I'm having a house built and am planning to use the garage as my workshop
until we can build a detached workshop down the road. I'm thinking of using
recessed can lights to illuminate the space. My garage will be 26-1/2' x
23'. I would prefer not to have a lot of hanging fixtures or tube lights
mounted on the ceiling but don't know whether recessed lights would be a
good choice. Has anyone here used recessed (can) lights in a workshop? How
did they perform? Any other suggestions are appreciated!
From my own experience I would use tubes. If your shop is unheated, or gets
cold when unused, be sure to get the cold weather fixtures.
We have several recessed lights in our house and they provide good
decorative lighting, accent lighting, etc. But the light is very localized
and you really need to be under one to get their advantage. If you are not,
you are in a dark spot.
By contrast our three car garage/shop has three 8-foot, two tube fluorescent
units serving about 635 square feet. They are arranged in a "T" with two
parallel to the wall opposite the three doors and one perpendicular to the
others in the center of the garage. These three fixtures provide a lot of
light. Shortly after we finished the house a friend drove down a road .2
mile from our house when the garage doors were up. He said our garage
looked like the Cape Kennedy shuttle assembly building - a slight
exaggeration but we do have good light.
Holy cow Ron - my garage is only a little bigger than yours and I have 9
100W incandescent bulbs, a couple of 4ft shop lights here and there, a
portable 500W halogen or two and it seems I'm always carrying a trouble
light around with me. My garage is a three car garage and is very much a
multi-use garage. It functions part time as a garage (really most of the
time), part time as a paint bay (automotive painting - uses two of the bays
to do this), a lot of time as a repair garage (only consumes one bay), and
one bay is dedicated to my shop area where all of my wood tools call home
(note - this can be translated as collection point for everything that comes
into the garage...) - and I'm really hurting for light. In fact it's
getting so bad that I'm about to do some sort of wholesale lighting changes.
I'd like to go with florescent, but I'm in the cold northeast and unless I
spend a wad of money on cold start, fluorescents just don't cut it up here
for too much of the year. I do have a furnace in the garage, but there's
just too many times that I need light and really don't need to be firing up
the furnace just to warm up fluorescents. Probably will go with more
incandescent. It sucks to be getting old - the eyesight is the second thing
I'm right there with you Mike. My night vision was always on the low-side of
average but now has deteriorated. My revelation was when I peered through a
telescope, for the first time since I was a kid. I couldn't see much of
On the upside - it's getting easier to sleep through sunrises... :)
ummm did you take the cover off? Just kidding
ok hiding inthe shadows again before he catches me
oh an on the original topic, dont go with recess, they have horrible
lighting unless you want an isolated beam, go with a 4 or 8 foot flo tube
with the plastic sheath that protects from accidental breakage
Actually the cold start flourescents do not cost all that much, especially
in the long run. They were part of the house lighting package we purchased
from Lowes, at 10% discount, and I think I paid less than $50 each. Also
used the big wattage tubes. $50 probably sounds expensive but the payoff
comes from bulb life. I used the non-cold start units at a previous home
and I couldn't keep bulbs in them for more than a year before they started
going black on the ends. Besides, you always had the dark flickering and
buzz on start. The cold starters have been in place for almost 5 years and
we haven't replaced a bulb yet. These put out a low hum on start that
decreases with warmup.
Another factor was touched on by a later post. Wall color makes a world of
difference. If you have a stud wall garage or shop you need a LOT more
lighting. My area is sheetrocked and painted white. I do use a magnetic
accessory spot on my band saw and my drill press is lighted. I also have a
small desk type flourescent hanging on the pegboard above my bench but it
seldom gets turned on. Overall if I were to do anything different I would
move the two units parallel with the wall (about 6' from wall) a little more
My new shop/garage/utility building has 15 sets of the cold start 2 light 8'
fluorescent tube lights. They put out a loud awful hum constantly, not just
at start up. I have to turn a radio on to drown out the noise. Sometimes I
just work in the dim window light just to turn them off. I am very
displeased with them!
On Mon, 16 Aug 2004 22:51:20 GMT, "Charles Jackson"
|I'm having a house built and am planning to use the garage as my workshop
|until we can build a detached workshop down the road. I'm thinking of using
|recessed can lights to illuminate the space. My garage will be 26-1/2' x
|23'. I would prefer not to have a lot of hanging fixtures or tube lights
|mounted on the ceiling but don't know whether recessed lights would be a
|good choice. Has anyone here used recessed (can) lights in a workshop? How
|did they perform? Any other suggestions are appreciated!
Personally I would avoid them. I have a lot of them in my house and
with the 13' to 15' ceiling height there's just not enough light even
though I've maxed out the permissible wattage with halogen bulbs.
If you use enough of them to get decent lighting level in a shop I
think it would serve as a pretty good paint curing booth too, although
I speak from the desert of southern Arizona.
You can get fluorescent fixtures that are recessed and hence flush
with a finished ceiling. I have installed some four tube, four-foot
Lithonia fixtures from Home Depot in my garage/shop. Even though the
shop is unfinished, with exposed stud/OSB walls and I-joist/plywood
ceiling, I get ample (but not excessive) light levels at bench height
with a row of these mounted on eight foot centers about 11' above the
A lot of folks here don't like Lithonia and I will offer one big
caveat. And I mean BIG CAVEAT!
While these are available at *Home* Depot they are *industrial* lights
and DO NOT belong in a residential setting because they generate
prodigious amounts of radio-frequency interference. I learned this
after installing them so I got HD to order, and provide to me at no
cost, *resident* replacement ballasts, but I had to install them.
If you go to fluorescent fixtures, make sure they are rated for
residential service, especially if you want to listen to AM radio,
receive off-the-air TV, or your neighbor is a ham radio operator.
If he is and you live in S. Florida, you should be thanking him for
This question was asked a long time ago and several times since .I kept one
response as I found it to be one of the most usefull, I was not the
originator ,i am just passing on the info ,it is as follows....
"Don't know who has asked the question or exactly what the requirements are,
but let me offer the following based on having designed a few million sq ft
of industrial lighting and having sold a few hundred thousand dollars of
lighting equipment in my time.
Assume a ceiling height of 10-12 ft max.
You have automatically eliminated all HID sources and are looking at a 2
lamp, HO, fixture for the application.
By definition, 1 lumen /sq ft = 1 foot candle.
Typical lumen efficiency over life of lamp = 90%
Typical lumen depreciation from dirt = 20%-30%
Typical lumen/watt output of a flourscent tube = 60-80 lumens/watt.
A great lighting level for a wood working shop would be 100 foot candles,
Calculate the required number of fixtures as follows:
100 FC/0.9 Lumen efficiency/0.75 Dirt depreciation = 148 FC.
148 FC/70 Lumens/watt = Approximately 2 Watts/square ft of floor space.
If you have a 40 x 40 shop, that's 3200 watts of lighting required which
would mean 80, 40 watt tubes or 40, 2 lamp fixtures which would translate
into 4 rows of 10 fixtures each, 10 ft apart.
It's not rocket science.
It's the LGB theory of lighting design.
"Put one here, here, and here, and let's get a beer".
Hope this helps....mjh
Lew, can you give some rough idea of what kind of ballast losses can
be estimated? It probably depends on the quality of the ballast, but
is there a rough rule-of-thumb for typical medium quality-line Home
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