Q & A: How Much Light?
My husband wants to turn our basement into
a TV room so I have to move my shop to the
garage. I want to fix it up right and one of the big
questions I have is how much lighting do I need?
Pages could be written on how to best light a
shop area and it can get quite confusing with terms
like foot candles, lumens and Kelvin temperatures.
But here are some basic guidelines that’ll help you as
you set up your shop.
• Fluorescent lights cost less to operate than incandescent
• Use 3/4 to 1-1/2 watts of fluorescent light per
square foot. (This equals five to nine 48-in.-long two-bulb fixtures
for an average two-car garage.)
• Fluorescent fixtures with electronic ballasts save energy, and
operate quietly with very little flicker.
• Locate additional task lights over machines and workbenches.
• Use a dedicated 15-amp circuit and load it with no more
than 1,400 watts.
• For incandescent light, use 2-1/4 to 4-1/2 watts per square
foot. (This equals 11 to 22 100-watt bulbs for an average two car
• When possible, paint the walls and ceiling a light color.
• Work with a licensed electrician and secure a permit before
you begin the work.
Note: Product availability and prices are subject to change.
Woodcraft, woodcraft.com, 800-225-1153,
This story originally appeared in American Woodworker June 2001, issue #87.