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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-29-2005, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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Garage Lighting

Does anyone have any recommendations for good, bright garage lighting? I have 10 foot ceilings (2-car). If I go with metal halide, it would appear that I need "low bay" lighting. I'm not sure if this would really be much better than florescent lights. I'm a little surprised with how expensive the metal halide fixtures are. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-30-2005, 07:55 AM
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I installed upward-facing florescent lighting in my garage, this indirect lighting creates a really nice diffused glow. I should add though that I don't have a flat ceiling, if I did I think the indirect approach would be more difficult to get right.

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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-30-2005, 09:18 AM
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My son just did a lighting comparison for 4H. NOTHING beats your basic 4 foot flourescent. It throws more lumen - hours of light per watt and per dollar than any alternative. If memory serves, by something like two orders of magnitude. The fact that the source is 4 feet long provides some diffusion from the get go.

The bulb is a buck and a basic fixture is ten. Your basic 38w (they used to be 40, but they've gotten more efficient) bulb throws a much nicer spectrum of light than almost any incandescent. I recommend that you replace a at least one of the tubes somewhere in the installation with full spectrum for better color balance.
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-30-2005, 09:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nak
My son just did a lighting comparison for 4H. NOTHING beats your basic 4 foot flourescent. It throws more lumen - hours of light per watt and per dollar than any alternative. If memory serves, by something like two orders of magnitude. The fact that the source is 4 feet long provides some diffusion from the get go.

The bulb is a buck and a basic fixture is ten. Your basic 38w (they used to be 40, but they've gotten more efficient) bulb throws a much nicer spectrum of light than almost any incandescent. I recommend that you replace a at least one of the tubes somewhere in the installation with full spectrum for better color balance.
I like the light of a flourescent too, just not in the winter in Ohio. When it gets cold out, they have a hard time warming up, and output maybe half of the normal lumens and flicker.
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-30-2005, 09:39 AM
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I do a lot of lighting design work for comercial projects....

10' is not that high, mine is also 10' and i have only 4, 2 tube (40w ho) fixtures, in a 25'x25' garage, i would reccomend 6 fixtures for that size (when i redo my garage i will do 6). and you can even run 32 w t8's and have really good output, - if you want better color rending you have to buy a more expensive bulb, (35k temp) i would do all of them, not just a few otherwise it will look a bit funny at source... in a gargage you should get a good 5 years or so out of your bulbs, so its not too expensive in the long run.

metal halide will be tough at 10'.. the correct fixtures are expensive and you will get hot spots unless you buy a fixture with the correct reflector and/or lens. although nothing beats the light quality. if you are doing a living room style garage i would say suck it up and do the MH, (you can pm me and i will help you with the selection and design for your situation) but if its just a regular garage i would just go with 4' flour. and if you want better color, buy warmer bulbs. (gets rid of the green flour. look) - also MH takes about 5 mins to "come on" unless you get a pulse start or re-strike. (don't confuse MH with Halogen)

lastly, lumens at work surface are as much a function of cavity reflectance (light shiny paint on the walls and ceiling) as fixture output. go with a nice satin white on the walls and ceiling, and a ligter colored floor and your garage will light up.

with light fixtures, you pretty much get what you pay for... so think about what you want not just in the way the fixture looks cosmetically, but what kind of use you want and final result you need for lighting

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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-30-2005, 09:42 AM
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cheaper fixt's will have cheaper ballast. you can get cold weather ballast and your lights will start up fast with no flicker.

ballast technology has come a very long ways in the past 10 years. but cheaper fixt's still have very "80's" ballast

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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-30-2005, 03:46 PM
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I just put 6 4'/ 2 tube T8's in my garage and they're great. It's 24' x 20' x 8'. I also painted everything with 2 coats of white eggshell (so it can be wiped down)- what a difference. The T8's fire right up when it's cold, also.
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 11-30-2005, 09:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks!!!!

Thanks so much for everyone's replies. This was really helpful. I keep coming across the term "ballast". I know what it is in a boat, but not in a light. What does it do for the light?

Thanks Again!
- Jake
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-01-2005, 05:48 AM
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The ballast is the electronic "box" (comes with the fixture) that controls both the starting of the fluorescent tube and also maintains a steady current through the tube once its lit (otherwise, as electricity flows through the excited gas in the tube, resistance decreases and more and more current will flow until bad things happen). Original ballasts were magnetic inductance devices and hummed. A better electronic ballast will ensure better starting and eliminate hum. Generally, you get what you pay for when you buy the fixture.

My main garage is a two car garage that has 4 surface-mount fixtures (each with 2x4' tubes) in a square pattern on the ceiling. I have an additional 3 fixtures in a line over my workbench that are controlled by a second switch. I find that the 4 fixtures are OK for general lighting, but I need to turn on the other 3 for detail work (and this gives excellent lighting). One problem is that when I open the garage door, two of the four fixtures are blocked by the overhead door.

Another option, if you wanted to get fancy, would be large fluorescent recessed cans. I have 5 of these in one part of my house and they are very bright and look sharp (with the right decor!). They are commercial grade and are about 10 inches across with 2x 32watt compact tubes each (very much different from the smaller cans you'll see at Home Depot). Probably 6-8 would light up your garage but will likely cost as much as tiling the floor!
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-01-2005, 07:24 AM
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The biggest problem with fluorescents, in my opinion, is the color temperature (iirc ~6000K) and the "spacey" glow. You can get some warmer ones (iirc ~4000K) at a little higher price and light indirectly off a warm white ceiling to make the environment less "stark". That's probably what I'd do for a garage that I planned to use a lot. Might be nice to build out a soffit all around with an opening near the ceiling and overlapped fixtures giving a consistent line of lighting.



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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-01-2005, 10:25 AM
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I did the same as Brian 111 ( 6ea. 8' tubes) and like it.
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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-01-2008, 08:04 PM
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Ordered one of these Griot's Garage shop lights to try out. WOW! Best shop light I have ever seen. They come in 2, 4 and 6 tube models too. USA made. No buzz. No flicker. True color balance. I am getting two more. Great for work bench too. Highly recommended.

2-Tube Fluorescent Fixture - Lighting & Power - In Your Garage - Griot's Garage
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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-02-2008, 07:35 PM
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I just did my garage a few months ago and you can never have enough light. I have 19 bulbs. Works good for late night wrenching.

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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 10-03-2008, 08:58 AM
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I mounted flourescents w/low temp ballasts at a 45 degree angle where the ceiling and wall meet, then a few in the middle. Good "flood" of light in that position; much better than hanging them down.

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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-03-2008, 01:01 AM
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Good thread.

I have been improving the garage and while I doubt I will ever stop improving it I am quite happy with the lighting now. The garage came with two incandecent bulbs installed in the ceiling. The garage is 21 x 20 x 10. Yeah, I didn't like that so much.

I installed 5 twin pack 4 ft flourcent lights and the lighting is just about perfect now. I put some thought into where I wanted to mount the lights so that I would have good lighting while sitting next to the car wrenching.

If I were to improve the lighting, I would probably start with the floor by switching from an unpainted surface to something that reflects more light. Then maybe some more lighting but I feel that it is just about right as it is.

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post #16 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-03-2008, 06:53 AM
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I built a large hobby shop/garage and spent some time researching the lighting. I started with 14 dual 4' tube fluorescent fixtures (36x42 foot garage.) This was inadequate for fine detail work and I was unhappy with it so I added 2 low bay metal halide fixtures with diffusers over the main bench area and this was a marked improvement. I too have ten foot walls but I have scissor trusses for a 12' height at the centerline. The metal halide fixtures are a bit pricey but more than worth it if you intend to do serious work in your shop....DAve
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post #17 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-03-2008, 07:16 AM
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I went with the 8" fluorescent lights. I have 5 of them in my 3 car and my only regret is that I didn't add more! I went with the digital ballast. Attached an old pic of the garage with that lighting....
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post #18 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-03-2008, 08:31 AM
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Nice garage

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post #19 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-03-2008, 03:16 PM
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I also did the Griot"s Garage t-type florescent lights. Read the literature in their catalog, it is an impressive fixture.
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post #20 of 27 (permalink) Old 12-03-2008, 05:57 PM
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No fluorescent ballast should hum.

If you use HID, go with Holophane.
Holophane also make fluorescent fixtures, reflectors and diffusers.
Their lens technology is superb.
Standard HID color rendering is inferior to the best fluorescents, but the coated bulbs are quite tolerable.
There are specialty HID bulbs, but unless you have special ideas in mind, fluorescent works better for much less.
Older fixtures can have the ballasts changed for a newer electronic type, if the bulb fitment is the same.

I use Philips 7500K full spectrum for everything.
I think they are called Colortone.
I use daylight on some VHO fixtures.
Check for the bulb you want before you choose a fixture.
There are many more choices for certain bulbs, like 48" and others.

Efficiency and life vary a lot on certain types.
I think the new PLS 40 watts are some of the best.
An enclosed bulb with a decent ballast should work at lower temperatures.
HO and VHO are intended to run in the cold.
They make them for freezers even.

I use high gloss mono epoxy ester in stark white.
Love it, but it's a matter of taste.

Last edited by Lancia; 12-03-2008 at 06:12 PM.
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