If you spend a lot of time in the garage, whether for personal or business work, you know that good lighting is an absolute must. The problem is - most shop lights are sourced from factories overseas, and as a result, quality can seriously vary. We compared over 40 lighting setups in search of the best garage lights, and after careful consideration, we’d highly recommend the Hyperikon LED Double-Fixture Shop Light. The Hyperikon fixture has it all: bright and consistent lighting (4,000 true lumens), extra-long lifespan (45,000 hours), and simple 15-minute installation. In addition, the lights are linkable, Energy Star certified, and made right here in the USA. Article Summary
For some, a garage is nothing but a storage space; but for others, a garage is a sanctuary. From automotive to woodwork to crafts and more, a garage can be the perfect workspace for a hobby or even your primary profession. No matter what your reasoning, if you spend a lot of time in the garage, you know that having proper lighting is crucial. This is not the place where you just screw in any old household bulb and call it a day – choosing the right lights for your garage takes a fair amount of consideration, not just on the light itself, but also on your specific work space.
The biggest consideration in choosing any sort of lighting these days is the battle between traditional fluorescent bulbs and new-age LED technology. Each have their pros and cons, but as you’ve probably heard by now, LEDs are generally the better way to go. For garages, this could not be more true. To get ideal lighting in your garage, you need something that’s going to shine bright as daylight, cover a large area, work at any temperature, and last for long periods. Comparing an average LED bulb to an average fluorescent bulb, the LED bulb will typically shine 3 times brighter, last 3 times longer, and consume 60% less energy all while being 100% consistent (meaning no flickering or dimming). If that doesn’t make LEDs a no-brainer, we don’t know what would.
With that said, even once you’ve narrowed down the selection to LED bulbs, it’s not as simple as running down to Home Depot and buying a set of lights off the shelves – there are still several other variables in play to determine whether or not a bulb is right for garage use. We spent roughly four days comparing current lighting options to find the best garage lights out there. We looked at a number of different aspects including brightness, longevity, energy efficiency, and ease of installation. In addition, we spoke to a mechanic, a welder, and a woodshop teacher in order to get their professional opinions on hues, fixtures, and arrangements. Using their expert recommendations and our own thorough review process, we’ve narrowed down the options to three light fixtures that we believe are the best out there for garage and workshop lighting.
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The best garage lights overall
Out of the 40+ lighting setups we reviewed during our research, the Hyperikon LED Double-Fixture Shop Light is by far the best garage lighting arrangement out there. It includes everything needed to outfit your garage with a truly perfect lighting setup: an easy-to-install fixture, super bright and long-lasting LED bulbs, and a choice of different color temperatures to find your preferred hue.
In case you’ve never heard the name before, Hyperikon is arguably the most trusted provider in LED lighting products in the world. Not only do they have an impressive number of energy certifications (700+), but their products are used by some seriously major companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Google, Verizon, and more. They are a 100% US-based company, and they pride themselves on providing top-tier quality and customer service – we believe that’s important to mention, because the company behind the product is just as important as the product itself.
Hyperikon’s double-fixture shop light could not be a more perfect example of their dedication to quality and value. The premium LED bulbs included in this fixture put out a massive 4,000 lumens of light while consuming only 38 watts of energy, providing an incredibly bright light at a fraction of the energy usage of other bulb types. For sake of comparison, this is about equivalent in brightness to a 100-watt fluorescent bulb, except it consumes roughly 60% less energy (one of the main reasons they scored the well-known Energy Star certification).
Brightness and energy usage aren’t the only things these bulbs do well, either. They’ve also got a ridiculously long life rating of 45,000 hours. To equate that to real-time usage, that would be over 10 years even if you ran your lights a full 12 hours every day, 365 days a year. Since most people run their bulbs far less than that, you can expect these to last at least 15-20 years before needing replacement. In addition, the bulbs are available in three different color temperatures (3000K, 4000K, and 5000K), allowing you to find the perfect hue for your personal work area.
The Hyperikon LED Shop Lights in use in a garage.
Other than the premium LED bulbs, another reason we chose this setup was because the fixture itself offered a few nice advantages, most notably simple setup and the ability to link multiple fixtures together. More often than not, replacing your garage lights can be a nightmare with installation. If you’ve done it before, you know what we mean: bad tombstones, trouble with connectivity, wiring issues… the list goes on and on. The Hyperikon fixtures are different because they have a “plug-and-play” design – in other words, the fixtures come 100% assembled, all you have to do is mount them in your ceiling, plug them into a standard 120-volt outlet, and they’re ready to rock. The company includes all mounting hardware and a step-by-step installation guide to walk you through the process, and all-in-all installation takes about 15-20 minutes total.
Overall, the Hyperikon LED Double-Fixture Shop Light offers a high-quality lighting setup that’s simple to setup and will out-shine and out-last most other shop light fixtures available. At a cost of about $50 per fixture, it is a slightly higher up-front investment than fluorescent lighting, but its long term value far outweighs its up-front cost.
A good bang for your buck
If the Hyperikon fixture felt a little too expensive on the front end, the LUCECO LED Shop Light offers a very simple LED lighting fixture at a great price. It is not quite as powerful as our top pick, but for basic garage lighting, it still gets the job done nicely.
Like our top pick above, the LUCECO fixture comes with everything needed to mount and go. The bulbs included with this setup put out 3600 lumens, so it’s only just below the level of brightness offered by Hyperikon. At 36 watts, the two are pretty much on par in terms of energy usage, meaning you’re still going to enjoy a massive 50-60% energy savings by using these lights over traditional fluorescents or incandescents. Unfortunately, LUCECO does not give you the option to choose color temperature, but at 4000K, these are a great cool white color that will do well in any garage. The company doesn’t give any sort of indication about their lifespan, but based on our extensive research of LED products and other models, it’s probably a safe bet to say these will last somewhere in the range of 40,000 hours.
One minor drawback to note is that this fixture is a lot more basic in terms of its construction. It does not contain any full-length housing like our top pick, and instead it uses a small set of end connectors to keep the bulbs together. This could be a bit of a concern depending on your specific workshop, but for most regular garage use, the housing should be fine. In fact, it makes mounting these fixtures extremely easy because they are nearly weightless (they’re about 2 pounds at most). LUCECO includes all the hanging and mounting hardware, so if you’re installing these yourself, you can get things done in about 15 minutes with minimal effort. The only other notable downside to the basic construction is that multiple fixtures aren’t linkable, so if you plan to have more than one of these in your garage, you’ll have to power them individually.
If you don’t do any major garage work and instead you’re just looking for a simple fixture for regular lighting, the LUCECO LED Shop Light is a great bang for your buck LED system. It offers great lighting, easy setup, and it gets awesome reviews from customers (averaging about 4.6/5 stars on Amazon).
A heavy-duty 4-light runner-up
We think 2-light fixtures do a more-than-sufficient job at lighting garages, but in looking for the best shop lights, we also came across some heavier-duty models that held four lights. If you like the sound of more light power, the Lithonia Lighting Heavy-Duty Shop Light is an awesome option. Boasting a heavy-duty build, a 4-bulb arrangement, and a surprisingly affordable price, this is the perfect setup for those who want to cover a large area with only a single fixture.
Like our top pick, Hyperikon, Lithonia Lighting is a reputable name in the lighting industry. They’ve been in the business over 60 years, and they pride themselves on providing “the best value in lighting” (that’s their trademark). The motto is certainly accurate, because among electricians Lithonia is known for providing solutions that offer value for your dollar – like this particular model in our guide, for example.
Typically commercial lighting fixtures will run you in the $100-200 range, but for around $50, Lithonia Lighting has created a truly commercial-grade 4-bulb fixture that anyone can easily install in their garage or shop. The build uses a traditional full-length steel housing and there is even a grid-style wire guard that covers the bulbs for protection (don’t worry, this is easily detachable for removing or replacing bulbs). Each bulb is connected using internal wiring to run off a single grounded power outlet, which is nice because this means you only need to hook the fixture up to a single power source to run all the lights.
For the most part, Lithonia includes everything needed to get this unit up and running, but there are a few key things to mention so you’re aware before buying. First, this kit does not include bulbs. This was a convenience of the other two picks in our guide, but unfortunately you’ll need to buy bulbs separately for this one. This isn’t the end of the world, though. In fact, it actually gives you some choices to find your perfect lighting based on your personal preference of brightness and hue. If you need some help choosing, check out our color temperature chart towards the bottom of this guide.
The other thing to note is that the chains that come with this fixture are a little on the lighter side (as in they look frail). Since the fixture itself is so heavily constructed, it weighs around 10 pounds, and the chains look like they may need an upgrade to hold this up over time. Obviously Lithonia thinks otherwise since they’re the ones who put the kit together, but this is just personal observation based on experience. Some other reviews we came across have expressed similar concerns, so it’s worth checking out.
The Lithonia Lighting Heavy-Duty Shop Light is the best fixture you’ll find if you’re looking for something on the burlier side that’s capable of holding more bulbs. The construction is beautiful and the price is fantastic, all you have to do is select the right bulbs and you’ll have a commercial-grade 4-bulb setup right in your own garage.
How we picked our top three
If you’ve ever visited the lighting section at Home Depot or Lowe’s, you know there’s no shortage of options when it comes to household bulbs and fixtures. The same goes for shop lights. There are dozens of brands and countless fixtures, and at a quick glance, it might not seem like one fixture is any different from the next. On the contrary, there are numerous characteristics separating lighting options, and we looked at several in particular to determine the best garage lights.
Brightness (understanding watts vs. lumens)
It goes without saying that the most important factor in choosing garage lighting is brightness. In the old days, a bulb’s brightness was measured by how many watts of electricity it consumed. The higher the wattage, the brighter the light. However, with new energy-efficient lighting technology, watts are no longer a good indicator of brightness. Why? Because watts measure energy use, not light output. These days, you can have two bulbs producing the same amount of light, but one is using 40 watts of energy and the other is using 100 watts. So, to accurately measure a bulb’s brightness, you have to use lumens. Lumens are the scientific measurement for true light output regardless of energy consumption.
Now, with all that said, you’re still at the mercy of the company to tell the truth about the lumen output of their lights. It’s not beyond people to lie just for the sake of increased sales. This is where branding comes into play. Buying a light fixture from a trusted lighting brand, you have far better chances of getting true metrics than buying from some pop-up shop that’s just trying to flip lights for a quick profit.
Knowing all of this, we had a few steps to verify brightness. First: narrow down the lights that offered the highest lumen outputs (generally, 3,500+ lumens are perfect for garage use). Second: identify the brand to see whether they’re a reputable lighting source or a company with no history in the field. Third: verify their claims. We looked at images of each fixture in action to make sure they offered bright, consistent lighting. After going through these paces on all of the models we compared, we can absolutely say our top picks are the most trusted options for bright garage lighting.
This is a simple one which doesn’t need much explanation. The longer a bulb lasts, the better. This means less replacement costs, and less time you’ll have to spend wiring new lights in the future. When comparing the many shop lights on the market, we prioritized those with extra-long lifespans. LEDs excelled here because they last significantly longer than fluorescents or incandescents.
Saving energy is good for the environment, and it’s also good for your bank account. Lighting is said to contribute to household energy bills as much as 15-20%, and this number can be even higher if you spend more time in the garage than the average person. Not only do you have the lights on more often, but due to their size, shop lights naturally consume more energy than the typical living room lamp. This is another reason why we turned to LEDs for our top picks. LEDs consume roughly 60% less energy than other forms of lighting (on average) without sacrificing light output, making them the clear choice when it comes to energy efficiency. Finding garage lighting with an Energy Star certification is an extra plus because it shows the bulbs have been tested to trusted standards.
Lighting installation can be a serious pain if the fixture isn’t put together properly or if the directions aren’t clear, especially if you’re trying to replace an old fixture that’s currently installed in your garage. The last thing you want to do is mess around with tombstones and wiring on a brand-new product just to try to get it hooked up like your old one. To make things as easy as possible for you, we picked light fixtures that had quick, simple installation – that way, you don’t have to waste your precious time with mounting and hardware when you could be working.
Why LED is better than fluorescent lighting
In the introduction to this guide, we briefly mentioned that LEDs are the best garage lights due to their superior benefits over fluorescent lighting: higher brightness, longer life, and better energy efficiency. While these are typically the most common aspects people consider when comparing lighting products, LEDs boast a number of additional benefits that you may not be aware of. We’ve created a table below which compares LED and fluorescent side-by-side so you can truly see how and why LED excels.
Note: this table uses averages and is not based on any particular product specifications.
Choosing the best garage lights for your specific needs
When shopping for the best garage lighting, most people just look for two things: brightness and lifespan. While these are obviously two very important qualities, there are still a few other characteristics you may want to consider to make sure you choose the best shop lights for your personal work area.
Lighting isn’t just available in different levels of brightness, it’s also available in different colors. We’re not talking about blue or green (although technically those are available lighting colors), we’re talking about the color temperature of the bulb. Color temperature is used to describe the shade of light given off by a bulb. Just like how candlepower compares the brightness of a lightbulb to the brightness of candle light, or how horsepower compares the output of an engine to the power of a draft horse, color temperature compares the color of the bulb to the color of metal heated to a certain temperature.
When you heat up a metal object, it begins to glow. Everyone has seen this before, either as part of your work or even in a movie. Depending on the temperature, the glow will be a certain color, from a warm orange color all the way up to a blue-ish white. This is how color termperature got its name; the color temperature of light is the artificial relation to the actual heated temperature of metal (expressed in Kelvin, not Celsius or Fahrenheit). For an example, check out the image below. The color temperature is shown below each shade of light for reference (from 1,000 Kelvin to 10,000 Kelvin).
For garages, it’s recommended to use a bulb with a color temperature somewhere in the range of 4,000-7,000. This gives you a perfectly bright, crisp light that appears like a super-focused daylight and allows you to see everything with clarity and ease. It also allows you enough variation to choose a yellow-ish or blue-ish shade depending on which suits your work best. Anything below that range would be too dim and too yellow-ish, much like a regular household bulb, whereas anything above that range gets a little too blue and can affect how your vision perceives colors while you work.
Believe it or not, temperature can have an effect on your lighting – well, if you use fluorescent, that is. Since fluorescent lighting uses a mercury-vapor gas to produce light, low temperatures can causes issues with the gas’s abilities. With LED, there is no gas involved, so its lighting is completely unaffected by temperature. We’ve already explain why LED’s excel as the best shop lights in general, but this is especially true if you work in lower temperatures (anything below 40-50 degrees) to avoid common fluorescent inconsistencies such as dimming or flickering.
There are a number of premium control systems for lighting these days, such as dimming controls, motions sensors, and more. If you plan to use any additional lighting controls other than just a traditional on/off switch, keep in mind that this can affect your lighting performance depending on which type of lighting you choose. Fluorescent lighting is notoriously bad with control systems because it does not cycle well, so over time this can result in lighting issues and even burn the bulbs out far ahead of their typical projected lifespan. On the other hand, LED works great under controls because cycling does not affect its performance or lifespan.
Wrapping it up
Lighting can be the difference between good work and bad work, and depending on the tools you work with, it can even be the difference between health and injury. Regardless of why you spend your time in the garage, you owe it to yourself to invest in a good lighting system. As we’ve discussed throughout this guide, LED lighting is the way to go. It is brighter and more consistent while lasting longer with less energy. There is basically no downside. For most garage and shop usage, we’d recommend the Hyperikon Shop Light. However, if you want to invest in a more heavy-duty setup, the Lithonia Lighting 4-Light fixture is a great option as well.