MakesReviewUpgrades

Upgrading Lights in the 3D Printing & Fab Room

I’ve been on a quest, about a month now, to find the “PERFECT” LED lighting for my “fab room”. Right now I have a ceiling fan and it’s 3 bulb light fixture and two led shop lights on chains over two areas. I’ve spent a good bit of time online at Amazon as well as online and in person at Home Depot and Lowe’s reviewing various lights and options. My initial specs were LED, flat or minamal stick out from ceiling and dimmable. The first two are fairly duable but adding the dimmable really limits your options, at least from what I could find. I gave up the dimmable feature for now.

Here is a short list of my top five choices after a few months of on and off again research.

  1. ​Lowe’s Good Earth 4ft $129 4,800 lumens 72w
  2. HD 1000-532-323 $149 5,500 lumens
  3. HD 1000-532-443 $94 3,000 lumens
  4. Sam’s Club 4ft LED $35ea @ 4,500 lumnes by 4ft (double led)
  5. LeeValley Special $39ea @ 3,800 lumens by 4ft – Slimlight LED Fixture

To help push things along and get it done LeeValley sent me a promo email about one of their “Special Buys”. This time it was a $39.95 LED strip light that is chainable and has a pretty minimal footprint. With a lumen count of 3,800 it is pretty bright, at least on paper, and the price is very good from what I’ve seen.

The two existing shop lights are from Sam’s Club are 4ft wide with two led strips within a typical shop light fixture for about $35 each and 4,500 lumens. Not bad and it’s worked well to date but having to manually pull the chain to turn them on and off and the mounting on chains a few feet down from ceiling is not ideal. For this area I want to have a nice bright and consistent light available as soon as I walk into the room. I think the lights I ordered from LeeValley will fit this need very well.

The following is NOT scientific but did help me determine if the improvements were in my head or had some teeth. 

Light Meter ​Results Using the LUX Light Meter FREE iOS App (Free)

Room Light (Day) Window Shade Down No Other Lights = 0 LUX
Room Light (Day) + Overhead Fan Light On = 107 LUX
Room Light (Day) + Overhead Fan Light On + Two 4ft LED Work Lights (Sam’s Club) = 168 LUX
Room Light (Day) + All Three New Slimlight LED Fixture Lights On = 218 LUX
The difference between the fan light and two shop lights and the the new ceiling mounted slimlights was immediately noticeable when we added the final third slimlight. When it was just the two the overall LUX was the same as the fan and two work lights. That extra 50 LUX made a huge difference, also the slimlight led fixtures spread the light more evenly across the room.
I made a custom power cord so I could have a wall light switch for these lights. The included power cord was about 1ft too short so I emailed the manufacturer, they were great! I asked them for the specific make/model of the connectors they were using so I can make a few custom length jumper cables.

 The 1ft were sometimes too short and 5ft overly long. Also I made a custom light switch on the wall for the one my reconfigured dining area. They were very nice and replied to me with the make and model and I was able to order the connectors and pins directly from Digikey for under $10!
 [UPDATE 1 WEEK AFTER INSTALL] These special buy led lights from LeeValley really are good but had one issue, the mounting mechanism failed over and over. I installed a set of 3 of them in one room and another set of 2 in the dining room area. Between them they fell a total of 4 times. It first happened while we were plugging the wires in after installing the 3 set in the spare room. Once daisy chained together if one light falls – they all fall. The flimsy metal mounts that are included just don’t have enough grip to hold the lights up if one side falls let alone if they are being pulled down by another light attached with the jumper wire. Good news is there is an easy fix which I documented here on the blog and also a video and a 3D printable mount I designed and am using now
instead of the originals.