kKeith McKay was a man with a vision.
Ironically, his vision was inspired by the frustration of trying to work in poorly lit conditions. We’ve all been annoyed by situations like a tire change in the weak glow of a phone’s light, the searching through an attic with a flashlight clenched between the teeth, or the frantic rush to identify the right wire to cut in the final seconds before a bomb detonates, only to have the flickering light fail as our last match burns out. But most of us simply get annoyed, manage to change the tire, find the tucked away whatnot, or diffuse the bomb anyway, and simply move on with life, not taking any action. Not Keith McKay. See, McKay was really frustrated with working in dark conditions. He did it for years, after all.
From his frustration came the Big Ass Light Bar. First, a bit of background on Mr. McKay.
Keith McKay was in his senior year of high school when he got the opportunity to participate in a co-op program that would have him out of school for several hours each week. Being a normal human being, he jumped at the chance to get out of school and took an apprenticeship working in the mechanic’s shop of a Toyota dealership.
The temporary position as an oil change technician soon landed him a permanent job at the shop. The young McKay — who describes MacGyver as his idol — was soon adept at far more than mere oil changes. (Of course, most of us couldn’t change our own oil if our lives depended on it…) He was soon working on, in, and under vehicles and developing such an intimate familiarity with the many parts of a motor vehicle that he says: “by the time I was in college, I could build a Toyota engine with my eyes closed.”
Despite his competence working with cars, McKay was not truly satisfied by the work, though. Not that he didn’t enjoy the problem-solving that comes with intricate machinery, but rather he was always “just miserable!” He says: “You work on hard concrete, squeezed into hoods or under cars, you sweat your ass off, and there’s just never enough light. Everyone tries their own solution, from flashlights to headlamps to you name it, but you never have enough light to see what you’re doing properly.”
McKay worked as a mechanic for seven years before an opportunity came along for him to join the rapidly expanding company Big Ass Solutions. The company makes, um… well big ass fans. And big ass lights. Initially, the one and only focus of Big Ass Solutions was to fabricate large and efficient “high volume, low speed” fans that provided effective, low-cost cooling solutions for industrial workspaces (factories, warehouses, and such). This focus remained unchanged from the mid 1990s through the year 2014. That’s the year the company opened a new division, Big Ass Light. That branch manufactures and sells massive, super bright, and highly-efficient LED lights again designed for installation in large industrial-style facilities.
This year, they have added a new product, though. And while it’s small enough to be held in one hand, it’s bright enough to fill a room with light. Or to fully illuminate the undercarriage or engine block of a vehicle, thus making it easier for a tech to see what he or she is doing. Yep, the Big Ass Light Bar was the brainchild of former mechanic Keith McKay. But you remember that from a few paragraphs ago, right?
Of course, McKay had some help. That came in the form of nearly a dozen designers and engineers who work alongside McKay there at Big Ass Solutions. Through countless conversations, sketches, mockups, and re-dos, they finally perfected the Big Ass Light Bar and took that big boy to market. Here are a few of the reasons you’re probably going to want one:
At its brightest setting, the Big Ass Light Bar puts out 5,000 lumens. That’s bright, FYI.
And that impressive output isn’t merely concentrated into a beam, but rather shines in a full 180 degrees, allowing the light to fully illuminate a room or outdoor space. The octagonal design of the housing makes the light easy to position and prevents it from rolling away, so don’t worry about that hillside tire change. (Except that changing a tire on a hill is a terrible idea and you shouldn’t do it.)
At the Big Ass Light Bar’s lowest setting, it still gives off 80 lumens, which is more than enough light for activities ranging from reading to grilling to getting a key in a lock. And at that lowest setting, the battery will last for a full 48 hours.
Also, don’t worry about using your Big Ass Light Bar in the rain; in fact, if it gets dirty, you can simply clean it off with a hose. (It has an IP66 water resistance rating, in case you’re into details like that.) And feel free to drop the light from head height, as it’s essentially indestructible.
Now, this thing is going to retail for $499, and that’s not cheap. But it’s also probably going to last for the rest of your lifetime and may well end up in your will. If you want quality, you pay for it. So shell out some cash and shed some light.