What Is the Best Type of Lighting for a Garage?

September 10, 2020

What Is the Best Type of Lighting for a Garage?

When you’re making home improvements, you want to make the changes the best they can be. Installing new lighting in your garage can be an uncomplicated task–if you know what you’re looking for.

The best lighting for a garage will allow high visibility for your projects. If you don’t need to move your lights around, a bright overhead system is best. Look for lighting that has a temperature of 5000K or more. This will keep you focused and help you to see the true color of your materials.

In this article guide, we will go over the basics of a work light, and the more nuanced characteristics you should look for when purchasing one. We will also examine the different kinds of lights and their general applications.




What Is a Work Light?

Most likely, you will want a work light in your garage. A work light differs from a regular indoor light in a variety of ways. A work light is specifically designed to allow the user to accurately light their project in a way that their work efficiency is undisturbed. This is achieved by the following.

Providing Even Light

Lights that create really bright “hot spots” are not ideal for working on most projects. Lights that create extreme hot spots also create very dark shadows.  This can make your project hard to focus on due to the extreme contrast between the highlights and extreme dark points.  Plus this extreme lighting can play tricks on your eyes and your perspective of what you are viewing.  Your eyes will struggle to decipher the hot spots and reflections from the dark shadows. Hot spots in lighting will also blow out any detail of the material you are working with. It is better to have even lighting that does not have an extreme hotspot or harsh decay on the edges of the light that is being cast.  Modern C.O.B. and S.M.D. LED’s can achieve this with or without lens designed to diffuse the light, however be sure to avoid lenses designed to focus the light if you are looking for a good diffused and even worklight.     

Emitting Bright Light

While dim lighting may be cozy for an intimate dinner, it is a safety hazard when working with tools. Work lights need to provide bright light, which allows you to safely use power tools without straining your eyes.

Using a Cooler Light Temperature

When we say temperature, we aren’t referring to heat, we are referring to the color of the lights.  Warmer lights tend to be more yellow in color and cooler lights tend to be more blue in color.  We will go into more detail of light temperature in the following section, as it is important for work lights to provide the proper light temperature. Indoor lights are often warmer lights to create ambiance, but work lights need to be more neutral than indoor lights.

Onestudy showed that cooler temperature lights also increase concentration. This study says that cooler light temperatures provide stimulation to the non-visual receptors in our eyes that respond to changes in light temperature because of our biological programming. IE; we are programmed to be more alert during the brightest times of the day.

Using neutral or slightly cooler temperatures in your garage will allow you to see more detail and put in longer, more productive hours on your projects.



 

What to Look for in a Work Light

As we’ve learned above, work lights have different criteria for them than your average indoor lighting system. Certain features are necessary, and more attractive, in a work light.

Strength and Brightness

When looking for a light for your garage, the most important feature may be the strength of the light. Light strength, or brightness, is measured inlumens. Lumens measure the entire amount of light emitted by a single source visible to the human eye. Lumens are mostly used when discussing the brightness of artificial lights.

The average indoor 60w lightbulb produces about 800 lumens of light. This is a good amount of light when doing daily tasks and chores, but when you’re working on a detailed project, you will likely want a brighter light. If you are purchasing work lights, look for products with 1000 lumens, or more. However, don’t be tricked by inexpensive, no branded lights claiming unbelievable lumens.  They are often not honest with their performance specifications.  Buy your lights from quality and reputable brands instead of just buying the light that claims the most lumens.  

Light Direction

Another important feature of garage lights is the direction you need the lights to project in. For overhead lights, you will probably want a wide dispersal of light to better fill the room. 

When working in small areas, like under a car, you may want a combination of lights. A floodlight to better illuminate the entire engine bay, as well as a more direct light to illuminate the area you’re focusing on. 

The direct light is best to illuminate pinpoint areas, like aiming the light at a bolt tucked under an exhaust manifold.  Take your tasks into consideration when buying a garage light.

Mobility

Depending on what tasks you are most likely to perform in your garage or workshop, you may or may not need a mobile light. Overhead lights are often fixed, but you can find light fixtures that allow their bulbs to be turned and directed to specific areas.

Lights on stands, like spotlight and floodlights, are great for bringing from one area of the garage to another. They are also great lights if you have work to be completed on other sites, as you can easily pack up and move these lights.

Some lights can be mounted on a pole or shelf via a clip or magnet on the light’s base. These are handy for providing brighter light on a tabletop project or when your work often moves around the room.

Handheld lights, or typical flashlights, also have their place in a garage. They come in handy for areas left shadowed by your overhead lighting.  For example, under a car or workbench, you’re most likely going to reach for a flashlight.  The only challenge with a traditional flashlight is the ability to accurately aim the light while also leaving your hands free to get the job done.  That is where we recommend a handy flashlight worklight combo style light that can be aimed and used hands-free, like theFLEXiT line of flexible flashlights bySTKR Concepts.

Of course, another thing to consider when considering the mobility of a work light is whether or not the light is wired. Handheld and mobile lights are often battery-powered, which means having batteries on hand, or the light always charged is important.

Durability

As with all tools in a garage, durability is an important factor when it comes to lights. Consider the quality of the materials used to build the lights. LED lightshave a longer lifespan than regular incandescent bulbs–by a long shot, and aren’t as susceptible to drops and abuse. 

The average incandescent bulb lasts one year, while LEDs can last up to 25 years. CFL bulbs, or compact fluorescent lightbulbs, are also a good option and can last up to 10 years, but have mercury inside of them.  If they break you should have a chemical cleanup.  Because of this, they are not recommended in a garage or work environment.

Price

Price is always a factor when it comes to any home purchase. Ensuring you’re getting the best quality for your dollar is also important. In the product recommendations below, we take price into consideration.  As mentioned earlier, be aware of cheap products offering outstanding performance claims.  Buy on quality and you will get honest performance and durability on the back end.  Not to mention a company that will honor their warranty.  

Energy Usage

Not only does lighting cost you money to purchase, but it also costs you money to run. When purchasing lighting, it’s easy to save money with certain types of lightbulbs.

Traditional incandescent light bulbs, which last the shortest length of time, also cost the most to run. The average 60W (watt) incandescent bulb costs $4.80 per year to run, while the average 12W (watt) LED costs $1.00 per year. Add this up over 25 years, and you can save thousands of dollars by using LED lights throughout your garage.

Ease of Installation

When it comes to home improvements, ease of installation is always something in one’s mind. If you’re installing your lighting yourself, look for simple lighting. Ceiling fixtures are more complicated to install, while handheld or surface mount lights are the easiest.

The ease of upkeep should also be considered. Perhaps the ceiling fixture is a bit more complicated to install, but the service of the light is simple. On the other hand, a halogen work light becomes a burden to maintain as the bulbs are fragile, hot, and incorrect replacement will lead to more frequent failures.  Even the oils from your skin can make these bulbs fail.  

Color Temperature

What is color temperature? Traditionally, it is the quality of light that different temperatures of incandescent materials produce. The hotter the physical temperature of the material, the cooler the color temperature.

Doreen Becker best explains this inColor Trends and Selection for Product Design. She says, “The basis of color temperature measurement started withWilliam Kelvin in 1848 when he heated a block of carbon and noted the color changes as the temperatures increased. Initial colors detected were a slight glowing red that changed to yellow and finally reached blue shade white at its highest heat.”

Named after concept creator William Kelvin, color temperature is measured in Kelvins.

We often use warmer color temperatures for our indoor lighting. This produces a cozy atmosphere, like that of a fireplace. Restaurants and bars often use this lighting as well, to help the rooms feel more intimate. The average indoor lighting schemes usually register between 2700K and 3000K. Bedrooms may use around 2700K, while bathrooms and kitchens are usually closer to 3000K.

Cooler color temperatures are used in workspaces and factories where it is important to see clearly. Cooler light temperatures help our eyes to see the contrast. This is especially useful when reading or working on creative projects. The average horizon daylight is measured at 5000K. This is a bright, slightly bluish light that helps complete tasks.

Look for a light temperature of 5000K or higher for your garage.

Extra Features

The final criteria to consider when shopping for lighting for your garage is any special features the products may have. These could include timers or motion sensors, both useful in a garage. They could also include an auxiliary port that could be used to power other electronics, such as a security camera.

When it comes to battery operated lights, rechargeable or built-in batteries are a nice feature. These will save you money on batteries in the long run.

Other lights offer the ability to change color, so you don’t have to stick with one single style or color temperature. They may also have flashing or strobing abilities, which can be handy in an emergency.




Different Types of Work Lights

Ceiling Lights

These types of lights are the most common when it comes to garage lighting systems. Usually, your garage will have at least one overhead light. In older garages, these are often just a single incandescent bulb hanging down in the middle of the room. 

The single bulb system is still an option, but is not very efficient anymore, especially if you are using your garage as a workshop. If you would like to have a bright system of overhead lights, a multi-point light system is the way to go. ThisMulti-Point Illumination light from STKR is a fantastic way to light your entire garage.


These lights all branch out from one main light that connects to your existing fixture. One light connects to the fixture, usually in the center of the room, and the main light powers the four other lights. These smaller lights are meant to spread out to the four corners of the room.

The power cords run along the ceiling from the parent light to the others. The M.P.I. System has a unique twist-to-tighten function, which allows you to tighten the power cords, so the slack doesn’t hang from the roof.

All five lights together equal 7500 Lumens, which is more than enough for a workshop. The light temperature is also suitable for a garage, measuring at 5400K.

Extra features this lighting system offers include:

  • Motion sensor activation. At its highest setting, the sensor (which is on the center light) can detect movement up to 20 feet (6.09 meters) away.
  • USB power port for security camera. The center parent light also includes a USB port that can be used to power a security camera. Mount a camera next to the light, and as soon as any motion is detected, the system will illuminate the room, greatly improving your image quality.
  • Easy installation. The main light is installed by screwing it into a regular lightbulb socket, while the sidelights are mounted with simple screws.
  • 3-year warranty. A welcome perk for any purchase.

Motion Activated Lights

As we saw above, motion-sensing lights are a great feature for your garage, where you often enter and exit with full hands.

When first invented, motion sensors were not extremely accurate, and often you’d be caught waving your arm around in the dark, trying to get the sensor to see you. Nowadays, the motion sensors are much stronger, like the one in thisSTKR TRiLIGHT. This light has what STKR calls “Microwave Motion Sensing Technology,” which is extremely responsive to movement.

This light also includes, as its name suggests, three lights. These lights all mount off of one socket, spreading bright light without excessive installation. The angle of each of these lights is also independently adjustable. This makes for more customizable lighting, depending on your workspace.

Other features of this light include:

  • Simple installation. Three lights installed with as much effort as screwing in a lightbulb? Now that’s convenient.
  • 4000 Lumens. Light offers up 4000 Lumens, while only using 24 watts of power.
  • 5400K. This light comes in at the perfect workshop color temperature.

Drop Lights

Drop lights are lights that hang from the ceiling or a hook and can be raised and lowered by their cord. These lights are especially popular in a workshop, as they provide light directly above the work area. The adjustable height of these lights, with their near no-install features, means that they are easy to use and highly adaptable.

TheTRiLIGHT ShopLight from STKR is a great example of this adaptability. This shop light-drop light combo uses similar features to that of the TRiLIGHT described above. It has three faces of LED lights, all stemming from the same unit. These LEDs are bright, providing 3000 Lumens of light to tight spaces. The three faces of the LEDs can also change angle independently of the others. This means you can direct light to where you need it.

The TRiLIGHT ShopLight is a wired light, but it can be used as a handheld spotlight when you need it. The three lights stem from an ergonomic handle, which has a built-in hook on the bottom. This provides you with a quick way to hang your light from an overhead hook, or the open hood of a car.

Other attractive features of this light include:

  • Aluminum heads surrounding the LEDs. These heads provide a heat dispersal system for the bulbs. This means the LEDs live their longest lives, while the lights are always cool to the touch, unlike other shop lights that burn very hot.
  • Drop tested. These shop lights have been drop tested to ensure they are durable enough for a work environment.
  • 5400K. These lights land at the optimal color temperature for focus and color accuracy.

Mobile Lights

Mobile, cordless lights are a fantastic addition to your garage lighting plan. Move them around the garage, depending on where you’re working and what you need lit up. Focus the light on your work table by hanging mobile lights overhead, or illuminate one wall by placing a bright mobile light in front of it.

Mobile lights are also great to add to your camping gear. TheMobile Task Light from STKR can brighten an entire campsite from one light. It projects 1200 Lumens, which is impressive for a small light.

This mobile task light is the single version of the TRiLIGHT, meaning it is a single-faced LED set into a cooling aluminum frame. It also can tilt 180°, allowing you to angle the light to where you need it.

If the 1200 Lumens of the light is too bright for your workspace, the light includes four projection modes. These are high, medium, low, and strobe. The high level releases all 1200 Lumens, and the strobe function is an extremely handy safety function when you need to be seen in the dark.

The Mobile Task Light also includes:

  • Universal tripod mount. Inside the steel frame on the bottom of the light is a universal tripod mount, meaning you can elevate your light in a sturdy tripod if needed.
  • Rechargeable. The Mobile Task Light contains dual lithium-ion batteries that provide long runtimes. When your light does die, recharge it with a simple mini USB cable plugged into the back of the light. Also, run the light plugged in if you want to never run out of juice.
  • Adaptable. The Mobile Task Light can be sat on the ground or a surface to light your garage, or it can be hung from a hook with its tempered steel frame.
  • Adjustable lens. One of the coolest features of the Task Light includes the adjustable lens. This is a piece of plastic which, when open, allows the light to flood its light over 180 degrees. When slid down over the light, this plastic lens focuses the light into a 120-degree area, which also helps to project the light a little farther.

Magnetic Lights

Magnetic lights are relatively new to the lighting scene. These lights are small and feature magnets on one or two sides, allowing the light to be mounted in small spaces. They are ideal for mechanics, plumbers, and HVAC contractors on job sites, but they are also useful in home garages, especially if you do automobile work.

STKR’sMagnetic Light Mine is a great example of how handy these lights can be. The STKR mine has 12 magnets protruding from a single sphere at different angles. These are possibly the most important features of the Light Mine, as they allow mounting at almost any angle.

The neodymium magnets stick to almost all metal surfaces, which means this light can also double as a pick-up tool for dropped nails and screws. 

While this light wouldn’t be your main source of lighting in your garage, having one (or two) on hand will help light the small spaces in your projects.

More handy features of this light:

  • Weather-resistant 
  • 1-year warranty

Hazard Lights

Lights that dual as other lights are handy for professionals and consumers alike. If you’re working in your garage, chances are you won’t need a hazard light, but store one of these in your car, and you might find the time for it.


The STKRLight Mine Professional is an evolution of the Magnetic Light Mine above. It features the same 12 neodymium magnetic posts, which allows the light to be mounted on almost any metal surface, and rotated to shed light in almost any angle in a 360-degree area. These legs can also be used on a flat surface as a tripod, so it’s not required to use the magnets to use the light.

For the Light Mine Professional, STKR has added rear-facing red LEDs. This allows you to be seen from afar if you’re parked on the side of the road, having to change a tire or do quick vehicle work.

 

The features of this handheld light also include:

  • Compact. At about the size of a baseball, this light is easily stored in your garage or vehicle.
  • Four lighting modes. High and low for the front-facing LEDs, and a red light or flashing hazard light for the rear.
  • 24-hour runtime. On the lowest setting.
  • 12 magnets. Can be used for picking up dropped hardware or holding bolts for your projects.

However, STKR makes the ultimate work light/hazard light for roadside safety called theFLEXIT Auto. It features 3 key main ingredients that make it the best automotive roadside safety light on the market.  It has a major floodlight, a red flashing hazard, and is hands-free due to powerful neodymium magnets.

The lights can be controlled independently.  You can light the entire side of your car with the white floodlights, and alert oncoming traffic with the rear-facing red hazard LED lights.  This is the perfect light for fixing flat tires on the side of the road! 

 

Flashlights

No garage is complete without a few good flashlights. They are the go-to for power outages, the first thought when checking under a car, and great for searching through the storage bins deep in your garage.

The STKRTactical Flashlights put all other household flashlights to shame. These powerful lights project anything from 200 Lumens to a whopping 1000 Lumens, all from the palm of your hand.

These Lumens are spread out over the user's entire field of view, as STKR has used a dual light system on their handheld devices. Instead of using a single light source, like in most other flashlights, these Tactical Flashlights feature one focus light, and just beside it, a floodlight. This helps to light the entire field of view and diminish the tunnel vision effect of other flashlights. You can use these lights independently as well.

Extra features offered by STKR’s flashlights are:

  • Six lighting modes. The Tactical Flashlights include strobe and SOS for emergencies.
  • Bludgeon head. The end of the flashlight is a durable bludgeon for emergencies.
  • Waterproof. The B.A.M.F.F. 10.0 is waterproof, which is handy for your garage if you live in an area prone to flooding.
  • Seven-hour runtime. The B.A.M.F.F. 10.0 model also boasts a runtime of up to seven hours, so you can work all day in your garage, and not worry about replacing batteries.
  • Rechargeable batteries. The higher end of the flashlights includes an STKR rechargeable battery.

Flexible Flashlights

Perhaps even handier for your home garage are flexible flashlights. These lights can be molded and placed on a surface to provide you with specific lighting in an area that needs greater focus. These flashlights are a good handsfree lighting solution.

The STKRFLEXiT flexible flashlights are a good example of how handy these lights can be. Ranging from 200 - 500 Lumens, the FLEXiT lights feature 13-17 LEDs, depending on which model you purchase. The fully loadedFLEXIT Solar offers 500 Lumens in its brightest mode.

The FLEXIT Solar also recharges via a solar panel on the back, making it a great addition to your camping set or road trips. It has an LED spotlight in the center for greater brightness, and four red LEDs for night reading. The FLEXIT Solar is also weather-resistant and has a runtime of up to 70 hours. It also features two magnets on the base and an incorporated hook for even more mounting options.

Each of these lights includes a Shape-loc frame, which allows users to twist and shape the lights as they need, and the frame will keep the shape.




Summary

Now that we’ve looked at many different lighting types, you can decide which is best for you. Probably, this will be a combination of a few different types of lighting.

Having bright overhead lighting is key to a garage that is conducive to work, but you should also combine this with some bright handheld or spotlights for more detailed projects.

 


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