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Types of Garage Lights

fluorescent bulbs


Keeping it simple, fluorescent lighting is the result of an electro/chemical reaction taking place inside a glass tube. The reaction is between electricity and mercury-vapor gas. What is produced is ultraviolet light. On the inside of a fluorescent light is a phosphor coating. When UV light is produced is causes the phosphor coating to glow.

incandescent bulbs


Incandescent (adj) - emitting light as a result of being heated. Incandescent light bulbs have been around for over 100 years. Incandescent lights have a tungsten wire filament than when heated (electricity applied) to high temperature, glow and emit visible light. The glass encasing the filament protects it from oxidation and is either filled with inert gas or a vacuum.

led lights


Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting does not use chemicals or heat to create light. LED's are currently the most efficient light source. They have a longer life than incandescent and fluorescent and use between 60 - 90% less energy. LED's can withstand lower temperatures and cope with shock and vibration better than the other two alternatives.

Best Lighting For The Garage

If you pursue any sort of craft or hobby that is partaken indoors like stamp collecting, model making, electronics, drawing then you know the benefits of needing and having good lighting.

Working in the garage on cars, motorcycles, boats, planes, woodworking and any number of other varied hobbies requires the same lighting conditions. It is pointless trying to work under a couple of 100W bulbs like many of our fathers and grandfathers did.

We, you and me, needn’t suffer the same dark fate (pun intended) because there really is no excuse to not have a well lit garage. For around a hundred dollars you can easily install three 4 foot, 4000 lumen, LED shop lights. (less than the cost of a half decent meal for two)

Good garage lighting is essential and the choices are far improved from a few years ago when there was the buzzing fluorescents or the yellow glow from incandencent bulbs.

old garage

LED Lighting Should Be Your First Choice

LED’s have changed the way places are lit and do it more efficently and cost effectively.

Choices, sometimes there is just to many which leads to confusion. It all depends on how much light is needed and where.

If you simply want to increase the amount of light but in no particular area, replacing the single bulb with an adjustable light socket splitter is an simple solution. This one accommodates 3 LED bulbs.

If on the other hand you want more light and in particular areas, especially around the areas you work the most then you may be in for a little rewiring and light mounting.

Nothing to complicated.

A series of linkable 4 foot LED work lights will more than likely cover your needs.

If your garage/workshop has a high roof then it is well worth considering ‘High Bay’ lights. Most can be hung from chains or direct mounted to the ceiling. These also offer brighter outputs than most domestic garage lighting.

What to look for when upgrading/replacing or installing new garage lights


You are putting in new lights because you want more light, so brightness is a big consideration.
In the old scale lighting was measured by Watts. The more Watts a bulb had the brighter it was.

While watts still count, the measurement for brightness is now in lumens. Kinda hard to get your head around if, like me, you have always measured lighting by watts.

Then to add salt to the wound, LED lights have a lower watt scale. A 15W LED light is about equivalent to a 100W bulb in the old scale.
(A quick rule of thumb, that works for me, multiply the LED watts by 6. No where near accurate but it puts you in the ball park)

Back to lumens. Lumens are a measurement of light output. (Watts are energy consumed).
I would quote Wikipedia here for an accurate definition but unless you understand luminous flux, wavelengths and candela it’s going to be little gibberish.

However, over at they do a good job of describing all the lumen business and how to choose an appropriate bulb.
Remember for most garages white light is best and that is described using a different number, more on that shortly.

Energy Efficiency

My hand is up, I’m guilty! I have never been particularly energy efficient aware. If the appliance does what it is supposed to do and does it well then I was happy, regardless of the energy rating.

That attitude got changed living in Europe.

The whole continent is bent on energy efficiency.

Now I take note of the energy rating and anything less than a ‘B’ rating I dismiss immediately. (same can not be said for my taste in automobiles)

Basically, at the end of the day if it takes less energy to power something, less energy is needed to be produced. Thus, in theory, lowering the overall impact of global warming etc. Every little bit counts.

Energy efficient lighting will also, over time, save on your power bill.

Currently the best energy efficient lighting is LED. The downside, I know you’re asking, is that you pay more up-front.

At least, for the time being, we have the choice.

Garage Light Installation

Almost all the people I know who have projects in the garage, be it woodwork or race car building, have a fair degree of handyman knowledge.

So with that in mind installing new lighting is a rather simple job, though may require the aid of a second person depending on the type of lights being installed.

If you are building a new garage, do your homework and plan in advance where you require the lighting. The cost of having the extra wiring installed is minimal. You can always choose or change the lights later.

When I install lights, I tend to hard wire them, so an electrician is required to do the hook up. (depending on the country you live in)
Otherwise just make sure the lights have cable long enough to reach the closest wall outlet.

That brings up the topic of switching.

Many of the more domestic purpose lights have switches on them or along the power cable.
In some cases those switches become unreachable once the light is mounted – just something to be aware of.

If you are not hard wiring and are simply plugging in to a wall socket, the simplest solution is to put a switch on the socket outlet if it does not already have one and leave the switches on the units turned on.

How Much Lighting is Enough?

That’s a case-by-case answer. But since we are generalizing here lets think about a standard two bay car garage that holds two cars.

Now let’s assume that the garage size is 8m x 8m (26′ x 26′).

At the front of the garage there is a work bench.

In each bay install two lighting units, one towards the front of the car and one at the rear.
Install another light above the workbench.

That is a total of five lights.

Getting the most light is easily achieved by using tube style lighting like the old fluoros.

If you have the height, high bay lighting can work really well. Make sure to look at the angle of light given off. 120 degrees is a good start.

And don’t forget about the garage door. Many garages have the lift up style garage doors that take up space in the ceiling area. Ensure the door does not come in to contact with any new lights being installed.

Also with the door up it tends to neutralize the lighting.

Light Colour

Lights have a colour temperature range. You may have seen numbers on packaging of lights like – 3000K or 4000K. You may have also seen the words ‘Cool White’ or ‘Daylight’.

Those numbers represent a temperature measured in Kelvin.

For garage lighting numbers starting in the 4000K range and up work best. Or if you are going by the wording, start at Cool White and go up to Daylight.

Halogen lighting is down around the 3K mark.

Summing Garage Lighting Up

If you spend a lot time in your garage, good lighting is pretty much essential. Good lighting is easily achievable without spending a fortune.

Do some simple planning and mark where you require the lights.

Whether you choose LED, fluorescent or incandescent make sure they will meet your requirements now and into the foreseeable future.

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