I use 5 x 8' lights on the ceiling in my 20 x 40 shop mostly in the
center of the ceiling. This is background lighting. I have 6 x 4'
lights mounted 4' down from the ceiling on a piece of plywood. hinged
to the wall. I have a string attached to the upper side of the lights
so I can lower them down to be parallel to the ceiling or raise them
to be perpendicular to the ceiling and out of the way. Because the
lights are closer to my work I get much better illumination. Most of
the time I keep the lights at 45degrees to the wall and the ceiling
which does a nice job of eliminating any shadows anywhere in the
P.S. I would rather climb up the the ceiling and replace 5 eight foot
bulbs than 10 four foot bulbs. And yes, the bulbs with the
rectangular contact ends are much easier to replace than the pin end
I agree with the others to go with 4 foot fixtures. There is a much better
selection of bulbs types for them.
I prefer a bulb with a color temperature of around 3500K. Lower color temps
are just trying to emulate incandescent or halogen, unless you want the
"warmth" (pointless in a shop). Lamps over 4100K are too cool to me for shop
Get lamps with a color rendering index (CRI) of at least 80. Lower CRIs can
cause colors to appear shifted and inaccurate.
Finally you need enough light to properly illuminate the work areas and the
fixtures need to be positioned to avoid shadow areas.
I agree with others re 4' lights and switches. Additionally...
The lights in my shop are in drywalled, recessed areas in the ceiling
between trusses. I have yet to smack one with a long board.
If your shop will have finished walls/ceilings, paint them white.
With glossy paint. Floor too.
I would suggest 4' bulbs, chaper, easier to store. You can get eight
foot fixtures that hold 4 4' bulbs.
I would also suggest using duplex outlets and plugging fixtures into
them for easy replacement (ballasts or fixture).
There is a t-8 type and a t-12 type, I believe. With the latter more
efficient than the former - may be moot as they may no longer make the
less efficient units.
White ceilings and walls hlp a lot. Additional HIGH INTENSITY lighting
over specific tools/areas on individual switches has proven a good
idea over time.
I changed out all my 4' T12 to T8 electronic ballasts and bulbs last
year. No more hum, no flicker in cold weather and instant on. They may
make T12 ballasts in electronic, and probably do, but I am really
happy with my T8's.
In my 18'x25' shop, I have (4) 8-foot two-bulb F96T12C50's, in two
rows lengthwise (parallel to the 25' dimension) at about 1/3
and 2/3 of the 18' dimension. Plenty of light.
For your shop, I'd add a third row and space the fixtures evenly.
Note the "C50". Chroma 50 bulbs provide color rendition pretty
darn close to daylight.
If you can get T8's instead of T12's (may need to work through
Graingers or a local lighting supplier) with electronic ballasts,
go for it (but stick with the c50's).
4' tubes are normal for 120V circuitry; you might want to stick
to those (and be sure to get electronic-ballast fixtures).
My own experience is that the diffuse light from fluorescents makes
texture and edge discrimination more difficult; wire to a few boxes on
the ceiling in case you want halogen, sodium-vapor or other
lights installed later.
I have 8' strips with 2 lamps each placed end to end in several rows across
my shop and the light level and working conditions are great. As your shop
is longer than mine you will need 5 rows of these strips spaced 5 ft apart
with 3 fixtures in each row to cover the whole ceiling. That will leave you
2.5 ft between the last row and the wall in one direction and 3 ft to the
wall in the other direction. With no reflectors on the strips and just a
white painted sheetrock ceiling you will have very bright, even, and nearly
reflection free lighting across your whole shop. If you wish, you can break
the lighting circuit into 2 or 3 sections so that you can leave one end of
the shop dark if you don't plan on working there. You should definitely get
fixtures with electronic ballasts if your shop temperature will not be
maintained above 60 degrees F or you will have problems when you turn them
on and it's cold. I like daylight colored tubes in my machine areas and cool
white in my finishing area. The daylight color helps me see lines better
when cutting and assembling and the cool white helps me see colors as they
will usually be seen when inside a home with incandescent lighting. My
previous shop had 4' fixtures and I wasn't very happy with them. It seemed
like I was forever replacing a lamp here and another lamp there. I have
found that the 8' lamps in my new shop last significantly longer. In fact,
the shop is now about 12 years old and I have only replaced 6 of the
original lamps, and 2 of those were broken when they were hit by moving a
Everybody has their own opinion about what is best in shop lighting. I
suggest that you compare my way to a similarly illuminated store with a 10'
white ceiling and 8' strip lighting somewhere in your area to see if that
level of lighting is right for you. When I was planning my shop I based it's
lighting design on what was in a store near me and it has worked out very
well. The only dedicated use light that I have is on one of my drill
presses, and it came with the drill press. I haven't had need for any other.
Even the benches along the walls seem to have adequate light.
After reading the comments I am still a little confused on why would
you use 4' lights v 8' lights. If the building is 30' long three 8'
lights per row and you are done. Why string so much wire for 4''s?
From the comments I have come up with somewhat of a plan. A row along
each side 4' from the wall, and than another row7' in from that one. 4
rows of 28' lighting.
You can get the 4' lamps in what's called a tandem fixture which has
an 8' shell. Compare the price on 4' and 8' T8 lamps. Your going to
be buying electronic ballasts so you might as well move up to the
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