For pros and avid DIYers alike, it’s generally considered desirable to be able to see what the hell you’re doing. Being a mature, experienced individual – in other words, an old fart – my eyesight isn’t what it was a decade or so ago. I need all the help I can get in lighting up my work area, and until recently, that has primarily meant halogen. Which is a huge improvement over the oil-soaked rags we used when I started framing…With continuous improvements in LED technology, all the big boys in the tool world are adding job site lighting to their arsenals. Ridgid is no exception, and they recently sent three of their newest bright ideas for HomeFixated to evaluate. In this post, we’ll illuminate you on the Ridgid GEN5X Folding Panel Light. In the near future, we’ll fire up the Ridgid Light Cannon (gotta love the name!) and the Ridgid Floodlight.
Halogen lights do a great job lighting up the work site. They’re bright, relatively inexpensive, and available in numerous configurations. On the darker side, they require AC power, they can be very touchy, and they generate a LOT of heat when they’re on (which is when they’re most useful). The Ridgid GEN5X Folding Panel Light (Model R8694221B) on the other hand, runs off any Ridgid 18V battery, is ruggedly built, and is cool enough that you can place your hand flat on the panel. Doing that with a halogen light will earn you a trip to the burn unit. With maybe a quick stopover at the psych ward.
Here is the list of features and specs from Ridgid:
• Folding panel design – Panels fold outward for 360 degree light output and fold inward for protection when not in use
• Hybrid technology – Powers light with any RIDGID 18-Volt battery or extension cord
• Extended run-time – Up to 14 hours of continuous run-time with variable light power dial
• Up to 2,500 Lumens with variable power dial – Powerful lumen output with the ability to set at variable lumen levels to match the brightness with the job
• On board tripod mount – Easily mount the unit to the RIDGID universal tripod
• Temperature control – Electronics protect LED from overheating and keep the light cool to touch
• Rugged design – Durable, lightweight material designed to withstand tough jobsite conditions
Depth: 10.5 in.
Height: 10.75 in.
Width: 7.88 in.
Weight: 3 lbs.
Bend Me, Shape Me, Hybridize Me
The clever design of the Ridgid GEN5X Folding Panel Light uses one large and two smaller light panels. The two smaller panels fold across the front of the larger panel when the light’s not being used. In addition to protecting the light panels, this reduces the amount of storage space the light requires to a cube roughly 10”x10”x7”.
When it’s time to light up your world, the small panels unfold. They can stay in any position from focusing slightly inward to swinging way ‘round the back, essentially giving you a 360° triangle of light. When set on its base the light is very stable. It swivels from a slightly downward angle to a bit beyond fully upward, roughly 180° in total.
A pushbutton near the top of the light powers it on and off. Rather than the traditional HIGH/LOW/OFF settings, a ring around the outside of the power button lets you dial in the exact amount of light you want. Dialing it down lets you conserve battery power, or set just the right mood for that romantic anniversary dinner. Crank it up when you want maximum illumination, or when you get old and your eyes turn to $#!^. Even at full power, the light puts out very little heat. In the event it does get too warm, onboard circuitry dims the light until it cools, and shuts it off if it doesn’t.
I saved one of the sweetest features of the Ridgid GEN5X Folding Panel Light for last: Its hybrid ability. When you’re working where there’s limited or no access to power, or in cramped quarters like an attic or crawl space, pop in any Ridgid 18V battery and flame on! When you do have power available, the light accepts a standard extension cord, so you can work all night long. Isn’t that great?!
The Ridgid GEN5X Folding Panel Light Assumes The Position
How can you position the Ridgid GEN5X Folding Panel Light? The engineers at Ridgid must have put in some OT coming up with options. Obviously, its base lets you place it on the floor, a workbench or table, or any surface stable enough to accommodate it. The bottom of the base also has a standard ¼ x 20 insert, designed to work with a tripod. Ridgid makes a beefy tripod that can accommodate up to three lights, or you can use any standard tripod. I tried it out on my photographic tripod, and it attached fine. My tripod is NOT very beefy, though, and the setup didn’t feel very stable. If I use it, I’ll have to be careful how it’s set up. Better yet, I think I’ll invest in the Ridgid tripod.
Need more options, you say? On both sides of the rear of the base are cutout hooks, which could be used to hang the Ridgid GEN5X Folding Panel Light from a rope or cable, or a chain link fence. The manual doesn’t mention this, but the sides of the base also have slots in them, roughly 2” x ½”, so the light could be secured with a belt or a tie-down. Strap it on and do a little after-work downhill skiing!
The light also has keyhole slots on the back, which could be very handy if you use it regularly in the same area, say a garage or workshop. Just install a couple of nails or screws 2-7/8” apart, and slide the slots over the heads. The final official option is to slide the carrying handle over a piece of rebar or copper pipe. The handle is open on one end, closed on the other, so this would work either vertically or horizontally.
The Ridgid GEN5X Folding Panel Light Sheds Some Light
I recently got the opportunity to fire up the Ridgid GEN5X Folding Panel Light at a duplex we own. Half of it is rented, and the other half is undergoing a total do-over to remedy the previous tenants’ destructive rampage. The first task I undertook was to replace the very old sconce light in the hallway of the occupied unit, which had been the victim of a boisterous three-year-old (yes, that’s redundant) with a basketball. No biggie, and at least it was an accident!
Unfortunately, that had been the only light in the windowless hallway, so it was darker than a black cat in a vat of 30-weight in there. (Note: We did not verify this with an actual cat). We set the Ridgid GEN5X Folding Panel Light on the floor and angled it up. It not only provided excellent light for our work area, it lit up the whole hallway. I was tempted to just use one of the many hanging options to install the work light as the replacement, but I didn’t want to give it up. Anyhow, the light provided plenty of illumination to remove the old light, which had been installed roughly around the time of the Civil War, and get the new one put up.
After leaving recommendations about where not to play basketball, we headed upstairs. We had to remove the kitchen sink from its perch in the countertop, and my brother had
been suckered into it graciously volunteered. Hey, he’s young and spry. Ish. It’s a miserable job, made more so if you can’t see what the heck you’re doing. We stuck the Ridgid GEN5X Folding Panel Light in the cabinet, and he had more than enough light to accomplish the unpleasant task, even with the output dialed down.
For the light’s next mission, we stuck it in the small, unlit pantry. The subfloor is concrete, with wooden sleepers and plywood above. It was pretty well rotted out, from decades of water leaks and spills that hadn’t been repaired, so we were pulling it all up (except the concrete – I’m not THAT ambitious) and replacing it. The Ridgid GEN5X Folding Panel Light made it a LOT easier to see just how scary it really was, and get the repairs completed. I also used the light in one of the bedrooms, where I had to replace a ceiling light fixture.
Final Illumination Ruminations
I was impressed with the Ridgid GEN5X Folding Panel Light. It seems ruggedly made, and I really like that it can be powered by battery or AC. With the light cranked up to full power, I got just under three hours of run time out of a 5.0 Ah battery. About half an hour before the battery went to sleep, it flashed a few times and then ran steadily, which would give you plenty of time to escape if you’re someplace that’s about to get very dark.
Ridgid claims the light is good for up to 14 hours on the lowest setting, but my results were considerably different – in a GOOD way. I turned the light on at 9:10 p.m. Thursday, and left it on continuously. It flashed a few times at 7:30 p.m. the next day, and it finally went out at 10:45 p.m. Friday. Unless my math is as poor as my eyesight, which is entirely possible, that’s a whopping 25 & ½ hours! Damn!
The Ridgid GEN5X Folding Panel Light cranks out a lot of light – Ridgid claims 2,500 lumens per panel – and the variety of ways it can be set up and mounted make it very versatile. With the addition of a tripod, the sky’s the limit. A seven foot sky, anyhow…
The negatives for the light are very few and minor. While the overall design and usability is excellent, the one design flaw – for my fat fingers, anyhow – is the power button. Its location on the side of the body near the top means I’ve inadvertently turned it on almost much every time I picked up the light. Yes, I’m a slow learner. The only other improvement that comes to mind would be to enable the Ridgid GEN5X Folding Panel Light to charge the battery when it’s connected to AC. The downside to that is that the size of the light – and the price – would both have to increase.
The light will likely appeal to other users beyond contractors and DIYers. It would be great to have along on camping trips, or out in the back yard for some late-night grilling or LED volleyball. And I’m guessing anyone doing roadside service work at night would probably be very happy to have it along.
Still got qualms? In addition to its 90-day money-back guarantee, Ridgid has one of the beefiest warranties out there. It requires registering your tool within 90 days of purchase. Once you do, though, the tool has a lifetime warranty that covers parts and service. The Ridgid GEN5X Folding Panel Light is sold as a bare tool, and will work with any Ridgid 18V battery. Get one, and give your eyes – old or young – a little help.
Buy the Ridgid GEN5X Folding Panel Light at Home Depot for around $99: