of A Doubt
I wanted to compare the shadows made by the LED fixture and my control fluorescent fixture. A crisper shadow can indicate a brighter light source. I stood both fixtures – LED and fluorescent – on the floor, leaning vertically against a wall and turned on only one at a time. The room was otherwise completely dark. The object casting the shadow was 7 feet from the light source and 2 feet from the opposite wall.
The LED shop light employs a total of 240 LEDs and there is no diffuser; Not that one is really needed or expected. But that means that there are 240 tiny separate points of light. In retrospect, this makes total sense but, during my shadow test, I was surprised to find that the shadow cast with the LED Shop Light has a “blinds” effect to it.
Try as I might, I can’t really find any aspect of Rockler’s 4ft LED shop light to dislike. My experience with it is very positive. While the shadow anomaly was unexpected, it isn’t something that’s likely to be an issue in real life conditions. But I did feel it was worth acknowledging. And close shadows don’t exhibit the effect to any noticeable degree anyway.
Brilliant Buy or Dim Bulb?
Not only does this shop light conserve energy and cost less to operate, it also provides the kind of lighting you’d want and expect from a shop light of this size. It definitely exceeded my own expectations and is sure to be a very welcome addition to any workshop, basement, utility room or anywhere else you need bright, white lighting.
You can find this 4 Foot LED Shop Light from our sponsor Rockler at just under $50.