Bulb Type: LED vs. Fluorescent
You may have noticed that all of the garage lighting options we reviewed used LEDs rather than fluorescent lights. LEDs are a newer technology with a number of significant advantages. First, LEDs do not have dangerous chemicals like mercury in the bulb or emit harmful UV rays, unlike fluorescent lights. Second, LEDs are much more energy efficient and safer to run in an enclosed space because they give off very little heat. In fact, LEDs can result in energy savings of 60% or more compared to fluorescent lights. Finally, LED lights last significantly longer than fluorescent lights – up to 50,000 hours versus less than 15,000 hours. This can make a huge difference in the actual cost of the lights, since a light with a shorter lifespan will have to be replaced more frequently. However, note that LED lights often do not offer replaceable LED strips, so the entire fixture must be replaced when its lifespan is reached.
Brightness and Color
One of the first numbers that pops out when looking at garage lighting is the brightness, measured in lumens. Many lights are around 4,000 lumens, but lights with outputs of 8,000 lumens or more are available. However, brighter is not always desirable, since the light can be blinding or cause excessive reflections, especially if it will be hung from a low ceiling or mounted directly over your workstation. Finding the right brightness for your garage takes some trial and error, but it may be easier to add additional lights than to buy a single light that is too bright.
In addition, LED garage lights are available in a variety of color temperatures, although 4,000 or 5,000 K temperatures are most common because this temperature is most similar to the color of natural daylight. Lower temperature lights give off a bluer light, whereas higher temperature lights give off a more orange light.
Installation and Connectivity
Before settling on a garage lighting system, be sure to carefully consider how you plan to set up your new lights. If you need a light for directly over your workstation, consider whether that is better served by a light hanging from the ceiling or one mounted flush to the wall. In addition, think about the height of your garage when looking at whether lights can be mounted flush into the ceiling or how height adjustable their hanging mechanisms are. Don’t forget to measure the dimensions of the existing constructions attached to your ceiling, whether it’s a garage door opener, an air conditioner or a garage fan. Finally, if you need multiple lights, is it important to you that they can be wired together in series? If so, make sure that the light you choose has this capability and that the series will support the number of lights you plan to connect.
When buying garage lighting, look for lights that are UL (Underwriters Laboratory) or ETL (Edison Testing Laboratory) certified. These certifications indicate that the light design meets minimum safety standards for electronics established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Compared to fluorescent lights, all LEDs use up significantly less energy to put out the same amount of light – 60% less or more. However, if you’re interested in comparing the amount of energy that two garage lights will use, be sure to check the wattage of the lights – a higher wattage light will use energy at a faster rate. While most 4,000-lumen lights are in the 40-watt range, a significantly brighter light may have a significantly higher wattage.