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There are certain settings that require special lighting setups. Workshops are one of those places. They need bright lighting for performing precision tasks. Tasks which are also often potentially dangerous.

But, they also need a hardy, durable light that’s resistant to breaking. And, in especially extreme circumstances, they’ll need a light that is explosion-proof or vapor tight.

Despite all of these complicated needs, shop lights are a very simple, yet effective, lighting solution. Shop lights are most commonly found in garages in workshops, hence the name shop lights, but are not limited to those facilities.

Chances are that if you currently have shop lights, they’re probably fluorescent fixtures. Fluorescents were once known for being an energy-efficient lighting choice with a long lifespan.

And, due to their bright, white light, they’re perfect for precision tasks. However, in today’s world, that’s no longer the case. With LED technology becoming more and more prevalent, fluorescent lighting is headed towards extinction.

These days, LEDs are the go-to for any and all commercial and industrial lighting applications, including Shop Lights. But why are LED Shop lights such a popular choice? And what do you need to know about them before you buy?

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to LED shop lights, so that you can make an informed decision that benefits you, your business, and your employees.

Mllg Led Hbc 150 50 Fc Shop Lighting

LED Lights Are The Better Shop Lighting Option

To make a long story short, LED lights out perform every other type of bulb across all categories. Not only do advancements in technology allow them to provide a better, brighter light, but they also save you money while they’re at it.

And, in fact, the most obvious and popular reason to replace old fixtures with LED lights is to save money. LEDs were designed to be efficient.

They use minimal energy to produce a much brighter light than more traditional bulb types, and they don’t emit any heat. This helps cut both electrical and cooling costs.

LED Fixtures also have a much longer lifespan than other types of fixtures, saving money on maintenance costs. You don’t have to worry about the hassle of changing the light and disposing of the old bulbs because LED lights have an average lifespan of 50,000 hours and don’t contain harmful chemicals.

LEDs offer many more benefits than just saving you money. Shop lights are typically positioned low to the ground in order to provide an adequate shine.

Are LED Lights Better Than Fluorescent Lights?

Yes, for many reasons. First, they should reduce your shop lighting bill by 50% or more. They will last a very long time, so there’s no need to replace the tubes and spend the money to recycle. And, there’s no more flickering, strobing or humming ballasts. LEDs are silent and flicker free.

Outdoor Shop Area

What Are the Benefits of Using LED Lighting?

With LED, you can expect lower lighting bills and much lower maintenance costs. You should also expect bright, high quality light. The lights will not flicker, and you do not have to worry about noisy ballast hum. With the right lights, you can dim or brighten the light.

What Are Some Features to Look for in a Commercial Shop Light?

If you need a high impact fixture, we recommend a UFO Fixture or Low Bay fixture. If you’re looking for water proof or dust proof, make sure it’s IP65 or higher, or choose a vapor proof fixture. Motion sensors with dimming – we have those options as well. High voltage – we can supply up to 480 Volts.

Where Are Commercial Shop Lights Used?

There is nothing particular about lights used in a shop that makes them just a shop light. There are lights we would consider using in a shop that make sense more than other options.

You can install “shop lights” in home garages, pole barns, metal shops and loading docks. For the most part, these are larger open areas with low ceiling heights.

Do Shop Lights Have Ballasts?

No. Ballasts are a technology associated with metal halide and fluorescent lighting. They do have LED drivers, and they sort of act the same way as a ballast. They convert AC power from the utility company to DC power to drive the LEDs.

9 Factors to Consider Before Buying LED Lights for your Work Shop

1. What Efficacy (Lumens Per Watt) do you need?

Efficacy defines a light’s ability to produce a certain amount of light. LED shop lights are available in a range between 100 and 180 lumens / watt. The higher the efficacy (lumens / watt), the fewer watts the fixture needs to consume to produce the necessary light levels.

While the initial cost of an LED light with a high efficacy rating may be slightly higher, the payback period and reduced utility bill will more than offset this negligible additional cost.

If one of your primary concerns about switching to LED lights is the ability to find a light that’s as bright as your current ones, have no fear.

Generally speaking, LEDs have a much, much higher efficacy rating than other bulbs, so even if the wattage is less than the fixture you have now, the light will be significantly brighter.

Our selection of LED lights for shops ranges from 3000 lumens to 40,000+ lumens per light, so you can replace any light with something just as bright, if not brighter.

Higher efficacy LEDs will save you more money. Over the life of a product, the higher efficiency product will be the best choice. The higher cost will pay itself off and back many times over during its lifespan.

2. How many lumens does your shop need?

Because LEDs can give off a brighter light using less energy, watts are not a good measurement to base your replacement lights off.

Even a fluorescent light, which is the most energy-efficient next to LEDs, uses a considerably larger amount of energy to produce a less powerful shine. For this reason, we recommend paying attention to the lumens you’ll require instead of the watts.

The best way to do this is to create a photometric lighting plan using your shop space. A lighting plan takes the dimensions of your building, (length, width, and height) and other factors and creates a realistic software representation of the light.

From there, you can add your existing light locations, and then model updates and changes with different LED lighting fixtures. This allows you to see your space and how it would look with new and improved LED Lighting.

It eliminates the risk of purchasing too many or too few lights and lets you map our your ideal lighting setup.

Any switch to LEDs will be a huge improvement over older bulb types, but to really experience the magic of LED lighting, it’s important to create a custom lighting scheme that is designed specifically to suit your facility.

3. Choose a Shop Light Style

LED shop lights also have a huge variety just like any other LED lighting solution with every kind serving a unique purpose. We are presenting the top three LED shop light options below from which you can choose the perfect one for your area.

Low Bay Surface Mount

Led Low Bay Canopy Bronze

These lights are canopy style low bays can mount directly to the ceiling of any shop area.

These lights are considered ‘low bays’ and are designed for mounting heights that are less than 20 feet high. Many of these lights come with color changing, so you can pick the color temp you like best.

Hardwired Shop Lights

300 Watt LED UFO High Bay

This style of Shop Lights serves the purpose of bright and general lighting in workspaces. These can be connected with hardwired fixtures via j-box connections.

We provide plug-in models of Shop Lights that are easy to install as you can plug them directly into any electrical box. 

4 ft Shop Lights

led ufo

This shop light variety is for those who like linear strip lighting. Its 4 foot length makes it perfect for spaces like storerooms, hall ways, and warehouses.

You can either mount these lights from the ceiling directly or suspend them with chains for low lighting. This may be the best LED style to choose for replacing fluorescent shop lights.

8 ft Shop Lights

led linear high bay fixture for warehouses

These 8 foot shop lights are much similar to the version to the left, other than its twice as long and twice as bright. These Integrated LED strip lights serve general lighting purposes for even bigger areas.

You can replace your 8 foot  fluorescent bulbs with these LED lights for better lumen outputs and shinier luminance.

4. What are Wet Location (IP rated) Shop Fixtures?

IP rating designates a fixtures ability to keep out both dust and water. Unlike a wet-rating, an IP rating provides specific grades of water resistance so that you can be positive you’re making the right decision. The first digit of the IP score represents dust protection, while the second number signifies water protection.

LED Lighting Supply offers IP ratings of IPx5 to IPx69K. This allows you to install these fixtures outdoors, exposed to the elements, if required. So if you need wet rated LED Shop lights, choose a light that is IP65 or higher.

IP68 is for full, permanent submersion in water up to 13 feet.

IP67 is for temporary underwater submersion – limited to 3 feet deep – for no longer than 30 minutes.

IP65 protects against water jets at any angle.

01 Ip65 Icon 50x50px

5. What is the highest voltage I can get a shop light in?

High voltage fixtures are designed to mitigate energy usage over a long distance. This makes them especially helpful in large areas where a light is far from the power source.

The constant current drivers that we carry are equipped to handle everything from 100 Volts up to 480 Volts.

For reference, a standard driver in our fixtures and retrofit kits can handle anywhere from 100V to 277V. If you’re concerned about high voltage capacities, double-check with the manufacturer to ensure that the light will suit your needs.


6. What Kelvin Color Temperature should you choose?

Color temperature is a definition of the color appearance of light. Most white light produced by light sources has a limited amounts of other non-white colors.

Warm white light colors have a yellow / red / orange glow.

Cool white lights have a blue tint to them.

Between cool light and warm light lies daylight white, the most popular of all light colors.

Finding The Right Color Temperature for lighting your shop

As you can see, LEDs come in a wide range of color temperatures. Which color is best for you will depend on the application. However, generally in working environments, a blue-toned light is better, while warmed toned lights work best for ambient lighting needs.

If you are replacing Metal Halide and want a similar look, choose 5000K.

To find something slightly warmer, look for a fixture that has 4000K.

Stay away from anything over 5500K, which may be too bright, or less than 4000K, which is likely, not adequate.

May of our shop lights are color selectable, so you can decide to change after you buy

light color temperature

7. What Is The Ideal Color Rendering Index (CRI) For Shop Lights?

Unlike Kelvins, Color Rendering Index doesn’t disclose the color of a light, but rather how colors under that light will appear compared to sunlight.

When it comes to HID lamps and fluorescent fixtures, people often find that it’s hard to determine the true color of objects. Light color is extremely important in low bay fixtures, like LED lights because it has a huge impact on clarity and contrast.

Picking the ideal CRI

The typical CRI range of LEDs is 70-85. You can request custom CRI lights with us. However, a 70 CRI light can serve almost all general lighting needs.

Get high CRI lights of 80-90+ range if you want higher color identification in your area.

light bulbs cri

8. How can you get Optimal and Balanced Light Distribution?

Well, the easiest way to do this is to use a shop lighting plan. But, it’s always a good idea to have some base knowledge about light distribution. The beam angle of a fixture is what determines the distribution of light.

A wide beam angle produces a better light distribution than a narrow focused beam angle. This is ideal for large interior spaces, low ceiling mounts and general lighting.

A narrow beam angle produces tighter, concentrated light. Its a good solution for higher ceiling mounts, and task lighting.

For lower ceiling applications, like garages and workshops, we recommend a wide beam distribution to offset the lower ceiling mounting heights and adequately cover the area.

9. Do you need Lighting Controls like Motion Sensors?

Need may be a strong word, but any business would benefit from the addition of lighting controls. According to Energy Star, waste accounts for 30% of all energy utilized in buildings.

Light systems can help enhance energy-saving measures through specialized light control features. Light controls can also increase security while simultaneously enhancing the comfort of the building’s occupants. Motion sensors ensure that your lights are never in use when they’re not needed and help to cut back on electrical costs by only turning the lights on when movement is detected.

Just switching to LED shop lights can help save up to 80% in energy costs but light controls can  help cut down on energy wastage even further, giving you more savings. Use light controls to enhance energy efficiency and control of the lighting.

Mllg Al Led Hb2 Face
LED High Bay Light with Motion Sensor

Cory Peterson


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About the Author

Cory Peterson is Director of Sales & Marketing at LED Lighting Supply where he focuses on improving customer experience and revenue operations. Cory writes about commercial & industrial lighting, along with topics important to contractors and facility managers. In his free time, Cory enjoys traveling, snorkeling, exercise and cooking.

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