Balloon vs. Light Tower: When Diffused Light is Better

Construction contractors who use light towers on the jobsite may find themselves choosing between traditional light towers and balloon lights. What's the difference?

"Balloon lights filter the light through a translucent balloon that lights up the surrounding area surrounding," says Chad Hislop, light towers product manager at Terex Aerial Work Platforms. "Traditional light towers mount each bulb separately inside an adjustable reflective light fixture."

(Light Tower Lamp Options: What Contractors Should Know...)

While both light systems can be used on most jobsites, advantages of balloon lights include quiet operation with zero emissions, non-glare light and small size portability, which also makes them ideal for party rentals, utility repair trucks, indoor work and emergency command posts, says Eric Bernier, Wacker Neuson sales Americas, LLC.

"Traditional light towers are still going to lead the way," says Deree Bivins, product marketing manager, lighting systems, for Doosan Portable Power. "However, balloon lights are going to be a requirement on more road construction sites where you're working along traffic at night time. Since there are so many infrastructure projects underway right now, I think balloon lights will increase in jobsite use dramatically based on these DOT specs increasing across the United States."

How do you decide which option is best for your jobsite? Here is a list of comparisons and contrasts between traditional and balloon lights to help you decide.

Balloon light

  • Diffused, glare free, reduced shadow lighting.
  • 360 degrees of working light on the jobsite.
  • No sound or exhaust emmissions.
  • Can be stand-alone units or mounted onto mobile construction equipment such as pavers and milling machines to move the light along with the equipment operator.
  • Balloon light kits are available to retrofit traditional light tower lamp fixtures with balloon lights.
  • Often designed as a smaller unit which can be easier to store and transport.
  • Requires a separate power source.
  • Made of fabric and designed to handle only so much wind speed and stress. These lights will need to be taken down before towing to prevent damage.
  • Require some component assembly when attaching and expanding the balloon and setting up supports

Traditional light towers

  • Designed to cover large areas with lamps raised up to 30 feet above worksite.
  • Allows the option of directing the light to specific areas of the jobsite with adjustable lamps.
  • Not designed to be mounted on construction equipment - must be continually repositioned for mobile road construction work.
  • May set up and take down faster.
  • Completely self-contained with their own on-board generator power.
  • On-board generator can also provide power for jobsite tools, etc.
  • Can be towed down the road without removing the light fixture.

Information provided by Powermoon Enterprises, Inc., Moon-Glo Work Light, Multiquip, Lunar Lighting, Godwin, Wacker Neuson, Terex, Allmand Bros Inc., and Doosan Portable Power.

Light-Tower Products

Here is a sampling of balloon and light towers available for the construction industry. Check out more available light towers on the Buyers Guide in the Portable Lighting category.

4K Flex Light Tower Retrofit Kit by Airstar America, Inc.

Night-Lite PRO II Light Tower by Allmand Cros Inc.

CPLT M10 Light Tower by Chicago Pneumatic Tool Co.

LightSource Compact by Doosan Portable Power

Lunar Lighting Tower by Lunar Lighting Pty Ltd.

MLTDOT Light Tower by Magnum Power Products LLC

Moon-Glo Machine Mounted Balloon Lights by Moon-Glo Work Light

GBS & GBMP/GBP GloBug Diffused Light Systems by Multiquip Inc.

Powermoon LED Balloon Light Tower by Powermoon Enterprises, Inc.

AL 4L and AL 5L LED Light Towers by Terex Corporation

Light Tower Line by Wacker Neuson Corporation

Godwin Light Towers by Godwin, a Xylem brand