Shop Lighting

In an effort to promote threads for those looking for answers to specific ‘newbie’ type questions…what do you guys use for shop lighting? Are you happy with it? What would you change? What would be your ideal?

I’ll start: my shop is my converted 2 car garage. I used to have a window above the bench, but I walled it in to form a French cleat rack for hand tool storage. That was the right move, but it did remove the natural light…which sucks.

I have 4’ LED tube lights spread out to cover most of the shop, in general. Then I put additional lights over specific work areas on a separate circuit. One over the main work bench, one over the assembly bench, one over the welding table, and one over the metal lathe. I also have individual work lights on some many of the tools, which helps a lot as well. When the weather cooperates, I leave the vehicle door open which lets in a lot of ambient light to the front of the shop.

I wish I had solar tubes throughout the shop. My space is another 425q ft. So I figure 6 of them would light the hell out of the place. I would still keep the daylight color LEDs of course, but I think as much natural light as possible is really beneficial to my work. I love the idea of a shop full of windows, but would never want to give up the wall space. Maybe 14’ ceilings!!!

Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".

88 Replies

your drill press looks oddly familiar LOL 😎


Yup! That one’s gonna get some attention for a while…

Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".

Speaking of, I searched the members and did not find Todd here. He was in the knife swap so someone has his contact info.

This is a 2017 picture, lots more stuff in it now. I have 6 4' LEDs and 8 windows plus one in the door. Still have plenty of wall space but there is too much clutter in the way to get much more shelving up without having to reach over stuff.

My office in in the corner behind me.

"Duck and Bob would be out doin some farming with funny hats on." chrisstef

great idea ryan i think we need more of these types of threads for diversity rather than the just the good ol boy ones that lets face it, intimidate new comers and beginners. hopefully we can get more of these going.
anyway as for shop lighting i just did a quick inventory and came up with a grand total between both garages 62 4' LED tubes. now there not all on at once,usually ! i started switching them out as the old tubes or ballasts died then at about the half way point i just changed them all over. havn't had to change a tube in over 3 years now,and much brighter. i actually got rid of about 8 tubes. every light bulb or tube in my house id all LED !

working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

My shed is under the house not very big. 
The first thing I did was to paint the underside of the floorboards white to reflect light. 
Originally I had secondhand 4’ twin flouros but they are all gone now.  I have a mixture of LED light panels, battens and downlights all as plugins on surface sockets. I’ve recently added extra LED lights as with age the eyes need the extra lighting. 

Life’s Good, Enjoy Each New Day’s Blessings

In my 12x24 foot shop, I just have three ceiling fixtures for screw-in bulbs. I’ve put Feit corncob LEDs in each of them, with the equivalent of 300W of halogen in each 35W LED. They have a color temperature of 5000K, which works pretty well for me. The shop walls and ceiling are painted white, and I have windows on the south wall which are under an awning that keeps the midsummer sun from shining in through them, but I can work out there after dark and still have plenty of light from the three LED corncobs.

I also have a Milwaukee LED work light I use on the bench when I need side-lighting for carving or to inspect a finish. I “enhanced” its base with a cleat so I can move it anywhere in the shop easily. It’s probably brighter than I need in full-power mode, but it’s got three brightnesses, and I do sometimes use it full-on.

May you have the day you deserve!

I rewired my 4', 4-tube fixtures for 5000k LED tubes. Nice to have instant light even when the shop is at 48F in the recent mornings.

We have a number of the "solar tubes" throughout the house. Totally eliminates the need to switch on a light during the day in the rooms without windows.

They are pricey, but I added a 10" for spot lighting over the table saw since there is limit places I could have the fluorescent fixtures installed. Still would like some more task lighting.
I have four 4-foot LEDs.  They do an OK job of illuminating the space, but I have several other sources I use for detail work.

Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

Am I the only one that thought that SG had a giant castor hanging from his ceiling next to his solar tube?  

--Nathan, TX. Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

Ha! That’s awesome! I didn’t see it that way the first time, but now I can’t I see it!

I’ve become very fond of the nicer magnetic base goose neck LED tool lights. I think I’ve got about 4 or five of them on different tools now. As my eyes get worse, I get more lights!

I’m just using some from Amazon, but has anyone used the ones from WoodTurnersWonders? They look great!

Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".

My main shop is 16’ X 32’ with 11’ walls.
The top 3’ around most of it is transom windows.
The front has double doors with a single door on the back wall which aligns with one of the front doors.
On a clear day, it’s plenty of light for milling, ripping and cross cutting.

There are 6 double-tube 8’ LEDs (5500’s) on 4 individual switches: one switch for each set closest to the wall and one switch for the next pair. This allows me to light any specific area of the shop or all of it as needed.

They were originally 12T fluorescent lights but I converted them to LED using tubes from
I procrastinated on the conversion but it was really easy. The hardest part was moving the ladder around.

A transom window would be great! Especially up high like that so you don’t lose wall space 👍🏼

Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".

When I built my shop, I went with 8 - 4' LED fixtures and that seems to work out well for me. I also have 3 windows along each side, so I have enough natural light in the shop to.

Main Street to the Mountains

Am I the only one that thought that SG had a giant castor hanging from his ceiling next to his solar tube? 
I carved a fake castor from wood and hung it up to trick the wife. She saw it, said "huh", then walked out. The 2 seconds of muted surprise was worth my months of work 😄

That'd be my air hose reel above the TS, great for blowing sawdust into the nether regions of my shop and directing the spiders out the door.

I started with 2 single bulb fixtures in my 22x22 garage converted to a shop.  We don't have enough amps in the old sparkle box in the basement to go to crazy so I went with a chainable 3 ft LED lights off Amazon.  There are 12 or 13 in total in the shop....I forget how many.  And even with all those lights I still have a couple dark spots.  My hand tool bench and table saw are lit REALLY well but my general purpose bench along the back wall not so much.  

It shouldn't be too much longer with this setup though.  We are getting a new sparkle box with 200 amp service when the solar gets installed.  Then its let the old bank account recover a bit and get a subpanel in the shop.  I will probably pull all my only lightning hoses and then have a professional sparky come hook up the sparkle boxes.
I’ve think I’ve told this story before, but I had plans to pull a sub panel to the shop. I did the math and looked at our house panel and could get away with 125A out there…I was all set to do it and SWMBO gently suggested that I get a quote for it. I had three guys come in and quote it. Two of the three quotes were the same, the third was right at 50% of the first two. I called the guy back and clarified what I wanted, etc, etc. He was right on with all his answers, says it’s a one day job, all good…and he was quoting to do it for pretty damn near what I’d priced the materials at. Go for it! He shows up, and gets into it…at the end of the day, I check in with him. He’s looking pretty tired…and says he’s got one more full day of work. So I hand him a beer and we get to chatting. Turns out he’s from Idaho and just moved down here to sunny CA. He’s working for an outfit that has the sparky do the quotes for their own jobs…something he hasn’t done before. He admits he under bid the job by about half…owing substantially to the cost of materials in this damn state. He comes back the next day and finishes up mid afternoon. He did a bang up job, but just shook his head. I paid the invoice by credit card and gave him I think $100 cash since I figured he wasn’t going to be getting paid by his boss for two days of work… I know that didn’t cover a day of work for him, but better than nothing!

Long story short, having 125A in the shop is a godsend!

Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".

I put in a separate service for my shop. I am on a corner lot and there is a pole at each lot line, it was the same cost for either overhead or underground. I chose underground and it has worked well. The service panel has 40 slots and I still have open slots to add to. At some point I will add a dictated line for the pool.

Main Street to the Mountains

I tried replacing my four 8' fluorescent lights with the conversion of the fixtures to direct wire LEDs  (they eliminate the transformer and connect directly to 120v) and while it provided better light I found that they put out a lot of RF (radio frequency) energy that interfered with my shop radio so I took them out. I also have three 2'X6' sky lights and two large windows and in good weather a 10'x12' roll up door that provide good lighting in the day. The ceiling tapers from 13' to 9'. 
I did the same in my garage with 4' fixtures and there is some RF but not as bad. I could still use a radio in there....if I wanted.  I converted the  fluorescent lights in two bathrooms the same way.  

There are some very nice looking flat LED panels that would work in some shops with limited ceiling height. They are only about 1" thick. I put an 18" square one in the kitchen of my rental house and it looks and performs much better than the fluorescent fixture which seemed to need frequent tube replacement. I heard that frequent switching on and off of  fluorescent lights is what burns them out so LEDs solve that problem.
I saw the topic "Shop Lightning" and had to check it out. Lightning in the shop trumps static electricity every time. I get zapped when using my drum sander attached to DC, don't need lightning.

I've often thought that if we could capture and store lightning the energy worries are long gone. Like a massive capacitor that you could step down and  slowly release.

If you want to start a conversation that will never be resolved, ask if lightning is A/C or D/C current.

Then I realized it's shop lighting, not lightning. I just get LED strips when they're on sale. I probably have 12 - 15. When they start flashing, I beat the sh*t out of them and toss them in the trash.

Jump back, Jack! See ya later,alligator! James Brown

Ha! I totally missed that typo…fixed it now…😜

Ryan/// ~sigh~ I blew up another bowl. Moke told me "I made the inside bigger than the outside".