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I have been yearning for a while for better light in my shop.  When I set it up, I installed five recessed "pot" lights in the ceiling, spaced above the workbench.  They work well over that space, but the rest of the garage was lacking so I installed a couple of dual-tube, four foot long, florescent shop fixtures in each bay and that gave me what I thought was pretty good light, but I always wanted more, especially right on the bench where I would get a few shadows on the surface and it was kind-of dark when crawling around under the cars.  On top of that, Florescent lights are kind-of useless under 30F because they start slow at less than half their brilliance until they warm up (if ever, if it's cold enough out).   I wanted more.

Yesterday, I went to a local outlet place that deals in selling overstocks and so forth, and they had 4' dual-tube, LED shop lights, 4700 Lumens and 5000K Hue (bright daylight) for the measly sum of $15 bucks each!  Stunned....STUNNED, I was!

So I bought 8 of them, replaced the 4 florescent fixtures already up on the ceiling, added two more in the middle up there and then put two more under the upper bench cabinets, washing the bench surface.

WOW!        That's one Helluva Lotta Light!  

Here's the shop with just natural light from the windows (it seems darker in there than it looks in the photo):


And here's the same space with the new lights on:


Here is my bench top before the bench lights were installed under the upper cabinets, showing the shadows from the overhead floods:


And the same bench with the new bench lighting on - NO SHADOWS!!:


I LOVE this new lighting, plus I got a 10% discount for spending over $100 so it all came to just over $100 bucks for a MAJOR lighting upgrade.

On top of that, the LED lights come on instantly regardless of the temperature.  Gotta love THAT!


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Plus, LEDs make less heat and use less juice. Winning ALL around.

I have 2 8 foot dual tube fluorescent fixtures with all-weather bulbs that light no matter the weather. But they are power-hungry and make lots of interference in the shop radio. I already replaced one 8 footer(I had three) with 2 separate 4 foot LED fixtures.

The remaining fluorescents are getting removed soon, I bought 10 4 foot LED fixtures on Amazon for less than $200 a couple months ago.

You certainly have it right Gordon, LED is definitely the way to go. Especially in the shop. I'll be using the old lights in the basement I think, plus some new ones.

As is my fashion, when I built my "town place", I overcompensated for mistakes I'd made in the past. There's not an incandescent or florescent light in the place, and the quantity is a running joke in my family.

The kitchen/dining/living area is 800 sq ft open. I've got 10 rows of four 6" cans (that's 40 can lights, for those of you keeping track at home), each with a 13W LED retrofit. In addition, there are under/over cabinet lights, and 4 hanging "Edison bulb" fixtures - all LED. It's nuts.


The shop is even more overkill. I've got 40 double 4 ft tube fixtures, mounted end to end on roughly 5 ft centers. Each tube is 2800 lumen, for a total of 224,000 lumen (80x 2800). That's not counting under-cabinet lamps, or bench-lighting. I went so far as to mount LED ribbon lights under shelving. I like it a lot. The joke is that there's enough light to operate on a gnat. But of all the things I don't like about getting older, it's the ability to see things that I miss the most.

Shop Lights

The pictures are distorted by the angle, and the lights are actually closer together than they appear.

I like them a lot. FWIW, the LEDs themselves almost never fail, but the drivers fail a lot more often than the manufacturers act like they will. I'm getting about 5 years on the can-retrofit drivers and about that on the 4 ft tube drivers as well.


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It’s the heat.  The “drivers” are simply AC to DC converter power supplies made from electronic components.  They generate a lot of heat, while the LEDs, themselves, generate only a little heat.  The drivers don’t like heat, but how do we orient them?  We put them in the top of an enclosed can so they can get good and hot and prematurely fail.  A similar bulb running on 5 volts DC would probably last much longer than it’s AC version for lack of that power supply.  

Anyway, I think it’s terrific that LED lighting has become so cheap that many of us can over indulge with it.  The good news is that there is a plethora of reasonably cheap dimmers on the market so we can dial in the light level that works best for us!

Clearly, Gordon. They're just 110 VAC to 24 VDC transformers, and not very good ones at that (how good can they be when they are packaged with an LED array, attendant housing, and whatnot, and sold at a profit for less than $8?).

But you are 100% correct: the drivers are always mounted in the hottest spot in the fixture, hidden away so that we aren't troubled with seeing them. As such, they fail - as regularly as incandescent bulbs in my experience.

It still didn't stop me from buying eleventy-billion of them.

Last edited by Stan Galat

Sounds like a good reason to use DC in the home. Edison would like that. He was a proponent of DC until transmission over distance became an issue that AC(Tesla) solved. Interesting article:

They didn't teach that in school!

Remember, LEDs are diodes, and run on a forward voltage of less than 2v usually. So even at 5 volts you'll still need to drop the voltage, easily done with a dropping resistor.

Kind of funny, how it all started with DC, and is going back that way again.

Last edited by DannyP


It is kind of surreal.

I was having a discussion with a trim carpenter the other day (I had hidden an LED driver for some under/over cabinet lights in my office behind a metal sign on my wall) regarding how one day, the lighting circuits in homes might be 18/2 thermostat wire, going back to a driver panel.

As it is, with all LED lights, I've got dozens of fixtures on one 15a circuit. Running low voltage DC would make a ton of sense.

There's a Massachusetts government arm called "Mass Save" that is subsidizing a lot of popular LED lighting assemblies, typically at 30% - 50% off (sometimes more) as well as subsidizing insulation installs, energy conservation, high efficiency heat installs and so forth.  You guys probably have something similar in some of your states, I don't know, but it has saved us a TON of money in the past ten years.  They came in and added 18" of insulation in the attic, sealed up every leak in sight, swapped out a bunch of old bulbs for LEDs, got us a discount and zero-interest loan for our hot water heat boiler and hot water heater and more.  Check out your state websites to see what's offered in YOUR state.

You former New Jersey Replicar Club guys will remember Derek Cowburn.

Derek had a red speedster, with plans (dreams) of converting it to electric.

Rather than develop the car, Derek started a company dedicated to low energy, DC electrical systems for residential and commercial buildings. Not just lighting, appliance also.

Here's his company's web site:

Derek now lives in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China. I chat with him occasionally. He's doing great and sends his regards to his old NJRC friends. He and Lynn are divorced, but still friends. Lynn lives in Indianapolis.


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