New Shop - from the ground , up. #6: Finishing work - things really do slow down!

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Blog entry by curliejones posted 07-17-2014 11:50 AM 2045 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Shout it from the rooftop - I have one! Part 6 of New Shop - from the ground , up. series Part 7: Progress! Time to move a few tools! »

A little shop update and a BIG question??
Here’s a couple of pics of the latest progress. Fiber cement siding on two sides and I’ll start sheet metal on other two today. I’ve been relegated to shortened workdays with the heat of summer upon me, but I have managed to paint almost all the inside surfaces white (OSB) an hour or two at a time. The windows and exhaust fan are all in and I’ve built frames for and hung a couple of passage doors and the roll-ups are ordered (couple of weeks ago) so I’m hoping to close the place up soon.

BIG ?? Has anyone found a brand of CFL that they find reliable? I have planned to use CFLs in a 12” white reflector for lots of general lighting. I’ve also bought some 4 ft T8 fluorescent fixtures (just 4 so far) and I’d like to find a better built CFL in the 100W equivalent size. I find the failure rate for those I’ve bought for the house to be fairly high, guessing at 40-50%. They have either flickered annoyingly or just quit after a short service life. Granted – these have been from Wally or Big Orange. I see many choices from online vendors and at higher prices. I am afraid, however, that the higher-price does not translate into more reliable. I see many complains about name-branded bulbs, such as Sylvania and Phillips and I believe they are mostly coming from the same offshore factories with poor QA/QC. I don’t mind paying a little more if I can feel assured I’ll get a better product.

Any suggestions or your experiences are appreciated.

-- Like Guy Clark sez - "Sometimes I use my head, Sometimes I get a bigger hammer"

7 comments so far

View Julian's profile


1401 posts in 2896 days

#1 posted 07-17-2014 02:31 PM

I have had the same experience with CFL fixtures failing. We installed high bay fixtures that hold 6 T-8 CFLs in the factory. These fixtures have 2 ballasts and many of the ballasts just fail after a few months. Did not measure the failure rate but is was not as high as 40%. At the home workshop (garage) I use CFL fixtures from Lowes or HomeDepot (2 T-8 CFLs); had only one fixture go bad after about 2 years. Don’t have any suggestions regarding which brand is better.

-- Julian

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3072 days

#2 posted 07-17-2014 02:38 PM

That’s going to be a nice shop. It’s looking really good. I built a shop a while back and so far I’ve had good luck with my light fixtures and bulbs. I’ll see if I can find the info for them an get it back to you. I got them from the local hd box store.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View woodshopmike's profile


226 posts in 1869 days

#3 posted 07-17-2014 05:10 PM

really happy for you. I know you’re stoked to have a dedicated shop! I dream of the day…


View Sarit's profile


550 posts in 3346 days

#4 posted 07-19-2014 05:10 AM

Some may disagree, but I’ve had a ton of success with the Ecosmart bulbs from the big orange store. A 4 pack is $10 so there’s not much to lose to try them out. I also installed a whoe house surge protector and put the lights on a separate circuit. I think having nice stable power for your lights makes a bigger difference than the brand of bulb.

View curliejones's profile


179 posts in 2472 days

#5 posted 07-19-2014 11:10 AM

Greetings LJs. Thanks for the input about shop lighting. Sarit, I researched whole house surge protection and found a few articles comparing the two common types of surge protection. There seems to be a consensus that series filter technology (point of use) has superior results at protecting sensitive electronic equipment. The above link is one such comparison writeen by an engineer in the field. I am extrapolating a bit, but the starting of power tools, especially the larger ones, e.g. table saw, jointer, could produce “in-shop” surges with great frequency and damage electronics therein. Rated at a 12 amp output, the Tripp Lite Isobar units with 4 plug-ins look like a sound investment. A couple of these to protect two different lighting circuits would call for a $100 investment, could easily be owner-installed, and have no wear parts.
I only spent a few minutes researching this, but I like the simplicity of installing a male plug on each of two feed circuits for the lighting. I plan to run about 2000 Watts of CFLs and 4 ft fluorescent T-8 tubes combined. – You might find another posting where I show a reflector (I purchased several) and a ceramic fixture to use in conjunction with CFLs. I’m doing this in looking toward the future when LED bulbs become more reasonably priced. There will be no need to replace fixtures; just switch out the bulbs. One addition to the set up I previously commented on – I will buy metal bulb guards to protect the CFLs (LEDs in the future) if I can determine that the wire guards will fit onto the reflectors that I already purchased. I feel pretty sure the “standard-sized” base of the bulb guards will clamps around the ceramic inserts in the reflectors. – Should anyone read this and become interested in the reflectors, I advise you to shop them. I see them for as much as $25 and as little as $9.24. If you are buying several to light up a shop, this translates into some serious change. Coleman Cable and Designer’s Edge are two brands that the same reflector is marketed under. The part number L-1710 is used for both brands.

-- Like Guy Clark sez - "Sometimes I use my head, Sometimes I get a bigger hammer"

View robscastle's profile


5502 posts in 2410 days

#6 posted 07-21-2014 09:57 AM

Lighting experience:
CFL were a great idea a couple of years ago, and are still OK.
However with the development of LED lights technology they are now second best.
T5 lighting I would not ever use again mainly because of the cost and very short life.
The Current T8 lights beat T5s hands down.

Here is a house I just wired with 12×30w Oyster LED lights these lights are great value for money and will never need changing, unless there is a failure.

Its an under house workshop for a car mechanic the lights are in 3 rows of four LED lights switched in two sections of each row Light 1 and 3 and the Light 2 and 4 total power is 360 w

Something to consider

-- Regards Rob

View curliejones's profile


179 posts in 2472 days

#7 posted 12-09-2014 12:38 PM

An update – Electrical took a long time…. my first time to work Metal Clad conduit and then underground supply from the house in this hard red clay..whew! Glad that’s over! The shop is now set up as a 90 amp sub-panel. BTW, I ran a separate 1” conduit with coax and phone line after back filling the trench halfway. That can be ignored for the time being. My MP3 player thru a cheap boom box is working fine for now.

I finally completed the electrical work and chose to install a “whole-house” surge breaker. I have a GE box and so bought their surge breaker for around $40 at BORG. I did run tool circuits separate from lighting circuits in hopes of limiting surges caused by tool motor starts. I suppose time will tell if this is good enough. I’ve only run a few tools in the shop so far building a general purpose narrow workbench to go along a wall. Today I hope to build a rolling drawer that fits beneath that workbench and just between the legs. Since the footprint is already spoken for by the table, I can gain about 6 cu ft of storage beneath the table.

The lighting dilemma – solved? Hmmm? It is bright enough everywhere I need it to be.
I put new ballasts in (5) 4-bulb 2×4 troffers, – the kind used in drop-in ceilings, and painted the white interior surface with a chrome spray paint. With the plastic lens removed, these put out a tremendous amount of light. I balanced these with (5) 2-bulb “shop lights” and I’m using T8 32W daylight bulbs in all.
I have about eight of the CFL bulbs, 23 watt to 27 watt that are rated as 100W equivalents. These are in the 12” round reflectors to direct light downward and are located mostly at entrance and storage locations. Additionally, I put track lighting with 3-5 75W halogen bulbs in 5 different perimeter locations for task lighting that can be turned on and off only when needed (feel that meter spin?). The track lighting was gifted from a pal who demos retail space then re-builds; he even gave me a case of halogen bulbs. Although this sounds like (and is) a gumbo of lighting, I chose carefully where the fixtures were placed and used a hierarchy dictated by anticipated tool use. I put two duplex outlets per 4-square box in three different ceiling locations so the fluorescent fixtures can be relocated if needed and limited only by the length of their cord. I did buy a couple of LED bulbs for down lights in track heads, but I won’t buy anymore of the cool white that are way too blue for my taste. – I will build a couple more storage places and sort my 35 year collection of hardware and tools before I begin any serious woodwork but for now, I have elbow room. The adventure continues!

-- Like Guy Clark sez - "Sometimes I use my head, Sometimes I get a bigger hammer"

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