Lighting is a crucial element in your workshop. Whether you’re working on crafts, creating garden boxes, repairing lamps, building furniture, or making gifts, you need to be able to see the project in front of you.
While it’s obvious that good lighting is beneficial, not all lighting is created equal. To choose the best LED lights for your workshop you’ll want to consider several factors.
Safety is a high-ranking concern in any workspace. You probably already use ear, eye, and respiratory protection because it’s easy to understand that injury could occur if you don’t.
Similarly, you likely keep extension cords wrapped up and hung when not in use in order to avoid creating a tripping hazard. Keeping clean floors also helps prevent slips and falls.
You may not have considered how lighting affects the safety of your workshop, though. If you currently have lighting that creates shadows or fails to adequately illuminate the space, you may make costly mistakes like imprecise cuts with a miter or table saw.
Worse yet, inadequate lighting might result in trips. Lighting also helps highlight slipping hazards such as sawdust or spilled liquids.
In addition to safety and convenience, the right lighting allows you to evaluate colors. If you’ve ever tried to pick out a paint color in a room at night, you’re familiar with this issue.
Depending on your project, the amount and quality of lighting can make a huge impact on your color selections and the look of the final product.
Your workshop may already be equipped with functional fluorescent or incandescent lighting, so why make the change to LEDs? Simply put, because they are the most versatile and efficient option on the market.
LED bulbs last much longer than traditional offerings. That means you don’t have to buy them as frequently, and you can avoid setting up the ladder to swap out bulbs as often.
In addition, LED bulbs are highly energy efficient. Because they draw a small amount of energy, you’ll save on your power bill. It also makes them an environmentally-friendly choice for your workshop lighting needs.
Perhaps something you hadn’t even considered is that LED lights function well in both cold and hot weather so you don’t have to worry about shattering bulbs or making changes from one season to another.
Traditionally bulbs radiated noticeable heat, actually warming the space around the bulb and making it a burn and fire hazard. LED lights don’t put off heat so they are safer to use in your workshop space.
LED bulbs are also incredibly versatile. They can be used in just about any lighting application. There are LED flood lights, fluorescent lights, and string lights. LEDs are in wall units, porch lights, motion-sensored fixtures, and just about any other lighting design.
Another aspect of LED lighting that makes it both functional and preferred is that it offers instant response. Unlike fluorescents and CFLs that are intended to be left on for long periods rather than switching them on and off, LEDs respond quickly.
You may remember CFLs rise in popularity, and the associated frustrations of turning the light on, but waiting for it to reach maximum illumination. Similarly, manufacturers recommend CFLs are left on for long periods because they don’t respond well to frequent changes.
LEDs in contrast, can be flipped on and off as needed, much like traditional incandescent bulbs.
Yet another benefit of LED lighting is its good color reality. This means the light accurately reflects colors, making it ideal for choosing stains or testing out paint colors.
LED lights are also dimmable, so they can be used in a variety of situations where you may want to dial back the brightness.
Types of Fixtures
Now that you have a better understanding of the benefits of LED lights, it’s time to evaluate the best options for your workshop situation. Start by figuring out what type of fixture you want.
This decision is highly dependent on how you use the space. For example, you might want to install several drop lights over your workbench, or perhaps you’d rather have a few overhead tube lights to replace your fluorescent bulbs.
Maybe you simply need a clamp light for the edge of the workstation or are looking for a work light you can aim at your painting project.
Perhaps you need some of each!
Shop Environment Considerations
Before you can decide on the best LED lights for your workshop, you’ll need to consider your needs and the layout of the workshop itself.
It’s helpful to lay out your work spaces before deciding on lighting. That way if you end up with task lighting you don’t have to worry about moving it if you rearrange the shop components.
You’ll get the most long-lasting results by situating the major tools and supplies first. For example, make sure your workbenches, shelving, table saw, and welding station are designated.
Also evaluate the amount of natural light in the space. Do you have large windows, a garage door, or a side door? If so, work with the existing light and supplement as needed. Remember to measure light on a cloudy day rather than a sunny one so you don’t overestimate the amount of natural light you can expect.
The existing layout of your electrical components may also play a factor in your lighting options. For example, a few decades ago it was common to only wire a portion of the garage. If the garage is your chosen workshop you might find yourself with limited outlets or the need to constantly run extension cords across the space.
LED Lights for a Workshop
Now that you know why you should choose LED and have identified the needs for the space, it’s time to get shopping. Here’s a variety pack of options to consider.
Hanging Tube Lights
The standard for shop lighting over the past several decades is the ubiquitous long fluorescent bulbs in a metal fixture. Typically this setup hangs from the ceiling via chains.
The modern version of that takes many forms, each of which can be found in an efficient LED version.
You can link them together for efficiency and they can be mounted or suspended so they work with a variety of setups. This is a minimalist design that is streamlined and made from plastic. Installation is fast and easy.
If you’re looking for a commercial grade option, the Sunco Lighting LED Shop Light comes in a six pack for optimal lighting coverage. They are also linkable (up to four) so you can create the pattern that works for your space.
The Sunco shop lights are also Energy Star certified for energy efficiency. They are rated for 50,000 hours of operation so you won’t have to worry about swapping out those pesky fluorescent tubes.
With a slightly different design, Barrina LED Shop Lights are available in four foot or eight foot lengths so they work well in large or small workshops. They are bright, easy to install, linkable, and skip the buzzing and flickering you might be used to.
Windmill-Style Ceiling Workshop Lights
Over the past few years, a pinwheel design has stolen the show in workshop lights. These pedal lights offer central lighting you can easily swap in in place of your aged fluorescent fixtures.
The garage lights in this category are inexpensive, running around $20-$30. This ceiling mount option can be used indoors or outdoors, in a shed, basement, covered porch, or garage. Each petal of the flower design can be individually adjusted so you can target exactly where you want the light to go.
This is another ceiling option to consider. These lights are also adjustable or can be kept flat to flood the space with light. You can easily screw this type of light into any existing bulb outlet. If you don’t have a central socket, you would have to wire for one.
Another option is this chandelier style light that can hang above your designated space. It mounts with a hook and chain so you can choose your optimal location. Easily install it by plugging it into any existing outlet or extension cord.
The attached cord offers a manual on/off button. The six panels are each adjustable so you can customize the lighting for each space. This project is also available in a screw mount option.
For maximum impact, choose a light display that covers range. Construction lights are meant to provide good coverage with clean, clear, quality light. This Onforu 2 Pack 72W LED Shop Light offers 78 super-bright LEDs in each light and they can be used indoors or outdoors.
Set them up when working on a project in the yard, then take them back inside when you’re ready to continue work in the garage. Portability means you can even take them to a remote jobsite.
You can install them on the ceiling, wall, or the ground so you can achieve just the right angle for your work.
Portable LED Work Lights
While central lighting is essential for nearly every task in the workshop, sometimes you need an extra spotlight on a particular task. That might mean illuminating the direction of a saw blade or putting the spotlight beneath a vehicle.
Whatever the task, having backup with something like this LTE 50W LED Work Light means always having a bit extra when the need arises.
Portable LED work lights allow you to pack it offsite or to the furthest reaches of the yard. You can use one when working in the attic, the basement, the shed, or in a room where the electricity has been turned off.
It’s essential to have a few around, especially if you’re working on a circuit without power. In the workshop or in the home, this type of light allows you to connect to a live circuit while otherwise working in the dark. They are easy to maneuver, adjust, haul, and use.
Something like this FOSFIS Rechargeable LED Work Light gives you even more flexibility since it runs on a rechargeable battery. That means you can use it around the shop, then take it camping or to other areas with no electrical power.
In addition to convenience, it’s waterproof, durable, efficient, and equipped with four light modes for versatility.
One final category of workshop lighting covers task lighting. This is ultra-focused lighting that shines onto a small space for maximum illumination while you work.
Task lighting is great for detailed work such as painting lines, carving out wood, tying fishing flies, jewelry making, and many other common workshop activities.
If you have space to pull up a stool, mount a TROND LED Desk Lamp with Clamp to the side of your work station for maximum brightness. The flexible neck makes it easy to adjust the focus of the light anywhere you want.
Three brightness levels deliver the proper amount of light for your needs and the metal clamp allows you to move placement as often as you need.
In summary, when planning out the best LED lights for a workshop, start by considering the layout of your existing space. Figure out your priorities, whether that’s to have comprehensive lighting or task-specific options.
With that background information you can make product selections. Since there are LED options in nearly every kind of lighting fixture, equip your workshop with ceiling, table, and floor lighting options.
Verify the product you choose will work with your existing electrical system. For example, if you don’t have a central socket, look for units that plug into an extension cord instead. The same is true for plug-in units that might require a cord if you don’t have a readily-available outlet.
Check out reviews, ask friends and neighbors for recommendations, and read the details so you know what you’re getting and what you’re not.