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Best shop lights 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]

Last Updated December 1, 2018
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Willard LawsonHi there, I’m Willard Lawson. After 30 hours of research including speaking with consultants and experts, and plenty of parents and 13 hours spent testing 10 shop lights, I believe that I found the best shop lights of 2018.

I will go through the main features and what you should consider when deciding which one to pick over the other. So, you will find reviews on some models of shop lights that impressed me (and a good many other people), and you will find a few informational pages as well.

Best shop lights of 2018

So, what exactly would anyone want to know about shop lights? I know most of us don’t really care much about the history and the origin, all we want to know is which of them is the best. Of course, I will spare you the history and go straight on to the best shop lights. If you’re scouring the market for the best shop lights, you’d better have the right info before spending your money.

I want to find something that’s designed well (both for aesthetic purposes and efficiency). I make the search easier for you, by reviewing the best shop lights on the market.

Test Results and Ratings

Rank №1 №2 №3
Product
Total 4.8 4.5 4.3
Style
5 points
4 points
4 points
Versatility
5 points
5 points
4 points
Performance
5 points
4 points
4 points
Value
4 points
5 points
5 points
Awards 1
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How to save up to 86%? Here is little trick.

You must visit the page of sales. Here is the link. If you don’t care about which brand is better, then you can choose the shop lights by the price and buy from the one who will offer the greatest discount.

 

 

№1 – Hykolity 4ft 42 Watt LED Shop Light Garage Workbench Ceiling Lamp 5000K Daylight White 3700 Lumens Linkable Lamp Fixture 64w Fluorescent Equivalent-Pack of 4

 
Hykolity 4ft 42 Watt LED Shop Light Garage Workbench Ceiling Lamp 5000K Daylight White 3700 Lumens Linkable Lamp Fixture 64w Fluorescent Equivalent-Pack of 4

Pros
✔ Super Bright – This LED Shop Light provides 3700 Lumens at 5000K Daylight White. That is a staggering LED Efficiency of 88 lm/w!
✔ Durable – Pull cord on/off switch included. Made up of composite aluminum for a long lasting LED Light fixture.
✔ Wide Application – Widely installed in garages, workshops, workbench areas, storage areas, warehouses, basements, equipment rooms, etc.
Cons
Nothing, except that I wasted too much time making my choice.
 
Total:
4.8

Why did this shop lights win the first place?

The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing! I was completely satisfied with the price. Its counterparts in this price range are way worse.

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Style
5

5star

Versatility
5

5star

Performance
5

5star

Value
4

4star

 

 

№2 – Four Bros Lighting BayBrite

 
Four Bros Lighting BayBrite

Pros
✔ Single-sided 22-watt LED T8 tubes included
✔ MAINTENANCE-FREE – No ballast-drama anymore. This 6 Lamp LED high bay light fixtures operates (6) LED T8 tube lights that bypass the ballast. Simply install the LED tube in its marked location and twist. Our LED high bays are rewired to operate 6 LED T8 Tubes
Cons
Lack of sufficient storage space.
A bit expensive.
 
Total:
4.5

Why did this shop lights come in second place?

The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. I like this product. For such a low price, I didn’t even hope it to be any better. It’s decently made. The design quality is top notch and the color is nice.

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Style
4

4star

Versatility
5

5star

Performance
4

4star

Value
5

5star

 

 

№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

 
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

Pros
✔ Super Bright – This LED Shop Light provides 3600 Lumens at 5000K Daylight White. That is a staggering LED Efficiency of 100 lm/w!
✔ Instant On – Our LED Wall Pack is engineered to light instantly when the switch is flipped. No more waiting for your lights to “warm up”.
Cons
Not enough for all services.
It is on the expensive side, but in the long run, it can save you a ton of money..
 
Total:
4.3

Why did this shop lights take third place?

A very convenient model. It is affordable and made of high-quality materials. It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment.

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Style
4

4star

Versatility
4

4star

Performance
4

4star

Value
5

5star

 

 

shop lights Buyer’s Guide

If you keep the before points in mind, you can easily go out to the market and buy shop lights, right? No!

Color temperature

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.

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.

Bulb shape

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.

Watch this

Let’s start with the base of the bulb, the part that screws in. In the US, the most common shape by far is E26, with the “E” standing for Edison and the “26” referring to the diameter of the base in millimeters. You might also see E2bulbs from time to time, which is the European standard. Those should still fit into common American fixtures, but keep in mind that voltage ratings are different in the two regions, with American bulbs rated for 120 volts compared to 220-240 volts in Europe. For smaller sockets, like you might find with a candelabra, you’ll want to look for an E1base.

As for the bulb itself, the typical shape that you’re probably used to is an A1bulb. Increase that number to A2or A23, and you’ve got the same shape, but bigger. Bulbs made to resemble flames are F-shaped, which is easy enough to remember, as are globes, which go by the letter G. If it’s a floodlight you want, you’ll want to look for “BR” (bulging reflector) or “PAR” (parabolic aluminized reflector). Those bulbs are designed to throw all their light in one direction only, which makes them useful for spot lighting, overhead lighting and the headlights in your car.

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, with a modest boom in smart lighting currently under way, 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 in-app pairing instructions.

Others transmit using a distinct frequency like ZigBee or Z-Wave. Bulbs like those might be a better fit for bigger smart home setups, as it’s typically a little easier to sync them up with things like motion detectors and smart locks. Setup can be slightly more advanced, as you’ll need a separate hub or gateway device capable of translating that distinct frequency into a Wi-Fi signal your router can comprehend.

Some smart bulbs come with their own gateway. Others, like the Cree Connected LED, require a third-party control device, like the Wink Hub.

Color control

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 the 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.

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.

Kitchen

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.

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.

Jargon buster

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.

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.

Moreover, an LED bulb’s lifespan is practically infinite. Manufacturers typically estimate a bulb’s lifespan based on three hours of use per day. By that measurement, an LED bulb will be as good as new for at least a decade, manufacturers say. Under the same conditions, an old-fashioned lightbulb may work for only about a year before burning out.

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.

Extended Downrod

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

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

High airflow ceiling fans circulate more air and consume less energy than standard fans. These fans are ideal for garages, warehouses, and outdoor spaces, such as your patio and porch. When you buy a ceiling fan with high airflow you get an added bonus: high-airflow fans are known to drive away mosquitoes and other backyard pests.

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.

Wall Control

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.

TP-Link LB130

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.

LightwaveRF

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.

To set up Lightwave you need to purchase the £89.9Web Link hub, which manages your various Lightwave kit, and you can then add on as many or as few Lightwave devices as you like. Each light switch costs from around £3(see the full range at Maplin, but shop around for best prices).

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.

Hive Active Light

The Hive Active Light Colour changing bulb is an easy and smart way to introduce lighting into your smart home environment.

The coloured bulb is arguably more of a gimmick and something you might not use day to day, but the Cool to Warm White bulb is easy to recommend, as being able to change the colour temperature of the light is a very handy feature.

Elgato Avea

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.

Solar panels

Solar panel is one of the key parts of a solar flood light, it collects sun energy, converts it into electricity and stores into a battery to power a flood light.

Wattage. One of the most important measurements of a solar panel is wattage. It shows how much power the panel produces in an ideal conditions, for example, a watt solar panel will output watt-hours of electricity every hour. The more powerful the lighting is, the higher wattage panel will be required to power the lighting. For example, lower power lights that produce few hundred lumens of light can be run by a 1-watt solar panels, while larger lights will require 10-20 watt solar panels.

Most of the time, larger solar panels will produce more wattage, because there simply is more surface area on the panel to collect sun energy. You will sometimes see that high power outdoor flood lights are equipped not just with one, but with two or more solar panels to be able to produce enough energy to recharge their high capacity batteries.

Size. As mentioned above, the size of the solar panel will depend on how powerful the light is and from what material the panel is made of. Monorcystalline solar panel can produce the same amount of power from a smaller panel than a thin-film solar panel. Before purchasing a solar lighting you should consider not only if the area you wish to install the light has enough sunlight during the day, but also if there is enough physical area to install the solar panel if you are going for a high power flood light.

Fixture & Casings

Outdoor flood lights must be properly weather-proofed to withstand any conditions all year round.

IP ratings. Probably the most important specification you need to watch for when considering the durability of the fixture is IP rating (Ingress Protection). IP rating shows how much protection the fixture has against contact with solid elements (such as a dust) and water.

Majority of higher end dusk to dawn solar flood lights will have an IP6rating, which means that all parts of the light are fully dust protected and can withstand water jets projected by a nozzle. In other words, this means that the light can be used outdoors practically in any weather conditions all year round.

Mounting hardware. There are different types of solar flood lights from wall mountable units to ground mounted and pole mounted lights. Check out if the flood light you want to purchase comes with the correct mount for the area you want to install the light. Some manufacturers provide an option to purchase various types of mounting hardwares for the fixture separately.

Cable lengths. Another common thing to check is the cable lengths of the fixture, and by cable lengths I mean the length of the cable that connects solar panel to the fixture. Consider the area where you will install the lighting and if the supplied cable length will be long enough. Of course, you can always purchase an extension cable, however, be careful with these, because longer cables can impact the performance of the solar panel.

LED Flood Light

Manufacturers of solar flood lights often don’t specify how many lumens or lux a lamp produces, but they often list how many LEDs a fixture has, so one may think that a fixture with more LEDs will output more light than a fixture with less LEDs. In reality, this isn’t always the case. Of course, if we take two completely identical solar lights and one has 60 LEDs and other has 80 LEDs, the one with 80 LEDs will be brighter, but because each manufacturer uses different components for their lamps including LED diodes (the efficiency of these diodes can vary) and all these components can impact how bright the fixture is going to be, you cannot completely judge the brightness of the flood light just by the number of LED diodes it has.

Moreover, there are many other characteristics of a fixture that impacts its brightness, such as the color temperature and color rendering index of bulbs, light spread, angle and direction and many other specifics.

Color temperature. Color temperature describes a color appearance produced by a lamp, or in other words, the color of light produced by a lamp. It is measured in Kelvins (K). Color temperature is more important in indoor lighting, as it helps to set the mood of a living room, bedroom or office by choosing bulbs with certain color temperatures. Bulbs with lower color temperature will produce warmer, more orange looking color (like a candle, or an incandescent bulb) and bulbs with higher color temperature will produce cooler, bluish color (daylight CFL bulbs or LED diodes).

Sensors

Sensors, such as motion detectors and photosensors, have a significant role in solar lighting, as they help to conserve battery and switch the light on only when it’s necessary.

Motion sensors. A motion sensor is responsible for detecting motion in a certain range around the flood light and turning the light on when motion has been detected. Three of the most common motion detector types are active sensors (detects motion by sending microwaves and monitoring changes in wave response time), passive infrared sensors or PIR (detects motion by scanning infrared heat changes in the monitored area) and combined sensors. Practically all motion activated solar lights will use PIR sensors to detect motion, because they are easily adjustable and don’t pick up motion of random objects such as tree branches or wind blown objects which is a common situation outdoors.

Flood light motion detector

Most solar flood lights have motion sensors that can pick motion in a 120-180 degree wide angle and in about 15-40 feet long distances.

Dusk to dawn (photosensor). Photosensor or dusk-to-dawn sensor is a must have feature in every solar flood light. It detects when it gets darker outside and automatically turns the light on at a certain level or darkness and in opposite, turns the light off in the morning when it is bright outside, so it doesn’t waist battery illuminating during the daytime. Without this sensor you would need to manually turn the light on when it gets dark and off in the morning. How to know if a solar flood light is equipped with such sensor? If the description of the light says that it is a “dusk-to-dawn light” or “automatically turns on at night”, you can be sure that it is equipped with a photosensor. I would advise to stay away from any solar flood light that doesn’t have either a motion sensor or a photosensor, because that flood light would simply waste energy by illuminating during the day or you would have to turn it on and off manually, which practically eliminates the purpose of solar lighting.

Batteries

Because solar panels cannot collect energy at night, they store energy during the day into rechargeable batteries to power the light during the night.

On the other hand, high power solar flood lights are powered either by lithium-ion (usually by lithium iron phosphate which has the most advantages for solar lighting from all lithium-ion batteries) or lead acid batteries. Li-phosphate (LiFePO4) is much more popular battery for wide range of solar flood lights than lead acid battery, because it has very high specific energy, meaning that batteries can carry more energy while keeping the size and weight smaller, decent cycle life of up to 2000 cycles and they run completely maintenance free. The only real disadvantage of these batteries is high manufacturing cost, although lithium-ion batteries are getting cheaper for some time now. Lead acid batteries (best known for being used as car batteries) are also a common rechargeable battery option for high power solar flood lights.

While you will see li-phosphate batteries used in practically all range of solar lights from small front door lights to powerful outdoor flood lights, lead acid batteries are only used for really high power lighting. In opposite to li-phosphate, they have very low energy density, so the battery must be made a lot bigger and heavier to provide the same capacity as other rechargeable batteries. The main advantage of lead acid batteries is their cheap price, which helps to cut down the total cost of a solar lighting fixture. In solar and portable lighting special valve regulated Gell Cell and AGM lead acid batteries are used, because they can run practically maintenance free during their lifetime.

To increase the illumination time solar lights are equipped with motion sensors that turn the light on for a given interval (usually up to few minutes) when motion is detected in front of the light and after the preset period the light is turned off which helps to conserve energy and provide illumination only when it’s needed. Sometimes manufacturers even list the “provided illumination time” for the fixture or “how many times the light can be triggered with full charge” for motion activated flood lights.

Important notes before getting your project started

Power consumption is one of the reasons we as a society have begun switching to LEDs. Wattage tells us how much power we are consuming while these lights are on, and in turn how much we’ll have to pay at the end of each month. Once again, be sure to verify the wattage per foot, meter, or reel before you buy.

Some may read “2watts” on a reel and then get home and realize this is per meter or per foot, meaning the whole reel actually uses much more. Making matters worse, they have bought a power supply that covers 30 watts, thinking that would be enough. This often occurs when a seller doesn’t properly list important information in an easy to read format.

Install LEDs where you’ll use them most

LED bulbs are still expensive and so, unless you have the budget to replace all the bulbs in your home at once, you’ll have to replace bulbs as they burn out. In the long run, your investment will pay you back in energy savings.

But, as Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has learned, it matters where you use your LED bulbs if you hope your investment will repay you soon. Put an LED in your closet, for example, or another place where the bulb is seldom used, and it may be years and years before the bulb’s cost is repaid in energy savings. It’s best to use your LEDs where the payoff will be fastest, in the light fixtures that get most use in the high-traffic parts of your home.

Get the light color you want

If you were turned off by the harsh white quality of light from older LEDs you’ll be glad to know there are more options now. LED bulbs offer a range of colors, from a warmer yellow-white, akin to the color of incandescent bulbs, to a whiter white or blueish white.

Match the bulb shape to your fixture

LED bulbs come in a number of unfamiliar shapes. You’ll find spiral bulbs, different types of globes, spotlights, floodlights and some shaped like candle flames. One useful shape is the MR16, a smallish, cone-shaped bulb.

Which bulb will work in your can lights? Which is best for the ceiling-fan light? For a table lamp? This brief, illustrated Energy Star guide and EarthEnergy’s bulb guide show which shapes work best in various types of fixtures.

Choose the right bulb for dimmers

Another problem with LEDs used to be finding bulbs that were compatible with the dimmer switches in your home. Some buzz, flicker or just fail to respond to a dimmer switch.

Those still can be problems, but CNET tested bulbs and has a recommendation. The Philips 60-watt LED performed best. It’s easily found in stores, but don’t confuse it with the less-expensive Philips SlimStyle LED, which buzzed badly in a dimmer (although it may be good for other uses). The Philips bulb isn’t the only solution. Read bulbs’ packaging to find the ones recommended for use with dimmer switches.

The solution is to buy a dimmer switch rated for both CFL and LED bulbs. Two reputable manufacturers of CFL/LED dimmers are Leviton and Lutron; both provide lists of bulbs they’ve verified will work with their dimmers.

Headlights

Think of your OEM headlights as that suit you wore to your high school prom. That powdered blue tuxedo was cool back in the day, but it’s hardly fashion forward by today’s standards. The same is true for your car’s headlights. While most OEM lights provide adequate illumination, most times their style is straight out the 70s. Thankfully, you can pull your car’s exterior out of the past with a set of aftermarket headlights. Replacement headlights go above and beyond the uninspired design of OEM lights to enhance you car’s look and attitude. These exterior accents range from the sleek and sophisticated to the rugged and race ready, and our diverse catalog of automotive lights are sure to please drivers of all tastes.

Aftermarket headlights do more than just alter the look of your exterior – they can also enhance your car’s light output.

Helpful Tip

If your factory headlights aren’t meeting your standards, consider picking up a set of Spyder headlights. LED headlights produce a significantly stronger beam than regular OEM headlights to increase your visibility at night. Plus, they use less power than OE lights and stand up to weather and water damage better than Halogen bulbs. In addition to LED headlights, you can upgrade your front end with Euro headlights or Halo headlights. Euro lights, like Spyder Euro headlights, are ideal for import cars seeking a more continental style. Additionally, Euro beam patters are significantly wider than normal beam patterns found on factory lights, improving visibility at night and in bad weather. However, if state-of-the-art performance and style is what you want, take a look at Anzo halo headlights. Halo headlamps feature CCFL technology, which means they burn more efficiently than other lights on the market and add a super-modern style to your front end.

Tail Lights

Sure, your tail lights’ primary responsibility is to illuminate your back-end, but they also help determine your car’s look. Unfortunately, most OEM tail lights fall short in the style department. You can bring your car’s backside looks into the 21st century with a set of replacement tail lights. From bright and bold LEDs to subtle designs inspired by European luxury, aftermarket tail lights give you the freedom to add any look to your vehicle.

Bumper Lights and Corner Lights

Bumper and corner lights are the small but essential accents that tie your car’s style together. If your car’s front-end still looks frumpy even after installing a set of new aftermarket headlights, it may have something to do with your bumper lights. In the same way a chipped tooth can ruin a perfect smile, cracked bumper lights, parking lights, and corner lights can diminish your front-end looks. Pick up a set of Anzo bumper lights to fill out your style. These bumper lights come in a variety of styles and feature a cosmopolitan design that adds sophistication to any bumper. For cars suffering from outdated corner lights, consider a set of APC Amber corner lights. These cool amber corner lights are custom designed to your vehicle, making them the easy-to-install way to brighten up the sides of your vehicle.

Helpful Tip: Need help finding the best LED headlights for your car? Take a look at the customer reviews on our site while you browse and see what people are saying about our aftermarket lights.

Third Brake Lights

Third brake LED lights take your rear-end lighting system to the next level. These lights provide drivers with an instant, cost-effective lighting upgrade, and most 3rd brake lights install easily with hand tools or automotive-grade tape. Truck and SUV owners should take a look at the Anzo LED third brake light. The Anzo 3rd brake light features a set of long-lasting LED lights and adds a rugged look to the back of your cab. It’s ideal for domestic trucks and SUVs, and comes in multiple colors. Truck owners in search of an attention grabbing light accessory should check out the Putco tail light bar. This light bar is constructed with striking LED lights that are custom fit to your truck’s tailgate. For budget conscious truck owners, this lighting accessory is a no-brainer.

How To Install Your Car Headlights

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a seasoned mechanic to install a set of replacement headlights. In fact, adding a new set of lamps to your car is easy, regardless of your experience with do-it-yourself projects. Check out this video and see how you can install a new pair of Spyder Euro headlights to your vehicle in under an hour.

Off-Road Lights

Trucks, SUVs, and Off-road vehicles have different needs than regular automobiles. When you’re fording through dark trails or cruising through the campsite, those high-beam headlamps aren’t going to cut it. Off-road lights are designed to meet the specific needs of heavy duty vehicles and enhance the style of your exterior. They come in a variety of designs to increase your visibility and truck’s rugged look. Before you start browsing, take a look at these popular off-road lighting options to find the best set of lights for your vehicle.

Flood Lights

If you’re facing inclement weather while off-roading, you may need additional illumination to get to your destination safely. In these situations, rely on a set of car flood lights. These flood lights have a wider beam pattern than OEM headlamps and make for a great exterior ornament for any truck or SUV. If you’re interested in mounting a set of flood lights onto your vehicle, take a look at KC HiLites off-road lights. Heavy rain and inclement weather are no match for these lights. These KC Hilities flood light kits come with impressive HID lights and feature a compact design that’s perfect for Jeeps and SUVs that are short on space.

Fog Lights

Fog can spell major problems for drivers. Driving through heavy fog can make the straightest paths seem uncertain, and even the most experienced drivers could get lost in the haze. You can see past heavy fog, however, with a set of high powered fog lights. Car fog lights are different from flood lights in that their beam shines at a downward angle to avoid your beams reflecting off of hazy weather. Drivers who face fog on a daily basis should pick up PIAA 2000 Series Fog Lights. These compact fog lights fit most vehicles and produce a wide 55-degree light beam to increase your visibility on the road. If these lights don’t suit your style, then check out Anzo LED fog lights. The LEDs on Anzo Fog Lights add over 400 Lumens to your existing light system and are available in multiple sizes and styles. In addition to the safety they provide, fog lights can also enhance the rugged style of your truck or SUV. For drivers looking to enhance their Jeep’s style with a set of mountable fog lights, check out PIAA 520 Series fog lights. This off-road fog light kit comes with two high powered bulbs and a rugged style that provides any vehicle with a set of tough off-road lighting accents.

Long Range Off-Road Lights

Off-Road long range lights can bulk up the look of any SUV or truck. They drastically increase your visibility at night and mount onto most vehicles in minutes. If your truck is lacking in the lighting department, a long range off-road light kit might be just the thing to enhance your 4×4’s visibility. Among the many off-road range lights we carry, our most popular among off-road enthusiasts are the KC HiLites Daylighters. These powerful HID lights increase your ability to drive along dark trails and come equipped with a rugged casing that enhances your vehicle’s off-road look.

LED Lights

LED lights shine brighter than OEM headlights and can even triple your range of vision in some cases. Additionally, they’re built to last longer than incandescent lights. Unlike standard car lights, LEDs don’t have a filament, which makes them more resistant to water damage. LED lights also use up less battery power than incandescent lights and fire up faster than incandescent bulbs, making them ideal for brake lights. If you’re thinking about switching over to an LED light system, check out Anzo LED tail lights. These replacement tail lights give your rear-end increased visibility and make for a great off-road accent for trucks and SUVs.

Halogen Lights

Halogen is the standard bulb for most replacement headlights and tail lights. These lights burn brighter and longer than regular incandescent lights and are more energy efficient. However, like most incandescent bulbs, halogen lights are more susceptible to wear and weather damage than LED lights. If you plan on buying a pair of halogen headlights, make sure they’re encased in a weather resistant cover. Otherwise, the filament could be vulnerable to dust or water damage.

HID Lights

The intense glow of HID (High Intensity Discharge) Xenon lights is caused by a superheated ball of xenon gas, which burns with the same level of intensity as daylight. HID lights are typically found in off-road driving lights and flood lights. HID bulbs are ideal for drivers in search of high performance, high-efficiency lighting. If you’re thinking about adding these lights to your vehicle, check out PIAA HID lights. These driving lights only use 3watts of power and dramatically increase your visibility at night.

CCFL Lights

CCFL stands for Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps. These lights are sometimes referred to as “halos” for the unique, circular light pattern. Halos produce a concentrated beam of light that shines father down the road than other car lights and are ideal for cars driving at high speeds. Plus, CCFL halos give any vehicle a high-performance, high-tech style. For drivers seeking a performance halo light, check out Anzo CCFL headlights. These are car lights are custom fit to your car’s front end and install under an hour with simple hand tools.

How Weather Determines Your Automotive Lights

Aftermarket headlights and tail lights can help redefine your vehicle’s look and attitude. However, if those lighting upgrades aren’t enough, consider tricking out your vehicle with a set of automotive lighting accessories. We carry an exhaustive line of light accessories for trucks and SUVs, from tailgate light bars to tail light covers. If you’re looking for an additional lighting accessory for your front end, pick up a set of PUTCO Dayliners. These bright LED lights install directly underneath your truck’s headlights with 3M automotive tape and provide your vehicle with a set of attention grabbing accents that look great at any time of day.

If you’re looking for something a little bolder for your lights, consider installing a truck light bar on your truck or SUV. Truck bars do more than just provide you with additional illumination at night or in bad weather – these mountable lighting accessories embody the rugged attitude associated with off-road vehicles. SUV owners seeking a total front end upgrade should consider the KC Hilities light bar. KC Hilities has long been associated with the off-road lifestyle, and their light bar is a favorite among Jeep owners for its easy to install design and its tough, wear resistant design.

Assessing Your Lighting System Needs

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.

Today, many PAR fixtures are equipped with LEDs instead of traditional incandescent bulbs, giving them multi-color and color-mixing options. As noted above, PAR cans with LEDs generate much less heat, require far less power, and don’t require the use of dimmer packs.

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

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-512

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.

DMX Controllers

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.

Number of universes: Each DMX network is called a “universe” and has up to 51channels. Smaller controllers usually have a single OUT connector allowing control of a single universe. More complex lighting systems may be composed of several networks or universes thus requiring multiple controllers, or a single controller with multiple OUT connectors.

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.

Lighting Strategies

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.

Lighting Hardware

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.

Lighting Cables

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.

Lighting Glossary

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.

PENDANT LIGHTS

Modern pendant lighting is all about being understated – the focus is on the form, with simple shapes on show. When hanging your pendant light, consider its purpose. Over a dining table, your light should be lower to create intimacy. In heavy traffic areas, such as hallways and living areas, use the tallest household member as a guide to check you’re not creating a collision course.

FLOOR LAMPS

Contemporary lights will suit the practical areas of your home – think kitchens, bathrooms and laundries. Modern downlights can bring a seamless sophistication to your kitchen, bathroom or living areas, allowing your hero pieces to shine. They are particularly useful if you are dealing with separate work areas, such as kitchen preparation benches, allowing you to direct the light source to the most practical areas. As with other lighting choices, choose energy-saving options, such as LEDs and fluorescents. These options, while initially more expensive, will save money and need less maintenance over time.

OUTDOOR LIGHTS

Integrated outdoor lighting schemes will make a dramatic impact to your backyard, deck or patio come nightfall. There are two important considerations when choosing outdoor lighting – safety and design. Coordinate your choices with your garden design to showcase the elements in the space, such as large trees, fragrant plants, stone walls or water features. Nat Corrigan from Gardens At Night says that it is important to look at where the garden is viewed from. “You may view the same feature from dif erent areas – multiple light fittings may be required so one aspect doesn’t appear in shadow,” he says. Nat also recommended fittings that are constructed of brass, copper or 31marine-grade stainless steel, to ensure that fittings will last longer. In terms of safety, make sure uneven pathways are well lit and stairways are highlighted. Check that any transformers are situated in convenient locations.

LED TRACK LIGHTING

Highlight your home’s architectural elements with this energy-ef icient, easy-care option. LED lighting has become the new darling in illumination, especially for kitchens and bathrooms. Sales manager of Superlight, Gordon MacVicar says that demand for the strip lighting has steadily increased over the past few years. “We have been doing LED track lighting for about six years and as the cost has come down, the demand has increased,” Gordon says. He adds that when people are investing in spectacular kitchen splashbacks or bathroom fittings, it is only natural that they want to highlight them with some clever lighting. LED track lighting is energy-ef icient, versatile and generates very little heat, making it also ideal for subtle lighting along stairways, windows and floors. The strips are manufactured to length, allowing lots of flexibility for homeowners. Gordon says that most residential projects choose a warm light option or, if it’s going in a clean white kitchen or bathroom, a 4000 kelvin light will provide a slightly cooler colour tone. Another great thing about LED strips? They are virtually maintenance free, says Gordon and usually don’t need replacing. “You can just set and forget them,” he says.

 

 

 

 

How to save up to 86%? Here is little trick.

You must visit the page of sales. Here is the link. If you don’t care about which brand is better, then you can choose the shop lights by the price and buy from the one who will offer the greatest discount.

 

 

Final Word

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 lights wisely! Good luck!

So, TOP3 of shop lights

 

 

Questions? Leave a comment below!

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