Are their any lighting specialists out there? I have a 39' by 13' shop and
wanted some advice on how much lighting would be good. I am planning on two
rows of five, two bulb, four foot flourescents strips and was thinking
about some incandescent as well. What do you guys advise? Is their such a
thing as too much? Would two rows of six or seven be a bit much? I don't
have very much natural light as it is a basement shop. What works for you
Thanks in advance,
From my personal view, you can't have too many fixtures. I have my
shop in a two car garage with 10 four footers. I would like about 3
more. I just added the 10th one last week to cover a darkish area, and
already I want to add more. Some guys will provide you with a
"formula". I say put up what is pleasing to your eyes; don't follow a
"rule" of lighting unless you think that's adequate. I certainly don't
think lighting guidelines are adequate. The only natural light comes in
through a window in a door, unless I open the main garage door and
subject my neighbors to power equipment noise.
My walls are semi-gloss near-white. That helps a lot, compared to the
dark paneling I had! My garage used to be a pool room back in the 70's
when walnut paneling was in vogue.
Blair Chesterton wrote:
My gar....shop is 24 x 38 feet. I have fourteen two bulb flouresant fixtures
and nine one hundred watt incandesants. I am getting ready to add eight or
more four foot two bulb flouresant fixtures. Walls and ceiling are
smei-gloss white. I have noticed as I get older I like more light.
On Mon, 17 Nov 2003 23:20:05 -0500, "Blair Chesterton"
I'm no expert, but I've got a walk-out basement shop.
How high are your ceilings? Low ceilings require much more light, as
the fixture's pattern never gets to spread out. My 20x40 basement
shop has (2) 4x4' bulb fixtures and (4) 2x4' fixtures, as well as (4)
incandescent fixtures with screw type fluorescent bulbs. This only
lights about 3/4 of the shop, and not as well as I'd like.
My shop has a center staircase, so that may cause more problems that
you may not have.
On Mon, 17 Nov 2003 23:20:05 -0500, "Blair Chesterton"
The more the better. I installed a row of fluorescent lamps on the
ceiling, then later added incandescent task lighting for each tool
station (drill press, lathe, chop saw, grinder). The inexpensive
drafting lamps with the flexible arms that swivel work great and they
are only $7 to $15 each. I made my own L-shaped holders from 2x4
scraps screwed into the wall.
My garage is where I perform my attempts at woodworking. Its
a 3-bay 24x36 with 12ft ceilings. I have 4 4-tube T8
fixtures mounted at 12' and it is plenty of light. At 8' I
would probably need 6 fixtures. I like hi-intensity task
lights at the rotating equipment for additional light and it
also prevents the T8's from making it appear the tools are
stopped when they are actually running. I have to admit I
haven't experienced this with the T8's as much as I have
with T12 fixtures.
My shop is 18 X 18. I have seven, 2 bulb 4' fluorescent fixtures that hang
from loose tubafours spanning the rafters. It is NOT too many.
For increased flexibility, instead of hardwiring my fluorescent fixtures, I
wired 4, fourplex receptacles into the joists and use the fixtures that come
with plugs. This allows me to _easily_ move the fixtures around for the best
lighting when tools get moved to different locations.
Very handy and flexible touch if you have open ceilings in your shop.
Your shop is a tad more than twice the size of mine, and you're planning
more than twice the lighting, so that's probably a comfortable minimum
Unless you have to wear sunglasses in the shop, you don't have too much
Would two rows of six or seven be a bit much? I don't
I'd be thinking more rows, maybe fewer fixtures per row. Maybe some
incandescent task lighting in areas of focus. You want the light to come
from as many angles as possible, so you avoid shadows. Especially in the
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < email@example.com>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
My best advice is to forget the 4 footers and go to 8' fixtures. The tiny
pins on the 4' tubes, combined with the crappy, pinch every penny design of
the fixtures make them a PITA.
In my 22 x 22 shop I have 8 twin tube 8' fixtures and the light level is
just acceptable. I would like a few task area lights. My walls are bare
wood siding and my ceiling is open rafters so I do not have much beneficial
http://www.bill.pounds.net/woodshop (the old shop, not where I am now)
I built a 30x40 shop last year and use a total of 8 4' T8 fixtures to light
it. I put in a total of 16 outlets in the ceiling in case I wanted more light
but so far it's been plenty bright enough. I also have bright white walls/
ceiling and painted the concrete floor a very light blue so there's lot of
reflected light as well. The T8 flouresent bulbs are much brighter than
the older ones were.
I am not a lighting expert, but I have done a little lighting design for
my home and shop, and am pleased with the results. I spent a good deal of
time researching the subject, though, and it was time well spent.
In the shop, you want every work surface to receive 100 foot candles from
the general lighting alone. A foot candle is one lumen per square foot.
Additional task lighting is often desirable at individual work stations.
The 100 foot candles is what you want *after* losses. The major sources
of loss are fixture inefficiency, lamp age, dust on lamps, and wall and
ceiling reflectivity. Together, 8-10' ceilings, 3' work surfaces, and
typical values for the aforementioned losses result in almost exactly a
50% reduction in the initial luminance of your lamps.
Fluorescent tubes typically supply 60-80 lumens per watt. A 40W tube, the
most common and cost effective option, typically puts out about 3000
lumens when new. Accounting for the aforementioned losses, each tube will
actually put about 1500 lumens on the work surface. Since you need 100
lumens per square foot, a tube will illuminate 15 square feet.
39 x 13 = 507 sf; 507 / 15 = 34 tubes, or 17 fixtures.
By the way, 40 watts per 15 square feet is 2.7 watts per square foot.
Some lighting designers use 2 watts per square foot as a lower bound,
which yields 20 square feet per 40W tube.
507 / 20 = 25 tubes, or 13 fixtures.
Not enough, really. You'd be better off with at least two rows of seven
fixtures, or perhaps seven rows of two.
For a rectangular area, you can run the rows parallel to the long edge or
parallel to the short edge. Sometimes the choice is dictated by other
design considerations, such as dust collection ducting or other
obstructions. If not, be sure to consider both ways. You can often get
more uniform lighting by running a higher number of shorter rows.
Two rows of nine (or six rows of three) would not be too much. Five rows
of three or two rows of eight would be a reasonable middle ground.
A good idea for areas where you finish pieces that will be used indoors.
Fluorescent lighting has different color characteristics, and the color
of a piece can "change," sometimes dramatically and unpleasantly, when
brought from the shop to it's final destination.
Yes, but it's never been witnessed. (G) Seriously, though, you probably
don't want to spend more than necessary on electricity.
This seems like a lot more light than what would normally be needed or
used. Another way to determine how much you need to go visit some
commercial buildings and find one with the amount of lighting you
like. Then you can simply count ceiling tiles and bulbs to figure
out how much you need. For instance, in the building I'm in now there
are 3 4' bulbs every 256 square feet (every 8 ceiling tiles). That
means each bulb is lighting approximately 85 square feet. As I mentioned
in a previous post, I use 16 bulbs at home to light my 1200 square foot
shop which means each bulb is lighting roughly 75 square feet. I also
use the newer, brighter T8 bulbs at home so it's noticably brighter.
Given this, I believe you could easily light your shop with 6-8
total bulbs. I think if you had 26 bulbs in 500 square feet, youd need
a welding helmet to enter the building :-)
Perhaps it does seem that way, but it is the way professional lighting
designers do it. I'm pretty happy with how it works in my shop, which
certainly does not seem too bright. I also have white walls and ceiling.
This can be hit and miss. Many commercial places do not use the same type
of lighting, many are visited only during the day so natural light
obscures the level of artificial illumination. Many have adequate light
for their intended purposes, when that level is less than ideal for
Sounds like an office space, which has a much lower need for light than
Of course, this would illuminate the room, but will it be bright enough
for comfortable work? Perhaps for some folks, but for most, it is not
I have 26 40W tubes in 560 square feet. It's definitely not too much;
there are a few areas where there's not quite enough light. A tour of my
shop can be found here:
All these photos were taken at night. By and large, there is enough
general lighting for me, but I still need task lighting when doing detail
work, especially at the lathes and mill. The corners, especially
the "cabinet corner"
are too dark.
That's a good point. The building I'm in currently (with 1 4' bulb
per ~85 square feet), has 12 foot ceilings (was originally designed
for manufacturing). My shop at home (with 1 T8 4' bulb per ~75
square feet) has 10' walls and a 14' peek (it's a gable roof w/o
trusses). It's probably a personal preference thing, but I think
both are more than bright enough for me. In fact, I have the 8 light
fixtures in my shop on 4 switches and often only use the two middle
ones for most things. I also only have two small (3x4) windows so
I'm not getting a lot of outside light. As I mentioned earlier,
reflective surfaces (walls,ceiling,floor, tables, etc) really
What works for you guys?
I have several ceiling fixtures and am addng more. But what It is having the
fixtures split among 4 lighting circuits. Each fixture is 4 bulb and the 4
bulbs are split among 2 circuits. Real nice. I did however wire in all this
when the shop was being built.
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