Effective Shop Lighting

      Let's get some light in here so we can see what we're doing. February 8, 2008

Question
I need to redo my shop lighting. I'm currently using incandescent bulbs and some halogen. My shop height is 10' to the bottom of rafter chords and 6' to peak. Rafters on 8' centers. Does anyone have advice on metal halide or other options? I don't get much natural light from windows, and brown OSB on walls and ceilings don't provide much reflection. I have a work/assembly on one end, tools in the middle, and storage on the other end. Shop is 36' x 48'. I really need great lighting above the work area.

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor H:
Before you do anything, spend a few bucks and paint your walls and ceiling. Even if it's just sprayed on white primer. You'll notice a big change.



From contributor J:
I installed rows of 8' fluorescent fixtures from end to end in my shop. The fixtures and bulbs are inexpensive as well as the cost to run them versus any incandescent alternatives. Then if you need task specific lighting, you put smaller incandescent lights right where you need them, i.e. above the workbench, over the bandsaw, etc. Also, contributor H has a very good point - spraying some white will make a huge difference in the amount of light in your space. Those brown walls are sucking up a huge amount of light, making what you currently have for lighting very inefficient.


From contributor B:
There was quite a good article in FWW some time ago that covered that subject. I was building my shop at the same time and incorporated all the suggested items.

- Floor and first 3' of wall are painted a light gray, all else is painted flat white.
- 8' fluorescent lights (12' ceiling) with a high CRI 6' oc along the long axis of the shop (28' x 52'). Nice thing about that placement is that I don't have any shadows.

I have some task lighting, but really do not need it. The lights are switched 3/switch for energy conservation.

One item I would change is the length of the tubes: 4' tubes are cheaper and easier to mount and handle. Also, I clean the tubes about every 3-4 months, and wiping off the dust makes a huge difference.

I would stay away from halogen (too hot, too much of a point source), HID and other metal halide lamps (too expensive - CRI is worse than fluorescent lights and they hang down from the ceiling, decreasing your effective clearance).



From contributor P:
I downloaded the basic version of this program VisualLightingSoftware.com. It works very well - you input your workspace dim and the chosen light fixtures and bulbs and it will give you the spacing/layout of the particular light you chose.


From the original questioner:
Thanks. I regret not painting the shop when it was empty! It sounds like fluorescents are the way to go, I was just unsure of the quality of light.


From contributor R:
What you really want are some of the new T5 fluorescents. Don't look for them at Homey Dopey; you have to go to an electrical supply house. They have 4 bulb 4' fixtures, 54w per bulb, that put out twice the light of two 8' two bulb units and it is 5K ultra white light! They also have polished chrome reflectors; they will hurt your eyes to look at them. Figure about $175 per 4 banger with bulbs; not cheap, but worth every penny. And did I mention they are very energy efficient?


From contributor S:
I would work on painting as much of the shop as you can. I used an airless spray and sprayed on the cheap contractor grade paint (pure white base) from Sherman Williams. I then went with a 12% gray (looks pretty much white) epoxy on the concrete floor. Finished with banks of 8ft fluorescent high output lights. HO requires different bulbs and ballast than regular fluorescent. It looks very bright all the time. People kid me - makes them feel like they walked into a clean room. You might try some drop ceiling panels, maybe small patches over work areas. Say an 8ft x 8ft over a machine, with a light fixture in it.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?


Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking

  • KnowledgeBase: Cabinetmaking: General

  • KnowledgeBase: Dust Collection, Safety, Plant Management

  • KnowledgeBase: Dust Collection, Safety, Plant Management: General

  • KnowledgeBase: Furniture

  • KnowledgeBase: Furniture: General


    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.



    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2017 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB











  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers


      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article