By Josh Kegley
Lexington, Kentucky — January 6, 2016 — Collision repair facility owner Mark Worman spends his days restoring classic Dodge Chargers, Challengers and Barracudas. And because he’s also the star of “Graveyard Carz” on Velocity, he does a lot of that work in front of a camera.
His shop’s custom restoration jobs are seen and critiqued not just by Worman’s team and customers, but by his entire viewing audience. Talk about a tough crowd. With all those eyes scrutinizing the muscle cars that roll out, Worman wants each new restoration to top the last. That requires not just hard work and expertise, but really good light.
Like many shops, Worman’s team used to have to wheel their vehicles outside to be inspected in natural daylight because the fluorescent fixtures inside weren’t up to the task. That changed in early 2015, when Worman moved into a newly renovated space and had 28 high-bay LED fixtures installed. The fixtures produces 26,000 lumens – equivalent to the light output of about 32 standard 60-watt bulbs.
“We haven’t had to pull one car out since we’ve been here,” Worman says. The lights’ precise, directional output has saved the team time and helped declutter their workspace. Worman and crew no longer have to rely on drop lights with cords running from wall plugs to cars, creating tripping hazards.
LEDs aren’t perfect for every facility or budget. But they are particularly well suited to collision repair facilities. Besides energy efficiency, shops can benefit from LEDs’ long-life, reduced maintenance, durability, and especially, their quality of light: High-quality LEDs appear far brighter than fluorescents.
Here’s where it gets tricky: take a look at spec sheets for an LED fixture and a typical four-bulb fluorescent fixture, and you’ll notice that both produce similar total lumens, the industry standard measurement of light output. So why do LEDs appear brighter?
Unlike traditional bulbs, which disperse light in all directions, LEDs are a directional light source. That means all light produced is focused toward the work area (typically within a 120-degree arc), which creates brighter work stations, as well as fewer shadows and less wasted energy. Fluorescent bulbs, on the other hand, are a 360-degree light source. They emit light up to the ceiling and out to the walls, neither of which is of much help to workers on the floor. Light bouncing off walls and reflecting back to the cars can create troublesome shadows.
As fluorescent bulbs age or become dirty, they lose even more brightness that can only be regained by constantly replacing bulbs, whereas high-end LEDs have a rated life of up to 17 years of 24-hour use. If you’re not working 24 hours a day, your grandchild could someday be using the same fixture.
Worman is convinced that the work his team has done since moving into their new shop is their best ever.
“Our cars look like glass,” says Worman. “They look like candy, like you just dipped them in a big vat of maple syrup and poured them out.”