Portable Light Towers: Everything You Need to Know
Portable Light Towers: Everything You Need to Know
Reading time: 7 min
Some construction projects, like road repair or utility maintenance, can only be carried out at night. When project managers don’t have the benefit of sunlight, they rely on light towers to provide adequate lighting to job sites, improving safety and ensuring deadlines are met.
Also called construction lights or towable light plants, light towers consist of a trailer, a tall mast with lamps mounted to it and a diesel generator. Light towers represent a portable, efficient and dependable way to provide lighting on job sites.
Let’s go over the benefits of portable light towers, how they’re used in industries like construction and what to look out for when purchasing one.
What are Portable Light Towers Used For?
Portable light towers are used to provide lighting in a number of settings like construction sites, mines, warehouses and sporting events. Since they’re portable and generate their own power, light towers are essential in situations where electricity is unavailable.
Here are some of the most popular uses for portable light towers:
- Outdoor events and concerts
- Construction sites
- Roadwork and maintenance
- Emergency response and disaster relief
- Mining and exploration sites
- Film and television productions
- Sports fields and arenas
- Military operations
- Parking lots and garages
- Agricultural operations and farming
- Nighttime security and surveillance
Pros and Cons of Portable Light Towers
The primary advantages of working with portable light towers are that they can be moved around and generate their own power. Therefore, portable light towers can provide lighting in situations where electricity is otherwise unavailable. Portable light towers can be set up and taken down quickly and easily.
Compared to traditional lighting sources, like hard-wired street lamps, portable light towers require considerable maintenance. Since most portable light towers feature diesel engines, they need to be refueled often and the engine needs to be maintained. For long-term use, permanent lighting may be more efficient than using portable light towers.
Most portable light towers are designed as trailers with roadworthy tires and wheels, allowing them to be towed easily using a work truck or utility vehicle. Other light towers are designed not as trailers, but as carts. This type of light tower can be moved around by a human operator without the use of a vehicle.
The most common type of light tower is designed as a trailer. This type of light tower has a simple trailer hitch attachment on one end and an axle with a single set of wheels on the other end.
Light towers designed with roadworthy wheels and tires can be easily connected to any vehicle with a trailer hitch and transported on roads and highways. Like other trailers made for the road, a light tower’s tires need to be maintained and occasionally replaced to keep the trailer safe for the road.
Cart-style light towers are typically lighter and more compact than trailer-style light towers. Unlike trailers, cart-style light towers can be moved around a job site by hand and don’t require a vehicle.
Types of Portable Light Towers
Portable light towers come in a variety of designs. When selecting the best design for your particular application, you’ll want to consider a number of key features. Some features to consider when choosing a portable light tower include:
- Portability: some light towers are designed to be towed as trailers, while more compact models are designed to be moved by hand. If you’re planning on transporting your light tower between job sites, choose one with roadworthy tires that can be towed on public roads.
- Power output: portable light towers typically feature a diesel generator with power output rated in kilowatts. These generators feature power outlets so they can power tools on the job. Light towers with a higher power output can power multiple tools simultaneously.
- Lighting type: metal halide lamps are the most common lights found on light towers, but LED lamps are also popular. Metal halide lamps are more affordable, but not as bright as LED lamps and will need to be replaced more frequently.
- Mast height: mast height, together with lamp brightness, determines the light throw of your light tower. Taller light towers are generally able to light larger areas. 30’ masts are a popular choice for construction projects.
For large areas, multiple light towers may be used in tandem to provide adequate illumination. As a rule of thumb, you’ll need 30 watts of brightness per square foot of illumination.
For example, if your light tower features 4 lamps with a brightness of 1,000 watts each, it can illuminate up to 133 square feet (4,000 watts divided by 30 watts) on its own.
Portable Light Tower Maintenance
Like other equipment, portable light towers must be properly maintained in order to keep them in good working condition.
The main areas of a light tower that require maintenance are its lamps, engine and tires.
Metal halide lamps have a life expectancy of around 10,000 hours. They’re relatively easy to replace, but become very hot during operation and need to cool down before they can be handled safely. LED lamps, on the other hand, do not have replaceable bulbs, so the entire element needs to be replaced. In contrast to halide lamps, LED lamps last a long time–with a life expectancy of about 50,000 hours.
A light tower’s diesel engine needs to be properly maintained to avoid unnecessary breakdowns. Generally, maintaining a light tower’s engine will consist of routine tasks like checking coolant and oil levels, changing fuel filters, replacing air filters, routinely inspecting the engine’s belts for wear and using only high quality fuel.
In order to keep your light tower roadworthy, you’ll need to maintain its tires. Like other wheeled equipment, a light tower’s tires are susceptible to balding, punctures and other forms of wear. It’s important to routinely inspect your light tower’s tires for signs of obvious wear and keep them sufficiently inflated.
Getting the Most Out of Your Portable Light Tower
To get the most out of your portable light tower, be sure to have a preventive maintenance plan in place and operate your light tower according to best practices. Here are some additional tips that will help you get the most out of your portable light tower:
- Proper placement of the light tower is crucial for optimal illumination. Place the tower at a higher elevation to ensure a wider coverage area, and ensure the lights are directed toward the work area.
- Regular maintenance is essential for portable light towers to maintain optimal performance. This includes checking and replacing bulbs, cleaning lenses and reflectors, inspecting the tower structure for damage and ensuring that all parts and components are in good working order.
- Avoid using portable light towers in extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain, strong winds or lightning storms, as this may damage the equipment and create a safety hazard.
- Make sure the light tower is secure and stable, especially when working on uneven terrain. Use stabilizers or sandbags to prevent tipping or movement.
- Keep spare bulbs and other replacement parts on hand in case of emergency or equipment failure. This can help minimize downtime and ensure the work area remains safe and well-lit.
- Study the light tower’s operation manual and train operators on proper usage, maintenance and safety procedures. Doing this can help reduce the risk of accidents and extend the longevity of your equipment.
How Much Do Portable Light Towers Cost?
Portable light towers range in price from $10,000 to $25,000. Portable light towers with a greater power output (higher kilowatt rating) are generally more expensive than portable light towers with a lower power output. Light towers can be rented for around $150 per day.
Portable light towers are essential to providing illumination on construction sites and in other situations where traditional lighting is unavailable.
The EquipmentShare Online Parts Store is a one-stop shop for everything you need to keep your portable light tower in prime operating condition. Our extensive online catalog includes OEM and aftermarket parts from popular light plant brands like Wacker Neuson, Generac, Allmand and Terex. Still can’t find the part you need? Reach out to one of our parts experts for personalized assistance.
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