Author Topic: Cheap lighting for garage  (Read 1156 times)

Mgmny

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Cheap lighting for garage
« on: June 19, 2017, 09:28:11 AM »
Hello!

Just looking for suggestions on the cheapest way to light my garage. I can run the electrical myself, and i already have a switch in place, but i am just trying to figure out the most inexpensive way to light up my 2 car garage.

When we bought the home, there were 2, plain screw-in bulb fixtures attached to some of the studs on the ceiling, but no power is running to them. I could run electrical to those, screw in some LEDS and maybe add a few more, but just wondering if there is a cheaper/better option. Googling shows a lot of those new LED fluorescent equivalent (T8), but those seem to cost some $$, and i just need more light in the space than my garage door opener.

paddedhat

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Re: Cheap lighting for garage
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2017, 09:52:05 AM »
By far the cheapest lighting is the old "Porcelain lampholders" which are now plastic. Basic round screw in bulb holders with compact fluorescent bulbs. The fixtures are a buck or two and so are the lamps. In your case, I would run them in rows, about six feet apart,  with a row down each outside wall, about 3-4ft in from the wall,  skipping the garage door wall, and a row down the center, between cars. THis would mean roughly 10-12 of them.  Cheap to install, cheap to operate, and you will have plenty of light. I have done this many times, and never regretted it, or had a customer complaint. Good luck.

Mgmny

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Re: Cheap lighting for garage
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2017, 10:14:23 AM »
By far the cheapest lighting is the old "Porcelain lampholders" which are now plastic. Basic round screw in bulb holders with compact fluorescent bulbs. The fixtures are a buck or two and so are the lamps. In your case, I would run them in rows, about six feet apart,  with a row down each outside wall, about 3-4ft in from the wall,  skipping the garage door wall, and a row down the center, between cars. THis would mean roughly 10-12 of them.  Cheap to install, cheap to operate, and you will have plenty of light. I have done this many times, and never regretted it, or had a customer complaint. Good luck.

Ah! Ok thanks! Those are what i was referring to when i said, "2, plain screw in bulb fixtures" but i didn't know what they were called! I will do this! Thank you!

Cadman

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Re: Cheap lighting for garage
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2017, 10:22:12 AM »
Something I like to do is add an adjacent receptacle near the porcelain socket. This way it's easy to add a couple of T8 shop light fixtures in the future, and locally those fixtures can be had for $10 on sale. If the wiring isn't already run, you could use 14-3 with one switch controlling the existing sockets for everyday use, and the outlets being on the other for when you need the extra light.

HipGnosis

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Re: Cheap lighting for garage
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2017, 11:32:37 AM »
If you are in or near a city, see if they have a habitat restore store.  They get all kinds of working fixtures that remodelers remove, saving them from going to landfill, and sells them for really cheap - most of the labor at the stores in volunteers.
Florescent fixtures with LED bulbs are the most MMM-buy-it-for-life and cheap to operate.  And LEDs aren't affected by cold like some florescents are.

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Re: Cheap lighting for garage
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2017, 01:11:59 PM »
Another vote for LED T-8-style fixtures. I put in 5x 40W units in my garage.  Bought 3 at a yard sale for $10 each, and bought 2 more at the hardware store for $30 each (I think).  I had some fluorescent fixtures that really struggled in the winter.  No such issues with LEDs, and they'll hopefully last a lot longer than CFLs.

Mgmny

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Re: Cheap lighting for garage
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2017, 01:50:56 PM »
So, for the T8, I would need to install box, outlet, and then hang the LED light? Looking at Menard's website, it looks like the cheapest one they have is $25 - plus the box and outlet. Does that really seem better (easier probably for sure) than putting in liked 10 of those porcelain lampholders? Looks like i can get one of those from Menards for about $1.25 (plus box).

paddedhat

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Re: Cheap lighting for garage
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2017, 04:11:32 PM »
If you are in or near a city, see if they have a habitat restore store.  They get all kinds of working fixtures that remodelers remove, saving them from going to landfill, and sells them for really cheap - most of the labor at the stores in volunteers.
Florescent fixtures with LED bulbs are the most MMM-buy-it-for-life and cheap to operate.  And LEDs aren't affected by cold like some florescents are.

As a licensed electrician since the eighties, and a long term HFH volunteer, including Restore duty, this is one thing that makes my toes curl. Many stores are very guilty of collecting old useless electrical shit, and attempt to resell it.  I'm not talking about decorative, or antique fixtures that could be really cool, but old outdated florescents that are nothing but hazardous waste. I can't count how many obsolete T-8 fixtures with giant ten pound, possibly PCB laden, ancient ballasts I have seen on the shelf at Restores and other non-profit thrift shops.

 I know of no other product that, when removed on big commercial electrical renovations, there is often a requirement  to recycle and dispose of correctly.  With bulbs, ballasts, scrap wire and scrap metal all ending up in different waste streams. Yet, I have repeatedly  disappointed friends and neighbors who are shocked when I won't help then reuse inefficient, unreliable and possibly toxic scrap fixtures that they drug home for the garage or attic.  Even if it's free, if the ballast quits on you, a new one runs $15, and if you thought that the eight foot long fixtures/lamps would be even better, well those replacement lamps are going to run you $10 each, and good luck getting them home in one piece. Trust me, the best thing you can do, to avoid nothing but headaches, is to walk right past 95% of all used fluorescent fixtures you see. The same can be said of used electrical panels, recessed lighting, switches, outlets, etc.....

As for the magic of the LED strip light, I'm not convinced.  Going on a strictly installed cost  per lumen approach, a  lampholder with a CFL is about half the cost. Now you can get into the fact a strip will put out 2-1/2X the lumen output for  1-1/2 times the energy use, or that they allegedly last 50K hours of use. But there are a few issues here. First a larger number of lower lumen fixtures will always provide a higher quality job, with less shadows and more usable light when you need it. Second, there are no guarantees that, if you spent $8-10 for an LED strip lamp, it will last any longer than any other lamp. It may last for decades of use, or not. There is no hour meter on the thing, no guarantee, just a claim to last "up to X # of hours of use". Finally, as old school potted ballasted went away, cold performance of florescent fixtures got exponentially better.  I have watched my garage full of CFLs provided usable light immediately, and go to full brightness quickly, in below zero temps.

Cadman

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Re: Cheap lighting for garage
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2017, 09:45:41 AM »
MGMNY, I also shop at Menards and $25 is too much. Just wait and you'll get a good deal, possibly a 1/3 of that price depending on the sale/special they're running. But there's no reason you can't put the porcelain sockets in now and run your wiring. It should cost less than $1 for box, recept and plate to add while you're putting in those 'porcelain' lamp holders. Then down the road, if you need more light, or you decide you want to go LED worklight or T8 fluorescent, you can simply hang them up and plug them in. And go for the split circuit like I mentioned before. Labor is roughly the same, just a few bucks more for 14-3 vs 14-2.

Mgmny

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Re: Cheap lighting for garage
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2017, 10:29:11 AM »
MGMNY, I also shop at Menards and $25 is too much. Just wait and you'll get a good deal, possibly a 1/3 of that price depending on the sale/special they're running. But there's no reason you can't put the porcelain sockets in now and run your wiring. It should cost less than $1 for box, recept and plate to add while you're putting in those 'porcelain' lamp holders. Then down the road, if you need more light, or you decide you want to go LED worklight or T8 fluorescent, you can simply hang them up and plug them in. And go for the split circuit like I mentioned before. Labor is roughly the same, just a few bucks more for 14-3 vs 14-2.

Ahhh ok! Now i understand you. I'm new to electrical work (my dad's an electrician, so instead of teaching me anything electrical he always just did it for me), so i didn't understand the difference between 14-3 and 14-2 and what you were suggesting.

So, there is already 1 lamp holder connected to a switch in the garage, and i figured the easiest thing to do is just use that existing wiring to hook up the remaining. If i do that, I won't be able to utilize the 14-3 wiring. I could re-wire that, but i think i can get some of those lamp holders with an outlet already attached. It would be more work to go up there and plug it (or them) in everytime i needed to use it, but it might be less work overall than re-wiring the existing switch and lamp holders.

On those keyed lamp holders with an outlet, will the outlet still work if i have the individual lamp off (with a pull chain)? With this thought, i could install a bunch of lamp holders in the spacing mentioned above, but add in the T8 lights to a few of the lampholders with an attached outlet and pull chain. Those would remain off unless i needed the extra light, then i could pull the chain and the lampholder AND attached T8 would turn on. This wouldn't work if the outlet is always hot regardless of chain i/o (not sure how it works).

Cadman

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Re: Cheap lighting for garage
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2017, 10:39:18 AM »
If you've already got wiring to the existing socket, that does make it harder. On the porcelain sockets with the integral outlet and pull chain, I believe the outlet is hot regardless of the pull chain switch. Kind of the opposite of what you want. BUT, there are shoplights with integrated pull-chains, and if you get a deal on ones without, they're easy enough to add (they sell them in the electrical section, just drill a hole and wire in series with the power cord).

Mgmny

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Re: Cheap lighting for garage
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2017, 10:56:24 AM »
If you've already got wiring to the existing socket, that does make it harder. On the porcelain sockets with the integral outlet and pull chain, I believe the outlet is hot regardless of the pull chain switch. Kind of the opposite of what you want. BUT, there are shoplights with integrated pull-chains, and if you get a deal on ones without, they're easy enough to add (they sell them in the electrical section, just drill a hole and wire in series with the power cord).

Thanks Cadman - that's a good point about it being on the T8 instead of the socket. I called my dad and he confirmed that the outlet on the lampholder is hot regardless of the pull-chain status on the lampholder. He suggested the same thing - just buy one with the pull chain attached to the T8, and it solves the problem. He said he usually pays $25-30 for those, but he probably gets his at a supply house and isn't looking for "deals" at Menards for his customers, so i'll hold out and see what i can get in the next couple of weeks.

Thanks for all the help!!


Chris22

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Re: Cheap lighting for garage
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2017, 02:19:33 PM »
I don't believe the porcelain fixtures with built-in outlet has to have a hot outlet all the time; the way I wire them, the power is switched to the fixture, you don't run two pairs of wires to the fixture.  So if you run switched power to the fixture, the outlet will be switched; if you run always-on power and use the pullchain as a switch the outlet will be always hot.  You can do it either way.

My garage has switched power to a porcelain fixture on a box in the center, and then off of that box is an outlet in each direction which powers a T8 light.  So single LED bulb in center of garage, T8 down the center of each side.

You can kinda see it here:

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Mgmny

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Re: Cheap lighting for garage
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2017, 02:39:08 PM »
My garage has switched power to a porcelain fixture on a box in the center, and then off of that box is an outlet in each direction which powers a T8 light.  So single LED bulb in center of garage, T8 down the center of each side.


So this might actually be the easiest by far, maybe not the cheapest (unless i can score an LED T8 for $10 like some are claiming...). I already have the lampholder in the middle of the garage, so it would probably be easiest to run 2 lines to each side of the garage and add the 2 t8s (or maybe 4, with spacing) and just add 2 outlets...

Mgmny

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Re: Cheap lighting for garage
« Reply #15 on: June 22, 2017, 12:52:42 PM »
Not a super exciting "project complete" photo, but why not? I went with 2 LED Shop lights, and just plugged them in to existing outlets on the ceiling. Not as budget-friendly as installing at all the porcelain lamp holders, but only took like 10 minutes. The one closest to the camera is on the switch,and unfortunately the one further away is pull chain operated. I think that I will eventually wire that one into the switch too, but the outlet being used for the garage door opener was just too handy to ignore.


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Re: Cheap lighting for garage
« Reply #16 on: June 22, 2017, 03:32:53 PM »
My shop is a mish-mash of various lights based on what fixture I was replacing.   I've got a couple similar to what you have there and ... so far... I've been happy with them. 

I just can't stand pull strings... and really can't stand overhead lighting that isn't hardwired.  This made me put in a couple of switched outlets.  I don't know about yours, but mine had molded bodies that were not friendly to opening them up and hardwiring them properly.
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Mgmny

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Re: Cheap lighting for garage
« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2017, 05:27:14 AM »
My shop is a mish-mash of various lights based on what fixture I was replacing.   I've got a couple similar to what you have there and ... so far... I've been happy with them. 

I just can't stand pull strings... and really can't stand overhead lighting that isn't hardwired.  This made me put in a couple of switched outlets.  I don't know about yours, but mine had molded bodies that were not friendly to opening them up and hardwiring them properly.

They came with plugs, and that's just what I used.

I finished wiring the second one into the switch yesterday, so now they both operate on a switch without a pull chain. Total cost: about $46 (2 LED shop lights @$21 each + wire $2 (?) + lamp holder with outlet $2). More expensive than a ton of lamp holders, but I only had to run 1 new wire from an existing lamp holders to another one I put on, so much easier and looks better than 20 bulbs hanging around, probably.