Over the bench lighting

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Forum topic by leftcoaster posted 12-24-2017 06:28 PM 1221 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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338 posts in 1655 days

12-24-2017 06:28 PM

I have an electrical box in the ceiling immediately over my workbench that used to house the smoke detector. I had to remove that because the sawdust was setting it off all the time.

I’d like to add a light to give me more task lighting at the bench. It’d need to be hard wired.

Is there something that can go on an 8’ foot ceiling that would provide targeted. direct-able light? Or is the classic tube shop light the way to go?

14 replies so far

View ArtMann's profile


1480 posts in 1594 days

#1 posted 12-24-2017 06:34 PM

I would use a 4 foot LED fixture with pull chain. I’m guessing the smoke detector didn’t come with a wall switch so you will have to provide some other way to turn the light on and off. I am replacing the fluorescent tubes over my work areas with LED tubes.

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 2264 days

#2 posted 12-24-2017 06:39 PM

Alder. 100%

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View bigJohninvegas's profile


776 posts in 2240 days

#3 posted 12-24-2017 07:10 PM

I am working in a 3 car garage. 25’X35’ ish. I am using 3-8’ T8 fixtures with 6500k bulbs. sometimes I wish I had a fourth fixture. Mine have been in use since 2003, and I have had to replace ballast twice now. Not happy about that, but light is good. At the rate I am going those ballast will fail again in a couple years. And I think LED lighting is in my future.
I would go LED for sure. Light the whole room vs over just the bench. Adding a switch is easy enough. Just a little conduit work.

-- John

View LesB's profile


2559 posts in 4221 days

#4 posted 12-24-2017 07:23 PM

You could put in a light bar with movable heads and use LED “flood” light bulbs so they are directable as your question suggested. I have that over two of my work benches that work great. You may still need to solve the on & off problem but a pull chain switch would take care of that. If you don’t really need directable lighting go for the 4’ LED fixtures with built in chain pulls. Get the ones with dual tubes with around 2000 lumens.
Next you need to determine brightness or kelvin rating of the light. I would suggest 4000 for this purpose because 3000 is too “yellow” (thing incandescent house lights) and 5000 or higher is to harsh…. like looking into the sun.

-- Les B, Oregon

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John Smith

2448 posts in 941 days

#5 posted 12-24-2017 08:38 PM

if you have the power available – overhead lights are always a good idea.

-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View Fresch's profile


491 posts in 2699 days

#6 posted 12-25-2017 08:33 PM

Item# SC-50R Octagon swivel cover and a pendant fixture.

View newwoodbutcher's profile


813 posts in 3628 days

#7 posted 12-26-2017 01:31 AM

I have been replacing my 4’ shop lights with the “Big Bulb” from Rockler it screws into a regular bulb socket and produces 4275 Lumens of Light using only 50 watts of power. It’s a really big bulb and sells for $40 but it’s the brightest light I have been able to produce for $40, way brighter than any 4’ led or otherwise fixture I have found. As my fluorescent bulbs quit working I’m replacing them with the Big Bulb. Soon all the 4’ lights will be gone, and I suspect I will have half the number of fixtures with a lot more light. I use a $4.00 ceramic fixture from Amazon attached to a standard electrical box to complete the installation

-- Ken

View Alex Lane's profile

Alex Lane

574 posts in 4668 days

#8 posted 12-26-2017 01:52 AM

I would use a 4 foot LED fixture with pull chain. I m guessing the smoke detector didn t come with a wall switch so you will have to provide some other way to turn the light on and off. I am replacing the fluorescent tubes over my work areas with LED tubes.

- ArtMann

Totally agree here. Just bought 6 of these…3 for my garage and 3 for the shop. They are wonderful!

-- Alex...builder of wooden wings for vintage sport biplanes...I'm your wingman :)

View Rayne's profile


1312 posts in 2318 days

#9 posted 12-26-2017 02:08 AM

Maybe do the tube lighting as others suggested for general workbench coverage and use something like a long gooseneck light to position it over where you want to.

This is just an example of what I found. 2’ gooseneck, 36” overall length.
Amazlab Clamp-on Lamp Extra Long Goose Neck LED Desk, Large, Matte Black

View Necava's profile


1 post in 922 days

#10 posted 01-03-2018 05:00 AM

I have a fluorescent desk lamp mounted near the front corner of my bench. It’s an old-timey gov’t desk lamp with two fluorescent bulbs on a long, hinged arm. The kind of light an architect or draftsman might use. It reaches any spot on my bench and will stretch out over three feet out into my shop area.

(btw: Newb here. First post.)

-- Measure once. Cut once. If it turns out wrong burn it in the fireplace.

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


6069 posts in 3187 days

#11 posted 01-03-2018 05:21 AM

For general light LEDs are a good bet. For task lighting make one of these. A LED fog lamp for a Jeep. Got 4 for under $20 new. Runs off 12 volts so not difficult wiring and very bright. For what I had in materials I sold 4 to a neighbor who does model trains and still have supplies left to build a few more for myself. I used a power source from a old desktop and made my own power supply with outlets so I can run more. But for one a wall wart will be sufficient.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7873 posts in 3692 days

#12 posted 01-03-2018 01:08 PM

As for me, I went with the traditional tube lighting, started with six 8ftrs and recently added two 8ft LEDs. At this point I no longer have troublesome shadows in my main work area, neither for WW-ing nor for the Harley.

It is hard to accurately get an image of how uniform the light is in this area, but this is what I now have. This sure helps this old man’s eyes, for sure:

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View bigblockyeti's profile


6583 posts in 2499 days

#13 posted 01-03-2018 02:36 PM

Over my garage workbench I have a 4’ track that is wired to the main 8’ fluorescent fixture for that half of the garage. This allows me to use a variety and number of halogen or LED track lighting fixtures that can be positioned & aimed as well as a couple of pendants that let me put light right where it’s needed. This platform also allows me to change and fixtures out for something different when new technology becomes available or if I need something a little different.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16718 posts in 3397 days

#14 posted 01-03-2018 09:28 PM

There was a single outlet in the ceiling, above my workbench, powering a florescent fixture via pull chain. I left the outlet but made half of it switched. The other half is full-time hot and has a reel-type extension fixture attached, for those times I’m far from the wall and need temp power to a hand tool.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

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