good 4 foot LED shop light suggestions? Or a place to look for reviews?

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Iverra
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good 4 foot LED shop light suggestions? Or a place to look for reviews?

Post by Iverra » Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:00 am

We have a 1400 square foot garage that currently has four 4 foot fluorescents controlled by a single pole switch (that has a motion sensor on it). Two of the fixtures have gone bad, another is in sad shape looks wise (long story ). My wife dislikes flicker so I am thinking I may as well go with replacing all four fixtures with LED ones. If I can somehow splice into the wires and run about 6 feet of electrical cable from each I'd actually add 4 more so we can get rid of the garage's dark spots.

My google searching hasn't been strong enough to find any good reviews or suggestions. I am guessing I don't want the top of the line (since I assume that would come at hefty price), but I also don't want to go cheap, unless cheap is the best of course. Ideally they'd have a CRI of 85 or higher and be brighter than what we have now. Probably more white (cool) than yellow (warm). Ideally at a place I can get locally in case there are issues, but my local Lowe's didn't have much of a selection. I need to check Home Depot and Menards still.

Thoughts/suggestions on brands, models, or where to go for reviews? And not opposed to ordering on line if that is the way I have to go.

Thanks much!

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Shannon
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Re: good 4 foot LED shop light suggestions? Or a place to look for reviews?

Post by Shannon » Wed Jul 03, 2019 6:59 am

Personally I say go with 4000 - 6000 lumens units and you will have the whitest ,brightest lights you can have. Under 4000 starts to yellow, over 5000 can be a little harsh on the eyes for some people. I replaced my bulbs with LEDs only in my shop ,just because the fixtures and ballasts where still pretty newish but in your case you could do ballast Bye pass sets ,or just scrap them and buy all new since you are adding more also.
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Aaron
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Re: good 4 foot LED shop light suggestions? Or a place to look for reviews?

Post by Aaron » Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:02 am

Yeah whether you want to keep your existing fixtures and convert the fluorescent tubes to LED tubes, or replace the entire fixture to LED is up to you.

The conversion is either super easy or requires moderate skill, depending on what you decide to do. If you go with LED tubes that are "direct replacement", it's the "super easy" category: they can replace the fluorescent tubes without any mods to the internal fixture. The only drawback is the tubes are a little more expensive than the "retrofit" type of LED tubes, and if the ballast inside the fixture fails, the LED tubes may also stop working as well.

The "retrofit tubes" require some re-wiring of the internals of the fixture making it the "moderate skill" category. Retrofit tubes are powered directly with 120V AC current, and bypass the old fluorescent ballast (which you can take out or just leave unused in the fixture). Retrofit LED tubes are either single-end or double-end powered, so that may dictate what "tombstones" you need (those are those sockets you twist the tubes into)--shunted or un-shunted.

If you scrap your old fixtures altogether and go with dedicated LED fixtures, you will never deal with tubes again... the LEDs are incorporated into the fixture, and are powered by a separate "driver" circuit pack inside the fixture. These ostensibly are the best long-term solution for LED lighting, and what you would go with if you are doing new construction and you're installing lighting for the first time. It's also arguably the best long-term solution over using LED tubes, though it's likely that LED tubes will be around for decades to come as legacy lighting migrates over to it.

Whether you go with direct-replacement tubes, retrofit tubes, or new fixtures, the internet seems to be the best place to buy them I've found. Local retailers tend to have limited selection, and I've found the prices to be significantly higher. This is changing quickly as LED is finally getting to be more mainstream, but I think I'd still shop online.

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A. Spruce
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Re: good 4 foot LED shop light suggestions? Or a place to look for reviews?

Post by A. Spruce » Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:25 am

Costco has 4' LED fixtures for around $20, a decent price and I have not had any problems with the ones I installed last year out in the garden shed. To convert a fluorescent fixture to LED is easily done as well, though, it's going to cost you about $20 per bulb to do it. If your ballasts are good and it's only the starter that has gone bad, you can buy direct replacement bulbs that do not require rewiring of the fixture which is the absolute easiest way to switch to LED. The downside is, you're still paying for the energy to power the ballast that is not being used, so it's really better to take the time to rewire the fixtures.

Here's the thing with buying an LED fixture, the bulbs probably are not replaceable, so if or when a bulb goes bad, you have to replace the whole fixture. This is important because if you add 4 more fixtures to your garage, you will have to run the wire in conduit if it's exposed, which is a real PITA to have to disassemble should you need to replace a fixture down the road.

You can buy inexpensive fluorescent fixtures, rewire them for LED, use LED bulbs, and you will have replaceable bulbs. A little more expensive to go this route, around $50 per fixture, but well worth it IMHO.

FWIW, I upgraded my kitchen 4' fluorescent fixtures to LED last year as well. We had a long discussion on this forum about which lumin level to go with, IMHO, it's not as simple as just pick a kelvin number, i.e., 2k, 3k, 4k, etc. The light emitted from an LED is completely different than what you're used to from a fluorescent, and none of the guides I've seen do an accurate job of telling you what to expect from a given kelvin level. I ended up buying both 4k and 5k bulbs and went with 5k bulbs in the kitchen. I was able to return the 4k. The bulb store I bought them from had fixtures on display with fluorescent bulbs and swapped them for the LED bulbs I was looking to buy. This helped some, but until you get those bulbs into the environment they will live in, there is simply no way to know whether they'll be bright enough or too harsh for your needs. In the store, the 5k did seem a little harsh, however, once installed in my kitchen, they're just fine, and much brighter/better than the fluorescents they replaced.
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Aaron
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Re: good 4 foot LED shop light suggestions? Or a place to look for reviews?

Post by Aaron » Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:40 am

LEDs also generally don't suddenly cease to work like incandescent bulbs. They actually fade over a very long period of time.

So eventually you may notice they're not as bright as they once were, and that's when you begin to think about replacing them, without any urgency.

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A. Spruce
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Re: good 4 foot LED shop light suggestions? Or a place to look for reviews?

Post by A. Spruce » Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:44 am

You probably noticed I used "kelvin" and not "lumen". Both terms are used together, separately, and interchangeably, unfortunately they are NOT the same thing. Kelvin is the temperature or color of the light, lumen is the amount of light.

For frame of reference, a fluorescent "soft white" is in the yellow/red color range, where bright white or full spectrum bulbs are more pure white. In terms of kelvin, the lower the number, the lower on the color spectrum, softer the light will be. The 5k bulbs I referenced in my last post would equate to full spectrum fluorescent bulbs.

And lumen, you can sort of think of like wattage of an incandescent, the higher the watts, the more light the bulb gives off. The higher the lumen number, the more light an LED will give off.

Unfortunately, again, you can't assume that your current fluorescent bulbs are 40 watts, so you can't simply choose a 40 watt equivalent LED. Nor can you assume that because the fluorescent was a "soft white" or "shop light" that you can simply buy an equivalent kelvin level. It just doesn't work that way, which is why every review and reference guide you find is worthless. Kelvin and Lumen work together, their combined properties are what produce the level of light out of an LED bulb. The only real way to know what kind of light an LED bulb or fixture is going to give off is to actually put it in the environment and turn it on.

Once we are used to using kelvin and lumen (instead of wattage) as a metric, then, maybe, we can read a chart and know what a given set of numbers actually means. Until then, there is no substitute for direct, eye's on comparison of the different bulbs.
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Aaron
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Re: good 4 foot LED shop light suggestions? Or a place to look for reviews?

Post by Aaron » Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:20 am

I love the lights that this guy fabricated!!!

https://youtu.be/1fMmpfpKJnQ

The only issue is he didn't dress the wiring properly, he should have a proper strain-relief bushing for the cable so it doesn't abrade on the steel. For safety.

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