Making your own shop lighting


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I am in the middle of a knock-down-drag-out of a total workshop renovation. I have a garage that is exactly [ 20' 9"  x  22' 9"  x  95" tall ].  I absolutely love the space. But it has two things that I absolutely hate about it. 

The ceiling height: The ceiling is just low enough (95") that I can't stand up a full length sheet of plywood (96") Sure, I know. 

The lighting. Right now, I have two very crappy 2 fixtures with 2 florescent tube light bulbs each. They are only about 4 ft. long, and they hang from the already low ceiling from little chains that the previous home owner rigged up. They are also not connected to any kind of controllable  light switch. They each have a shitty power chord that is taped to the ceiling and runs to an equally as shitty power strip-style surge protector that is also... taped to the ceiling. It's a mess. If I go to the shop at night, I have to walk in the dark, tripping all over stuff to get to one of the lights to pull a tiny 3" chain to turn it on. 

I have been wanting to learn more about lights,, LEDs, and electronics in general. It is my understanding by having watched a million YouTube videos, that LED lights can be purchased in strips, and that they are not expensive, and can be purchased in several color "temperatures" or even variable so you can change their color temperature (at least I think this is true) and even put them on a dimmer to vary the brightness. I'd really love to look into making my own shop lights. I'd like them, if at all possible, to be very disbursed across the entire shop. Rather than have a few lighting fixtures across the ceiling, I'd love to have lighting fixtures with LED lights that go all the way across the shop. Essentially making the whole ceiling one large light panel. Well, I'd still build individual fixture housings; I'm not looking to have bare LED strips going all across my entire shop. That would be brighter than the damn sun, and unnecessary. But... say, four lighting fixtures that are 18 ft. long with 4-5 strips of LEDs, and they all are wired together, so I can flip a switch at the entrance to the shop. 

Does anyone have any experience with this, or have a solid resource you could point me towards for learning how to do this without electrocuting myself, burning my shop down, or overloading circuits and flipping breakers?

I know LEDs get hot. I know that the more of them you use, the more power they pull. But... aside from that... I know diddly about electronics. 

 

Thanks guys!

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I don't have a solution to your building new lights - however one suggestion I do have to save you stumbling around in the dark:

Get one of these (or more) remote power switches: - put the remote on a hook at the entrance to your garage and turn the lights on as you enter.

I use these on my dust collector (can turn it on from anywhere in the garage) as well as my rope lights on my lanai.

I'm actually going to buy several more for some of my tool cart outlets. Press a button and the cart is live!

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Something to pay attention to with cheap lights is the color rendering index, CRI.  A low CRI indicates it's not giving you very much of the full spectrum of light and thus it can cause colors to not look right.  

This is probably the video Chestnut is referring to.  The strips are low voltage so you don't have quite the electrical requirements as with 110v, but you have to deal with the drivers for them.

 

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Yeah my lights are garbage CRI wise which is why i complain about color a lot. If i haven't i do every time i edit pictures to post them I'm just not sure if it ever gets typed out. I use my flash in the shop a lot more now because of it. I won't ever do video so the flash is really all i need to get good color again.

I use these guys cause they are inexpensive and put out a lot of light. They were 50% off one week so i stocked up. I don't know what the heck I'm going to use them for.

6109852197270127430.thumb.jpg.bdc2ca8a4dbd0a960ee87c4c035f33b2.jpg

They are the regular chain style but i get them so they are only a few inches off the ceiling.

5177798841837013003.thumb.jpg.bf17de43c71b75ea96ccfbad192b81c6.jpg

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I'm experimenting with Rockler's 4275 Lumen LED bulbs (picture) and am starting to believe I will swap out all my T8 fixtures with this incredible bulb.  I have three installed at the moment and without scientific measure TS, I estimate each of these  $30 bulbs puts outlay more light than two 4' T8 fixtures, perhaps as much as twice as much.  It's a bit like looking at the sun. And, they only consume 50 Watts.   I'll probably need fewer lights and get better visibility for my ageing eyes.  I've had three installed for over a year now and had no troubles at all LED Big Bulb, 2570 Lumens

 
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I bought the LED shop lights at Sam's for $38 ea. I think they're about $45 at Wally World. They hang by chains and have a standard household plug-in. IOW, no home modification is necessary.

That said, I did put in home-brew under-counter LED lighting in our kitchen. But now that some nice strips are available for a reasonable price those are due an upgrade.

Today LEDs are cheap enough that it's not much different in price and probably faster to do it the right way.

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On 21/01/2018 at 6:15 PM, new2woodwrk said:

I don't have a solution to your building new lights - however one suggestion I do have to save you stumbling around in the dark:

Get one of these (or more) remote power switches: - put the remote on a hook at the entrance to your garage and turn the lights on as you enter.

I use these on my dust collector (can turn it on from anywhere in the garage) as well as my rope lights on my lanai.

I'm actually going to buy several more for some of my tool cart outlets. Press a button and the cart is live!

I love this idea, we use those for our outdoor christmas lights. You could also get a Amazon Echo (or Google Home) and wireless switches and then you could just talk to your lights or use a clapper. 

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4 hours ago, thatCharlieDude said:

I love this idea, we use those for our outdoor christmas lights. You could also get a Amazon Echo (or Google Home) and wireless switches and then you could just talk to your lights or use a clapper. 

Yah, not a fan of those intrusive things from google and amazon, but yeah that's the idea

I use the remote switches all day long - they work really well.

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Mark J,  it does seem that way but it isn't.  I think the reason is that they are so bright and there is a lot of bulb surface facing in all directions.  In fact I've been thinking of building a reflective shade to focus the light

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3 hours ago, new2woodwrk said:

Yah, not a fan of those intrusive things from google and amazon, but yeah that's the idea

I use the remote switches all day long - they work really well.

I was more or less joking about the Echo but voice controlled hands free lights are nice. It would be overkill in a workshop unless you're using it to control multiple items. 

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9 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

Don't worry, you phone is already intruding on you, just keeping on the down-low. 

 

:ph34r:

I keep both my phone and computer's video cam off - I never answer my phone since I don't need it for business.

If it's important, they'll leave a msg and I'll call back - if not - oh well.

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