Questions for those who have LED lighting in their shop.

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Forum topic by AZWoody posted 10-18-2017 05:26 PM 2180 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1477 posts in 2029 days

10-18-2017 05:26 PM

I have multiple recessed 4’ fluorescent lamps in my shop and have been contemplating slowly converting to LED as they burn out.

Being a farmer for my real job, I spend a lot of time in the fields at night and one problem I really have with LED is for some reason, depth perception is non-existent. It is difficult to see small holes in the field or terrain variation.

I never have had those problems with Halogen or HID lighting on my tractors or any of the head mounted flashlights.
It’s actually a problem because when doing some things at night, I really need to see where I have high and low spots if I’m leveling a field for example.

Also, just walking in a field, I have tripped over small holes that the brightness of the LEDs pretty much wash out.

In the shop, when doing small detail finishing, I could imagine that being a problem as well. Not being able to see small variations when gluing up panels or even sanding errors or lines.

Any issues with that from anyone else?

10 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6315 posts in 3299 days

#1 posted 10-18-2017 05:54 PM

My shop is still being finished, but i did choose LED lamps for the light. Since it’s not a functional shop just yet, my experience with these same lamps is limited to my basement workspace, where I reload and tinker with my guns. Doing that, I haven’t experienced any problems with details…and that would be of some importance when reloading. I do think the light from the indoor lamps is not nearly as harsh as that you see on floodlamps (headlights) and flashllght type devices. I recently put up a yard lamp that is also LED, and the light from it (no diffusers) is also harsh…but much brighter than the 70 watt sodium equivalent. It might be worth it for you to try it for your self. Buy a couple (or just one) LED fixture, install it and try to gauge how it looks to your eyes. I really like them, but I’m sure my eyes are older and maybe not as perceptive as yours.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View splintergroup's profile


3865 posts in 2028 days

#2 posted 10-18-2017 08:17 PM

I have LEDs in my 4-foot troffers that I converted several years ago. I agree with Fred, the flashlights and other “directional” type LED lights tend to have a harsher light pattern that a typical incandescent. For the shop, the lights are made to be diffuse and you don’t get that extreme of light and shadow that messes with your mind 8^)

The bulbs I have are directly compatible with the existing fluorescent ballasts, but I opted to wire them directly and eliminate the ballast (and save an additional 5% on power).

The color spectrum of LED lights are a bit more goofy than regular fluorescents which can change your perception of a woods color and finishing results, but getting bulbs with a high CRI rating helps out a lot.

View TaySC's profile


270 posts in 1139 days

#3 posted 10-18-2017 08:38 PM

I use my old shop light fixtures and converted them to LED. Like a lot of people, I completely cut out the ballast (absolutely no reason to have a ballast) and all the wires that went to the far end of the fixture. It is now direct wired on one end and jumped from one bulb to the next. It’s net because the bulbs light when you plug just the one end into the old “tombstones”. The opposite end is merely to hold the light up.

Most of the new bulbs come with new tombstones, but unless your original fixtures tombstones are broekn, I can see no reason why you would replace thwm.

As far as the problems you are having with the lighting and not seeing some things. I’ve never experienced that, but like others have said, maybe it is because of the tight direction light that you wouldn’t have with an actual 4 foot LED bulb.

I’d suggest changing one or two bulbs (will take 5 minutes, tops) and see what you think.

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6069 posts in 3215 days

#4 posted 10-18-2017 09:06 PM

This is a 10×10 addition I have on the side of my shop. Two LED converted fixtures no ballast, total of 4 bulbs. They are not exactly like fluorescent bulbs so you do get shadows higher up you look into the ceiling. Down below the light does not seem to distort wood color much if at all.

Lately I have been making task lamps for various machines and have used 12 volt 30 watt fog lamps for a Jeep. These are extremely bright and in the blue hue color-wise. They do affect the color of the wood. But they are very bright so you can see the line well. To use these would require a 12 volt power source using either a wall wart or in my case I made a 12 volt power center. You can see that project here:

These are pictures at night with the lights on.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View OSU55's profile


2651 posts in 2795 days

#5 posted 10-18-2017 11:54 PM

I use 4 ft led fixtures in my shop. As mentioned the light is more diffuse vs the directional systems you described, making for a softer light. Do pay attention to the light color. Mine are about 4500 vs 4100 for the flourescents they replaced. I would not want them more blue. As far as color rendering, finish lighting needs to match the color lighting where the finish will be viewed to get proper color. I dont worry about it until the color step, then I use the proper bulbs is some temporary clip on fixtures with the correct color bulbs. The clip ons also allow the lights to be in a “raking” position so I can see fine finishing details.

View clin's profile


1114 posts in 1802 days

#6 posted 10-18-2017 11:56 PM

The actual source (LED etc.) of the light is not going to be an issue. The problems you described might be due to the light color or simply due to the beam characteristics (narrow spotlight vs a broach beam). Neither of these issues is specific to LED’s.

LED lights are available in different color temperatures (as well as actual colors like red, blue etc). And how they may be focus just depends on the light fixture.

I also think brightness may be an issue outside at night. As we all know, any sort of light make it easier to see what the light is hitting, but just about everything else goes black. So I would agree that too bright a light might cause an issue.

Another is where the light comes form relative to your eyes. To see irregularities in a surfaces, it usually helps if the light is coming from the side. That way you will see some shadows. If the light were coming right from your head, like a miners light on a helmet, the shadows are not visible.

This is one reason some suggest having a window to the side of a workbench. The side lighting highlights irregularities in the work.

As far as in our shop, I wouldn’t worry about LED light being an issue just becasue it is LED. But like any lighting, it is usually best to have a lot of it, and have it coming from many sources. That way you won’t create shadows by having your head and body between the light and your work.

Bright white ceilings and walls are helpful as well.

-- Clin

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

24957 posts in 3911 days

#7 posted 10-19-2017 02:06 AM

I have recently switched out all my florescent lights in my shop and barn to LED daylight type and it is lit up like daytime all the time now and I can see my work much better. I don’t experience any problems with them. I know they will come on instantly in cold weather now, too!!. The old ones had to warm up to get to full light which was not as good as the LED’s and I use half the power…. 41 watts vs, 80 watts per fixture.

cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View AZWoody's profile


1477 posts in 2029 days

#8 posted 10-19-2017 02:26 AM

Thanks for the input. I was hoping that being a replacement for the tubes might make them throw light a bit differently.
It is hard for me to try a few as my shop has 15 or so fixtures up top.
I’ll probably start changing some bad bulbs soon. I’ve done it already in my office where it’s needed and I like them but was just worried how it would look in a shop setting.

View tacky68's profile


89 posts in 2233 days

#9 posted 10-19-2017 03:08 AM

Woody: Lat year I replaced the florescent lights in my basement with LED’s I pulled off the shelf at HD, I believe

they are 4000k. Absolutely love them. The difference is amazing. Last winter I replaced the florescent’s in my 2 car

detached garage with six 2×2 fixtures that are 5000k (daylight). I was adamant about them being 5000k. Bought

them from LED lighting supplier, paid $84 apiece for them. Also put another 48”, 5000k with a pull string over the

work bench. bought it from Super Bright Lights. The absolute BEST thing I have ever done for the garage. I can

not recommend them enough.


View Carloz's profile


1147 posts in 1397 days

#10 posted 10-19-2017 10:32 AM

It is not LTD lights, it is age

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