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Blog entry by Don Butler posted 09-03-2009 03:45 PM 1907 reads 3 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The nature of present day lighting has been irritating me for some time.

The standard in woodworking shops has seemed to be fluorescent lamps. I have a couple of those fixtures near the tablesaw. I don’t care though, for the kind of light at the work and I don’t like the cost in energy. Lately I’ve been all worked up about being green.

I really would like to see some advancement in LED lighting, but I haven’t seen anything that seems practical and I’m running short on time to work out something myself.

Yes, I have the background and tools to do that, but not enough time, what with everything that’s going on.

A new development has spurred me on. I had a new overhead door installed, and unlike the old one, there were no windows in it.

Result: a black hole in that end of the shop.

So I determined to use present technology to get a better result.

CFLs are a pretty good interim technology and the costs are coming down while quality and efficiency seems to have improved greatly. So I decided I wanted to use that approach.

But I don’t like the idea of having about half the light absorbed by the reflector in a standard fixture. Redesign!

So I built a prototype with glass mirror reflector panels. In it are two very bright 26 watt CFLs

Like this:

I had to be careful about size because there’s only 7 inches clearance above the OH door when it opens.

So the result:
The shop with only the fluorescents above the tablesaw.

And then the new lamp is lighted:

I’m more than satisfied with the results. The light quality is more like daylight, and that should help when finishing. It is more light than I’d get from a 2 tube 4 foot fluorescent fixture. And, the total power load is 52 watts.

I think I lke it.

At least until we can have some good LED fixtures.

Don

-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.



24 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8523 posts in 3115 days


#1 posted 09-03-2009 03:53 PM

looks great, lighting is something many neglect/dont think about but makes such a hugh impact on your work flow, and ability to see the parts, and measurements.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2523 posts in 2904 days


#2 posted 09-03-2009 04:07 PM

As my eyes get older I realize as some of you have I’m sure that good natural light or good artificial lighting can really help. In the shop I’ve got mucho lighting. It’s everywhere. I planned it that way. In my shop I don’t have old eyes. I can actually see the little numbers on my incra rule. Nothing more frustrating than guessing at a measurement and hopng you’re right.

It looks like you’ve found a solution for yourself. Interesting.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View 's profile

593 posts in 3438 days


#3 posted 09-03-2009 05:20 PM

Great job Don!

I’ve been a sucker for LED technology for the last 25 years but it is only now that they are becoming widespread.

Actually there are some good LED light panels out there. The only problem is, of course, the price. check these out, they are color calibrated and stable, widely used in TV sets.

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile (online now)

FirehouseWoodworking

689 posts in 2739 days


#4 posted 09-03-2009 05:26 PM

I have found that a mix of both types works best for me. The florescent lights give area lighting and the CFLs give more concentrated task lighting. I find the CFLs alone are too intense and create stark shadows. But in combination with the others, the florescents tend to soften the CFL intensity and wash out the shadows.

Least ways, that’s my very un-scientific belief.

But I really like your reflectors, Don. My CFLs are just in open ceramic screw-in base fixtures. I just might have to invest some time and make me some of those, I like the idea!

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1086 posts in 2862 days


#5 posted 09-03-2009 05:37 PM

The reflectors were cut from cheap mirrors bought at Kmart or Walmart.
You will have to have a good glass cutter, though. If the cutting wheel slips the cut con’t break on line.
Don’t ask me how I know that! ;-)

By the way, this combination of two lamps and five mirror panels make for a sort of diffused light. If you look into the fixture it’s like you’re seeing eight CFLs!

d

-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3288 days


#6 posted 09-03-2009 11:21 PM

Don, this is a nice idea. I have a similar situation in my shop as well. May have to look into this.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Jimthecarver's profile

Jimthecarver

1123 posts in 3252 days


#7 posted 09-04-2009 03:14 PM

Good idea Don,
I do have 1 question, Did you use any heat relief vents in the top of the reflector?
I tried using a reflector of metal and didnt think about venting it, so what happened was the base of the cfl became yellowed and soon stoped working. I made two of them and checked the other cfl after being on for about 20 minutes and it was very hot.
After venting them they have yet to burn out and its been months now. Oh btw Lowes carries a 300 watt cfl and it uses about as much as a 60 watt incadesent bulb. You want light they give you lots of light on the cheap.
I think I will try your idea thanks.

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1086 posts in 2862 days


#8 posted 09-04-2009 03:46 PM

Jim,

These CFLs don’t make very much heat. I didn’t make any vents because of that.
Besides, glass mirrors probably won’t go bad if they get a little heat.
But, time will tell won’t it?

-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View sIKE's profile

sIKE

1271 posts in 3220 days


#9 posted 09-04-2009 04:30 PM

Don,

I think Jim, is saying since heat rises and these bulbs life decreases greatly when they get hot, have you provided any way for that heat to escape from the reflector…sameway if you put a CFL in a typical globe enclosure it will probally only last a year or so even with small amount of use (like a pantry closet).

Don’t ask me how I know ;)

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1086 posts in 2862 days


#10 posted 09-04-2009 04:40 PM

Well, I guess we’ll see.
Its too late to do any venting without major surgery.
I dated the installation, so I’ll know exactly how long the CFLs last.
This is only a prototype.

-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View reggiek's profile

reggiek

2240 posts in 2736 days


#11 posted 09-04-2009 06:22 PM

Very interesting innovation. Isn’t innovation the way we make progress? I’ve been reading this thread with interest as I am having a similar problem with declining eyesight (age related) and have suddenly had to resort to reading glasses or a magnifying glass to read smaller print or to read the small markings on a tape or ruler. Being someone that has never required glasses or lenses it is quite an inconvenience/problem. I find though that the more light available…the better I see and it also somehow even affects my mood in the shop (considering Seattle has a higher suicide rate – this is theorized that it is due to them having more dreary overcast days – it somewhat makes sense to some degree – but I will leave that to the theorists).

That said, I am researching ways of strengthing the light in the shop…and putting in a few skylights in the darkest areas. I have already installed windows in every wall available (which does cut down on my storage area available – a trade off I suppose). This appears to be another tool in the arsenal…..

Oh, and if you tend to lose pencils and straightedges in your shop….add magnifying glasses and or reading glasses to that….I seem to always be chasing them…LOL..

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View tinnman65's profile

tinnman65

1300 posts in 2880 days


#12 posted 09-05-2009 02:09 AM

Great idea Don but what I want to know is ” were are the sketchup drawings for this fixture? ” :-) I my be stopping by Kmart this weekend for some of those mirrors, I know I could use some better lighting in my workspace.

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1086 posts in 2862 days


#13 posted 09-05-2009 02:43 AM

Paul,
I didn’t work it out in SU. Being the impatient, impulsive kinda guy I am, I just worked out a drawing for the mirror cuts and then played everything else by ear – er- hand – or – whatever. ;-)

Here’s the mirror cutting diagram:

OK?

-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1086 posts in 2862 days


#14 posted 09-17-2009 11:57 PM

Paul,
I now have a fully worked out SketchUp drawing for the light.
Can I send it to you by email?

d.

-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1086 posts in 2862 days


#15 posted 10-03-2009 05:47 PM

I’ve finally learned how to make a reflective surface and light sources, thanks to DaveR.

So here’s my latest photo rendering of the CFL ceiling lamp.

-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

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