Stuff We Use: What’s the Best Garage Lighting?

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

On our never-ending quest to improve this place by listening to feedback from the B&B, we are taking a new tack with these product posts, choosing instead to focus on items we use and have purchased with our own meager income. After all, if we’re giving you the truth about cars, we ought to give you the truth about car accessories.


If you count yourself amongst the few with a covered garage in which to wrench on yer hooptie, this post will – as the kids say – be relevant to your interests. If not, read on anyways because just about every nook and cranny of one’s home could stand to receive a dash of extra illumination. 


Thanks to the scourge of so-called high-efficiency lighting – or perhaps it is age and eyesight which seem to be inversely proportional as I blast beyond my 43rd trip around the sun – it never seems to be bright enough in my garage. Bolts fly off into dark corners, never again to see the light of day, and I am certain there is a goblin somewhere that takes all my 10mm sockets and spirits them away to another dimension.

 

After hearing me wrestle with and complain about finding a car’s proper lift points on which to exert the force of my Motomaster floor jack, the Other Half wisely (and firmly) recommended I find new lighting solutions for our two-car attached space. And when I say ‘recommended’, what I actually mean is ‘vehemently instructed’. Anyone in the B&B with a spouse or long-term partner knows exactly what we’re on about.

 

Seven investigations later, our Amazon account was laden with the purchase of LED lighting strips from a brand called Barrina. Various and sundry social media groups filled with gearheads were awash with recommendations for this brand, as were a number of (shudder) online forums. The company has its own storefront on Amazon, helping dissuade fears of third-party sellers which have a tendency to either abscond with your money or take eleventy billion years to ship the product. 

 

Given the dimensions of the garage, a six-pack of four-foot lights was chosen, though different quantities and lengths are available. I don’t recall being outraged by waiting for them, so its delivery time must have been reasonable. What appeared was a long and narrow box, decently packed to guard against damage and festooned with the Barrina logo. Good job it wasn’t anything embarrassing (that shows up next week).

 

Here’s where the first pleasant surprise appeared. Each 4-foot LED light bar came with its own choice of power supply: An individual clicky switch to plug directly into a household socket, properly stripped connections to wire into a building’s existing light network, or a proprietary cord to daisy chain the LED bars together and form one big circuit. The latter is what I chose to deploy, arranging each bar in a rectangle on the ceiling, centered in the middle of my garage.

Installation couldn’t have been simpler. Each bar weighs about as much as a feather and comes with two mounting clips. I screwed each clip into the ceiling’s drywall (some into framing studs, some not) and easily pushed the lights into their new home. Those daisy chain cords were then used to link them all together, terminating with one cord that could be plugged into a household socket. My garage has an outlet on the ceiling for an electric garage door opener, making things very convenient. In fact, the most arduous part of the installation was making sure my measurements were correct so the rectangle I was attempting to make was vaguely square and centered.

 

One item I did add was a wireless on/off switch that plugs into the electrical socket and is controlled by a remote switch. This gadget essentially just interrupts power from the socket on demand, allowing me to turn the six lights on without reaching up to flip the switch on the terminating cord. Look at the pictures for a visual clue of what I’m trying to describe. 

 

Light coming from these things is clear, bright, and illuminates the 24x24 space better than the four standard bulbs ever could. They’ve been up there for about a year and show no sign of movement or lessening their grip on the ceiling, marking this as one of the best sub-$100 purchases I’ve ever made.

 

The beauty of this kit lies in the sheer number of connection options. If a person wants to put four of the LED bars on the ceiling but plug two more into a different spot – say, near their toolbox or workbench – it is easy to do so. Wiring them into an existing household grid should probably be handled by a pro but the necessary items are present for that task as well. Color me satisfied.

 

As planned, this series of posts will continue to focus on items we’ve actually used and bought with our own money. We hope you found this one helpful.

[Images: Manufacturer, the author]

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Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

More by Matthew Guy

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  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Aug 16, 2023

    Obviously, it depends on the type of garage, especially the ceiling and walls. I don't have a garage, but rented one, below an upstairs apartment.


    It had plaster walls and ceiling, and a previous user had installed silver foil wallpaper on the ceiling, and spliced into the single bare lightbulb in the center to create a line of three bare lightbulb bases. He finished it off with three 23-watt (100 watt equivalent) spiral fluorescent bulbs, all turned on/off with one switch.


    It was very bright, mostly because the walls were semi-gloss white. That was acceptable for exterior cleaning/polishing, but for under-hood or under-car work, there's no substitute for a portable light, one you can put on the floor or hang from a hook, as needed.

    For bench work, that's another situation entirely. That's the key: different lighting solutions for different situations.


  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Aug 16, 2023

    • If you have one or more of ye olde E26 medium-base lampholder light sockets on the ceiling, the newfangled 'deformable'/adjustable "garage lights" (3 panels or you can go crazy with more) are a natural first step to take. 5000K ('daylight') color temperature is good for your garage. Adjust the tilt of the panels to cover your previously darkened corners.

    • Next would be your linkable LED lights in whatever form factor you like. 5000K. Get twice as many as you think you want, plus some spares for when they burn out several years from now and they don't make those exact ones anymore.

    • Then two or more good old-fashioned swing-arm work lamps (ex. Ikea Tertial) with modern 100W equivalent LED bulbs (5000K). Mount them on the *wall* over your benches. Close-up and adjustable task lighting.

    • Now circle back around and replace any non-5000K bulbs in the garage door opener or wherever. Make it all match (pretty!).

    • Then you have your rechargeable portable/magnetic work lights in various styles. Check out the Icon 59170 (Snap-On knockoff) for one example.

    • See 1 previous
    • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Aug 18, 2023

      I have been going with 3000K for inside-the-home for customer installs. (Not the 2700K Amish style.)

      Much of my automotive work uses a fusion light source located approximately 8 light-minutes away which is around 5000K. If the sun is high in the sky and the lights in my shop are on, it all matches.

  • The Oracle This thing got porky quick.
  • Kwi65728132 I'll grant that it's nicely kept but I'm not a fan of the bangle butt designs, and I know better than to buy a used BMW while living anywhere in the world other than in the fatherland where these are as common as any Honda or Toyota is anywhere else.
  • ChristianWimmer When these came out I thought they were hideous: now they’ve grown on me. This one looks pretty nice. Well-maintained, low mileage and some good-looking wheels that aren’t super fancy but not cheap-looking or boring either, they are just right.
  • Aja8888 Someday in the far away future, all cars will look the same, people will be the same color, dogs will be all mixed beyond recognition, and governments will own everything. That car looks like my son's Hyundai Tucson without badges.
  • Tassos Of course, what the hell did you expect? A SERIOUS, BEAUTIFUL car you can ACTUALLY USE AS YOUR DAILY DRIVER???............. NOOOOO, THIS IS TIM WE ARE TALKING ABOUT. SO HE FINDS SOME OBSOLETE POS WHICH IS 22 years old, .............AND HE PURPOSELY MISSES THE BEAUTIFUL MODEL, THE Classical Beauty E39 that ended in 2003. ...........So he uses his column as a WASTEBASKET once again, to throw the first year of BMWs BANGLED 5 series (as in the INFAMOUS CHRIS BANGLE WHO SCREWED UP THE DESIGN ROYALLY). ................................................ As Dr. Evil, Fake Doctor Jill Biden would scream at the top of her voice, so her senile idiot husband could hear her, "Good Job, (Tim)! You answered all the questions and ticked all the boxes!" ..... KEEP UP THE S---Y work, Tim!
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