Shop lighting

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Forum topic by harvey4804 posted 01-03-2012 08:01 AM 5122 views 2 times favorited 69 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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120 posts in 3189 days

01-03-2012 08:01 AM

Topic tags/keywords: light shop garage led fluorescent

OK guys I need some input. I finally completed my garage rewire with subpanel and I want to drywall asap! But… before I close off the ceiling I want to install different lighting. I currently have two 4 bulb 4’ fluorescents, they work okay but not sufficient enough for my 24×24 garage. I have been throwing around some ideas but would like your opinions. I’d prefer not to use tube fluorescents, jut my personal preference. So what would be ideal (cost not an issue) -with that being said, no I can’t afford those new LED replacements for florescent tubes LOL

-- Ryan, FRMR HMM165 - HMX1 01-10

69 replies so far

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3518 days

#1 posted 01-03-2012 10:38 AM

What is it about the tube fluorescents you don’t like? Just curious. Color temperature is a problem for some folks, and the ballasts can be problematic with humming and/or flickering. But a lot of those fluorescent lighting annoyances have been resolved with T8s.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View HamS's profile


1837 posts in 2897 days

#2 posted 01-03-2012 11:57 AM

The way I light my shop,24×22 is six shop lights with 2 4’ tubes augmented with two hanging brooder style fixtures over the saw and one over the layout/assembly area with 100 watt incandescent (will have 27w CFL) lights to add extra light to specific task areas. I am building an arm that I can hang another reflector style lamp that will swing out to illuminate areas right over my shoulder when I am at the bench. I am in the process of changing the shop light to four of the CFL bulbs, both for efficiency and to balance the color. The only draw back to this scheme that I can see is it takes time for both the flourescents (tube and CFL) to come to full brightness, especially in the winter when the ambient temp is low before the fire gets going good.

-- Haming it up in the 'bash.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3582 days

#3 posted 01-03-2012 05:46 PM

An option to consider – -

I use track lighting with the cans pointed exactly where I want them for the various tools and work areas. My light is not even. For example, there is less light in the wood storage corner and I have good light over the workbench, table saw, band saw, lathe, etc. A couple of tools, planner and jointer, get a little less light because I don’t consider really good light to be as important for them.

I have 11 cans in my 17’ x 22’ shop.

I use CFLs which I think are fine.

Warning – My previous shop was not heated and there I discovered that CFLs do not work well in cold weather. Since you live in San Diego, that is not an issue directed at you. Others reading this may find this comment helpful.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View JamesVavra's profile


304 posts in 3824 days

#4 posted 01-03-2012 06:06 PM

I was working in the basement under a couple of 60W incandescent bulbs when I planed the lighting for my new 22’x18’ detached workshop. It was really dark down there, so I went a little overboard in the new shop.

I put in four 4’ fluorescent fixtures with 4 bulbs each in the center of each quadrant of the workshop. On the same circuit I installed 2 incandescent cans right in the center (above the tablesaw).
On a separate circuit, I put in 9 additional cans, around the perimeter of the room (over other tools and workbenches).

With all of the lights on, it’s a bit like the surface of the sun.

My initial thought was that I’d use the florescents when it was warm out and the incandescents when it was cold, but I ended up installing a ductless, mini-split heat pump so that is not really a concern anymore. Generally, I work with just the first circuit on.


View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3651 days

#5 posted 01-03-2012 07:43 PM

I had the same concerns about fluorescents…I’ve had experiences with them buzzing, flickering, and giving me headaches. But I decided to go with them anyway, and am very pleased with the quality.

This month I had four incandescent light bulbs replaced with “new surface mounted 4-lamp (2-lamp cross section) open strip fluorescent fixtures with FO32/T8/850 5000k with high CRI (color rendering index) fluorescent lamps” (as per the invoice) in my roughly 21’x24’ shop. The difference is remarkable. I have not noticed any “warming up” time needed, and it’s been in the low 40s here in Oregon. Yesterday I spent three hours in the shop and did not even give the lighting one moment of thought – it was just perfect.

Here are some before and after pics of the shop lighting!

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1459 posts in 3493 days

#6 posted 01-03-2012 08:04 PM

Elizabeth, after seeing those pictures of your shop, I now know what heaven looks like :)

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View tom427cid's profile


294 posts in 2978 days

#7 posted 01-03-2012 09:39 PM

Wow!!! is that what a clean shop looks like? I am so jealous-Naaa,just kidding. That is a very nice CLEAN and well organized shop.
On the question about lighting I have been slowly changing over all(a couple at a time) my old style flouresent ballasts to the new style electronic ones and the small 4’ tubes.There are nearly two dozen. The light output is almost double,and the cost to operate is almost half. Big bonus is there is no more heat issue with the new style ballast. Also practically all my machines have the mechanical style work lights for specific tasks.
Hope this helps.

-- "certified sawdust maker"

View StumpyNubs's profile


7734 posts in 3308 days

#8 posted 01-04-2012 12:01 AM

I’ve tried all sorts of lighting options, and when I finally went to the 8 ft, cold weather tubes I was very happy.

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View harvey4804's profile


120 posts in 3189 days

#9 posted 01-04-2012 12:11 AM

Elizabeth, I must say those comparison pictures probably changed my mind.

In my kitchen I replaced a 4’ fixture with 5 dimmable LED (65w eq.) recessed lights and the light quality is awesome! You would almost think that our kitchen is a showroom. If the LED cans didn’t cost so much I’d probably have about 20-25 of them in the garage. I think what I might do is have a combo of FO32/T8/850 5000k with high CRI and 10-15 can lights on different circuits. One circuit for the cans along the perimeter and a second circuit for the fluorescent fixtures above the TS/workbench.

-- Ryan, FRMR HMM165 - HMX1 01-10

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Craftsman on the lake

3012 posts in 3945 days

#10 posted 01-04-2012 12:14 AM

Home depot or Lowes…. purchase the 48” fixtures used to put in hung ceilings. They run $36-$48, have good quality ballasts that don’t buzz. I just screw them up to the ceiling and encase them in 4” wide strips of 1/2” finish plywood. The plastic diffuser that comes with them distributes the light nicely and they hold 4, 48” bulbs that give off a lot of light. You can run them with just two bulbs too. I have 8 in my shop. Half of them have a toggle switch on the side so that I can turn of some if I want to.

Here’s a picture of one side of my shop showing the lights.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3651 days

#11 posted 01-04-2012 12:15 AM

Two circuits sounds good. One thing I do worry about is short cycle times – I’m not sure if it will hurt the lifespan of the lights in the long run if I flip them on for just a minute when I run in to grab a tool. It’d be nice to have a couple of other lights on a different switch, but my shop isn’t wired that way and I didn’t want to get into rewiring things. (I have no electrical background so I don’t know if short cycles is something to be concerned about or not with these lights.)

View SnowyRiver's profile


51458 posts in 3988 days

#12 posted 01-04-2012 12:20 AM

My shop is 22X22 and I use ten two bulb 48” florescent fixtures. They are spaced out along the ceiling. I also have lights at some of the machines (60 watt bulbs) for close up work. I’m satisfied with the lighing.
Its quite bright without being overly bright.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View jerkylips's profile


495 posts in 3078 days

#13 posted 01-04-2012 12:26 AM

I saw someone ask the question about color temp, but there were no responses. That was my first thought, with fluorescent tubes. Anyone who uses those have issues with stian colors, etc. – you think it looks like one color in the shop, but when you get it out, it doesn’t look right?

I have 4 100 watt bulbs lighting my 3 car garage & it’s actually pretty bright in there. The walls & ceiling are plastered, and I think all of the white helps to reflect the light. Not sure what your wall colors are but a coat of white paint could help too..

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3198 days

#14 posted 01-04-2012 04:55 AM

One of the reasons Elizabeth’s shop is so well lit is it appears all surfaces are gloss white. I did this in my shop and there was a BIG improvement over the previous flat white. I use the flouro fixtures like Craftsman showed but I took the diffusers off as it seemed they blocked a lot of light. In my opinion you can’t have too much light. If you are concerned with too bright, put them on 2 or 3 different circuts. But I’ll bet you like it best with all of them on.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Manitario's profile


2781 posts in 3391 days

#15 posted 01-04-2012 05:10 AM

I like fluorescent lighting; I find that it provides diffuse, even lighting a lot better than any type of bulb or track lighting. My shop is 17×30 and I use 9 banks of 4’ T8 fluorescent lights; no problems with hum or flickering, so far the lighting is adequate but I could probably use to upgrade some of the 4’ banks to 8’.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

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