You’d think “Big Ass Solutions” would be a clever name for a weight-loss plan or a cosmetic surgery clinic. Actually, it’s an engineering and manufacturing company whose flagship product lines are very large, energy efficient ceiling fans and LED lighting fixtures for the commercial and industrial markets.
It was founded in 1999 as the “HVLS Fan Company” (“HLVS” meaning “high-volume, low-speed”) in Lexington, Kentucky. After a while, the staff got tired of repeating or explaining the name. Carey Smith, who started the business, is quoted in a Fortune magazine article saying that people contacting the company would often say, “Aren’t you the guys that make those big-ass fans?”
Renamed “Big Ass Solutions” in 2001 and its main products rebranded as “Big Ass Fans” the company has done well. I first heard of Big-Ass Fans in the mid-’00s from reading a automotive trade magazine in which the company ran ads for its large ceiling fans for ventilation of car dealer service departments. A few years later, Big Ass Solutions introduced a line of technologically-advanced, residential ceiling fans called “Haiku” and I bought a couple when I remodeled my home in 2010. Eventually, my Wife, the Fairest Sandra the Red, and I installed five Big Ass Haiku Fans in our house.
At the SEMA Show in 2017, Big-Ass Solutions exhibited their industrial fans and LED lighting fixtures for use in repair, custom and race shops. It, also, showed a new product the company called the “Big Ass Light Bar” which it claims is “the World’s most versatile handheld light.”
The “BALB” began as the idea of a company employee, a former auto service technician, who was sick of crappy work lights. After two years of engineering and testing, the Big Ass Light Bar was born. The company says that, with a 5,000-lumen maximum output, it’s the brightest battery-powered LED work light ever made. Its LEDs have a wide, 270° beam. Its rechargeable battery is quite large and allows for long time between charges. Set for maximum brightness, a full charge lasts about 1.5 hours. On “low,” it’s good for about 48 hours.
It is intended as the most hardcore portable light ever made. Big Ass Solution claims the Light Bar is so durable, that you can, as the company web site suggests,” ..take it to hell and back.” It features a waterproof design using shock-absorbing components encased partially in aluminum and partially in a chemical-resistant hard rubber material called “Versaflex”. The battery is keyed to the bottom of the light and is held in place with a detented locking ring. Big Ass Light Bars were developed to withstand years of drops and accidents. Cleaning it is as easy as hosing it down or washing it with a cleaner like Simple Green or 409.
I ordered a Big Ass Light Bar for the V-Net’s product evaluation shop and was speechless when I opened the box, took out a hard-plastic case and unlatched it. Here was this freakin’ huge work light with a giant removable battery. I locked the battery in place then held down the “+” button and was near blinded by the light. “Holy crap” I thought, holding the base of the tool with two hands, “This more like a light saber than a shop light.”
Ok, just kidding on the Star Wars reference, but the Big-Ass light is, indeed, big as it is bright. It’s two feet long. The light section is 2.5-in in diameter and the battery is 3.0-in in diameter. It weighs a hefty 5.5-lbs. Looking at the light after I locked the battery in place on its butt, I thought that it could really be too large and too heavy for use as my regular shop light.
I was wrong. After using it for a couple of months on several service tasks undertaken on the our ATS-V, the Big-Ass Light Bar has definitely won me over. Its weight and octagonal shape keep it from rolling or sliding on the floor when you don’t want it to move. The rubberized exterior provides traction which keeps it from slipping off surfaces on which you place while working. It’s flat butt-end allows it to work very well as a vertical light source when placed on a reasonably flat, level surface. I’ve never had a shop light which could do that and feel that’s one of the product’s best features. As for the 5000 lumens, the brightest setting is actually too much for the shop work we’ve done with the product so far. Big Ass Solutions states it’s brighter than most flashlights and it capable of room-filling illumination. We believe it and, in fact, the only time we really used the maximum light setting was when we tried the Big Ass Light Bar for photographic lighting.
The Big Ass Light Bar has an “IP67” rating. Researching that, I learned of an International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) rating system which is a global standard that grades a device’s resistance to dust intrusion and water. It exists to provide consumers more detailed information than vague marketing terms such as “dustproof” or “waterproof.” The “six” refers to dust intrusion, which in this case, is the highest rating, ie: the device is truly dust-tight. The “seven” refers to water immersion and is the third highest rating. The BALB can be used in the rain, washed down when dirty and can be submerged in water up to one meter deep for up to 30-minutes. It’s also resistant to damage and corrosion from most common chemicals, automotive lubricants or cleansers. We have some first hand experience with this. In the process of doing this review and another one for our sister web site, the Corvette Action Center, we had to change the rear MagnaRide shocks on a 2012 Corvette. The left-rear shock was leaking that nasty, black MR fluid and it leaked off the bottom of the shock onto the lower control arm. During the shock removal, I got that black stuff all over my hands and all over the Big Ass Light Bar. During shop clean-up, a wipe down with Simple Green cleaned all the greasy residue off the light.
There are a few shortcomings of the Big Ass Light Bar. The first is sticker shock. Many DIYs will have kittens when they find out this product costs $399.00. Nevertheless, if you want the Cadillac of work lights, that’s the price, so the BALB may not for everyone. It doesn’t come with a hook. The light does have a threaded hole in the top, which happens to be the 1/4-20 thread common to most light-duty photographic tripods. We went over to Loews and bought an eye-hook for our Big Ass Light Bar. For 400 bucks you’d think Big Ass Solutions would give you a hook with the light. The last complaint we have is the battery’s locking ring works too well. It is very difficult to unlock the battery and we hope the lock ring “loosens” up a little with more use.
In closing, the Big Ass Light Bar, while pricey is, indeed an outstanding work light and in this context, “work” can be a lot more than working on cars. It makes a great camp light, a damn fine emergency light, even a pretty good light for photography and, hell…it could even be used as a defensive weapon. The Big Ass Solutions folks like to say the Light Bar “…is over-engineered for maximum badass-ness.” We agree.