How Many Lumens Do You Need to Light a Garage?

August 11, 2020

How Many Lumens Do You Need to Light a Garage?

In simple terms, lumens are defined as the total amount of light that comes out of a single source.  1000 lumens from a flashlight (which casts all of the light in one direction) will look different from a 1000 lumen light bulb that projects light 360°. 

Finding the right amount of lumens is just as important as the color and kind of bulb that you install. Garages, sheds, and workshops are often under-illuminated, which is why it’s so important that you know how many lumens are required when you’re buying new light fixtures for your garage.

The answer is not as simple as lumens per square foot because no two garage conditions are the same. A fully finished garage with white walls and ceiling will use light much more efficiently and require fewer lumens than an unfinished garage with raw walls and an open rafter ceiling. That being said, lumens are important,  More lumens = more light.

In the fully finished garage, the light will bounce off of the walls and ceiling, better lighting the space.  The unfinished garage will not reflect light.  In fact, it will absorb light and therefore require more lumens.  Dark walls or ceilings will have the same effect.  Dark colors absorb light and light colors reflect it. 

That being said, lumens are important,  More lumens = more light.  Ensuring that you’re using the proper lumen amount allows the garage to be illuminated without being too bright, dull, or overworked.  Maybe more importantly though, is how many points of light?  More on this later in this article.  



Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following information about using lumens to light a garage:

  • Why lumens matter so much
  • Different product recommendations for illuminating your garage
  • How you can measure the lumens of your lightbulbs
  • Various maintenance suggestions and mistakes to avoid
  • False advertising and false lumen ratings on cheap copy lights
Contents
1 Lighting a Garage with the Proper Amount of Lumens
2 Trilight Motion-Activated Ceiling Light
3 Multi-Point Illumination Light
4 Why Do Lumens Matter?
5 Choosing the Type of Bulb for Your Garage
6 Similar Questions
7 Before You Buy a Garage Light...
8 Maintenance Suggestions



Lighting a Garage with the Proper Amount of Lumens

Since lumens are the sole source of brightness from lightbulbs, you could imagine why they’re so important. If you choose a low-lumen bulb, you’ll end up with a poor lighting situation. You won’t be able to adequately see your projects, storage, automobiles, and other equipment without using a flashlight or work light.

If you know that you’ll be using the garage as a workshop, then it’s worth getting a fixture with a higher lumen count. If you will be using your garage or shop for more than just parking a car, then you will want proper lighting to work in it.  It is strange how the garage is always the largest room in the house, but often the worst lit.  

What’s the Best Source of Lumens?

The best sources of lighting in your garage would be multiple points of light.  Meaning, multiple ceiling light, or light locations.  If you only have one, be sure that you use a quality light with good lumen output.  A standard 60 watt light bulb only produces 800 lumens of light.  If you only have one source of light, better make it a good one!  

We will give good examples of single-point lights in the next two sections. They’re ideal because they don’t take up much space, they’re energy-efficient, and you don’t need to install dozens of bulbs to illuminate your garage.  That being said, a single light always creates shadows.  

Having between 1 to 3 lights should be more than enough for the average residential garage. By using energy-efficient, high-lumen bulbs or fixtures, you’ll get the most for your money without sacrificing the visual appearance and clarity of everything.

Many homeowners try to get around the problem by buying more bulbs. You could try accent lights, fixed lights, and various other fixtures, but nothing will replace the proper level of recommended brightness.

Note: Contrary to popular belief, abrighter bulb doesn’t always use more energy. AsReboot My Garage suggests, you can save loads of energy while having thousands of lumens to brighten your garage.




Trilight Motion-Activated Ceiling Light

TheTrilight Motion-Activated Ceiling Light is an excellent example of how you can get a high lumen output without wasting energy. This incredibly efficient fixture produces up to 4,000 lumens and uses only 24 watts. Compared to the average old-school bulbs, you’ll be saving almost ten times the amount of wattage.

Perhaps one of the most impressive features of this fixture is that it comes with a built-in motion sensor that works in all lighting situations. If you’ve ever used a motion sensor, then you’ve probably had to wave your hand around to activate it. Instead, this light uses new motion sensor technology.  It uses microwave technology to ensure the light comes on with motion and stays on.

If you’re concerned about the motion sensor being too sensitive in small spaces, you’ll be able to adjust the dial to increase or decrease the motion sensor. All in all, it’s as seamless and effortless as you want it to be.

Furthermore, these ceiling lights use SMD LED technology to save money, heat, and energy. Unlike incandescent or halogen bulbs, they don’t get hot when you turn them on. You’ll also have a higher brightness without using hundreds of watts. To top it all off, LEDs can last up to 50,000 hours before they have to be replaced.  That could be a lifetime for average users.

This light fixture comes with three wings that each have built-in aluminum LED heads. You can adjust the angle of each wing with your hand, ensuring that it illuminates every corner of your garage. Despite the complex nature of the light, you can quickly change it up in a matter of seconds.  This design eliminates shadows and is the best single point light on the market.

Pros

  • Screws right into an old light bulb socket for a quick and easy installation
  • Costs a fraction of the energy and money of a traditional incandescent bulb
  • Puts out five times the amount of lumens (brightness) as most other bulbs
  • Includes an adjustable motion sensor
  • Cons

  • Many cheap Chinese copies have flooded the market.  Buyer beware!  Do your research and buy the safe and smart option.  You get what you pay for!  

  • STKR Concepts is the original inventor of this new light design.  They produce top quality light that is designed and built to UL certifications and is safe to use in your house.  Plus, they are honest with their claims and are based in North Carolina.  They honor their 3-year warranty and have amazing customer service.  Don’t waste your money on cheap and unsafe copy products.   




    Multi-Point Illumination Light

    If you’re looking for a garage light setup that truel lights your entire garage and installs in minutes with no wiring required, then theMulti-Point Illumination Light is worth trying out. Although it has almost twice the lumens as the previous suggestion (7,500), the MPI has 5 points of light, so 7500 lumens actually feels like even more.  All corners of your garage will have light illuminating from it filling the entire room with light and reducing shadows.

    These bulbs come with over 50,000 hours of running life, which means you may never have to replace them as you do with incandescent bulbs. The main hub simply screws into your existing light fixture.  Then you can mount the 4 remaining pods on the ceiling.  You can choose where the remaining lights from the kit go ensuring your garage ends up with a full custom lighting condition.  

    Trying to light your garage with 7500 lumens worth of traditional incandescent bulbs would cost hundreds of watts per hour, whereas this powerful system only consumes 60 watts. You’ll save tons of money without having heat from the bulbs blasting down on you while you work in the garage.

    Another convenient feature of this system is that it has a USB port if you want to install a camera. Once the motion sensor triggers (it covers a 360-degree angle), you’ll be able to see everything that’s going on in your garage.

    To install these lights, all you need is a single light socket. Twist the main light hub into the socket, mount the remaining four lights around the garage ceiling, and twist each fixture to tighten up the cords using their built-in cord management design.

    Pros

    • Each package comes complete and includes five different light sources to cover your whole garage
    • A quick and simple installation requires no professional help and under 30 minutes of work
    • Produces 7,500 true lumens of light, enough to brightly light any average 2-3 car garage.
    • Adjustable microwave motion sensing technology is extremely sensitive and responsive.
    • Auxiliary USB port for an external security camera through the built-in 360-degree motion sensor



    Why Do Lumens Matter?

    Now that you’ve seen the power of modern lighting setups, it’s time to learn why lumens are so important. After all, they’re more than a simple measurement of brightness once you’re spending money to light up the garage!

    Here are five reasons that you need to check the lumens of your lightbulbs:

    1. As you’ve hopefully read throughout this article, lumens directly correspond with the amount of total light that you’ll get. When you’re trying to see clearly in your garage, the lumens will be the essential component to get the brightness level that you’re looking for. Never choose anything too low or too high.
    2. If you’re using the wrong type of light fixture, high lumen fixtures can be very expensive to run due to a rapid increase in wattage. Incandescent or halogen bulbs are often the worst culprit.  They are inefficient, hot, and require high wattage to generate lumens.  Therefore, they are expensive to operate.  Most modern fixtures use LED technology. If you’re not sure where to start, proceed to the next section.
    3. By knowing the lumens of your lightbulbs, you’ll be able to explore the health benefits. That’s right; your lightbulbs can actually produce all sorts of benefits, including light therapy. According to 1000 Bulbs, lights with a high lumen count can reverse anxiety and depression associated with long-term overcast days.
    4. More light will allow you to see more details and make your space an effective and efficient workspace. Consider lighting just another tool in your garage.  Upgrading your lighting setup can make everything easier to see and more pleasant to work in. It also makes it easier for you to work on all sorts of projects, including automobile repairs and other fun home projects, including home gyms which are very popular at the moment.
    5. Many first-time buyers assume that high wattage and high lumen numbers ensure a wide area of illumination. Beware of non branded lights claiming high lumen counts.  Many less than ethical lighting companies are less than honest with their lumen counts.  Many claim false numbers to gain the sale.  Buy your lighting from reputable companies who design and develop their own lights.  Test and rate them properly.  Build to UL standards, and are honest with the lumen claims.  A well built 4000 lumen light can produce much more light than a cheap 10,000-lumen copy light, and not burn down your house, or only produce enough light to cover a closet!



    Choosing the Type of Bulb for Your Garage

    Picking out the type of the bulb is just as important as the lumens. You probably know by now that all bulbs use lumens; Some of them have a high output, others require far too many watts to make it worth the energy trade-off.

    Below, you’ll find a quick review of different types of bulbs and recommended light placements.

    Incandescent Bulbs

    These bulbs are some of the most commonly found types in old houses. Anything built before the mass production of LED lights likely has some sort of incandescent bulb found throughout the building. They heat up quickly, cost the most watts of all types of lightbulbs, and they require replacements often.

    Another issue with incandescent bulbs is that they’re not very eco-friendly. They are not efficient, produce low lumens per watt, they cost plenty of money to use and put off heat, requiring you to spend more money on cooling down your room!.

    Fluorescent Bulbs

    These types of bulbs were the initial answer to the energy crisis of old-school light bulbs. They look like swirling cones, saving quite a bit of energy. According to Live Science, fluorescent light bulbs save as much as 75% more energy than their incandescent counterparts. It’s quite a good trade-off for the price.

    The downside of fluorescent light bulbs is that they contain trace amounts of harsh chemicals (mercury). When they break open, they can cause respiratory problems. On top of that, cheap fluorescent bulbs often show a slight flicker, or their ballast don’t work well, especially in cold climates, even if they’re brand-new. Ultimately, they were replaced most often by LED bulbs.

    LED Bulbs

    These bulbs are widely believed to be the most energy-efficient, long-lasting, low-temperature solution to replace all bulbs. They can be found in vehicles, grocery stores, smartphones, houses, and more. Using an LED bulb in your garage is undeniably the best way to illuminate it safely and effectively.

    As far as the drawbacks of LED bulbs, there aren’t really any known issues. They last for multiple decades while using hardly any energy at all. There’s no replacement for LED bulbs in the foreseeable future, so it’s likely that they will be the bulb to use for many years to come.

    How Long Does Each Light Bulb Last?

    You might be surprised to discover how long (or short, in the case of incandescent bulbs) light bulbs last. Lighting up your garage shouldn’t be an annual issue. Instead, you should be able to set up a light fixture and forget it while you work on other projects around the garage.

    Incandescent light bulbs usually last about 1,000 hours before they have to be replaced. It might seem like a lot, but a simple math equation shows us that you’d run out of power after only one year with an average of 3 to 4 hours of daily usage.

    Fluorescent light bulbs typically stretched upwards of 30,000 hours; A significant increase from incandescent bulbs. You could probably imagine why they were such a popular choice once they were mass-produced.  However, the ballasts used to light the bulbs often fail before the bulb cause you to replace the entire fixture instead of just the bulb.

    LED light bulbs push all the way up to 50,000 hours, making them the longest-lasting bulbs on the market. Not too long after they were produced, LEDs quickly became the go-to choice. They’re not even very expensive since they’re produced with very little materials.

    As you can see, LEDs are the best type of light for your garage. They produce the best light for the cheapest operating cost.  Compared to the 100-500+ watt equivalent from high powered non LED bulbs, you can see why people often replace their non LED fixtures as soon as possible.

    However, knowing the proper type of bulbs and lumens is only part of the decision-making process. You also need to know how to place your lights to get the most out of them. For more information, read on.




    Where Should You Place Your Lightbulbs in the Garage?

    Whether you’re using a single bulb or several, it’s crucial that you know where to place them. In many instances, it’s safe to say that the center of the garage is the best placement. You could use theTrilight recommendation and fan the wings up at different angles to illuminate the entire room if you choose.

    If you decide to go with theMulti-Point Illumination Light, you can place the main hub in the center of the ceiling. String the four other lights in different directions, ensuring that they’re spread evenly with the cords held snug.

    The most important part is to know where the light sockets are located. If you don’t have any through the ceiling of your garage, you should definitely consider hiring an electrician.  If you can only afford to wire one socket choose to place one right in the center of the ceiling. This placement will allow you to place a variety of bulbs to brighten up the garage.

    Consider the following tips:

    • Think about different pieces of furniture, cars, and anything else found throughout the garage. They’ll all cast a shadow or limit the area that’s illuminated by the bulbs. It’s wise to have your lightbulbs right over a workspace to provide the brightest light setup.
    • High ceilings are great because they allow you to cover a wider area without focusing on one spot. When you have a lamp that’s too close to the ground, it won’t cast a broad light. Instead, you’ll have a dimly-lit room with an incredibly bright circle on the ground or bench in your garage.



    Before You Buy a Garage Light...

    Garage lights are necessary if you want to see anything in the room when the main door is closed. Choose a quality light that will light the entire garage even when the garage door is closed.  Choose a motion-activated light if you want the luxury of the light turning on when you enter from the large garage door or the small man door.  This is a nice feature if you don’t always enter near the light switch. Plus, it turns off automatically when you leave, saving money.

    They’re quite simple, but you should know a few things before you purchase a garage light. Here’s a list of considerations:

    1. Always choose the right color. Brightness is crucial; the “color temperature” of the light is equally important.  “Daylight” or around 5000 kelvin is the best to work by.  Warmer lights (less than 4000 kelvin) are easier on your eyes but are better suited inside your living room.  Higher than 6000k light are considered “cooler” because they tend to have a blue tint.  They can be very hard on the eyes and aren’t useful for much.  Our recommendation for the garage is about 5400 kelvin.  Once you have the color and lumens picked out, you can set a budget.
    2. Don’t be afraid to get brighter lights. Some say “you can never have too much light in a garage.  Especially as you age.  More light in a garage is generally a good thing.  Spreading that light into multiple locations is best.  If you’re not sure how to do it, there’s a quick guide in the next section.
    3. Not all LEDs are made the same. You should check out not only the color and lumens but the quality. Whether you’re getting a lightbulb with a coned covering or a full-blown fixture like the ones mentioned above, different designs will play a huge role in how well the garage is lit up.
    4. Set a budget. Never go over the amount that you intend on spending. You should be able to get a full garage lighting system for far less than $1,000. Anything more than that will either be a waste of your hard-earned money or far too complex for a small garage. The only exception to this suggestion would be if you had a large workshop.
    5. Figure out where you’ll place the lights. As you saw in the section about placements, you’ll be able to place the lightbulbs wherever you can find a light socket. It’s not a bad idea to connect the lights to one another, creating a long strand to illuminate the entire garage.

    How to Measure Lumens

    Many people think you can measure lumens with a light meter, but that is not possible.  Lumens can only truly be measured in a special tool called an Integrating Sphere.  This tool captures the total amount of light and measures itUsing a light meter will only measure LUX.  

    What is a Lumen?

    The lumens definition is: “a unit of luminous flux in the International System of Units, that is equal to the amount of light given out through a solid angle by a source of one-candela intensity radiating equally in all directions.”




    Maintenance Suggestions

    If you buy quality LED fixtures, there is no maintenance.  A quality LED fixture will use high-quality LEDs, and they will use quality aluminum heat sinks to keep the LED cool and working well for years.  If you buy cheap fixtures, the only maintenance will be prematurely replacing them.  Good luck with the warranty.  Cheap copy lights on Amazon are all based in China and will not fulfill their warranty claims.  Stick with high-quality USA companies.  

    Common Mistakes

    Mistakes are inevitable, so let’s review a few ways that you can avoid as many problems as possible below.

    • Don’t buy cheap copy lights. Amazon is full of cheap Chinese copy lights offering dishonest claims, unreal lumens, and unusable warranties.
    • Make sure you have enough lights set up around your garage. If you only have the opportunity to install one light, then make it a good one, like the STKR Trilight.  However, more points of light is always better.
    • LED is always the way to go; Don’t choose incandescent, halogen, or fluorescent if you don’t have to. Homeowners often reach for these low-end bulbs because they want to save money. Unfortunately, you’ll have to spend more on your utility bill and on bulb replacements making them cost more in the long run.

    As you can see, it’s fairly easy to avoid the most common issues with lighting up your garage. As long as you follow the plethora of helpful suggestions from this page, you’ll be ready to work in your garage under the perfect set of lights.




    Conclusion

    Lumens are nothing more than a measurement of brightness. There’s no need to complicate things. Just avoid false claims and buy quality lights that are safe for your home and garage.  It is always more expensive to hire an electrician, so opt for designs that utilize the fixtures you have.  

    Here’s a quick recap of the post:

    • LED lights are the best type of bulb for your garage.
    • Electricians are expensive, so opt for designs that utilize the fixtures you have. 
    • Quality lights produce better light than cheap lights with false claims
    • More light locations reduce shadows
    • Ease of installation is an important factor.

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