Light Equipment: New features make light towers more useful than ever

While choosing a light tower is generally a straightforward process – particularly if you rent them – new standard features and options may give you increased productivity.

Revamped lamps
Several new models offer new lamp fixture shapes and increased individual lamp output. Some products incorporate elliptical light fixtures, including Baldor’s Pow’R Light series and Wacker Neuson’s 6-kW LTN series, introduced in September. Wacker Neuson has used elliptical fixtures for some time because the shape provides substantial advantages over conical fixtures that have a higher level of bulb breakage, says Marc Leupi, utility product manager for Wacker Neuson. In addition, says Leupi, the elliptical fixture offers a broader, more diffused light that doesn’t drop off sharply in intensity the way a conical fixture does.

New units also provide brighter light than previous generation towers. The Ingersoll Rand L6, L8 and Lightsource light towers from Doosan Infracore Portable Power, for example, have a 27-percent increase in foot-candle power over previous models. The company is also introducing a lighter and brighter rectangular lamp that delivers a better distribution of light than previous fixtures. Doosan’s new optional AutoLamp system uses a built-in photocell to engage the lighting system at dusk and shut off at dawn, or at a pre-programmed time, increasing lamp life and improving fuel efficiency by as much as 18 percent.

Increased output was also Allmand Bros.’ target when designing its SHO-HD lighting system, now standard on most of the company’s light towers. The SHO-HD system produces 150,000 lumens per lamp, which is a 36-percent increase over standard 1,000-watt lamps. Increased lumens mean you can provide the necessary amount of light with fewer towers, or you can achieve a greater output of lighting by using the same amount of towers as you would normally, says Doug Dahlgren, sales engineer for Allmand.

Flexibility in light positioning is also important. Terex has addressed the need for versatility with the AL8000 HT, which features repositionable individual lights. Each of the four 1,000-watt lights tilts front-to-back and side-to-side, and the entire light bar tilts 180 degrees vertically. An eight 1,000-watt-light option is also available for hard-to-light jobsites, and an auto-start option uses predetermined start and stop times or a photo cell that senses ambient light.

Power play
Increased power output, whether standard or as an option, is available on a variety of models. If you’re looking for a light tower that can handle power-intensive applications, Dahlgren recommends Allmand’s portable Maxi-Light ML 30 EX, which has 30-kW three-phase power configuration – specifically designed for applications that require more power than is capable with a standard light tower.

In addition to increased light output, the new Ingersoll Rand L20, at 20 kW, also provides substantially more power than a standard unit. Doosan incorporated features from the G25 generator, enabling the tower to provide 4,000 watts of light while delivering up to 16 kW to power tools, heaters and other items. The unit fills a niche for contractors who need something more than Doosan’s line of 6- and 8-kW units can provide, and is useful for mining, oil and gas and security applications, says Russell Warner, product marketing manager for lighting systems.

If you don’t need the increased power but are concerned with fuel savings, Light Engineering’s LT30-30 features the company’s proprietary GenSmart technology, a totally enclosed non-ventilated, maintenance free permanent magnet generator that reduces fuel consumption by 30 percent, says Markus Pruitt, sales engineer. Pruitt estimates that, for a contractor with 25 light towers, using the LT30-30 can reduce fleet operating expenses by $63,450 per year through a combination of efficiency improvements, lowered fuel consumption and longer runtime.

Convenient components
The latest light towers also have features that simplify use and servicing. While ease of use at startup and during operation are key, ease of use during maintenance will have a larger impact over the long run, says Roddy Yates, generator and light tower product manager, Baldor. If you spend more time on maintenance than operation, you have the wrong light tower.

Wacker Neuson based its new features for the LTN 6 on customer feedback. The light towers have a 48-inch track width to enable 12 units to fit on a truck load, making the LTN 6 well-suited for the rental market. The door, made of a high-impact polyethylene that is both dentproof and rustproof, runs the full length of the unit for easy serviceability. The frame has undergone a major change – taking a cue from the automotive industry, the LTN 6 has a one-piece stamped steel design instead of metal pieces welded together that could break or rust. The fully enclosed design also reduces noise emissions by 3 dBA.

For contractors who need the convenience of starting their unit remotely, Doosan has included an auto start/stop capability as a standard feature on the L20. Activated by a switch on the control panel, the auto feature enables the operator to start or stop the unit with a wired remote connection. For extended runtime, an optional 50-gallon fuel tank (a 27-gallon tank is standard) provides 138 hours of lighting only, or 25 hours at full load.

For rental yards or long road construction products, Yates recommends a rear-mounted trailer hitch. Although typically not allowed for on-highway use, the hitch enables you to pull multiple towers, train-like, from a single vehicle and drop them off where needed. If you plan to move your towers often from one jobsite to another, an electric winch kit to raise and lower the mast sections will save the operator time and effort.

Tower tips
A good rule of thumb in the service field is that every dollar spent on preventive maintenance saves four dollars in breakdown costs, says David Spears, product manager for power products, Terex. Here are our sources’ top tips for trouble-free operation.

  • Perform oil and filter changes at the recommended intervals.
  • Keep the fuel system clean to extend the life of the light tower.
  • If a unit sits for long periods, start it up every few weeks to prevent the fuel from gelling.
  • Periodically check the engine speed and voltage output of the generator – correct voltage is critical for the electrical components.
  • Exercise care when cleaning the engine and internal electrical components with high pressure washers.
  • Be aware of any abnormal visible damage to the tower.
  • Take note of possible hazards on the jobsite that could damage the tower.