Author Topic: Lighting for garage/shop- LEDs worth it or go with flourescents?  (Read 6475 times)

Ashyukun

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The garage in the house we just bought is great- it's huge and one whole side of it is lined by a workbench with storage underneath and even has a 240 power hookup. The downside? There's one light bulb for the entire 600sqft garage and it's in the middle and activated by a pull chain- not very useful. So, I need to install some shop lighting so I can actually use it.

In the past, I've just gone with the standard flourescent shop lights- the ones with two tubes that hang overhead. They're cheap and reasonably reliable- each fixture plus two tubes is about $20. Power consumption is 64W for each 2-tube fixture.

Now though, LED fixtures (and drop-in replacement tubes that require modding the fixture to remove the ballast) are available- but they're significantly more expensive: a 26W draw fixture is about $80.

I'll need at least 3 fixtures, probably closer to twice that to fully light the garage- so for 6 fixures it would be $160 for the flourescents vs. $640 to put in all LED fixtures which is a LOT of money. Is it really going to be worth the extra money to go with the LEDs now? Or would it make more sense to go with the flourescent fixtures and consider replacing them with LED tubes when the first set burns out...

nereo

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Re: Lighting for garage/shop- LEDs worth it or go with flourescents?
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2014, 12:46:23 PM »

I'll need at least 3 fixtures, probably closer to twice that to fully light the garage- so for 6 fixures it would be $160 for the flourescents vs. $640 to put in all LED fixtures which is a LOT of money. Is it really going to be worth the extra money to go with the LEDs now? Or would it make more sense to go with the flourescent fixtures and consider replacing them with LED tubes when the first set burns out...

From what you said and from a strictly economic standpoint you're unlikely to ever come out ahead using the T8 -LEDs you mentioned.  Maybe later when the bulb-prices come down.

However, have you considered going with a different kind of LED than the traditional T8-style "long-tube" bulbs commonly used in shops and big-box stores? For example, you can get the normal A19 LED bulbs for about $6, and the no-frills industrial lamp sockets are about $4.  You could put 12 of them in a shop for $122 and use < 114 watts, or about 1/3 of the power draw from the 6 x 64w flourescents, and you'd have more total light.  Don't know if that would work in your situation or not (are your ceilings high enough?) but it might be worth looking into.



Spork

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Re: Lighting for garage/shop- LEDs worth it or go with flourescents?
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2014, 01:18:30 PM »

I have been pondering exactly this same question.   

I'll give you more fuel for thought.  My workshop is not attached.  It is lit by 6ft fluorescents that are at about 12 feet off the ground.

* when the ballasts on these cheap fixtures goes, the replacement ballasts I find seem to cost more than the fixture.
* they absolutely WILL NOT LIGHT in the cold or in the humidity.  (This leaves me with about 3 months a year that they do light).



nereo

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Re: Lighting for garage/shop- LEDs worth it or go with flourescents?
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2014, 01:41:13 PM »

I have been pondering exactly this same question.   

I'll give you more fuel for thought.  My workshop is not attached.  It is lit by 6ft fluorescents that are at about 12 feet off the ground.

* when the ballasts on these cheap fixtures goes, the replacement ballasts I find seem to cost more than the fixture.
* they absolutely WILL NOT LIGHT in the cold or in the humidity.  (This leaves me with about 3 months a year that they do light).
Sounds pretty similar to our field lab/shed.  It's approx 50ft x 20ft, unheated, and there is a mixture of the no-frills A19-style sockets and a few 48" T8 flourescents.  They lights are on rafters about 10' off the ground.  When it's below freezing the flourescents-tubes either wouldn't come on or would take 10+ minutes to "pop" into brightness.  We had CFLs in the sockets but those could take almost several mintues to come up to full brightness too, and no one liked the light they put out very much.  We've started replacing the CFLs with LEDs as they burn out, and we now get excited everytime a CFL burns out... "yay!  Now we can replace that horrible light with something better!"  Work pays all electricity costs so I can't comment on energy use beyond what's written on the package, but if your lights are 12' off the ground I'd consider putting a bunch of A19-style bulbs up.  The light will have enough distance to disperse properly and you'll use less power overall than with normal T8s, and they work in the cold.

Ashyukun

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Re: Lighting for garage/shop- LEDs worth it or go with flourescents?
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2014, 02:01:22 PM »
I may have to look into just using the LED bulbs and sockets- the garage just has exposed rafters overhead that I should be able to attach boxes to for the lights. It will require a good bit of new wiring, but that's going to be necessar regardless of what kind of lighting I put in- I'm essentially going to be re-wiring the whole garage anyway.

DoctorOctagon

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Re: Lighting for garage/shop- LEDs worth it or go with flourescents?
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2014, 02:02:51 PM »
A fluorescent averages 80-100 lumens per watt.  Most LEDs are about this efficient but cost WAY more.  Go with the fluoro.

Joggernot

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Re: Lighting for garage/shop- LEDs worth it or go with flourescents?
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2014, 02:18:46 PM »
I went with fluorescent tubes.  I also put a garage door on one end of the shop, and I open that when it is not raining.  The open door gives me all the light I need unless it is really cloudy.  Of course in winter when the sun isn't up or has already gone down, I use the fluorescents.

I haven't had a ballast go bad, but it's only been 3+ years.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2014, 02:20:18 PM by Joggernot »

Ashyukun

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Re: Lighting for garage/shop- LEDs worth it or go with flourescents?
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2014, 02:24:43 PM »
The garage door and the windows along the wall over the workbench to let in a lot of light- but even in the middle of the day there's a definite need for more light for finer work on things at the bench.

I'll have to look into it and give it more thought... if I have my way, a few years down the line when the roof needs to be re-done I want to basically rip the WHOLE roof off- rafters and all- and add a few more levels of cinder block to raise the roof up a few more feet to get more clearance to hopefully put in a small lift, so anything stands a good chance of being taken down before long as well.

Daley

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Re: Lighting for garage/shop- LEDs worth it or go with flourescents?
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2014, 02:52:26 PM »
Have you considered a hybrid approach of solar tubes, task lighting, and general lighting?

If you have building codes you have to deal with, it might not be as feasible to do the solar tubes for as cheap (technically all you need is a hole in the roof/ceiling if it's bare rafters, a 2L soda bottle filled with water and a few drops of bleach and sealed into place - edit: clearly not great for cold climates, but some salt would help handle the occasional frost), but sunlight is always free.

Also, don't feel inclined to illuminate the entire space, but instead focus primarily on the most used areas and consider some portable task lighting instead.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2014, 03:05:33 PM by I.P. Daley »

Ashyukun

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Re: Lighting for garage/shop- LEDs worth it or go with flourescents?
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2014, 03:11:21 PM »
Unfortunately at least in terms of where I'd need lighting, I'm going to have a hard time not lighting the whole space up. Generally only one 'bay' of the two-car garage will be used to work on stuff, but I'll have tools and equipment all around the walls. There will be plenty of task lighting in use since overhead lights don't do a lot for under/inside cars, but I'm still going to want to light the whole place up so I can see to find and use tools. I'll have to play with it and see what I really need to light the space well.

Solar tubes wouldn't be a bad idea- given I want to replace the whole upper structure I'm not too averse to punching holes in the roof. I've been considering a coke-can solar heater for the place in the winter anyway.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Lighting for garage/shop- LEDs worth it or go with flourescents?
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2014, 03:15:51 PM »
I have cold-weather T8 fixtures in my garage. Never an issue with starting in cold.

If you want to avoid a lot of wiring, I'd consider installing some track lighting along the rafter over the bench. Get some cheap universal lampholders and use whatever bulb you want. You may spend more than bare porcelain sockets but not have to mess around with conduit and fixture boxes. It might even end up cheaper, been a while since I've priced electrical components.