Need advice on upgrading lighting in my garage

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Sorry if this isn't the appropriate group for this question... searching Google for questions about setting up workshops always seemed to lead me here...
We recently bought a house, and it still has the original garage lighting: a single 60W bulb mounted on the wall next to the door.
I want to work in the garage, so I need to add some lighting. We live in San Diego, and our winters don't usually get below 50 degrees, so I figured I'd go with fluorescent lights.
The problem is that the walls and ceiling are all finished (sheetrock and paint). Any thought of running the wires outside the walls sounds (at least) ugly, but the idea of tearing out the sheet rock just to run wires around the ceiling doesn't sound that appealing either (there are rooms above the garage, so there's no attic or crawlspace to use).
I'm trying to figure out what my options are (after just buying a house in San Diego, SWMBO would balk at the expense of just hiring a pro to take care of it). Anyone out there done anything like this?
Any advice would be appreciated.
-Scott
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I used to always have the same quandry until my wife started building houses. Now I have learned. You just plan on spending a few bucks for a good drywall punch guy and cut a hole in the drywall. Life becones a lot easier. Actually if you score and cut a 24" or 16" piece on the stud/purlin it isn't really beyond the ability of a handy homeowner to replace it. A big hole is easier to patch than a small one. Cut it back to the next joint. If you do a little planning you might only end up with a couple patches.
Plan B is to try to fish the wire or use surface raceways, both can be ugly in their respective ways.
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On Wed, 12 Jan 2005 05:08:37 GMT, "Scott Smith"
|Sorry if this isn't the appropriate group for this question... searching |Google for questions about setting up workshops always seemed to lead me |here... | |We recently bought a house, and it still has the original garage lighting: a |single 60W bulb mounted on the wall next to the door. | |I want to work in the garage, so I need to add some lighting. We live in |San Diego, and our winters don't usually get below 50 degrees, so I figured |I'd go with fluorescent lights. | |The problem is that the walls and ceiling are all finished (sheetrock and |paint). Any thought of running the wires outside the walls sounds (at least) |ugly, but the idea of tearing out the sheet rock just to run wires around |the ceiling doesn't sound that appealing either (there are rooms above the |garage, so there's no attic or crawlspace to use). | |I'm trying to figure out what my options are (after just buying a house in |San Diego, SWMBO would balk at the expense of just hiring a pro to take care |of it). Anyone out there done anything like this?
Jeeze, you can afford a house in SD, what's another $10 or $20K for a coupla lights [g].
Seriously, I'd just surface mount the fixtures and wire them up using conduit. If it's a work area, a little industrial strength ambiance seems totally appropriate.
I would however, make sure that the fixtures are rated for residential use. A lot of the garbage at the Borgs is not and the radio frequency noise they generate is outrageous.
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On Wed, 12 Jan 2005 05:08:37 GMT, "Scott Smith"

it's those funny looking 1/2 round tubes that you see in older buildings, running to the lights and switches... Most BORGs have it..
We did my neighbor's garage last year and just used white romex with white staples.. pretty close match to his paint, as luck would have it..
mac
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I thought that that was illegal in most states. Romex is supposed to be used within enclosed walls. Exterior (to a wall) wiring should go in some type of tubing (a few different ones are around)
Len
mac davis wrote:

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At least in some places it was OK for a surface like a ceiling. It has to be a certain minimum height to avoid being used as a clothes line etc. Romex generally has to be routed through holes in the ceiling joists. Code may have changed since I checked that though.
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It is interesting that Romex may be illegal for many appolications but a plain extension cord is OK. There is really nothing worse than an extension cord.
Dick

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Richard Cline wrote:

The building and electrical codes only apply to stuff that is permanently installed. Extension cords are not addressed by the electrical code anymore than garden hoses are addressed by the plumbing code.

--
--John
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
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wrote:
I'm assuming that it's legal here, since my neighbor is a contractor.. of course, being a contractor means that he KNOWS the codes, but might not mean he follows them at home..
Anyway, he was very specific about 3 wire, heavy gauge, etc., etc, so if nothing else, we built one hell of an extension cord with 4 circuit breakers.. lol

mac
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Scott Smith asks:

I'd go with straight EMT, but if you're really worried about the looks, do what I did in my home office: use Wiremold.
www.wiremold.com
Charlie Self "One of the common denominators I have found is that expectations rise above that which is expected." George W. Bush
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On 12 Jan 2005 10:54:32 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnotforme (Charlie Self) wrote:

thanks, Charlie... I used "external conduit" cuz I couldn't remember "wiremold!
OTOH, he could build false beams in the garage and run the wiring there.. maybe get that spanish hand carved look? ;lol
mac
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All you have to do is replace that 60w bulb with a 100 Watt and it will be more than you ever need. Fast, cheap, can't be beat.
If that is not good enough for you, surface mounted fixture will be just fine. Depending on the garages size, four to six fixtures is about right. Placement may be more important than total. There are wiring strips made for surface mount that will look fairly decent.
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wrote inmessage

Kids. What do they know?

Ignore Edwin. He's youthful and unaffected by those things that plague us over time. Put up light bars - strings of them on the ceiling. Put a couple high up on the walls too. You may not appreciate the value of them just now, but I promise you, there'll come a time...
--

-Mike-
snipped-for-privacy@alltel.net
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wrote:

lighter and warmer..
mac
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"Scott Smith" writes:

Use 1 watt/sq ft as a design guide for fluorescent lighting.
It will get you close.
Lew
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Really? Seems low to me ! 900 square foot garage, all painted white. I have over twice that, 2080 watts of fluoresants, plus six 100 watt incandesants and I want more! Greg
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Heck, I think a nicely bent surface mount conduit job adds to any home decor... But anyway If you surface mount a fluorescent over the existing fixture and use that for your power supply you should be able to safely end to end chain several fixtures with out too much ugliness...
Knothead
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Another thought:
None of the lights in my shop are where I originally put them. I have to keep moving them around as my use and tool population changes.
If I were faced with your task, I'd install a lot of ceiling mounted outlets (controlled by a switch) and then hang lights where I want them, and plug them into the nearest outlet.
And, I never realized until I got old, that the reason us old geezers need more light is not that things are dim, but that old eyes don't focus well in dimmer light. (Has to do with lens opening and depth of field) If I ramp up the watts, the marks on the ruler (or the locations of the screwhead) become a lot clearer. So plan on adding more lights in the future.
And, have some task lights you can move around as needed. New shop!! Wonderful!!!
WaltC
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Greetings,
I had the same situation, but with no dry wall on the ceiling. First I will tell you what I did, and then suggest what you might want to possibly consider as suggestion for you to adapt to your own needs.
I changed the one bulb socket into a junction box by changing the cover plate. I mounted duplex outlet boxes on the ceiling where ever I wanted a fluorescent fixture, and ran power cables from the old bulb box to each of them. From Home Depot, I bought fluorescent shop lights, hung them from the ceiling where I wanted them, and plugged each into the closest duplex outlet box. The five foot cords of the shop lights allowed a lot of flexibility.
For your situation, replace the socket cover with an extension. The extension looks like a junction box with no back. It fastens to the existing box using the same screw holes as a cover would use. From this extension, run conduit to where you want the ceiling duplex outlet boxes. To keep things easy, buy a conduit bender to put corner bends in the conduit rather than using the corner boxes that you cannot pull wire through. Put the conduit and boxes up temporarily to get everything cut to length, take them down and paint everything the color of the ceiling, permanently mount the painted hardware, pull the wires, and install the outlets.
Your one bulb light circuit probably has a switch for 300 to 600 watts of lights on a 15 or 20 amp circuit, so you can easily put several dual 48 inch bulb shop lights up with no problems. I would not run any equipment from these outlets. I would not want the overload caused by a tool to put me in the dark at the same time. Since users normally cannot reach these outlets, you might not need a GFI outlet. Check with the county building inspector about this. In Sacramento, garage outlets someone can reach, must have GFI protection.
Please post a follow up about what you actually do.
Sincerely, Bill Thomas.
Scott Smith wrote:

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Wed, Jan 12, 2005, 5:08am (EST+5) scottseansmith2_NO snipped-for-privacy@NO-SPAM.hotmail.com (ScottSmith) says: Sorry <snip>
And paint the whole thing the glossiest white you can find.
JOAT Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get. - Dale Carnegie
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