Guide to Garage Lighting

Guide to Garage Lighting

If you’re looking for a home improvement project with a big payoff, consider a new lighting scheme for your garage. Even though it might not be the place for a crystal chandelier or set of silk-shaded sconces, most garages hold potential to be much more than a parking spot and storage unit. With some organization and new lighting, you might find space for a workshop bench, workout center, bike rack, music venue, or even a video game lounge.

When lighting your garage, use the “three layers of light” strategy to choose fixtures for ambient, accent, and task lighting.

If you’re in the market for new garage light fixtures or want to make your garage a more productive and pleasing space, explore this guide for the following:

  • Unique interior garage lighting
  • Best outdoor garage light fixtures
  • Garage interior ambient lighting
  • Best task lighting for garages
  • Garage fluorescent light fixtures
  • LED garage lighting fixtures
  • The perfect garage accent lighting

Unique Interior Garage Lighting

Begin with an assessment of the exterior and interior of the garage, taking note of any interesting architectural features to emphasize and showcase with light. Also consider that the lights themselves can be unique conversation pieces. For instance, the chrome tripod pictured above – while for indoor use only – can give you stylish and inspired directional light for in-garage projects. Also look for safety hazards or areas exposed to harsh conditions. You might be able to improve the level of safety and protection by adding lights to dark areas in your garage.

Pro Tip: Since many garages have limited wiring, sometimes just a single light bulb strung into the rafters can do the trick. Think about how your new fixtures will be installed and mounted. You may need to factor in the cost of a professional electrician.

Best Outdoor Garage Light Fixtures

Find Exterior Garage Lighting Fixtures

Your garage lighting scheme shouldn’t ignore the outside of the structure. Garage attached to a house, main door, side doors, or walkways can benefit from light.

Look for fixtures designed to illuminate entrances, sidewalks, and landscaping. When selecting your exterior lights, point the light downward to prevent trespass of light onto your neighbor’s property. Of course, approved Dark Sky lights will dampen light trespass expertly.

Also choose a style that suits your home’s architecture, such as a pair of square silver modern sconces for a modern home or a set of bronze lanterns for a colonial or ranch. To save electricity, consider fixtures that detect motion, as they’ll light up only when sensing activity inside their range. (Be aware, squirrels might set them off).

If you use the area outside of the garage for projects or sports, you might add lights at the corners of the garage, on nearby fencing, or in the trees above. Small LED spotlights work well for task lighting and can be managed through a central set of switches wired to your house or the garage interior. Don’t forget about accent lights. You can set small solar lights in flower beds, along pathways, or invest in an underground low-wattage system to control with timers and smart technology.

Garage Interior Ambient Lighting

Tips to Add Fixtures for Garage Ambient Lighting

Inside the garage, you’ll want ample overhead light throughout the space. This ambient layer is a fundamental part of the design. Make sure to measure this space carefully and spend some time shopping for fixtures. You'll want to choose lumens that will meet your needs in both day and evening hours.

In a garage with exposed rafters, you might look for small sconces to mount on one or both sides of the central support beams. If the garage roof peaks upward, you might have room for a hanging fixture like a metal drum pendant or stylish industrial lantern with an exposed vintage bulb.

If your garage has a finished ceiling, try a flush or semi flush mount fixture such as a dome, square, or rectangle design. Many garages are built with florescent lights, but you can remove the hanging fixtures and upgrade to lights that look better and don’t cast harsh shadows on what lies below.

If you prefer fluorescent lights because of their brightness, shop for stylish holders in chrome or bronze to hang in horizontal or vertical rows. As an alternative to fluorescent lights, consider a set of spotlights set into a metal track. You’ll find models in a variety of shapes and bright colors. Try the LED versions for extra-bright energy-efficient light that puts a sparkle on your car and toolboxes.

Best Task Lighting for Garages

A Wide Range of Garage Task Lighting Fixtures

Once your ambient light is planned out, it’s time to choose your task lighting. Identify the spaces where you work. If you change your oil while lying on the floor or frequently explore under the car hood, for example, you could benefit from task lighting in the walls nearby.

Consider can lights, fluorescent panels, sconces, or moveable track lights installed at waist level. At a table or bench, task lighting is especially important and should help you work more efficiently. When choosing task lights, consider not only the wattage but also the hue. This is because some projects, such as painting or wood refinishing, can be affected by the clarity of the light. Also look for fixtures that can be wired into the central box so you don’t have to fumble around looking for switches.

Directional spotlights in sturdy materials, like metal or plastic, can give you focused, bright task lighting. Pendant lights are another great alternative for workbench task lighting. Consider adding a pair of clear globes or pub-style artisan glass cups overhead. If you want a more practical and functional look for the work area, shop for wall lanterns made from copper or bronze wire, retro chrome drums, or upcycled materials that reflect the utility of the space. You might also place task lighting near trash cans, storage shelves, the refrigerator, sink, or near any exits or staircases.

Garage Fluorescent Light Fixtures

Fluorescent fixtures for upgrading garage lighting

Fluorescent lights are a very popular choice for garages. They are most commonly mounted on garage ceilings and provide the perfect task lighting for any project. Keep in mind that many fluorescent lights don’t work well below 50 degrees.

If you live in a cold climate, choose a fluorescent fixture based on the lowest temperature in your garage. For example, fixtures with electronic ballasts are better suited for cold spaces than those with electromagnetic ballasts.

Next, you’ll want to figure out how many lights are best suited for your space. Multiply the length times the width when calculating the square footage of your space. We recommend using around 300 lumen per square foot for garage workshops that require task lighting. You’ll also want to install at least one eight-foot fluorescent fixture per car space.

It’s also important to check the color temperature of your lighting. Color temperature is measured in Kelvins (K). Garage workshops need at least 5000K for proper lighting. For a more uniform look, consider using the same color temperature for all lighting in the area.

LED Garage Lighting Fixtures

Click for Stylish Garage Lights with LED Bulbs available at Bellacor

LEDs are growing in popularity, especially in unheated garages. Unlike their fluorescent counterparts, LEDs don’t need to heat up to light up a space. They become bright immediately and produce consistent, energy-efficient light even in cold temperatures.

While LED garage lighting fixtures are more expensive than fluorescent ones, they will last you longer. LED bulbs require less energy output and provide evenly spread lighting that’s brighter than traditional fluorescent bulbs.

LED garage lighting fixtures come with multi-positional wings and reflectors that distribute light evenly throughout a space. For example, LED strip light fixtures are easy to install and come in different sizes for overhead garage lighting. They tend to work best in high-ceiling garages and provide instant light with no warm-up period.

LED wraparound lights are another great alternative. They work best in garages with lower ceilings. They are installed level with the ceiling surface and won’t be in the way of ladders, boards, or any other equipment in your garage. They also produce multidirectional light from both sides and the bottom, making them perfect for illuminating your entire space.

Pro Tip: Keep in mind that you can also use LED tube bulbs in fluorescent fixtures instead of replacing the fixture.

The Perfect Garage Accent Lighting

To complete your new garage lighting scheme, add a final flourish with accent lights to make you feel at home while you’re working on projects, practicing the drums, or celebrating the warm months with an outdoor barbecue. Accent lights are usually smaller than task lights (but not always) and should be stable enough to endure cold temperatures. Now you can avoid your grandma’s heirloom glass shade in favor of plastic or metal.

While you might use your task lights to accent key areas of the garage, you may also want to complement them with LED strips, light strings, recessed spotlights or small LEDs installed in corners and dark areas. To strike a mood, use colored light bulbs or interesting shades in acrylic or stamped metal. Be creative, choosing accents that might serve dual purposes.

Garages tend to be dark, but that’s a problem easily fixed with the right lighting. Not only do lights make your garage more useful, can also make it a safer place. With new lights inside and out, your garage could soon become a favorite family gathering place and earn a new name like “man cave,” “she shed,” or plain old “party lounge.”

Begin plotting out your upgrade by shopping our catalog for fixtures and accents that will transform your garage from dull to dreamy. Once your scheme is in place, you’ll be rushing out to spend the evening hours at your workbench instead of at the living room TV. Just remember to keep your fixtures clean — a dusting every month is in order to keep your light shining brightly.

Bellacor has been a leading garage light fixtures retailer since 2000. We offer top-of-the-line products to fit any style and budget.