racer_ace Reader
7/24/10 7:29 p.m.

We're adding a second garage bay to our house. The new bay will match the original in size at 12' x 24'. Now is the time to finally put in some decent lighting....instead of my current single overhead bulb and a bunch of extension cords and halogen floodlights I am a bit confused about 4 foot flourescent fixtures (as reccomended in the June '09 edition of GRM).

Lowes will sell you a 4' 2x T-8 bulb "residential" flourescent fixture which has a bulb cover for $19.94. They will also sell you a 4' 2x T-8 bulb "commercail strip" flourescent fixture which has NO bulb covers for $26.88. What am I missing here? Anything? Or should I just buy the "residential" fixtures and take the covers off if they are too opaque?

pete240z Dork
7/24/10 7:45 p.m.

Also consider the cold weather. In Chicago I too have purchased the cheaper flourescent and they have a hard time firing up the bulbs in cold weather.

If you aren't heating and want the light you might need to look at cold weather ballasts and the cheap lights don't allow you to change ballasts.

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
7/24/10 8:05 p.m.

I bought a 4' 2x whatever bulb florescent fixture yesterday at Lowes for $9.74. A fixture is a fixture in the shop. This was to replace the last one that went out on me and lasted just under 10 years.

As far as cold weather, it doesn't get real cold here, but it will get down to about -3F. When it's "cold" around here, I turn on the lights and they are not bright for a few minutes, then they come up. Big deal.

MrJoshua SuperDork
7/24/10 8:13 p.m.

Mine are well over 10 years old. Cheapest ones you can buy. I have to play a light switch game to try to get all 4 to come on at once. It's never what most of you would consider cold here so I'm thinking the FL humidity is the problem.

porksboy Dork
7/24/10 9:30 p.m.

The cheaper ones are magnetic balast wich will not be available much longer, maybe 5 years? I wonder what will happen with bulbs, probably not a problem in my lifetime.

The more expensive ones are electronic balast and are to be mandated by Uncle Sam.

The bulbs are different and not interchangable.

The advantages of electronic over magnetic is longer life, less energy used, imediate start up in cold weather, and greater profit to anyone selling them.

I could be wrong on all this. I have no knowlege other than getting and installing lights from LowesDepot in my own home shop and asking a million questions from different people and electricians.

fastmiata Reader
7/24/10 9:45 p.m.

I have 4 of the cheapest available fixtures hanging in my garage. They are approximately 20 yrs old. While I have changed the lights out a time or two I have never had to mess with the ballasts. Due to limited wiring in the ceiling, I had to use a power strip to provide sufficient outlets and a means to turn on the lights(the power garage door runs off the same circuit). Whatever you have to do is worth it when you start a project that needs real light.

emodspitfire New Reader
7/24/10 10:07 p.m.

I have found that the "Full-spectrum" flourescent bulbs are much easier on my (OLD) eyes when reading manuals on the workbench. Not sure that it matters in other areas.....


carguy123 SuperDork
7/24/10 10:18 p.m.

Yes, definitely get something other than soft white color. The Daylight bulbs tend to be harsh but they have bulbs in the 4500k to 5500k range that area good compromise.

John Brown
John Brown SuperDork
7/24/10 11:08 p.m.

I have always suggested mixing bulb "colors" and styles in the shop. Mixing halogen, incandescent and fluorescent in various colors tends to keep the headaches away while illuminating all things well.

Wally SuperDork
7/25/10 2:00 a.m.

I put up 7 of the $10 Home Depot 4 ft lights in my garage. Even below 0 they fire right up, and don't hum. I wonder if the Chinese already make cheaelectronic balasts

zomby woof
zomby woof Dork
7/25/10 7:28 a.m.

In the back part of my shop, when a ballast goes bad, I've been replacing the whole thing with standard light fixtures, and compact flourescents. So far it's working out OK.

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