Shop Lighting

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Forum topic by agallant posted 01-30-2015 04:27 PM 2876 views 1 time favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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551 posts in 2882 days

01-30-2015 04:27 PM

My head is spinning, T5, T8 ,T12 LED etc.

I have a 24X24 shop with 16 foot ceilings.

I think I want T8 due to T12 being phased out and T5 being expensive
The lights will be on 8-40 hours per week depending

How many bulbs will I need to light up the space?

I am open to recommendations.

Thanks for the help.

30 replies so far

View joey502's profile


535 posts in 1514 days

#1 posted 01-30-2015 04:40 PM

The spacing and lamp count depends on the distance the lamp is from the work surface, the output of each lamp, the color of the walls etc. Try this link, it is what I used in my garage. There are a lot of factors to consider.

View Chris 's profile


177 posts in 1580 days

#2 posted 01-30-2015 08:37 PM

Agallant … I am not sure how much I can help but thought I would share my opinion since I just went through the process of re-doing the lighting in my shop. First … I would just say be patient and do your homework. I can’t describe how much nicer it has been to work in a shop with the proper amount of light. Its worth the time/investment.

Due to the low cost, availability, and high recommendations from so many LJs on thread after thread about lighting I went with T8 bulbs. I also have a 24×24 shop, but my ceilings are only 8 foot high. I have an exposed beams for a ceiling, and OSB walls that are not painted, so light is not reflected well throughout my shop. I purchased 5, 2 bulb 4-foot T8 fixtures from a home center, and placed them fairly evenly throughout my shop. I bought a 10 pack of T8 daylight (3000k) bulbs and my shop is the perfect amount of light for me now.

I know this is not what is recommended for brightness but I am really sensitive to light, I hate the blue super bright fluorescent light, and I was so pleased with the daylight bulbs and the amount of light! Good luck and I hope this helps you out.

Here is a pic of my shop the first night I had the lights on .. its not the best quality but it gives you an idea of the amount of light that is produced

View brtech's profile


1029 posts in 2918 days

#3 posted 01-30-2015 09:57 PM

I was able to find an inexpensive T5HO fixture on ebay. These put out a tremendous amount of light. HO is the way to go if you can get the fixtures at a reasonable cost. I think I paid $40 a piece for a 2 lamp 8’ fixture, with shipping, without lamps. The lamps are not that expensive and available locally at any lighting supply company.

View Todd's profile


398 posts in 1672 days

#4 posted 01-30-2015 10:04 PM

I have a 24×16 shop and I calculated the lighting requirements using industrial standards. I ended up with nine 4-foot, 2-lamp T12 fixtures. The lighting seems perfect and other people that come into my shop say the same thing. I have been very satisfied with my lighting for the past 2.5 years.

-- Todd, Huntsville, AL

View KCConst's profile


68 posts in 1894 days

#5 posted 01-30-2015 10:17 PM

I have all T8’s in my large shop but as a contractor the price was right. Just FYI for everyone. The price of LED lamps is coming down VERY FAST. Energy savings is great and the way I would go if starting new. I replace every bulb that burns out in my home with an LED. So far Zero LEDs have burned out. I changed out 2 big 500W Halogens that lit up our pool area with 2 – 50W LEDs (a little bit brighter) and 1/10 the energy use (no mentioning the energy I spent climbing the ladder 2 stories to change the Halogens once or twice a year.)

-- "Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do" Wooden

View ElChe's profile


630 posts in 1332 days

#6 posted 01-30-2015 10:19 PM

I have 5 T12 fixtures each with x2 8 foot bulbs. I can’t even throw a decent shadow in my 16×24 shop. I’m in the process of pricing out conversion to either T8 or T5. And I’m going with x4 4 foot bulbs per fixture. I hate the 8 foot bulbs. I feel like I’m wrestling a python. And they don’t fit all that well in my small pickup. My magnetic ballasts are starting to act up after 12 years so might as well make the move.

-- Tom - Measure twice cut once. Then measure again. Curse. Fudge.

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2967 days

#7 posted 01-30-2015 10:42 PM

There are some hidden advantages to T5 you might not have considered.
Yes they do cost more, but they produce much more usable light, especially in a high ceiling arrangement.
The ballasts are solid state and have a soft start feature that extends the life of the bulbs considerably.
T5 fixtures are what almost all manufacturing facilities are going to because the cost versus life versus output just favors the T5 and by a wide margin.

Having said that, I went to LEDs because I don’t ever want to change another bulb and I doubt I’ll be worried about that 20 years from now.

View Garbanzolasvegas's profile


356 posts in 1223 days

#8 posted 01-30-2015 10:53 PM


-- If you don't Play, you can't win

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 3067 days

#9 posted 01-30-2015 11:50 PM

I’ve been installing T8 because the fixtures and bulbs are pretty inexpensive. T5 fixtures and bulbs are not as readily available locally and when I have seen them they cost twice as much as T8. You can find better prices for T5 online but I’d have to buy a lot more bulbs than I need in order to make it worth buying the tubes online. It would have taken too long for T5 to pay off for me, but you should run the numbers through an energy savings calculator to see how long it will take to pay off for you.

I remember seeing a much simpler lighting layout estimator than the GE one, but I can’t seem to find it right now. I don’t have the foggiest clue how many foot candles I want or how many lumens I get per lamp…it seems like the calculator should have filled in some common values by default.

I considered LED but even though they’ve come down a lot in price, they’re still not cost-effective compared to fluorescent, and the manufacturers’ “replaces a ## watt incandescent bulb” claims are grossly exaggerated if you actually look up the EPA’s lumens vs. incandescent watts comparisons. For example, the brightest LED flood I could find on Amazon for my driveway motion light claimed to replace a 90W incandescent bulb but it’s actually equivalent to a 75W bulb based on lumens. The only reason I bought LED bulbs for that fixture is that CFL floodlights are not very well-suited for use in motion-activated fixtures (they take a while to warm up, and they can fail prematurely if you turn them on and off excessively).

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View MikesProjects's profile


172 posts in 1898 days

#10 posted 01-31-2015 12:07 AM

t8 here, last a long time & cheap. Very bright. 32w X 36 4’ bulbs = 1152 watts . My shop is light up nicely.

-- -Mike, Southern California, YouTube User ( Give & Take )

View AlaskaGuy's profile


4127 posts in 2305 days

#11 posted 01-31-2015 12:13 AM

12 foot ceiling here, with T5’s. I’m happy.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View the_other_ken's profile


32 posts in 2971 days

#12 posted 01-31-2015 12:34 AM

My shop is 18×24 with 10 foot ceilings. Bright white ceiling and walls. I was aiming for 100 foot candles and ended up using 32 4’ T8 bulbs in two banks. I think my calcs put me at 28 bulbs for the 100 foot candles. I put them in 4 rows, 16 feet long, equally spaced 4’ apart and 2 1/2’ from the walls. I have one bank of the 2 inner rows and one bank of the two outer rows. I usually use just one bank (the inner rows) but if I’m doing fine, precise work I put on the second bank … makes quite a bit of difference.

Light falls off at the inverse square of the distance so if you keep your lights up at 16’ you losing more light at bench height thanI am. I would recommend you go with at least what I have.

As for LEDs, look at the lumen output of the LED bulbs compared to the T8 bulbs. It takes a pretty bright, higher wattage LED to equal the 2800 lumens of a T8. Efficiency is about the same for either bulb but cost isn’t.

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3081 days

#13 posted 01-31-2015 04:56 AM

Costco in Montana is offering Feit LED utility shop light for $31.99 this month rated at 3700 lumens. This
deal might be available elsewhere. I am going to try at least one of these.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View OSU55's profile


1666 posts in 1985 days

#14 posted 01-31-2015 06:32 AM

Research LED’s, especially if you have AC in your shop. The wattage difference decreases heat load. Standard T12’s put out ~2100 lumens/bulb. The Felt electrical LED’s are 3700 lumens – these do not have a shade or shield and will provide “uplighting” – lights up the ceiling, which if it is light colored will reflect and provide more light. LED’s will last much longer than flourescents, so include that in any calculation. Also, LED’s do not attract bugs, so if you leave doors and windows open in the summer evenings, almost zero bugs.

View JAAune's profile


1798 posts in 2313 days

#15 posted 01-31-2015 06:38 AM

For the new shop my business just relocated to, the plan is to wait 1-2 years then install LED’s. They should be an affordable option by then.

-- See my work at and

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