Buying Guide

How to Choose the Best Lighting for Your Garage Workshop

Select Garage Lighting
A garage with bright garage lighting.

While there are any number of garage lighting ideas, there are some general guidelines for selecting the best garage lighting for your space.

  • Install a minimum of one 8-foot fixture per vehicle space.
  • Light fixtures should use 4-foot bulbs. The size is easier to work with and is more easily sourced. 
  • Fluorescent lights are the traditional choice for garage spaces. However, if you live in a cold climate, you should choose a fluorescent fixture based on the lowest temperature in your garage. Many fluorescent lights do not work below 50 degrees.
  • Buy fixtures with electronic ballasts, rather than electromagnetic ones. These work more reliably in the cold.
  • If your garage work requires that you see colors truly (wood paints and stains, auto paint, etc.), always check the color rendering index (CRI) rating of a bulb before purchase. A rating of 85 or above is best for rendering true color. (CRI numbers are not usually displayed on packaging and may require additional research to determine.)
Plan for Additional Garage Lighting
A work table in a garage lit by a clamp light.

Plan your garage lighting with your layout in mind, and remember that just as with indoor lighting, you will need supplemental lighting in addition to what is overhead:


Clamp-on lights. Clamp lights have the advantage of being both inexpensive and very portable. You can easily add them where you might temporarily need extra light, then move them to another area or put them away. They can be very useful for small individual projects or very detailed work.


Task lights. Garage task lighting can be installed to focus directly on your work areas. Plan for task lights by ensuring that the beam won’t be directly in your eyes, and that the shadows cast don’t block your view or interfere with other’s work spaces if you have to share the garage.


Under-cabinet light fixtures. For under cabinets, the nature of your work will dictate whether you are better off with tube lights or individual bulbs. In either case, LED bulbs will likely be the best lighting for you since they save energy and come in a variety of color temperatures.


Some areas where additional light sources may be needed are:

  • Space above the garage door
  • Wall space where items hang 
  • Spaces occupied by appliances (deep freezer, washer dryer combo, second refrigerator, etc.) 
  • Workbench area 
  • Seasonal storage area 
  • Exterior access doors and area outside them (you should be able to see at least 25 feet beyond the exterior door clearly)
LED Garage Lighting
A 4-foot LED bulb for garage lights.

While fluorescent bulbs have long been the standard in some of the best shop lights, recent years have seen LED lights overtaking the field. The cost to replace fluorescent hanging or ceiling fixtures can be prohibitive, especially in a large space. However, there is now the option of simply using LED replacement bulbs in standard fixtures.


LED tube bulbs are slightly more expensive than their fluorescent counterparts, but once you factor in the long life and reduced energy usage of the life of the bulb, the minimal difference actually disappears. Added to this, you’ll have the advantage of brighter, instant-on lighting with a very even spread.

Shop Lights
A shop light over a garage work space.

Shop lights embody the traditional look of a garage, a single bar of light fixture, usually hanging by a chain assembly (though they can be ceiling-mounted). Most of these easy-to-install fixtures just plug in to an outlet, whether you choose LED shop lights or the traditional fluorescent type, they are a quick, inexpensive way to get your garage area lit up. Some LED shop lights are designed to be hard-wired; these are more expensive, but the integrated lighting allows you to add accessories such as a motion sensor.

Strip Light Fixtures
Portable garage lights

Strip light fixtures are easy to install and come in several sizes to allow you to fully customize your overhead garage lighting. LED strip light fixtures of this type supply instant light with no warmup period, but if you have fluorescent fixtures of this type, you can upgrade to LED with a retrofit kit. This is much less expensive than replacing a large number of strip light fixtures.

High Bay Garage Lights
A space with high bay garage lighting.

High bay fixtures are best for lighting large spaces with very high ceilings – something with the dimensions of a commercial garage or multi-storage with ceilings that exceed 15 feet. LED high bay lights with a wide distribution pattern are best to reduce the number of overall fixtures you’ll need to install. You’ll need to choose bulbs that can maintain a high output of lumens.

Wraparound lights
A garage with wraparound garage lights.

LED wraparound lights are best for garage spaces with lower ceilings. Since they are installed level with the ceiling surface they won’t hang as an ordinary shop light would, keeping them out of the way of ladders, boards and other objects you might be moving around the space. Their design is also good for getting more light from the fixture. Rather than having a unidirectional light source, wraparound lights direct light from both the sides and the bottom, resulting in larger light spread overall.

When you are looking for the best LED garage lights to light up your workspace, be sure to plan carefully and check out the selection at The Home Depot to find all best workshop lighting ideas that you can use to tailor lighting for your garage.