Opening the door to a dimly lit garage is pretty depressing and also potentially dangerous. Thankfully, this is easily avoided by installing bright lights that are evenly distributed across the entire garage. So what are the best options for you?
The best type of lights for garages are LED shops lights, high bay lights, recessed lights, wraparound lights, and flush-mount lights. The lighting should emit at least 50 lumens for every square foot of ceiling space. Brighter lights are required for direct display lights and lighting that illuminates work surfaces.
In this article, I’ll cover:
- How to choose the right lighting for you
- LED lighting ideas and recommendations
- How to calculate brightness
- How color affects illumination
The 5 Best Lighting Options for Your Garage
From the broad range of garage lighting available, you want a solution closest to natural light and best suits the layout of your garage.
You may have display areas that need directional lighting, and you may also need strong ambient lighting for storage bays.
Here are the five most common garage lighting fittings:
1. Shop Lighting
Shop lighting is perfect for a garage since it is simple and inexpensive. Tube lights are low on energy consumption and make little difference to the load on your existing lighting circuit.
You can even plug them into your garage power sockets so you can avoid having to wire them to your electrical system.
2. High Bay Lights
If have a high ceiling in your garage, you may want to consider fewer but more powerful lights. High Bay lights work if installed higher than fifteen feet above the floor. High bay lights mount directly to a ceiling or can hang from a chain or its power cable.
3. Recessed Lights
For a modern and more decorative appearance, you can go with recessed lighting. The housing of these lights is designed to fit into pre-cut holes, giving a clean and stylish appearance.
This type of direct downward lighting may be more beneficial for displaying a garage full of vehicles and trophies.
4. Wraparound Lights
Wraparound lights are similar to shop lights but are semicircular for better distribution of the light. The housing can either hang from chains or cables or straight to the ceiling of a garage. Wraparound lighting can work well when combined with high bay lights.
5. Flush-Mount Lights
LED flush-mount lighting is now cheaper, better looking, and simpler to install. Flush-mounted lights screw or stick to the surface of any solid surface, such as a wall or your ceiling.
And because of their low power consumption, you can put 10 or 20 lights up without much effect on your power bill.
LED vs. Fluorescent
Fluorescent lights are a redundant low-cost way of illuminating large areas, with bulbs lasting up to 10,000 hours.
Fluorescent bulbs are being phased out as they contain mercury vapor. If the glass tube breaks, this mercury vapor is released into the air, which is poisonous to inhale.
LEDs, in comparison, are safer and even more energy-efficient than a fluorescent bulb and last up to 60,000 hours.
Also, an LED bulb is more efficient, emitting around 130 lumens per watt, compared to fluorescent lighting of 50-100 lumens per watt.
LED Garage Lighting Ideas
LEDs are the easiest and most cost-effective way of lighting your garage and home. LED lighting also gives you a greater choice of color temperatures.
And many LED systems offer remote controls that allow the user to change the hue to any color in the rainbow.
To help you navigate the many LEDs choices on the market, here is a selection of our favorites:
This low-power LED produces around the same level of lighting as a 110-watt halogen bulb but uses 12-watts of power.
The thin profile means that it can fit into any false ceiling, and it is IC safe, so it can be in direct contact with insulation without being a fire risk.
Notes: Five choices of color temperature, slim junction box, in packs of 1 to 20.
A single Hyperlite in a 50-square-foot garage is enough to make it feel like you are standing outside in daylight.
The Hyperlight emits around 28,000 lumens from a 200-watt LED, the same luminosity you would get from a traditional 850-watt sodium bulb.
Notes: Dimmable, optional motion activation, hook and U-bracket mounting, 120-degree spread.
At less than one inch thick, this flush-mount LED light is a perfect solution for low-concrete ceilings where everything is at head height.
The switch panel gives you a choice of three temperatures, and the flat profile leaves little to no space for dust or bugs to gather.
Notes: Not dimmable, 20-watt, 2000 lumens, black or white, single or double-pack.
This LED light from Hykolity is a practical and superior alternative to flickering fluorescent tube lights.
These lights come in packs of four 4-foot double tube LED lights, which are linkable to up to six units at 42 watts each.
Notes: Hangable or flat mount, 59-inch power cable, 4,400 lumens per unit.
FaithSails are linkable and low-power wrap lights, at 40 watts per unit of 4,400 lumens each. The design makes it possible to link up to 20 units together in a single line.
FaithSails come in packs of four units, each 48 inches long and equivalent to a 120-watt traditional light.
Notes: 4000K temperature, 5-inch wide, 9-inch wide, and 7,200 lumens also available.
How Bright Should a Garage Be?
There are real limits on how bright you should make your garage. But a brighter garage makes it easier to work and find things, and it helps improve mood.
How Many Lumens Does My Garage?
One approach is to work out the square footage of your garage and apply 50 lumens to every square foot. So, for example, for ambient lights, a small garage of 100 square feet:
- 10ft × 10ft = 100 square feet of lighting area.
- 50 lumens × 100 sq ft = 5,000 lumens of light.
You may want to split your garage into work, display, and ambient lighting. You can apply 80 lumens per square foot for direct display lighting and 300 lumens per square foot for work surfaces.
What Is the Best Color Light for a Garage?
Lighting color is split into temperatures on the CCT scale, with the warmest looking red, which is in the region of 1000K. Cool blue is around 7000K, which is a good color to illuminate work areas, the lower temperatures of 2000K to 3000K are more pleasant for ambient lighting.
LEDs tend to refer to the Color Rendering Index (CRI), which tells you how close the LED represents natural light, with 100 being the best. The CCT scale is an easier way of choosing the color of LED lighting and is more representative of its visual appearance.
What Is the Brightest Light for a Garage?
Some LEDs are so powerful that they are blinding, so there is a limit to how strong an LED light you should install. Stick with the lighting guide and try to key each lighting unit to lower than 10,000 lumens.
If your calculation says you need 30,000 lumens, consider using five lights of 6,000 lumens each, and spread them out.