Garages are a versatile space in today’s home; it’s a shame that lighting for this multipurpose area is often an afterthought. Fortunately, there are many lighting options in today’s market that give homeowners the option to make their garages more useful and functional.
Although traditional light bulbs get the job done, you will most likely find them lacking. Taking time to plan the proper lighting needed in your garage will pay dividends, especially if you want to light up the entire room.
Let’s explore all the lighting options and find out how you can make your garage functional!
Things to Consider Before Buying Garage Lighting
Bulb Type (LED vs. Fluorescent)
Most garage lighting options you’ll see use LEDs instead of fluorescent lights because LEDs emit very little heat and harmful UV rays. Unlike fluorescent bulbs, they don’t contain mercury. The primary benefit of LEDs is that they don’t have dangerous chemicals like mercury. Second, LEDs are much more energy-efficient and safer to use in an enclosed space because they give off very little heat compared to fluorescent lights.
If you want your garage to last longer, go for a garage lighting solution with LEDs. They have up to 50,000 hours of lifespan compared to 15,000 hours of fluorescent lights. This also results in cost-effectiveness as you won’t have to replace your lights more frequently. However, remember that LED lights often don’t have replaceable LED strips, so you have to replace the entire fixture when the light dies.
Installation and Connectivity
Before installing a new lighting system in your garage, consider how you plan to set up your new lighting fixture. The best way to do this is to decide whether you need more light directly over your workstation. If so, hang your light fixture from the ceiling or flush it to the wall. Also, consider the height of your garage when buying the right lighting fixture, as you would when purchasing a garage door opener.
Even though LED lights use the same amount of electricity as fluorescent lights, they are much more energy-efficient. However, if you want to buy a cost-effective lighting system in terms of energy consumption, look for the wattage of the lights – the higher the wattage, the higher the energy consumption.
Brightness and Color Temperatures
When buying a lighting system, you will first notice brightness, measured in lumens. The usual brightness is around 4,000 lumens. But brighter lights are available, with outputs of 8,000 lumens or more. However, more brilliant is not always desirable because more brightness can hurt your eyes or cause more reflections if the lights are hung directly over your workstation.
Additionally, LED lighting systems for the garage are available in different color temperatures. The most common are 4,000 or 5,000K temperatures because they put out a bluer light than higher temperatures that give off an orange tint.
This is a matter of personal preference. Some people still prefer the traditional pull-down chains, which they think are convenient. Others might go for plugs attached to the switch. Also, there is a smart lighting system where you can control the light using smart devices.
Garage lights should have high IP ratings. Although garages often get minimal or no natural daylight, adequate lighting is needed to see in these places. Garage lights are exposed to high levels of moisture and dust, so when choosing lights, you should take note of the IP (Ingress Protection) ratings. It is best to choose high IP ratings for garages that are also appropriate for outdoor lighting.
IP ratings are marked by the letters “IP” followed by two digits. The first digit indicates the level of protection against solid objects – the higher the number, the more protected it is. Sometimes, the first digit represents an X because they were not tested for protection against solids. Meanwhile, the second digit tells about the level of protection against moisture – a zero means it has no protection against moisture and liquids. In contrast, 8 (the highest value) means it is safe even when submerged in more than 1 meter of water.
The ideal minimal IP rating for garage lights is IP44 or IPX4.
Types of Lighting for Garages
Choosing the proper garage lighting can be a big task, and you may easily get confused with so many options available. If you find it challenging to work in your garage because it’s poorly lit, then it’s about time you find better lighting. To help you, here are the different types of lighting for garages:
Incandescent lights are typically found in most garages. If you use this type of lighting for your garage, two or three basic light fixtures can be adequate in 60, 75, or 100 watts bulbs. Replacement bulbs for incandescent lights are inexpensive and can be found even in grocery stores. If you only use your garage as a place to park your car, this type of lighting will work; but if you use it for other activities, you may want to consider other options.
Fluorescent lights are tubular bulbs containing mercury vapors. They come in many styles, including tube-shaped models, panel lights, and others. Tubes come in various colors depending on the coating inside the tube. They are probably most commonly used in garages. However, you must be careful when purchasing fluorescent lights because some flicker and hum when turned on, or sometimes they don’t turn on if the air temperature is too low.
If you want to use fluorescent lights for your garage, opt for 4-foot fixtures that use electronic ballasts and T8 tubes. These features make the fluorescent light work even in cold temperatures and prevent flickering.
Natural light, or sky and window light, is a wonderful type of lighting for garages. However, it’s difficult to get enough light in your garage through this type during rainy days. If you’re building a garage and want to take advantage of natural light, consider placing windows and skylights so you can take advantage of them during the day. It can help you save energy, too.
Task lights are fixtures you can use to brighten areas where you need them most. For example, if you’re using your garage as a work area for crafts and need more light in the place you’re working, you can clamp on a desk lamp to illuminate the area.
Another kind of task light is the portable halogen light. It has a single or double-bulb version with 300 to 500 watts. This is the kind of light used by contractors when there are no lights installed yet where they are working. If you have cabinets in your garage, you can also put under-cabinet light fixtures to illuminate those areas.
Decorative or Themed Lighting
If you want to highlight a particular car in your garage, consider installing themed garage lighting to match the brand or model of the vehicle. Some people also put pool tables in garages, and hanging themed light fixtures over the pool table can also add style to a garage.
Track lighting is a system of lighting in which track-mounted fixtures are adjustable along the rails. These types of lights have lots of flexibility. You can add different sizes and lights to it to meet your needs or make the lighting in your garage more stylish.
Solar Powered Lighting
Solar-powered lights are becoming increasingly popular, and people are beginning to use them in their garages. An excellent idea for solar lighting is the skylight or solar tube. The ultimate solar lightings are window type, skylight, or solar tube. Solar-powered light units are pretty expensive. However, you can use electric lighting in your garages and use reasonably priced solar panels to power them. Though solar-powered lights may cost you more initially, they can help save energy in the long run.
Outdoor Garage Lighting
It is also important to light the area around your garage. Some people use lights for decorative purposes outside their garages. Still, they can also be used for security and outdoor activity purposes. If you have a basketball court or other activity area near your garage, consider placing an overhead light to continue using the area at night.
Portable Work Lighting
You need a good, reliable work light in your garage-turned-workstation. Ceiling lights can only do so much. You can use a portable work light to avoid accidents and get the job done right. Some work lights can also come in handy in emergencies like a blackout.
If you’re still in the process of building your garage, review some garage plans for ideas on where to place windows, skylights, or solar tubes. Proper lighting will allow you to enjoy working and finishing tasks in your garage more. Start with ceiling lights, add task lights to your working space, and eventually place custom lights for a more personalized garage.