Shop Lighting

A large auto shop is shown with service bays on on both sides of a tiled center aisleway, with LED lights illuminating the workspace from above

Automotive shops exist in just about every corner of the world due to their vital role in keeping vehicles on the road. Due to the fine detail of work performed, it is essential that they have proper lighting. This is especially important for shops involved in the rebuilding of engines, transmissions, differentials, etc. as well as custom welding and fabrication. Having adequate lighting can be the difference between avoiding catastrophic mistakes and the successful completion of a job. This can have a huge impact on not only the bottom line of a business but also on worker safety and job satisfaction.

In recent years, commercial LED technology has seen massive improvements in durability, lumen output, and energy efficiency that have made it the primary lighting choice across all types of industrial, commercial, and even residential applications. The popularity of LED lighting has been especially pronounced with recent interest by business leaders and decision-makers about making their business practices more environmentally conscious, as well as increasing worker safety and satisfaction. Shops have also recognized these benefits and have been making the switch over to LED technology.

Why LEDs?

LED technology has taken the lighting world by storm in recent years, thanks to its many benefits. No longer relegated to simple indicator light or instrument backlighting roles, LEDs have matured into an extraordinarily powerful, energy efficient and long lasting lighting technology that is quickly replacing traditional fixtures in just about every conceivable application. Instead of asking the question “why make the switch to LEDs?”, most are now asking “why not?”.

The most obvious and significant benefit of LEDs to most users is their dramatically reduced electricity consumption. This is especially important to large scale commercial users, such as automotive and fabrication shops with thousands of square feet of floor space with intense illumination requirements. Compared to traditional forms of lighting, LEDs can save as much as 70% in energy costs, which has a large impact on a company’s bottom line. If energy savings weren’t enough, LEDs also have an exceptionally long service life spanning a minimum of 50,000 hours with zero regular maintenance – saving large amounts in both parts and labor costs.

Besides improved energy efficiency and longer lifespans, LEDs also produce a higher quality and more accurate light. This is measured using what is known as the Color Rendering Index (CRI), which measures the accuracy of light in replicating natural colors. The higher the CRI of light, the easier it is for the human eye to see, which reduces mistakes and improves the quality of work. This is especially appreciated by those working with precision equipment, as it makes their jobs much easier. Additionally, when workplace lighting is switched to LED fixtures, safety is improved considerably thanks to the higher CRI ratings. This results in fewer accidents and reduces liability for the business.

A pipefitter is shown using a stick welder to affix a mating flange on a piece of industrial pipe while the work area is illuminated by LED lights

Popular Fixtures

Automotive and fabrication shops share a lot of common application requirements with industrial users, due to the relatively harsh environment with little attention paid to upkeep. Because of this, selecting commercial quality fixtures with weather and chemical resistance is advised to have the best results. There are multiple types of fixtures available depending on the specific area that needs to be illuminated. Below are the most popular fixtures recommended for automotive shop use:

UFO High Bays – By far the most popular type of light for large shops, UFO high bays are also one of the most powerful. Designed to be mounted high up on tall ceilings, these lights provide intense illumination over a wide area. These lights have a round shape, giving them their “UFO” name. Featuring aluminum heatsinks and high durability electronics, they are a staple of tire shops and fleet service facilities across the globe.

Wall Packs – Designed for wall mounting or mounting on vertical surfaces, these lights are a great choice for buildings as both security lighting as well as walkway lighting for facilities with sidewalks immediately next to exterior walls. Additionally, they are a popular choice for interior corridors and areas that overhead lighting cannot effectively reach. With weather resistant housings and shatterproof lenses, these fixtures are ready for anything a shop environment can throw at them.

Low Bay Lights – Similar in concept to high bay lights, these lights are designed to be mounted lower to the work area, usually directly over a bench or piece of specialty equipment. Normally linear in shape, LED low bay lights can also be circular depending on the model. They produce a high lumen output over a much wider beam angle, making them great for illuminating wide areas. Generally speaking these lights have the option to be hung via cables or mounted directly to a ceiling, with side ventilation a standard feature.

Corn Lamps – Deriving their name from their corn cob appearance, corn lamps are designed to be drop-in replacements for traditional lamps using E26 and E39 bases. Featuring a 360° array of LED chips, they have an exceptionally good lumen output over a very broad area, making them a great choice for general shop lighting. With integrated heat sinks and high quality electronics, these lamps are a smart choice and a solid long term upgrade.

Vapor Tight Fixtures – Similar in shape to a standard linear strip light, vapor tight fixtures feature a protective lens with a weather tight housing to prevent dirt and water ingress. They are a great choice for garage and shop door entryways, especially for buildings that frequently see inclement weather. They are also popular for use over workbenches and areas that produce considerable dust, debris and liquid splashes.

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