Lighting Ideas

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Forum topic by sikrap posted 09-22-2009 01:53 AM 6025 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1121 posts in 2781 days

09-22-2009 01:53 AM

Well, the new garage (shop) is just about finished (finally!!). I’m having issues with the overhead lighting and I thought I’d ask you folks for some ideas. The garage is 20’ wide by 28’ deep. The overhead door is 14’ and there is one window and an entry door. My original idea was to install 4 overhead fixtures. You know, the 4’ long jobs. An electrician is telling me that I need more light fixtures and that I should get the “sealed” units that are made of polycarbonate. MY wife has already been VERY understanding about the expense of this garage, and I really don’t want to surprise her with light fixtures that cost $100-$150 each. Any ideas as to what kinds of light and how many should be used would be appreciated. Thanks!!

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

12 replies so far

View gerrym526's profile


266 posts in 3230 days

#1 posted 09-22-2009 02:38 AM

My shop is about 330 sq ft-about 3/4 the size of yours, and has a ceiling under 8 feet. I’m from the school of woodworking that says more light is better (wait until you’re grabbing your reading glasses to see layout lines on wood!).
I have 3 double flourescents spanning 12 feet, and another 2 double flourescent fixtures across the area of my workbench (where I do lots of hand tool work).
Don’t know why your electrician is suggesting such expensive fixtures. You can get 2-tube flourescent units with a plastic shield/diffuser for about $30 each at Home Depot.
You can go even cheaper than that if you use the fixtures that actually have the tubes exposed. All you have to do is buy plastic sleeves for the tubes at Home Depot, and if you hit one of them with a board, the sleeve keeps the broken tube contained.
Bright light in the workshop-1) helps your sight last longer, and 2) helps you see when your fingers are getting too close to the saw blade, router bit, etc. before it’s too late.

-- Gerry

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3244 days

#2 posted 09-22-2009 03:55 AM

My shop is about the same size and height as Gerry’s and I have 12 4’ double 40w fixtures in my shop. I wanted to make sure that I could work in there at night.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Les Hastings's profile

Les Hastings

1300 posts in 3195 days

#3 posted 09-22-2009 04:50 AM

Home Depot 8’ four bulb T8’S $40.00 ea.

-- Les, Wichita, Ks. (I'd rather be covered in saw dust!)

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5107 posts in 2616 days

#4 posted 09-22-2009 06:29 AM

I have the same lights in my shop as Les—- 8’ 4 bulb T8’s. Sounds like from how you described your shop, you could probably use around 4-6 of these. Don’t want no shadows creeping in. Best thing to do is kind of do a mental layout of your tools and placement, then go from there. Take measurements if necessary.
These lights really put off a lot good light, and like Les said, around $40 a set. Not a bad investment to be able to see good. Good luck in your endevors.

-- At my age, an "all--nighter" is not having to get up and pee...!!!

View justjohn49's profile


14 posts in 2759 days

#5 posted 09-22-2009 02:42 PM

I have a couple of 4’ lights from home depot that work fine in my small shop. However, I do not have heat in the shed as of yet so I got the ones that start up in cold weather where I store the snow blower in the winter. I think you get the picture of the different scenarios from the folks above. The contractor means well as those fixtures will last a long time in a commercial environment. I am from the electrical wholesaling business and one has to be wary of oversell at times. Home Depot or your local big box store will suffice for us hobbyists. I have 9’ x 13’ of floor space and I even amaze myself what one can do in there. May God Bless even more.

-- justjohn49, New Hampshire

View herg1's profile


42 posts in 3135 days

#6 posted 10-06-2009 08:15 PM

My shop is 22×23 with nine foot ceilings and I have 9 fixtures with 4 lamps in each one and 3 additional fixtures that have the 26W florescent screw in lamps. I too like a lot of light and even with all these fixtures there are times that I use a portable lamp when finishing.

I suggest that you run your circuits so that you can shut off the extra lamps when they are not needed.

-- Roger1

View SnowyRiver's profile


51452 posts in 2902 days

#7 posted 10-08-2009 08:46 PM

I agree that you shouldnt skimp on the lighting. Keep it bright. My shop is 21X21 and I have 10 – 48” two tube fixtures in the ceiling. Its like an operating room at the hospital. I also have lights on some equipment like the bandsaw, drill press, grinder etc. I bought mine at Home Depot…just inexpensive fixtures. The only thing to keep in mind is if you are in an area that gets cold and your shop isnt heated, the regular ballast fixtures wont start very good if it gets real cold. You would need cold weather ballasts.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View BTKS's profile


1984 posts in 2886 days

#8 posted 10-08-2009 09:02 PM

Lots of light = good light. All good points made above. Another point you should consider is the 14 foot height. The light will spread more than a short ceiling but will also drop in intensity. I have a grid of 200watt incandescents up at 16 feet. When I put the loft in over the primary wood shop, I’ll switch to florescent since they will be about 8 to 9 feet up. The current situation works okay but I still have to use task lighting. I swear I can hear 6, 12 or 18 200w bulbs making the electric meter whine, oh that may just be my wallet screaming when they are all on. Best of luck, BTKS

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View Eric_S's profile


1551 posts in 2617 days

#9 posted 10-08-2009 09:10 PM

I have a 18×20 garage and purchased 2 4ft- 2 tube flourescent lights with quick starts for $10 each. I am using Day Light flourescents (I think T12??). I did the wiring myself (I did a lot of research to make sure it was up to code) for around $30 versus probably a few hundred an electrician would have charged to lay down new lines through the wall. In addition to the 2×4 ft light fixtures I also have a standard soft white 60w that was already in the garage on a seperate switch and then two more lights in the garage door opener which I can lock in the on position and replaced with bright white 60w bulbs. I get plenty of light with just the 2 4ft’s on, but even better with all on. And if I ever need to check with other lighting conditions I can switch from the flourescents to a single 60w :) It probably helps that the ceiling and walls have been finished and painted white too.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2506 posts in 2860 days

#10 posted 10-08-2009 09:16 PM

My shop is outfitted with 2×4 fixtures that they recess in hung ceilings. they cost about $45 and hold up to 4 florescent bulbs each. Screw them right to the ceiling. They are white a come with a diffuser element that gives some nice white light. It’s the only place I can actually read the little numbers on my incra rule. I also covered the sides with birch plywood. But you don’t have to. I’ve found that these large reflectors are the biggest bang for the buck. They’re also regulated by the govt because the are used in schools, so they have to have high quality ballasts that don’t hum. They work with two lights or 4. The crystal is on hinges so bulb changes are easy, and a box of a dozen bulbs is about $12

and a picture from Home Depot’s website

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 2781 days

#11 posted 10-08-2009 11:14 PM

Thanks everyone. I decided to use 6 of the 4’ fixtures that have 4 T8 bulbs each. A friend of mine suggested that, since I have 10’ ceilings, that I create a 2’ high x 3’ deep shelf around the top of the walls to store the crap…I mean great stuff my wife normally stores in the basement. That will still leave me 8’ around the perimeter and 10’ in the center of the shop. I also decided to put 2 fixtures to a circuit so I can restrict the light if I want to. The drill press, router table and table saw will each have individual lights as well. Thanks again!!

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2506 posts in 2860 days

#12 posted 10-08-2009 11:21 PM

BTW if you’re concerned about them not running in cold weather. They heat up enough in about 15 minutes to run full brightness.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

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