To start with, look at your garage more closely.
We don’t tend to think of a garage as a ‘homely’ space, or a space that needs to be attractive and welcoming. For most of us, it’s somewhere to park the car and store the big annoying stuff we don’t need anymore that we can’t be bothered to get rid of yet. Some of us might use our garage to do other things like setting up a gym or installing a cheeky tiki bar, or as a space to do a bit of DIY or crafting.
The point we’re trying to make is, with the right kind of lighting and some carefully chosen fixtures and decorative flourishes, your garage could become as active and well-used as almost any other room in your house.
So, take a close look at your garage and switch on your imagination. Are you using your garage to the very best of its abilities? Or, with a little bit of finessing and strategic lighting, could you bring out your garage’s true potential?
Don’t forget the rules of lighting
Garages tend to be very poorly lit, or barely lit at all, and that’s a bad idea for all kinds of reasons.
The number one reason is safety because poor lighting makes a space difficult to navigate and leaves you vulnerable to trips and falls. If you’re doing any work in here (even if it’s just changing the oil in your car), bad lighting can also lead to eye strain.
The number two reason is security because a garage is often separate from the house and can make a handy target for opportunistic burglars. Or, if the garage is connected to the house, you’ve got a nice dark space for an intruder to break into and get even further. Animals, like birds and foxes, can sometimes find their way into unattended garages too and give you a nasty surprise if there are no lights on and you’re not expecting a feathery or furry garage guest!
So, just like in every other room in your house, the rules of lighting – ambient lighting, task lighting, and accent lighting – should be applied to your garage too.
Use ambient / overhead lighting to illuminate the entire space so you can see the walls, floors and obstacles clearly and safely walk around or park your car.
Use task / directional lighting for the parts of your garage you’re using for work or storage, so you’ve got increased visibility and can properly see what you’re doing.
Use accent lighting to showcase any parts of your garage that are especially important to you. For example, someone we know keeps their prized collection of Funko pop toys in there (because his wife won’t let him keep them in the house) so he’s got them all proudly arranged on a specially illuminated shelf across the garage wall.
Hey, horses for courses, right?! We’re not judging, but we will quickly move on.
Make the lighting fixtures functional
Whatever you do in your garage, it’s always going to be a functional space, it’s unlikely to be the place you’ll put in a sofa and coffee table and curl up with a good book (or maybe you will? That’s not impossible!)
But, if you’re like most people and going to use your garage purely for function and activity, the lighting fixtures you install should make accomplishing that as easy as possible.
For example, your ambient light sources could be flush-mounted lights on the ceiling or a garage door opener with lights built-in. Your task lights could be adjustable strip lighting or ‘trouble lights’ that you can easily move around and hook up wherever they’re needed. Your accent lighting could be a pendant or a wall-mounted sconce, which is a welcoming way to return home after a long night at work. Driving up to your house in the dark and being greeted by the accent lights when the garage door opens can be a very reassuring feeling.
Use the right lighting output
The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) has some helpful advice about this. They recommend that the light output in a garage should be 50 lumens per square foot in a residential garage (that’s ambient lighting) and 300 lumens per square foot in a workshop (for task lighting.) Accent lighting doesn’t need to be anywhere near as bright. 75 lumens per square foot is a good rule of thumb.
Now, measure the square footage of your garage and multiply it by the number of lumens you’ll need. For example, if you’ve got a ten-square-foot working area where you’ll want to place task lighting, the calculation would be 10 x 300 lumens. That means you’ll need to buy enough bulbs to cumulatively provide the 3,000 lumen light output you’ll need in that area.
Even in your garage… LED rules!
LED bulbs don’t just make rooms like your bedroom, lounge and kitchen look great, they’re invaluable in your garage too! You can always find the perfect energy-efficient LED light to match your purpose, whether you need a conventionally shaped bulb or an LED tube that will cast light over a wider space. Even if you’re not going to use your garage much, your electric bills can still mount up if you don’t replace your incandescents or fluorescents with energy-saving and money-saving LED lighting.
Another final bit of advice, especially if you’re going to use the garage as a workspace, is to choose bulbs with a Colour Rendering Index (CRI) of between 85 to 100. That means you’ll be seeing the true colours of the paint, wood, metal etc. you’re working with.
As you might have guessed, now that we’ve talked about the garage part of the house we’ve finally run out of rooms to write about, so this will be the last in our series of very short lighting guides.
We hope you’ve enjoyed them and found them useful, or that at least they’ve given you plenty to think about when you’re lighting your own home. It goes without saying that, because these are blogs and we don’t want you to fall asleep halfway through reading them, we’ve tried to keep them as brief but as information-packed as possible. If you’d like to know about anything that hasn’t been covered in the blogs, please don’t be shy! Pop into our showroom, give us a call, send us an email, or use the comments form on our website to ask us your questions. Our friendly, expert team are always here to help!
Alternatively, if you’ve found these quick guides useful and would like us to write more, please let us know that too. We always appreciate feedback!
Don’t forget, for all your home and business lighting requirements, Oliver Lamps is the only place you ever need to visit. You’ll always receive a friendly welcome at our 26/28 Oak Street, Fakenham, showroom or give us a call / send us an email on 01328 855028 / [email protected].