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Off Topic Garage Lighting Configurations

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Downsizing my house needs and about to move into a new set up, however I am ineed of some advise/input on lighting and ventilation.

I will have a standard 18 x 20 foot garage area and I want to put in good lighting to better see my work as well as being able to find things when I have my car/stuff in place. I am planning to put in 8 foot florescents lights in but want to know if it is better to arrange them perpendicular to the garage opening or parralel?

My next question is in regards to providing ventalation. Being in Texas it get ungodly awfully hot, in the name space efficiency I was think of hanging a pedistal fan upside down on the ceiling (can not do a wall mount because I will have work bench and shelving all along the wall). My question is with that size of garage would a 30" or 24" oscillating fan be appropriate?

I do know that we have had fellow '02-ers build and rebuild their garages, would like to know what you would be proper.

Thanks again, as always.


The question is not that we broke a few rules or took certain liberties with our female guests.

We did ;)

Charlie don't surf!!

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Hang the first set of lights over your workbench and then go from there.


If you can, install an exhaust fan that vents to the outside high up in the wall. If necessary use a large portable fan by the door for make up air.



1971 Corvette, BBC to LS1 swap under way
1991 Camaro, ProCharged 355
1969 Corvette Greenwood/IMSA project
1974 BMW 2002, barn find, M42 on a stand, turbo header in a box

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In my shed, I ran lights the length of the car on both sides of the garage parallel to the sides of the car. Slightly outside the sides of the car so it would light the wheels some.


Then I hung a four footer over the bench and a four footer over where the motor is. That pretty much lights up the room.


I switched the three areas separately.

"90% of your carb problems are in the ignition, Mike."

1972 2000tii Touring #3422489

1972 2002tii with A4 system #2761680

FAQ member #5

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Im in Texas as well and have for a long time considered putting a portable AC unit in the corner of the garage and rigging the exhaust port to exit between the garage door railing and the side of the wall. Nice portable AC units run around $300.


Im also considering running 2 florescent housing in the roof in place of the 2 normal bulbs that i have.

1976 BMW 2002 Chamonix. My first love.

1972 BMW 2002tii Polaris. My new side piece.

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I just replaced a standard two-tube flourescent "shop light" fixture with an old 4 tube fixture.  Did a kitchen remodel in a rental house and replaced the dropped ceiling with a new drywall one, so took the old flushmount fixture, removed the lens, made a hanger from lightweight chain, added a line cord with plug.  You should be able to pick up similar fixtures from a builders supply salvage yard, or off Craigslist. 


Main problem with 8 foot tube fixtures is getting the 8 foot tubes home from the store.  Two, four foot fixtures can be spaced a foot or so apart and provide more dispersed light.




'69 Nevada sunroof-Wolfgang-bought new
'73 Sahara sunroof-Ludwig-since '78
'91 Brillantrot 318is sunroof-Georg Friederich 
Fiat Topolini (Benito & Luigi), Renault 4CVs (Anatole, Lucky Pierre, Brigette) & Kermit, the Bugeye Sprite

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I just finished re-lighting the garage.  It is 48 x 24, with 2 rows of 7 lights.  Each light has 4, 4' fluorescent T8 bulbs.  So, that's a total of 56 4' tubes in the garage.  Is it enough light?  Not yet, but should be once I finally get around to putting a white ceiling up.

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A few comments.  But first the bottom line: Get 4' T8 lamps, probably 32 Watts (not the lower power energy-saving types), Color Rendering Index (CRI) over 70 (over 80 is even better).  Drive these with an electronic ballast, perhaps rated for home use if you listen to a radio and want lower interference (RFI) than a commercial ballast (which has lower harmonic distortion on your power line, something commercial and industrial users and your electric company may care about).


More details: ballasts have a rating called "Ballast Factor" which basically tells how hard it drives the fluorescent lamps it is designed to operate.  When our cars were new the typical commercial magnetic ballast would drive a 4'-T12 40 Watt lamp with a ballast factor of 0.93; that is, in a ballast lab on a bench at 77 degrees F the lamp would produce 93 percent of the light it was rated to create.  But 34 Watt T12 lamps were soon available; that "standard magnetic ballast" would drive the 34 Watt lamp with a ballast factor of about 0.91-0.92, very close to 0.93.  Then came "energy efficient" magnetic ballasts that drive the 34 watt lamps with a ballast factor of 0.87.  But to make matters worse, a residential magnetic ballast (the $2 variety that does not have a power factor correcting capacitor) would drive a 34 Watt lamp with a 0.57 ballast factor.  Basically, cheap ballasts and cheap lamps can restrict your light!


When our cars were about 20 years old electronic ballasts started taking over, and to be "comparable" to 34 Watt lamps and low-power ballasts they had a "normal" ballast factor of 0.87; that is still the case.  Ballast companies are always looking for ways to conserve the power used to drive lamps and still provide "about the same light" so now a GEB (Generic Electronic Ballast) has a ballast factor of 0.87-0.88 and uses 58 Watts to drive 2-32 Watt T8 lamps (electrically the basic lamp is the same, but many color varieties exist to give better Correlated Color Temperature (CCT; low CCT means warmer color, higher CCT means cooler color, blue CCT usually means "daylight equivalent") or better (higher) CRI.


Lower power lamps are also available, at increased cost; while for a commercial or industrial application you can probably calculate the life-cycle cost savings it rarely makes sense for a home application.  Higher output lamps are also available and I like to pay the price premium for 3100 lumen lamps instead of 2800 or 2950 lumen lamps, but that is difficult to justify at home (or garage) unless you simply like them or want just a little more light.  As for 8' lamps, it is not worth the extra cost and handling hassle; besides the T8-electronic ballast route gives more light and costs less, even to retrofit 8' long luminaires.  By the way, some low power lamps (like 28 or 25 watt T8) may not start reliably at temperatures lower than 50-60 degrees F.; typical electronic ballasts today will start a 32 watt lamp at 0 degrees or less.  And realize that any fluorescent lamp is temperature sensitive with light output decreasing as ambient changes from the 77 degrees optimum for most lamps.


You can tune the light output even more with commercial ballasts, running from a 0.71 ballast factor to 1.18.  A 32 Watt T8 lamp is rated for 265mA, but to save energy the high-frequency electronic ballast with 0.87 ballast factor usually drives the lamp at 210mA.  The lamp will still give normal life if driven up to 318mA and some ballasts can do that if you look for them, but they also use proportionally more energy.


Finally, look at your optical system; high reflectance reflectors will make a big difference in the amount of light that makes it down to your work surface (good white paint, pure anodized aluminum, silver {!} film).  And also make sure that if your lamp is exposed to open hood banging or some other assault, you protect the lamp with a clear sleeve or a nice lens (look for acrylic, not the tinny polystyrene that is so cheap at the home hardware store).


Wow, if you've read this far maybe you're a light geek, too!



Larry Ayers


’73 Malaga— first car, now gone

'74tii Malaga

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