Best Garage Lighting (Review & Buying Guide) in 2022
Light it up, up, up with these garage lights that will illuminate even the toughest project.
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BY William Byrd / LAST UPDATED ON November 17, 2021
You make your way into the family garage and with a flip of a switch (or the pull of a chain), a familiar clicking sound, followed by a constant hum reverberates through the space. Those old fluorescent lights hum in the background and cast poor lighting across your project car. All, however, isn’t lost, as garage lighting has come a long way since 1988.
There are thousands of garage lighting options out there, all likely claiming that they are perfect for your workspace. In reality, the total amount of light (lumens) and color temperature (kelvins) put out by a garage light can drastically affect how well your next project is lit. You need your garage lit up like your uncle at Thanksgiving, which means you should target 3500 lumens or more for your garage lights. Our best garage lighting buying guide will help you navigate all the options and pick something just right for your space.
Reasonably priced for a set of two lights, plus it comes with your choice of 4K, 5K, or 6K lights. Runs at 40W, but puts out a 260W equivalent light, which means it’ll cost less to run than a non-LED bulb.
- Choice of color temperatures
- Good value for money
- Linkable with additional lights
- Mount with chain or flush
- Potentially thin built material
- “S” hangers difficult to crimp
- Watch for missing mounting hardware
Comes with three adjustable LED panels that you can direct towards the area you need the most light. With 6,000 lumens and a 6,000K color temperature it’s a lot of light for the cash.
- Super bright 6,000-lumen output
- Reasonably priced
- Tri-directional and adjustable
- Indoor use only
- No motion sensor
- Whole unit needs replaced if a panel goes out
With a bright 7,000 lumens from its four LED bulbs, it’ll get the job done lighting up your workspace. Plus, you can mount flush, or hang it, to get the light closer to where the magic happens.
- Huge light output
- Multiple installation options
- Comes fully assembled
- Short power cord
- Pull chain can break
- Higher wattage than some
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
There is no replacement for experience, and we bring you the best recommendations by getting out there and doing it ourselves. Our staff is packed with wrenchers and they have the bloody knuckles to prove it. We reviewed tons of garage lighting options to help you figure out your next purchase. Having worked in poor lighting conditions, we know that it only makes your job more difficult to not see what you’re doing. This review and buying guide will summarize our experiences combined with loads of user reviews and online content to help you make the best decision to light up your garage.
Best Garage Lighting Reviews & Recommendations
Our Verdict on Garage Lighting
In the end, there can be only one, and we have to go with the Sunco Lighting LED Utility Shop Light. At 4,100 lumens, it’s not the brightest light here, but Sunco sells it as a two-pack, so you can cover more of your garage in LED light. Plus, you can choose your color temperature, 4,000K, 5,000K, and 6,000K. If you want to save a few bucks, the TANBABY LED Garage Light gives you a cool three-panel adjustable LED light pushing an impressive 6,000 lumens.
What to Consider When Buying Garage Lighting
There is a lot to think through before pulling the trigger on a garage lighting purchase. Go cheap and you’ll end up replacing the unit or adding additional lights to compensate for the poor lighting. However, if you carefully consider the various types of lights, and the available features, you’re much more likely to get the right light for the right job.
Types of Garage Lighting
If you didn’t know, LED stands for “light-emitting diode” and it likely is the source of most of the artificial light you see on a daily basis. LEDs use less power, last longer, but emit brighter light, than most conventional bulbs. LED light is pretty directional, meaning it produces a constant beam vs. just flooding an area with light. If you haven’t noticed, all of our recommendations are LEDs, which means they figured a way around that. These lights use multi-directional panels, reflective materials, and other trickery to help give you the right amount of light.
Remember when you used to roll into a garage, flip a switch, and the overhead lights would hum to life? Fluorescent lights use a mercury-vapor gas that produces ultraviolet light when electricity is added. It’s a great way to bathe a large area in light, however, fluorescent lights don’t last nearly as long and don’t produce as nice of a spectrum of light as LEDs. Add in the fact that they are a pain in the butt to dispose of environmentally, and it’s no surprise they have been on their way out for some time.
Single Pole Light
A single-pole switch controls just one circuit, but when used in the context of garage lights, it just means a place where a light bulb usually goes. When you see a single-pole light, it will have the threaded bit at the top that fits into a standard light bulb fixture. Lots of newer LED lights like this drive their power from that pre-existing fixture, and have a series of adjustable panels to aim the light where you need it most.
Those old fluorescent light bulbs were almost always protected by a thin metal housing. That format continues, but with newer LED bulbs. Shop lights can be hung from the ceiling via chains or mounted directly to a wall or ceiling. Typically around 3-5 feet long, they are the perfect size to light up your workbench, hence the name. You can get hardwired versions that can be switch-operated, or you can opt for the plug-in versions with the old reliable pull chain.
Do you need your garage lighting to be mobile? Well, check out a tripod-mounted garage light. Also called “work lights,” you get a strip of light (or series of lights) mounted to a sturdy tripod. That means you can move the light around depending on what you are working on. Wrenching in the driveway, roll out some extension cord, and take it with you! Most modern tripod lights have 1-3 LED panels that are adjustable for height and angle to direct the light where you need it.
Another classic garage lighting look is the wraparound. The good thing about wraparound lights is that they mount flush to the ceiling and direct light from both the sides and from the bottom. That can help focus directional LED light into a variety of directions. With a pretty slim profile, they don’t hang down very far, making them less likely to get whacked by ladders, or other garage happenings.
Garage Lighting Key Features
The measure of a light’s brightness is generally measured in “lumens.” It’s pretty simple—the higher the lumen rating, the brighter. You’ll want to look at how the light delivers its illumination as well. A dimmer light with good distribution can be better than a super bright light that is very directional. Take a look at your garage space and specifically where you’ll need the most light as you contemplate your purchase.
This gets a bit trickier. While lumens is pretty much a clear-cut “more is more,” color temperature is measured in Kelvins (K). Think of this more as a spectrum of light, towards the bottom you have 3,000K, which will be a bit orange or red—the color of a candle. As you move up the scale, things cool off. Towards the top of the spectrum, at 4,000K and higher, you start to get cooler blue tones. So consider what type of job you’ll be doing and whether a color will throw off your project.
Like anything powered by electricity, garage lights all need different wattage to operate. As noted, the benefit of LEDs is that they run at a lower power level than most other lighting options. This really matters a lot less now, pretty much all LEDs run at a pretty low wattage compared to conventional bulbs, plus the last way longer, so rest assured you are doing your part for the environment if you go LED.
Speaking of long-lasting life, the typical run-time for an LED bulb is 50,000 hours. That’s 2,083.33 days or 5.7 years of life. Yeah, pretty impressive.
Lastly, you’re going to need to get a sense of your operating environment. Many garages are fully enclosed, but may still get some water inside along the floor. Many of these lighting options are not rated for outdoor use, and specifically, note that they are not intended for damp or wet areas. So read the specs carefully—some are intended for outdoor use, but many are not.
Garage Lighting Benefits
First and foremost, a better-lit garage can help keep you safe. When you are stationary under a vehicle, working over a vehicle, or at the workbench cutting your springs (don’t do that) a well-illuminated environment will help keep you out of harm’s way. It’s also critical to be able to safely traverse your garage or workspace. With a myriad of hoses, cords, and material to navigate, a well-lit garage will be a much safer garage, and hopefully, keep you out of the emergency room.
All that talk about color temperature is important to ensure that you can clearly see your project. So, while you are applying paint to a project, you need to know if it's correct. Does it match the panel next to it? Did you buy the right shade of paint? Lighting that is too warm, or too cool, won’t give you an accurate impression of how your project is shaping up. So read up on our section above on color temperatures so you can choose wisely.
Garage work is sometimes about hitting something over and over with a hammer until it submits. While that’s fun, it’s also sometimes about being precise, so a well-lit workspace is critical to your eventual success or utter and complete failure. Look at the type of lighting you’ll need for more detailed work. LED lighting can be pretty directional, which is good for brightening a workbench or an area where you’ll need to have 100 percent visibility on your project.
Garage Lighting Pricing
Like a lot of things, garage lighting can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be. A set of low-lumen under-cabinet lights might run you twenty bucks. They can be stuck to your workbench and give you a decent budget lighting solution. However, a good set of LED garage lights, like the ones from our buying guide, will only run you from $30 up to around $100. Generally, a multi-pack (2-4) of 4-foot LED shop lights can be had from $50 to $80, while the single-pole multi-panel adjustable LEDs that screw into a lightbulb socket are typically around $30 or so. A professional-grade tripod light can get pricey, starting around $100 and climbing up into the $300 to $400 range pretty easily.
Tips and Tricks
As with something you do for decades upon decades, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product, and/or using it. That’s the case with us and garage lighting. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.
- Brighter isn’t always better. Going max-lumen can end up washing everything out with a flood of LED light, so make sure the light matches the project.
- Brighter is better. Counterpoint. If you have a large workspace with high ceilings, you’re going to need a lot of lumens to see what you’re doing.
- Manage the temperature. Lumens are only half of the story. Figure out if you need warm or cool light for your project.
- Indoor/outdoor lighting. Like carpeting, some garage lighting is only intended for indoor use, so get what you’ll need most.
- Consider power sources. Your garage will likely have single pole lights and conventional plugs, so look at where your new garage light fits into the mix.
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers!
Q: Are LED lights worth it?
You’re darn right they are. Even if they didn’t provide an environmental benefit by using a lower wattage and reducing the need for hazmat disposal, they are brighter and last longer than conventional bulbs.
Q: Do LED lights get hot?
Yes and no. LED lights do operate at a lower temperature than conventional incandescent bulb lights. However, modern LEDs can still get warm or hot to the touch. Pay attention to the surrounding area as well, any metal nearby (either physically part of the light or just adjacent to it) can absorb some of that heat and store it to dispatch on unsuspecting hands or body parts.
Q: What do different LED colors mean?
Well, on the lower end of the spectrum you get lower temperatures (2,700 to 3,000K), which will appear as warmer colors, such as yellow and orange. Higher up the spectrum you'll get color temperatures (4,000K or higher) that will appear as cooler colors such as blue and green. Pick the one that best fits your space and project needs.
Q: Is there a downside to LEDs?
Only if you stare at them. Lifelong exposure to LEDs can cause increased risks of cataracts and other eye issues. So, like anything else, moderation is key. It’s sort of like the sun—it’s there to light up your world, but don’t stare at it. LED light is very directional, so look for a garage light product that will spread the light out as you need it.