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LED Trouble Lights

Discussion in 'Home Power and Microgeneration' started by Scott Willing, Nov 7, 2004.

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  1. Princess Auto has just started carrying a couple of LED trouble
    lights, both with 60 white T1 LED's, under their "Power Fist" house
    brand. One has a 50' cord on a retractable reel ($CDN120) and the
    other just has a plain 25' cord ($CDN70).

    I bought a couple of the latter model, right at the tail end of a
    recent sale when they were on for $CDN50.

    I think the same manufacturer (not Power Fist, which is a fiction
    AFAIK) may make the "Freedom" 30-LED rechargeable model I can find on
    many other websites such as at: but this model is
    not carried by Princess Auto.

    For the equivalent of US$42, I thought the 25' cord, 60-LED model was
    a pretty good deal for the LED's alone. It comes with a typical
    wallwart transformer (12VDC 500mA) molded on the end of the cord.

    It's intended for indoor use (not sealed/waterproof like the
    round-bodied 30-LED models) but who can resist a quick snip and the
    addition of a lighter plug and in-line socket (admittedly not my
    favourite connectors) to turn this puppy into a handy item both for
    house and car? Throw in a socket + alligator clips adapter, and you're
    all set for direct connection to a battery as well. Dunno how flexible
    the cord would be in the cold, but I'm about to find out.

    It isn't a lot of light, but IMHO the trouble light application is
    another good one for LED's. I often find the typical 180 degree
    pattern from a garden-variety trouble light makes it a challenge to
    get the light on the work and not in your eyes. The LED light has a
    much narrower dispersion pattern and the colour temperature gives you
    a truer idea of what you're looking at - handy if tracing wires under
    the hood, e.g.

    It won't burn out if you drop it, either, and if your wrench slips it
    isn't going to break a bulb and throw sparks in the engine compartment
    or battery box, which is small but real hazard with conventional
    trouble lights, whether at line voltage or 12V. Again, cord
    flexibility might well be an issue, but at least it won't have
    cold-starting problems like fluorescents.

    Not a perfect product by any means, and still a LOT of money compared
    with the classic alternatives, but all in all a useful addition to the
    kit IMHO.

    BTW, a friend of mine who suffers seasonal affective disorder (?,
    "SAD" anyway) due to low sunlight levels thought this might be a
    cheaper alternative to the "Light Book" product that sells for around
    $CDN300. She showed me a pamphlet for the Light Book. It also uses 60
    LED's, but thanks to the same-size reproduction I'm able to guess that
    they're the larger T1-3/4's. The claim is that if you place one of
    these broad spectrum lights within your field of vision for 15min/day
    it helps. No comment. It's like battery desulphators, I have no idea
    if the voodoo works.

    Sorry I can't supply a direct link to these products on the Princess
    Auto website ( They're pretty new and
    don't seem to be listed yet. But here are their PA item numbers:

    8005431 with reel and 50' cord
    8005429 with plain 25' cord

    I'm sure they'll quickly show up at other suppliers in any case, and
    with my luck they'll be selling for $20 at WallMart by the time you
    read this.

    FWIW, the instruction sheet lists these manufacturers' part numbers
    for various models, though the reel unit is not listed, nor is a
    rechargeable model though it is mentioned in the text.

    LED084L3-60 (Round shape, 60 LED's, 120V via xfmr)
    LED084L3-30 (Round shape, 30 LED's, 120V via xfmr)
    LED035L3-30 (Round shape, 30 LED's, cig lighter and clips)
    LED084L4-60 (Flattened shape, 60 LED's, 120V via xfmr)*
    *this is the one I have

  2. Thanks for posting this information, Scott.

    I suspect the price will rapidly come down on these.

    A friend has a Snap-On LED trouble light, and he doesn't like it much.
    Throws a pretty darn dim light, IMHO. I saw it in use. Not certain,
    but I think it has 30 LEDs. Your 60-LED lamp may well be adequately

    I think the 12 volt fluorescent trouble lights are the best deal going
    at present. Fairly rugged, and I expect the risk of igniting flammable
    vapors in the event of tube breakage is minimal.

    Gordon Richmond
  3. SQLit

    SQLit Guest

    also snipped

    Full spectrum fluorescent lamps will help with SAD. They are not usually
    available from the home stores. I had a friend move from Phoenix to Seattle.
    They went buggy with the lack of sun light. While visiting I changed out
    their kitchen ceiling lights, 3 8' two tube fixtures to full spectrum. Now
    they spend a couple of hours a day in the kitchen eating area and they are
    fine. You need watts and time to help SAD. I have seen fixtures that were
    nothing but an dressed up 4 foot 2 tube fixture with full spectrum lamps
    that you were supposed to sit in front of. There are even full spectrum PL
    lamps it would take a bunch of them to help.
  4. " least it won't have cold-starting problems like

    "Not a perfect product by any means, and still a LOT of money compared
    with the classic alternatives..."

  5. Guest

    I think the 12 volt fluorescent trouble lights are the best deal going
    And aren't the 12v fluorescent tubes STILL the most
    energy efficient even over LED?
  6. I mentioned it mainly because of the ongoing debate about LED
    lighting. Being a tech writer, I turned what should've been a quick
    post into a feature-length article.

    We're pretty serious power conservers, so of course the relatively low
    power aspect was of interest to me, but (a) it can't be justified on
    the basis of efficiency along, and (b) you can only expect so much
    from a 6W lighting device.

    Would I consider LED lighting for my home? Phht. No. Would I even
    consider this an across-the-board replacement for the classic trouble
    light? No. I consider it a high-priced special-purpose device of
    possible interest to LED freaks. :)
    If the bulb is enclosed behind a plastic lens you'd really have to
    work at it. I've had bad experiences with the classic edison-base
    incandescent suckers though.

  7. m Ransley

    m Ransley Guest

    Yes 12v flourescent should be 4- 5 times more efficient than clear Leds
    , alot cheaper to , maybe even more drop resistant.
  8. I really wondered about this, especially given the cost of this Light
    Book gizmo. $300 of anyone's currency is too much money to waste on
    snake oil.

    I was going to loan my friend one of these LED trouble lights to see
    if she thought there was any point in it, although I would think this
    would be pretty difficult to evaluate in a casual test anyway.

    The contention in the Light Book pamphlet was that this thing had to
    be within your field of view; that merely lighting the area you're
    looking at with it wouldn't work. I had to laugh though, 'cos it shows
    somebody watching TV with this thing just off to the side. Like *that*
    wouldn't be annoying.

    Do you have any references to studies on the subject? If it's the case
    that the right spectrum of light has to get into the eyeballs, it's
    plausible that a low-powered source viewed directly might have the
    same benefit of a high-powered source lighting an area. Comparatively
    unnatural in practice, but maybe plausible.

  9. Very interesting Dale. If it's a question of absorbing certain
    wavelengths through the skin, it's hard to believe that 6W of anything
    would do a lick of good.

    I'm curious now and starting to read some stuff on the web. Needless
    to say, most of it so far is offered by suppliers of full-spectrum
    lighting devices. But I'm seeing numbers like 10,000 lux bandied
    about, even though these same resources also talk about the
    relationship between effectiveness and the amount of retinal area
    exposed, so we're back to the "gotta enter the eyeballs" theory.

    Perhaps both mechanisms are at work. Hmm...

  10. Bob Adkins

    Bob Adkins Guest

    I have a 120v fluorescent trouble light that I run off my inverter at 110v,
    and it puts out good light. I really like it. I also have a 15 LED 3 "D"
    cell flashlight, and the light is only good to about 5 feet.

    -- Bob
  11. Yeah, fine, but the contention of the "Light Book" camp is that light
    of the correct spectrum reaching the retinas causes desireable changes
    in brain chemistry. Whether or not this has anything to do with
    Vitamin D I dunno.

    I think there may be multiple mechanisms at work here. Or multiple
    sales pitches. There's very little pure science (not motivated by
    profit) going on anymore so it's always tough to tell.

  12. m Ransley

    m Ransley Guest

    T 8 , flourescent, 5 - 9 x more efficient, 5 -9 x cheaper, 5- 9x
    easier to fix, 5- 9 x a better better deal.
  13. Guest

    See: John Ott, _My Ivory Cellar_, where he details his research
    work in the effect of light spectral quality on living creatures,
    leading to the production of "full spectrum" lights.

    This may be out of print, but a good library should have it.


    Net-Tamer V 1.12.0 - Registered
  14. I guess whether or not a full spectrum light source is efficacious in
    treating Seasonal Affective Disorder might hinge upon whether there
    actually is such a thing as Seasonal Affective Disorder.

    Is the existence this condition widely accepted in the medical
    community or is it still highly controversial?

    We live in an age where there is a tendency to label as medical
    conditions things that in an earlier age were just considered to part
    of the spectrum of human behavior. ADHD, SAD, and CFS all come to

    Oh no! Now I've got NSA. Non-specific acronymitis. :>)

    Gordon Richmond
  15. m Ransley

    m Ransley Guest

    Very high lumen , near daylight of any source will help SAD. T-8 are
    the best for this not necessarily " Full spectrum "
  16. I can attest to SAD being a valid disorder. Both my wife and youngest
    daughter have this disorder, and we call them Photoelectric around here.
    If they don't get their "Lights" each day during the winter, they get
    depressed and essentially go into hybernation. If they are doing
    "Lights", they are just like regular people. It became so sever with
    my daughter that she needed to move from alaska, and take up residence
    in the sunny southwest USA, and still needs to do her lights during the
    winters. She does come up during the summers when the sun shines
    considerably more.

    Bruce in alaska
  17. Bob Adkins

    Bob Adkins Guest

    Never was really controversial. It has never been widely acknowledged or
    accepted. It's more a product of mass media than the scientific community.

    -- Bob
  18. Notwithstanding the fact that I'm 4 to 6 hours from any good

  19. Gordon,

    Hey, I share your skepticism. If there's a buck to be made, a "new"
    affliction will be "discovered" and you can bet there's a palliative
    treatment to help the stricken cope. Usually some wonder drug that
    only has a few minor side effects like liver damage, stroke, suicidal
    tendencies etc.

    I've noticed that my mood is much more strongly affected by the
    presence or absence of sunlight since moving here, but as this is our
    first experience living off-grid with PV system, I have a feeling
    there's a direct connection between my mood and the state of my
    batteries! Hence setting up a 500W light would probably not elevate
    *my* spirits any.

    Back to the subject at hand, interesting that two responses to your
    post come from opposite ends of the spectrum (no pun intended), to
    wit: 1. for sure SAD exists, and 2. it's all a buncha hype.

    IMHO many of these afflictions would disappear if people were eating
    properly and getting some exercise. Modern life is not particularly
    conducive to physical or mental health.

  20. "Back to the subject at hand, interesting that two responses to your
    post come from opposite ends of the spectrum (no pun intended), to
    wit: 1. for sure SAD exists, and 2. it's all a buncha hype.

    IMHO many of these afflictions would disappear if people were eating
    properly and getting some exercise. Modern life is not particularly
    conducive to physical or mental health."

    I'm sure you are right, about the diet and exercise. We certainly
    aren't living the kind of existence the human animal evolved to cope

    So the question remains, "is SAD really a disorder, or is it just an
    instance of an individual on one tail of the bell curve for darkness
    tolerance finding themselves in a situation where the available
    daylight falls on the other tail of the curve for half the year?"

    I wonder if SAD has been documented amongst the Inuit or Sami peoples?

    Gordon Richmond
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