Lighting for Your Garage

Garages today are not simply spaces to park your car inside when you’re not using it. They have become important extensions of your living spaces. And because garages are considered essential to every household, companies have been manufacturing products that are aimed for the garage, from lighting fixtures down to the flooring.

Just like any utility areas of your home, your garage deserves good lighting. After all, this where we also store our tools and anything else, as well as fix our vehicles or any other machinery. A good enough lighting enables you to look for stored items quickly, as well as to do your tasks effectively at your work station. Inadequate lighting can affect your mood as well as the quality of your work which will probably lead to costly mistakes. Fortunately, it’s neither difficult nor too costly to upgrade your lighting fixtures.

The type or types of lighting fixtures that you have to choose depends on how often you will use your garage.

Fluorescent and incandescent lighting

The most common and basic lighting fixture is fluorescent tubes, which are usually mounted on the ceiling. Fluorescent lights are a good option to brighten your workbench under a cabinet or a shelf because they’re proven to be energy-efficient. Besides, fluorescent lights burn cooler than incandescent lights.

Speaking of incandescent lights, they’re also a good option to illuminate your garage. Unlike fluorescent lights, incandescent lights provide more focused lighting, so they’re good if you’re doing more detailed work in your garage.

Among the types of incandescent light bulbs are halogen and xenon. Halogen light bulbs provide the brightest and most focused light but they’re otherwise emitting the most heat. However, you can also find low-voltage varieties of halogen bulbs. They come with built-in transformers which can light areas under cabinets without generating heat. Or better yet, choose xenon incandescent bulbs, which can produce about the same amount of focused light without raising the temperature.


Options for garage lighting

Again, as implied before, the type or types of garage lighting will depend on how often you use the area. Here are a few more options below to choose from:

1. Task lighting
Also known as office lighting, it is designed to provide increased illuminance on a particular task such as reading or fixing a broken machine. That’s the good thing about task lighting — focusing bright light only on your work area. However, before putting up a task light, first look at which direction which shadows will be cast. Make sure too, if your eyes are comfortable with task light, whether the light should hit at your eyes or block your view of the task you’re working on.

2. Clamp-on lighting
These lights allow you to adjust lighting for individual activities. If you’re working on detailed projects, try to attach a magnifying glass to the light.

3. Under-cabinet lighting
These types of lighting fixtures are specifically made to brighten areas under cabinets and shelves. Choose between fluorescent bulbs or incandescent lights, depending on the nature of your tasks or projects.

If you use your garage only to park your car and stash away tools and other items that you don’t use often, don’t bother to buy fixtures that emit overly bright lights. Incandescent bulbs are more than enough to brighten your garage — they’re cheap, use very little energy, and will not be liable to flicker.


T8 fluorescent tubes are better than T12 counterparts

However, if you use your garage as a working space or to do other activities and projects, it’s good to invest in high-quality fluorescent tubes. Many homeowners prefer to buy fixtures that consist of T8 fluorescent tubes with an electronic ballast over fixtures with T12 tubes and a magnetic ballast. Why? Here are some reasons why T8 is more preferable over T12:

– T8 produces about the same amount of light as a T12 tube does, but T8 is definitely more energy efficient by 32%.
– Colors that are illuminated by T8 tubes appear to look more natural
– T8 with electronic ballasts help maintain the tubes from flickering and humming down to degrees as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit. This is so unlike T12 bulbs which fail to function normally below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
– Most T8 bulbs are equipped with rapid-start ballasts instead of instant-start ballasts. The latter ballasts tend to burn out bulbs quite too early especially when the lights are turned on and off.

Buy fixtures with 4-foot tubes instead of 8-foot ones. Not only they are lighter to handle and also lighter on the pocket, but they will also save more energy than 8-foot tubes while providing an adequate amount of light.


Warmer or cooler?

You should also decide whether your garage needs lighting with a cooler or warmer tone, to give your space a sort of ambiance. This is determined by the light’s color temperature, measured in degrees on the Kelvin scale. The lower the degree, the warmer the light, and the higher the degree, the cooler the light. If you intend to use the garage to park your car and stash away things, a neutral light (by 3500 degrees on the Kelvin scale) should be adequate. But if you intend to use your garage as an activity center or an entertainment area, a warmer light (3000K) will do better. If you do detail-oriented projects or hobbies inside a garage, a cooler light (4100K) is perfectly acceptable.


More choices for consumers

In the past, almost all garage lights used to consist of only overhead fixtures that utilized incandescent bulbs, or fluorescent tubes. But now, area and storage lights for your garage come in different sizes, shapes, designs and brightness levels, leaving many options for consumers. In fact, garage lighting options are as varied as those inside your house.