Tasca Test Mule Turns Two


The Tasca test mule turned 2 years in continual illuminated state this May. That’s 8,760 continuous operating hours in the cold, hot, and messy environment of the shop in which it lives. It gets abused as well, from tossing greasy rags over it to see what happens when airflow over the heat sink is cut off, to blowing coolant on it until it freezes. There have been several lessons learned in this time. For example, lumen depreciation, captured by measuring the fixture’s output, has been negligable. Losses have been less than 1.2% so far, which means the White Optics reflector and anti-reflective glass are doing their job, as is the Bridgelux ES Array LED. Temperature readings taken over this time have not changed anywhere, which indicates the internal construction attaching the thermal slug to the heat sink is durable and reliable.

While the Mule will remain in service without changes, the product line itself has been updated using lessons learned and incorporating the latest LEDs. The original product consumed just over 15W, delivering 620 lumens, for an efficacy of 41 lm/W when it won the PIA award in 2012. This has improved significantly in 2013, with the latest Bridgelux array, adjustments to the reflector design and updated driver from Recom. The current version now delivers 801 lumens using only 12.3W, for an efficacy of 65 lm/W. This is an increase in light output of 29%, while reducing energy consumption by 17%. In addition to these improvements, a new driver circuit board incorporates screw terminals, making it an easy to replace module should their be a need for maintenance. In fact, the entire product is modular. The head is easily removed from its arm for replacement or repair. The driver is now fully modular and field replaceable. The LED is pre-wired and now uses a GrafTech thermal interface pad, which improves thermal performance, and allows the LED to be serviced (replaced) without messy greases. The power supply – the most likely component to fail in any LED system, is a separate wall plug device connected with in-line DC connector, making replacement simple and fast.

Based on the test results and ongoing experience with the product, Tasca now comes with a 7 year warranty. This is not just for the normal “materials and workmanship” most offer. I am warranting that under normal operating conditions, the product will maintain 70% of its initial light output for a period of 36,000 hours, or 7 years (whichever occurs first). Between this warranty, tough construction, and the modular components, the Tasca work light is perhaps the first and only true long life LED product on the market. There is no reason this product cannot remain in service for decades.

I am an enthusiast for old machine shop equipment built in an era when durability and maintained longevity pre-dated today’s throw-away planned obsolescence. My specific goal with Tasca was to follow the traditional approach to engineering – built in toughness and long useful service life. I don’t follow or support the idea that a product should be discarded when the light inside becomes unusable. I believe in products built to last, testing to verify assumptions are correct, and backing what I make with a warranty that reflects the intended use of the product. Tasca Uno, the work light represented by the mule, is Tasca’s flagship, reflecting three years of continuous improvement and over two years testing.

Anyone interested in having one of these lights in their work space can find them on-line at Tasca where more detail can be found and links are provided for on-line purchasing.

Author: kwillmorth

Photographer and Artist

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