Shop Lighting Question

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by Stacey posted 02-15-2008 03:35 PM 7680 views 1 time favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Stacey's profile


19 posts in 3957 days

02-15-2008 03:35 PM

I am in the process of building my new shop and had a couple of questions. I am currently working on getting the siding up as my helper is available (the wife!) and am working on the wiring right now which leads me to my question: What type of lighting do most of you have or would like to have? The shop is 18’ x 32’. I was thinking of 2 rows of 8’, T8 Fluorescent lights run the length of the building with 3 lights per row. Sound good? Too much or not enough? Thoughts or recommendations.

-- S. Box --- "But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever." - John Adams

19 replies so far

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4375 days

#1 posted 02-15-2008 03:54 PM

You can never have too much light, in my (getting a little older and noticing when it is darker in a room) eyes. And the more natural the light the better. I think those T8s are pretty close to natural, aren’t they?

You should also consider one or two portable lights you can use to create raking light when you’re checking for sanding marks.

-- Ethan,

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4189 days

#2 posted 02-15-2008 06:32 PM

I have about 20, 4” standard Fluorescent lights. I got them because I have a lot of shop to light and they were
the least expensive things out there. I think Lowes had the fixtures for around $10 each.

I have 3 rows of lights and each row is controlled with a separate switch. That way I don’t have to light
up a part of the shop I’m not using.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Sawdustmaker's profile


295 posts in 3998 days

#3 posted 02-15-2008 07:26 PM

Although I have a number of the standard 4’ – 40 watt fluorescent bulb fixtures and the price is right, I’ve started purchasing the newer T8 Florescent lamp fixtures when I need more light. The fixtures are a little more compact and the bulbs are 32 watts vise the standard 40 Watt. Look for a Daylight bulb with at least 750 lumen for your best light to work under. I also have a few tripod work lights that have a 500Watt and a 250watt light in them. They eat allot of power but they come in very handy for applying finishes. They do put out a fair amount of heat so keep your flammables at a respectable distance. If you’re going to be using a lathe, you might want to look for a fixture that has a lexan cover so you don’t get showered with shards of glass in the event your stock takes flight.

-- Brian, Virginia Beach

View whit's profile


246 posts in 4178 days

#4 posted 02-15-2008 07:32 PM

I have a shop about that size (16×30) with 9 shop lights (3×3, 2-bulb, 4-ft). I originally had 2 rows of lights and ended up spreading them apart and running a third row down the middle. I’m in the process of replacing them with standard 4-tube, T8, 2×4 troffers. I’m finding that the shop lights just don’t put out quite enough light – or . . . that my old-man eyes just seem to need more of it. They also don’t work worth a hoot when they’re cold (basement shop, N of Atlanta). I’ll probably also switch them by zone; right now they’re all on one circuit.

-- Even if to be nothing more than a bad example, everything serves a purpose. cippotus

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4094 days

#5 posted 02-15-2008 07:54 PM

I have 4 high pressure sodium lights?....big round expensive but lots of light, bulbs last 20 years or more and energy efficient.

Also 5 LEDs for night lighting so I dont break a leg going in when its dark

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4191 days

#6 posted 02-15-2008 08:22 PM

I use fluorescent bulbs in my garage/shop. They seem to work quite well too. I’m interested in Roman’s sodium lights too as anything that saves power these days is always welcome. Would be worth checking out anyhow.

Here’s a suggestion too: Be sure to install your lighting on a totally separate breaker so when you “blow a fuse” on the saw, you’re not in the dark as well.

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View cabinetmaker2's profile


35 posts in 3964 days

#7 posted 02-15-2008 08:43 PM

I bought 4’ home cheepo/depot fluorescent lights, they come with a 6’ cord with a plug on the end, I wired my shop ceiling with outlet boxes and installed an outlet every place I had a machine, then added a few extra down the middle, now I can plug in the light, if I need to move any I have 6’ of cord and outlets within reach ,I can add lights, take away lights,pretty much do what needs to be done, also gives me places to plug in other things like my shop vac, and anything else I may need power for. I would like to buy a better light, but thats down the road aways, money is tight this time of year. but the lighting I have works great…..

-- Mark, Hancock Maine,

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4075 days

#8 posted 02-15-2008 08:44 PM

Make sure you have some direct “task lighting” as well. Point a few spot lights over the places you concentrate, like over your scroll saw, bandsaw, table saw, bench, etc. I think having a variety of different types of light spectrums and intensities is good for the eyes and good for the brain. You don’t want your entire work space to be awash with fluorescents.

-- Happy woodworking!

View 8iowa's profile


1587 posts in 3962 days

#9 posted 02-16-2008 04:49 PM


I built a new 24’x28’ shop in the U.P. last Summer. On separate circuits, I first installed six equally spaced std incandescent fixtures with 150 watt bulbs in each. On the other lighting circuit I mounted nine fluorescent fixtures in three rows. Each fixture has two 4’ T-8 bulbs. By all means, treat yourself to the new electronic ballast type lights. The old type magnetic ballast fluorescent lights operate at 60hz, well within our visual and audible range, thus they hum and flicker. They have even been known to produce a strobe effect on rotating machinery. Actually some people are adversly affected by the old style magnetic ballast lights, suffering eye strain and headaches with prolonged exposure. On the other hand, the new technology electronic ballasts function at 21,000hz, thus there is no hum or flicker – this frequency is above the human range of sight or sound. Yes. The old type fluorescent fixtures are cheaper – but it would be a shame to install them in a new shop and be stuck with the old technology fluorescent lighting.

There are two indices of bulb rating that are important to be aware of. On the packaging of most fluorescent bulbs, a degrees Kelvin number is shown, and also another CRI number (color rendering index). Bulbs closest to 5000 degrees Kelvin more closely approach natural light. Bulbs with a CRI closest to 100 will display colors more naturally. (Incandescent bulbs have a CRI of 100.) When you shop for fluorescent bulbs keep these rating indices in mind. You will quickly see that the old “cool white” bulbs that we used in the past do not measure up very well. Actually, you will usually also see terms like “cool white”, “daylight”, “sunshine” – the only thing that accurately describes a bulbs characteristics are the two above indices.

A mixture of incandescent and fluorescent is not a bad idea for a small shop. You can still save energy and maximize both the degrees Kelvin rating and the CRI.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View gizmodyne's profile


1780 posts in 4291 days

#10 posted 02-16-2008 04:53 PM

Put as much as you can fit. It won’t seem like much as you are working. I have 6 eight footers in a tiny shop. It is perfect, though task lighting is needed as well.

I have mine switched so I can turn the middle row on or the outside rows or both.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4191 days

#11 posted 02-16-2008 07:03 PM

Skylights. Solartubes.

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View Kirk's profile


116 posts in 4255 days

#12 posted 02-16-2008 07:09 PM


I have a 30’x40’ and I have put 12 4’ lights around the perimeter. I even place one at the overhead door. I am considering put some down the center, but as of yet I don’t need them.

The lights wash the walls, therefore, I don’t have shadows when working at a machine that is against the wall.

-- W. Kirk Crawford - Tularosa, New Mexico

View DaveH's profile


400 posts in 3979 days

#13 posted 02-19-2008 02:10 AM

I wouldn’t go with an 8’ fixture unless it uses 4’ tubes. It is a pain to break up an 8’ tube for disposal. I’d also be sure to get electronic ballasts with T8 bulbs for instant startup and better light. I believe you need from 24,000 to 30,000 lumens to light a 1000 sf shop with white walls (10 foot high ). I believe thats 16 to 19, 4foot, 32watt fluorescent tubes. Can anyone verify this for me?

-- DaveH - Boise, Idaho - “How hard can it be? It's only wood!”

View Dave's profile


26 posts in 3979 days

#14 posted 02-19-2008 05:52 AM

I have 4 of those 4’ flourescent lights that I got at home depot for about $10. I wired 4-outlet receptables into the ceiling joists…I just unplug the light if I don’t want to use it, but I did wire a switch to control all of the lights in case I want to leave them plugged in and turn on the entire basement. I tried to space them no more than 4 feet apart for maximum lighting, like others have already said, you can never have too much light. And as you get older your eyes will appreciate this. And make sure to place one directly over the main area that you will work at (sitting at the workbench, over the saw area, etc…). Good Luck !

-- You gotta laugh a little...

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4189 days

#15 posted 02-19-2008 06:08 AM

Here is a photo of my shop under construction.

Three rows of lights each on a separate switch. This photo was taken at night.
The shop is 25 feet wide by 40 long.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

showing 1 through 15 of 19 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics