Seeing the light - Roger Bisby throws some light on the benefits of LEDs

Reviewer: Professional Builder
Date: February 2017

Professional Builder is awash with light this month as we have three NightSearcher LED lights on test. There are so many great benefits with LED and now that halogen is being phased out a lot of trades will be looking for a replacement. LED, not only uses less power it is brighter and whiter. It is also cool to the touch so you don't risk scorching the surroundings. As LED really starts to establish itself the choice of lights is growing and the good news is that the price is coming down. Basically, the choice is between cluster or array lights and Chip On Board (COB) which is not so much a light bulb as a micro chip, but maybe that is too much information.

The Galaxy Pro is an array LED light that uses industry leading high quality Cree Super Bright lights. These give up to 3,500 lumens, which is a very comfortable amount of light for a medium sized work area such as a kitchen or bathroom, but if you are working in a confined space you can dim that down. The lowest setting will give you 8 hours, which is just about the same time as it takes to recharge the built in battery, and you can run the light while it is plugged into the charger. Apart from the pre-set there is also a dimmable setting where holding the button gently reduces the amount of light. I particularly like the rear locker for storing the charger, and you can also get a vehicle charger as an optional extra. Another optional extra is the set of rubber covered magnetic feet, which give you the option of mounting the light on a boiler casing or fridge door. I can't imagine why they don't just throw these two items in and save stockists the bother of having to stock them or get them in.

Now if you had asked me I would have said that this Galaxy 2400 is brighter than the Galaxy Pro but that just shows how deceptive our perception of light is. The 2,400 lumens is achievable with both lights on full power, but you can turn one off and this gives you 8 hours runtime on the lowest setting. Again, this light comes with a mains charger, but this time there is no handy storage compartment in the back. This light has translucent plastic diffusers to soften the glare, making it very comfortable to work with. I have used it on a number of jobs now and my feeling is that it is so much better than the harsh glare.

If you want something really powerful that matches the output from your old halogen then the Galaxy AC 5000 is the one to go for. It is a mains powered unit that will run off 110 or 240volt provided you have an adaptor. You can select either or both of the lights and tilt the lights up to the ceiling to spread it across the room and reduce shadows. On direct beam it covers 30 metres and you can swivel the lights to shine in any direction. A good way to use it is to stand it in the middle of the room with the lights configured back to back so you have the whole room covered in the wide arc on either side. The light gives you 6,000 Kelvins which is a match for bright daylight so it is good for photography.

Back in the day when I used to do a lot of loft conversions under halogen we would often end up with a splitting headache from the eye strain so I would be very happy to be starting out with a set or two
of these lights. Also halogen and sodium both wash out certain colours in the spectrum so if you are an electrician terminating data cabling the daylight is going to make your life a lot easier .

All three of these lights come with optional stands, which are similar to the yellow tubular steel stands used by the old style halogen. In addition we were sent a lightweight stand in black, which is a lot more sturdy and larger than the yellow stand but lighter. The black stand was originally built for mounting large speakers and it has a wider footprint, so you are very unlikely to topple it. That said I have had plenty of tradesmen side-swipe my lights in the past so nothing is impossible if someone swings a length of 4 x 2 around in a hurry. Fortunately, with LED the lights are far less likely to be damaged. I am sure you could break them but in day-today use they take a few knocks. As a general point on the rechargeable lights you should avoid leaving the battery on charge for days on end because this will shorten its life. You should also avoid immersing the lights in water. The IP54 rating is against rain and dust. These lights do not swim.

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