Garage Lighting Solutions

10 Ways to Improve the Lighting in Your Garage

Most folks need decent lighting in your garage whether you use it to park a car, as a workshop, a storage hub, or all of the above. However, garages are often dimly lit, making them difficult to traverse, causing eye strain during DIY projects, and putting you at risk of falls and injury. Here’s how to improve your garage lighting with a secret recipe. Follow these 10 clever tips to brighten up your garage and improve its safety, visibility, efficiency, and even aesthetic appeal.

1. Don’t limit yourself to only overhead lights.

Ambient, task, and accent lighting are the three types of artificial lighting, and your garage should have all three.

• Ambient lighting is a soft overhead light that illuminates the flooring and walls so that you may move around or park safely.

• Accent lighting, which is brighter than ambient lighting and is intended for work and storage spaces to give improved visibility during detail-oriented jobs and organizing duties, shines on showpieces you wish to emphasize, such as a foosball table or an old trophy collection.

Because the garage is often used for multiple purposes, it’s important to layer lighting so that you have enough light for parking, work, storage, and display. When choosing and positioning all garage lighting fixtures, keep these categories in mind.

2. Select fixtures based on their intended use.

To be sure you’ve covered all of your bases, look for fixtures in each category of lighting.

• Garage door openers with built-in lights, as well as round or linear flush-mount lights that affix to the ceiling, are frequent ambient lighting fixtures.

• Trouble lights (caged bulbs with an attached wire and a hook that you can move and hang as needed) and shop lights (four- to eight-foot-long adjustable strips that hang from the ceiling by a chain) are two types of task lighting fixtures.

• Accent lighting fixtures include ceiling-mounted pendants and wall-mounted sconces, which also look fantastic on each side of the garage door for easy nighttime entry.

3. Measure the size of your garage to figure out how much light you’ll need.

In residential garages, the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) Lighting Handbook recommends 50 lumens per square foot and 300 lumens per square foot in workshop spaces. Aim for 50 lumens per square foot for ambient lighting, 300 lumens per square foot for job lighting, and a modest 75 lumens per square foot for accent lighting as a general rule of thumb.

4. Purchase bulbs with the proper wattage.

To determine how many light bulbs will meet your light output requirements, multiply the lumens recommendation by the square footage of the functional area. Assume you want 2,700 lumens of task lighting for a typical nine-square-foot workbench (300 times 9). To get the comparable bulb wattage, use the Federal Trade Commission’s lumens-to-watts conversion calculator. Buying one 75-Watt (1,100-lumen) and one 100-Watt (1,600-lumen) incandescent bulb will provide the 2,700 lumens you require.

5. Replace incandescent bulbs with LED or fluorescent alternatives.

Light your garage with energy-efficient LED or fluorescent bulbs that give the same light output as incandescent bulbs at a lower wattage for lower electric bills. A 10-watt LED or a 14-watt fluorescent bulb, for example, may produce roughly the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb.

6. Select fluorescent or LED tubes in the T5 or T8 range.

Fluorescent and LED bulbs, in addition to the traditional pear-shaped bulb, are also available as tubes, which cast light over a larger area of the garage than conventional bulbs. T5 (5/8″), T8 (8/8″), and T12 (12/8″) tube-shaped bulbs are available in various diameters. If you want to use tube-shaped lights, choose T5 or T8 bulbs, which are more energy-efficient than T12 bulbs. T5 and T8 bulbs also have electronic ballasts (transformers) that reduce flickering when the bulbs are bumped or the garage temperature drops below 50 degrees.

7. Arrange the fixtures according to their type and function.

• Light should be cast uniformly across the garage floor via ambient lighting. • Task lighting should cast down into the work surface or storage area in a way that eliminates glare, so place garage door openers with built-in lights in the middle of the ceiling; if using multiple flush-mount fixtures, space them evenly apart on the ceiling. At the very least, shop lights should be mounted on the ceiling a few inches behind where you stand or sit while working, so that light is reflected away from you rather than into your eyes.

• Accent lighting should be set such that the light shines directly on the things you wish to highlight, such as a pendant lamp directly above a decorative display.

8. Select bulbs with a high CRI (Color Rendering Index).

Look for bulbs with a Color Rendering Index (a measurement of how well a bulb can correctly display the whole spectrum of colors) of 85 to 100, with 100 representing the CRI of midday sunshine.

9. Install motion detectors.

When motion sensors are connected to garage lighting, they can reduce energy consumption and save money by automatically turning off the lights after a set period of time if they don’t detect movement in the area. Purchase a motion sensor that is compatible with the light bulbs you intend to use, and then connect it to a garage light fixture with electrical cables running from an electrical box to the motion sensor and then to the light fixture.

10. Make use of natural light.

Consider adding a window or skylight to your garage if you have the funds and time to do so. When using the garage while the sun shines in, natural light can help increase the overall warmth and brightness of the room while also helping to minimize utility expenses.

Garage Lighting Solutions