Garage Lighting 101: Everything You Need to Know

Garage Lighting

The garage is a critical feature for prospective homeowners. With the utility it offers, it’s easy to see why. The garage bears a lot of the functions we need in the home. We max out wall and ceiling space for storage and set up workspaces for our projects. Everything has its purpose and place, from tools and pool accessories to lawn equipment and cars.

It doesn’t get much consideration, but your garage lighting is as critical to your garage design as any organizational scheme.

Is your garage lighting working for you?

Optimizing your lighting will make work easier and create the atmosphere you want. There are countless lighting options, so we’ll make it easy with our guide to the best garage lighting ideas for transforming your space.

Improving Your Garage Lighting

Garage LightingYour artificial lighting falls into three categories in any room — general, task, and accent lighting.

General lighting is usually softer, widespread light acting as the primary illumination source in a room. In a living room, this is often the ceiling fan light. For garages, the light on your garage door provides general lighting.

Task lighting is for accomplishing specific chores. A desk lamp or cage bulbs you hang while working on your car are good examples of task lighting. These are usually more powerful than general lighting to give you the best visibility.

Accent lighting is for decoration, highlighting areas, and drawing the eye. This is less common in garages, but if you have a trophy case or like to show off the ceramic coating on your car, accent lighting adds essential glamour to the space.

While general lighting is crucial for most garages, how you layer accent and task lights into your garage lighting layout depends on your unique needs.

Look at the lights you may want to incorporate in your garage.

Types of Garage Lights

You’ll find incandescent options in choosing your lights, but we recommend fluorescent or LED lighting.

With incandescent lights’ efficiency, fluorescent tube lighting is a popular ceiling-hanging option for garages. CFL bulbs, the spiral alternative to the standard incandescent, last 10 times longer than standard bulbs and provide the cooler light you want in a garage.

LED lighting is the best option because it uses the least power and lasts twice as long as fluorescent or incandescent bulbs. When you turn them on, they are at full brightness and do not give off much noise.

The one downside to LED garage lights is that the light is directional, so you may need several fixtures if you are still exclusively to LEDs. But given their crisp light, energy efficiency, and long life, they are still the best choice for your garage lighting needs.

Shop Lights

Shop lights are famous for warehouse and garage ceiling lights because they are simple and cost-effective. You commonly see these as side-by-side, four or eight-foot fluorescent tubes in a metal housing. You can purchase them with LED lighting as well.

The best fluorescent and LED garage lights are T5 or T8. These are the most energy-efficient and best-performing tube options.

Because they hang from the ceiling, putting shop lights in the garage is easy to add general and task lighting. Power sources are straightforward plugs; many models can be daisy-chained together to increase the lighting. Plus, you can adjust the height to get the right spread of light across your garage floor.

Some shop lights come with a wraparound acrylic guard. This helps diffuse and disperse the light in more directions. It also provides a more professional look since it hides the bulbs behind an opaque cover.

Recessed Lights

Sometimes called can or pot lights, recessed lighting is inserted into the ceiling, not occupying any space in the room. This adds a bright and fashionable lighting array for general or accent purposes. They direct a stark light directly down, so you’ll need several of them spaced across the ceiling to illuminate the whole garage.

Flush Mount Lights

Flush mount lights are dome-shaped lights that hang from the ceiling. These are more decorative than shop lights and more diffused than recessed lights.

Rope Lights

Rope lights are good for accent or task lighting, though you can also string up a bunch if you want to use them for general purposes. They are best used under shelving to light up various materials or in dark corners and cabinets that are hard to see.

Strip Lights

LED strip lights are a popular smart home addition and one way to make your garage stand out. They aren’t ideal for general lighting but are incredibly versatile for task and accent uses.

LED strips can run up the sides of your garage door for a showy entrance or line your workbench for added visibility. If you tried to put in a showroom-quality floor for your treasured ride, colored LED strips can be the perfect highlight.

Other Light Options

Other accent lighting options include pendants and track lighting, which are excellent ways to spotlight specific areas of your garage. Plenty of standalone motion sensor lights or security packages can integrate with your existing lighting setup.

How To Optimize Your Garage Lighting

Garage LightingLike every other item in the garage, your lighting placement should be the product of a smart organization. When you understand your needs and goals for your garage, your garage lighting will fall in line. Map out your workspaces, displays, and storage to assign different layers of task and accent lighting.

Determine Your Light Output

The recommended illumination for the general lighting in your garage is 50 lumens per square foot. For a standard single-car garage measuring 14 feet wide and 20 feet long, you’ll need roughly 14,000 lumens for the 280 square feet of space.

You could get one light to manage all 14,000 lumens, but the best bet is to stretch it out over three or so lights. This will create fewer shadows and remove one overworked light’s burden.

While the 50 lumens per square foot is adequate for accent lighting, you should also brighten your highlights more than your general lighting to draw attention. You certainly want your task lighting to be much brighter. Lighting should provide 300 lumens per square foot if you have work areas.

When finding the right bulbs, you need to take the total light you need and divide it by the number of bulbs you will use. This gives you the number of lumens per bulb. While shopping for lights, use a handy conversion chart to find the right wattage in incandescent and LED bulbs.

Consider Other Light Sources

Don’t just stop with electricity; think of how you can enhance the lighting in your garage with an intelligent design. Light-colored walls, for example, reflect more light than dark walls, so you don’t have to use as much power. Any mirrors or reflective surfaces can also be strategically placed to bounce light around and even extend the perceived size of a room.

Your floor can also contribute to lighting in a big way, considering that all general lighting shines down. Among its many benefits, an epoxy floor will reflect much usable light. On the other hand, if you use mats or other rough surfaces, those will trap light, and you’ll likely need to make up for it.

Windows and skylights can be an excellent way to save costs if your garage gets a lot of natural light. The light direction does change throughout the year, so don’t rely on a skylight to shine directly on your car as a highlight all the time. Instead, a well-placed window or skylight can add even more natural white light to the garage.

Choose High CRI Bulbs

Compared to warm incandescent light, natural light helps the mood of a garage and is also practical.

Look for bulbs with high CRI, which stands for Color Rendering Index. This measure indicates how realistically the lighting displays colors in your paint, woodwork, metal, and other items around the garage. The index goes up to 100, and you should look for bulbs with a minimum of 85 CRI.

Reduce Task Lighting Glare

Task lighting needs to be the brightest, but it also needs to be the most unnoticeable. If you have a workbench set up against a wall, ensure any hanging task lights are positioned slightly behind you to reduce glare. Keep the reflective quality of any surface around the workbench in mind.

Get Professional Garage Lighting With Garage Designs

Upgrading your lighting can change how you use and appreciate your garage. Following these tips will create a more thoughtful and functional space for years to come.

Garage lighting is much more than an afternoon DIY project, especially when you run a busy schedule. If garage organization is critical to managing your hectic everyday life, let Garage Designs in Fenton, MO, create the perfect space for you.

As a professional garage organization company, our experienced designers can fine-tune every aspect of your layout, from floors to ceilings, to bring you the most use and joy out of your garage.


Get Inspired with Your Free Garage Organization eBook from Garage Designs!

A Guide to Garage Optimization

Brandon Coleman

Brandon Coleman, owner of Garage Designs of St. Louis, brings over a decade of garage transformations and epoxy flooring expertise. A community-focused entrepreneur, he customizes each project to meet unique client needs, ensuring safety, style, and functionality in every space.

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