During garage planning, you must never take lighting for granted. There are different reasons why you must find the right garage lighting inside and outside your garage, such as to help illuminate a path, to improve security and to provide proper illumination if it is to be used as a workshop or garage man cave.
Most often, garages get minimal or no natural daylight at all, so there is a need for adequate lighting. These places are often the most exposed to high levels of moisture and dust, so when choosing lights you have to take note of the IP (Ingress Protection) ratings. Its best to choose high IP ratings for garages, which are those that are also appropriate for outdoor lighting.
IP ratings are marked by letters “IP” then followed by two digits. The first digit indicates the level of protection against ingress of solid objects such as dust, dirt, insects, etc. – the higher the number, the more protected it is. Sometimes, the first digit is represented by an X because they were not tested for protection against solids. Meanwhile, the second digit tells about the level of protection against liquids or its water proofing capacity. A zero means it has no protection against moisture and liquids, while 8 (the highest value) means it is safe even when submerged in more than 1 meter of water.
The minimal IP rating ideal for garage lights is IP44 or IPX4.
Types of light bulb
The type of light bulb you choose will largely depend on the purpose and frequency of garage use.
If you use your garage as a plain parking space for your car and garage storage for infrequently used items, fluorescent light is a good option since it is cheaper than LED (light-emitting diodes) bulbs and produces light that spreads evenly. For garages, the popular fluorescent bulb choice would be the T8 tubes. In case you’re wondering why it’s called T8, the “T” stands for “tubular” and the number refers to how many eights of an inch are in the diameter (for T8, it would be 1 inch). It also has a high IP rating, while providing superior and robust light.
The traditional incandescent lights are out of the picture since they are being phased out and will be completely banned by 2020. Incandescent bulbs emit harmful greenhouse gases and are not really cost- and energy-efficient.
However, LED light bulbs are still the best choice for all garages, especially if you’re using it as a garage man cave, a recreation area or a workshop. LED batten lights are a good option here. While it is usually more expensive than fluorescent bulbs, it lasts five times longer. So, if you’re thinking of a better investment in the long run, it would be LED bulbs.
Unlike fluorescents, LED lights do not contain mercury, do not emit UV lights and are not sensitive to cold temperatures. LED bulbs light up immediately and do not heat up much at all. Plus, they focus more light on a specific place, as they emit light at a 110-degree pattern – perfect for use in garage workshops. T8 fluorescent light has a beam angle of 360-degrees, so the majority of light is going out the sides and top of bulb, which does not benefit the intended target.
Lighting inside the garage
If you have a simple garage only used for housing your vehicle and storing some items, you only need one lantern in the middle of the garage ceiling/top. As we stated earlier, a T8 fluorescent light or a LED batten light will do. An additional light over the garage door would also be necessary. The entry and exit points must always have adequate lighting to avoid tripping over obstacles and fumbling over keys. If you have a larger garage that houses two or more vehicles, add more lighting fixtures as needed.
Usually, garages use the plain ceiling lighting fixture or the surface mounted styles. But modern and stylish garages nowadays integrate recessed and pendant lighting fixtures to provide ambiance and accents. But remember, make sure that there is enough headroom between your car and the ceiling when using pendant fixtures.
Some people also use track fixtures that can be mounted or suspended from the ceiling to provide a little bit versatility, since the direction of the light could be adjustable. While for the posh and stylish, wall sconces and chandeliers are even used. There is no rule for what fixtures must be used – it all depends on your taste and style.
For those who use their garage as a workshop, having the right lighting for tasks is critical, especially when you use power tools. People who enjoy spending time tinkering in the garage must not only invest in their tools and equipment, but also in bright and focused light fixtures.
If you use workbenches, consider using task lights to further illuminate work areas to help you carry out detailed tasks more accurately. However, before you install or use one, consider which way shadows will be cast and how comfortable you would be while working with the light.
You might opt for a desk lamp, but your best option is a flexible shop light with a clamp-on installation. With this, you can conveniently adjust where the beam of light should be focused. Some comes with a magnifying lens attached to the light, which is a great help if you’re working on something very detailed.
Under-cabinet light fixtures are also great if your work station is below a cabinet placed on the wall.
Lighting outside the garage
Planning for garage lighting includes the outside. Ensuring that you have appropriate lighting around the exterior of your garage is important for security purposes.
According to security experts, burglars are always looking for easy targets when they can get in and get out undetected. A dark pathway leading to a garage is an easy target. If you have alarm systems, it will scare them, but exterior lighting may keep them from getting close enough to try steal something.
Don’t neglect the area towards your garage. Driveways must be illuminated with spotlights or flood lights, especially if you have luscious green plants or bushes landscaped around your pathways. When you arrive home at night and you pull up in your driveway, it will be a huge help if you would have a light that activates automatically, such as those with motion sensors and cameras. These features could also act as an added deterrent against intruders.
There are even products available in the market that have a speaker and microphone integrated to flood lights to allow communication with whoever was seen through the camera via a smartphone app. Timers can be added as well to control when they would be turned on and off. But basically, what you need for spotlights and flood lights is that they must be sturdy and weather-resistant for long-lasting exterior use.
Decorative lights also provide extra beauty to reflect the style of your home. Wall lights or hanging lanterns placed on the exterior wall of your garage would provide security with style. These would look great on the inside of your garage too, if you would like it decorated. Dusk to dawn lights are a good option, since they automatically turn on when they detect darkness, and off again at sunrise. In addition to decorative and protective uses, these would surely ensure that no energy is wasted unnecessarily.
For any type of outdoor lighting fixture, those that use LED light bulb are the wisest choice.