First of all, lay out a plan of your garage
Sketch how you want to use and set up your garage:
- Workbench area for your DIY projects
- Storage area(s) for seasonal items
- Space for items attached to or hung from the walls
- Electrical appliances or household equipment, like a fridge or central vacuum
Next, if your ceiling is high enough, think about how you are going to use the space above the garage door for placing plastic storage containers to hold all those things you just can’t part with.
Once you’ve determined the overall space of your garage (in 3 dimensions), you’re now able to figure out the type and strength of the lighting you’ll need.
What types of lighting are on found on the market?
To get started, let’s clear up the types of lightbulbs that are out there:
Fluorescent bulbs are tubular in shape. They contain mercury vapor whose atoms are ionized to produce light. The color of the light emitted depends on the phosphor coating on the inside of the tube. Fluorescent bulbs are often called fluorescent tubes or more correctly, fluorescent lamps. These are the most common and basic light and are usually mounted on the ceiling.
CFL or Compact Fluorescent Lamp
CFLs come in different shapes and sizes, but you are probably most familiar with the spiral-shaped ones used in homes. They provide better illumination and use less energy than standard incandescent lightbulbs. As well, they are more like natural light and have the advantage of staying cool. Their average life of 10,000 hours means they will last 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs and use 75% less energy in producing the same amount of light.
These bulbs are not as energy efficient as CFLs but they are still superior to traditional incandescent bulbs, showing energy savings of 33% over their traditional cousins and last on average 3000 hours. They are made without mercury and come in a wide variety of models so that you are sure to find one for any household use. The principle advantage of this type of bulb is quality of light they provide – white, clear and bright.
LED stands for light emitting diode. The energy efficiency of these bulbs is superior to traditional incandescent bulbs, even reaching a 90% savings, and they have an extremely long life. They always stay cool to the touch and contain neither mercury nor lead. As well, they are an excellent choice for accent lighting that requires a directional beam. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of LED light bulbs is their initial cost. Nonetheless, if you add up all the energy savings from using LED lights to light your home and garage, you will be able to recover your all your money in just a few years.
So, what is the best choice to make?
Most handymen will tell you that for general lighting purposes, fluorescents perform the best. The only minor inconveniences that they have are the time it takes to get maximum lighting and the small buzzing they make.
That’s all well and good, but which fluorescent it the best? The T5, T8, or T12? The letter T represents the diameter of the tube in eighths of an inch. The T8 is most often suggested because:
- The T8 produces about the same amount of light as a T12 tube does, but T8 is definitely more energy efficient.
- The light provided seems more natural.
- Most T8 bulbs come with rapid-start ballasts instead of instant-start ballasts which tend to burn out the bulbs too fast, especially when turned on and off often.
- Lastly, it is suggested to buy 4-foot tubes over 8-foot tubes not only because they are easier to handle, but also because they use less energy while providing approximately the same amount of light.
All that’s left is to determine the light intensity you want, from a warmer 3000K to very cool 5000K.
Remember that for the locations where you work the most, you will most likely need supplemental lighting. What remains is for you to choose the type and strength of lighting you need. In addition, don’t forget the exterior lighting of your garage, both over the garage door and the access door to the garage. For these uses, the CFLs are the most appropriate.