Rope lighting in the shop

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Forum topic by RetiredCoastie posted 02-02-2011 04:07 PM 2857 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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999 posts in 3176 days

02-02-2011 04:07 PM

I’m in the process of completing a shallow cabinet that will mount above my counter tops in the shop. I’m looking to incorporate some low profile task lighting under the cabinet. My questions are has anyone used the rope lighting in the shop environment? Do they hold up and do they provide good task lighting? Are the ones sold in Lowe’s and Home Depot of good quality? I’ve read a lot of info but I’d like some input from those that have experience with this product.

Thanks in advance for any info you can provide!

-- Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

9 replies so far

View HorizontalMike's profile


7754 posts in 2907 days

#1 posted 02-02-2011 04:36 PM

I use rope lighting in my observatory (red mostly but some white). I find it to be good low level lighting but ended up adding fluorescent lights in order to actually “work” on my equipment. That being said, I would say that rope lighting has limited ”task lighting” usefulness (over your parts and tool containers).

A better choice (and what I chose in the observatory) would be the “small 15-20 fluorescent fixtures like HD sells. I have found these quite useful and easy to install. I even mounted one behind my big screen DTV for background lighting…

Oh yeah, parts of the rope light do burn out more readily.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View StumpyNubs's profile


7587 posts in 2794 days

#2 posted 02-02-2011 04:46 PM

I’ve used rope lighting in projects. My house has a library and there’s rope lighting for some of the shelves. One thing I learned is that there’s a HUGE difference in quality. I bought the cheap stuff and it lasted only a few weeks. Buy the best you can if you use it.

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 2687 days

#3 posted 02-02-2011 05:23 PM

I have the HD variety and don’t know that I would use them for more than accent lighting. I have ropes behind my computer monitor, my TV, and around the inside under my bed frame. Each setting looks fantastic, but they don’t provide much direct like—like taking the lens assembly off a Maglight… You still get a torch, but there’s no direction or focus.

That being said, I’m sure if you get the right stuff and maybe double up the density of the lights, you might get what you’re looking for.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

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Mary Anne

1058 posts in 3202 days

#4 posted 02-02-2011 05:37 PM

I’ve used rope lights for display purposes in a retail business, but I would not recommend them as work lights. They are just not bright enough and they yellow over time.

However, you might want to check out LED strip lights like these . They can be expensive, but they put out a lot of light, take up almost no space, and they are energy efficient. You can also use a dimmer switch with them if you want. I am going to use them as indirect lighting in my hot tub room. If you shop around, you can probably find a better deal on them—this was just the first site that showed up in Google, and they seem to have a good selection.

View patron's profile


13603 posts in 3334 days

#5 posted 02-02-2011 05:47 PM

lowes has ‘hockey puck’ LED lights
in kits
they are 110
and can be run through a dimmer

much better than rope
or strip lights


-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2977 days

#6 posted 02-02-2011 05:47 PM

I’ve experimented with rope lighting for this purpose myself. While it provides a low level light for back lighting areas under cabinets and such. As Mike has stated sections of rope lighting does burn out and isn’t as simple as changing out lights in other fixtures. I’m now looking at checking out the new LED task lighting lights they have come out with. Such as these.|0||p_product_quantity_sold|1&pl=1&currentURL=/pl_Spe

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View RetiredCoastie's profile


999 posts in 3176 days

#7 posted 02-02-2011 05:57 PM

Thanks all for your input. I’m glad I came here first you guys are great.

David I think I’m gonna go with your suggestion and try the puck lights. If they don’t suit my needs I can always return them.

Once I finish the cabinet I’ll post pics with the lights on and off.

Thanks again to all of you!

-- Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

View swirt's profile


2729 posts in 2965 days

#8 posted 02-02-2011 06:56 PM

I have LED rope lights under my cabinets in my kitchen. They replaced non-led rope lights that starting having sections burn out and quit working. If you go with rope lights, definitely go with the LED variety.

As far as task lighting, as others have said, they are not optimal, but the nice thing is they provide lots of light from multiple vantage points so you are rarely working in a shadow. The task lights are more like spots that provide more brightness, but also more shadows. I have been thinking about doing this, when I add a couple of hanging cabinets to my workshop to put both LED rope and LED task lights under it. Then you would get the best of both worlds. I would also put them on separate switches so that you can turn them on and off independently. ie: Sometimes you want shadows so it would help to be able to turn off the rope.

-- Galootish log blog,

View HorizontalMike's profile


7754 posts in 2907 days

#9 posted 02-02-2011 07:50 PM

I think the LED technology will be a game changer ONCE they get prices down and competitive with existing types.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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