Who needs better lighting in their garage? Most likely, everyone does!
LED lights are inexpensive and very bright – two things that combine to make a great garage light. LED lights use very little electricity, burn cooler, and have a long life – what’s not to like?
I needed a brighter light in my garage, so I replaced my ceiling fixture with a store-bought LED shop light, which was a huge improvement over the previous fluorescent 2-tube light fixture – but I still wanted more light over my work table, so I built one. Instead of the 4 foot LED fixture I hung, I made one 8 feet long and hung it over my work area.
The one I built cost half of what the store-bought fixture cost, it is much bigger, much brighter, and it works on a remote “clicker” that is a dimmer switch. For something like $25, I had a 16 ½’ spool of LED lights, the dimmer switch, and transformer shipped to my house.
My fixture couldn’t be simpler: make an “L” of two 1x6 boards (of whatever length you want) using carpenter glue and pin nails at the joint. I added some triangle end pieces and painted the whole thing a bright white hi-gloss for maximum reflectivity. A screw eye near each end, and it was ready to hang using basic jack chain.
The lights are mounted on a peel-and-stick backing in a narrow strip over 16 feet long. They are low voltage, so you need a transformer to step the current down. The remote control is optional, but for six bucks, I thought it would be handy.
You can order LED strips with 150 lights on a 5 meter strip (16’4”) or 300 lights per 5 meters. There are LED lights that are larger (thus brighter) than others (the chips are 5.0mm x 5.0mm or 3.5 x 2.8mm.) Without getting too complicated, order the higher density of the larger chip and you’ll have the brightest light available.
I chose an 8 foot fixture mostly because one spool of lights is 16.3 feet; making one loop inside my light fixture came out almost perfect (16 feet for sides and a little under a foot for the two ends.) A feature of a strip of LED lights is that the strip can be cut to different lengths with common scissors. The strip of lights has a mark every few inches; cutting the strip on one of these marks will not damage the lights.
I did learn that the 3M adhesive backing on the LED strip is pretty good, but didn’t stick well in a couple of spots (probably because I used such a hi-gloss finish.) To remedy that, I pulled off the entire light strip and stuck on some 3M double-sided adhesive tape and replaced the LED strip – it holds great now even with the heat, dust, and Florida humidity in my garage.