A fluorescent light fixture
A fluorescent light fixture. Click image to enlarge

By Glen Konoroski

Most people who work on their own vehicles will admit that you can never have enough light in your garage. Over the past year, I’ve been evaluating a selection of 48-inch fluorescent lights in my garage as they are the most common size used.

Fluorescent lights are probably the least expensive way to get the most light in your work area. I was given two of the big old units with the painted white shades. With ceilings being generally lower in the home shop or garage I found the light emitted by these lamps was on the low side due to the shades. One last point, the older the unit the more they hum which drive some people crazy.

Next I tried the new style small shaded lights priced at about $16 (no bulbs). The shades on these lights just come around to the bottom of the bulb allowing most of the light to be reflected towards the ground and are very close to the bulbs. This type of lamp seamed to produce a bit more than its older counterpart but not enough to be really impressed with. The tight fitting shade also made it a little more difficult to install the bulbs.

If a little shade on the light added only marginal gains in lighting, why not remove the shade altogether? These lamps were the least expensive at about $12 for the fixture excluding the bulbs. To my surprise, these seemed to produce a bit more light as this light reflects from the ceilings, which are a light colour. If you have white ceilings these lights can really be effective.

Not truly satisfied with any of the lights, the next logical choice was to try out a more expensive light with a full cover over the bulbs. The one I chose had a cover made up of little prism-shaped protrusions on the surface of the clear bulb cover. Once turned on, this unit appeared to provide the best light source of the group. The little prism-shaped protrusions seemed to reflect the light just that more effectively than the others. At about $24 they are well worth the extra money.

All the lamps I bought were on sale, so it’s worth waiting for the right price when you need more light.

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