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Thread: Can you have too much light in a shop?

  1. #1

    Can you have too much light in a shop?

    Ive got a pretty decent set of fluorescent T8 style florescent in three strips down the length of the shop. End to end, they are 8' doubles meaning each 8' length has 4 4' bulbs. This is spaced about 4' apart. I'm happy with the light as it throws little shadow and seems adequate for most things.

    I hung a 4x4' bulb light over my router table as well as another 8' long 4 tube (4x4') light directly overtop of my bench. What really surprised me is that when I turn these "extra" lights on, I'm not very impressed. I thought I'd be "wow this is like an operating theater" but it only marginally brightens up those two locations.

    A pal recently traded me a few 6 light "high Bay" T-5 fixtures. He has these in his machine shop but at about 10'. MY shop has an 8' ceiling.
    The issue is I'd like more light (directly over the table saw and the router & bench) but his lights almost blind you if you look at them. Wow, they are bright. My older (prob dust covered T8's ) lights certainly don't shine that bright.

    My question is this. I'd love more light but I'm not wanting to be "blinded". MY pal says he has to make a point of not looking directly into them or everywhere else in his shop looks darker. In their future location, I wouldn't really look directly into them as they'd be almost directly over top. Has anyone used these "High Bay" style T5 lights and if so, are you happy with them and do you think I can use them when mounted at a height of only 8'?

  2. #2
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    Scott I have the same T8 style fluorescent fixtures in my shop at an eleven foot ceiling height. Even if you clean or replace the T8 bulbs they aren't as bright, I also found the unlike what is commonly said light output, T8's don't seem to diminish output over time, at least in my case 9 years since they were installed. Recently, to add more light I've replaced 2 of the fixtures over key working areas with 8' T5HO fixtures and found a very noticeable difference in light output. Using a phone app to measure light output, the T5 fixtures almost doubled the light output in the area at working height. I plan to replace one more. As a side note I've also tried to replace the T8 tubes with LED tubes and found an actual reduction in light output. I know there are LED units quite capable of blinding me but I like easy and this replacement was just that.

  3. #3
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    I changed out my 8 foot fluorescent light with 6000k led bypass lights and I got about twice the output.

  4. #4
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    Add task lighting where you need it. I have some track lighting above my lathe and a few spot lights were needed. I use daylight deluxe for my T8 bulbs which are brighter.

    2 to 3 times a year I clean my bulbs and covers. It’s shocking how dirty they get. I have plastic covers and would windex them and thought they were clean. The last cleaning I washed them off in the sink and the dirt poured off them.
    Don

  5. #5
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    Yes you can have too much. I've done it with those very same t5 fixtures. They are incredibly bright and work amazingly, which is fine 12 feet up. Problem is when you have a lower ceiling. If you have a shorter ceiling height you won't be able to look across your shop without having one of them in your sight, which messes with your vision. I temped one in my garage shop once and it was hard to work around. A 14' ceiling in a subsequent shop was no problem at all though. Suggest you try one and see what you think.

  6. #6
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    T-5 High Bay Lighting is almost certainly T-5HO and is generally used at a minimum of 12' and typically higher than that. IF those are actually high bay fixtures, they are probably T5HO. One of the reasons to use T-5HP fixtures is they have good light output at higher temperatures, which you get at higher mounting heights.

    There are some T-5HO fixtures that have the shroud come down past the bulbs that make them usable for lower lighting and TASK lighting since you don't see the bulb directly from the side making them seem "too bright".

    In true sawmillcreek tradition of massive oversimplification, everyone is assuming that all T-5 lights are the same. A good starting point would be a picture of the lamps and the type of bulb to indicate if it is HO.
    Last edited by Greg R Bradley; 03-08-2019 at 11:31 AM.

  7. #7
    Thank you for your comments.

    I'm going to try to put some pic attachments in, first time so here goes. Okay, tried for 15 mins and was unsuccessful. maybe just as well as wow, is my shop in a state of upheaval! The pics make it look like a "hoarder" lives there! (maybe the truth hurts?)

    I have tried some "task" lighting on my lathe. I placed a 4x4' bulb fixture with T5's in it right above the lathe. This helped. I then added a 150 watt halogen "outdoor" flood assembly above to shine down on the bed. This definitely helps. But that means I now have close to 300 watts of juice running to that one area. When working on the lathe more often than not my head is looking down. I think I'll put one of these up and see if it creates more light with less juice kinda' thing. That halogen of course is nice in cool weather as I can feel it's heat. Not so nice in summer. When the lathe is not in use the switch is independent of the rest of the shop lights.

    The High Bay fixtures I have are 6x T5 bulbs. (Fixture = 21"x46") The bulbs are recessed within the fixture perhaps 1.5" deep. (means the bulbs don't stick down below the frame) of the light fixture. (Of course from much of any angle, this isn't the case as you'd see the bulbs). Being as the fixture is all steel, I suppose a small 2" shroud of light gauge material screwed to it to act as a shade might work. Has anybody tried this?

  8. #8
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    If it is T-5 and not T-5HO bulbs and it has 6 bulbs it isn't really something that would typically be called a high bay. With the recess, it should be fine to have hung at a reasonably low height, particularly if you are looking at the side of the fixture. Hanging it above a lathe sounds perfect as the lamp is above the lathe and you are working on the side of the lathe and looking at the side of the fixture. If 6 4' T-5 bulbs aren't bright enough, make sure the reflectors behind the bulbs are clean, the bulbs are fairly new and not some low power "saver" bulbs, which would be less than 28watts.

    Something not quite adding up here so I'm curious. Maybe really T-5HO (54watt) and really old bulbs?

  9. #9
    Greg; After reading your comment I ran out and grabbed a few of the bulbs I rec'd with the fixtures. They say "Philips High Output T5 at 49 watts! So 6x49=294 watts per fixture. I was floored. I had presumed these would be much less power hungry than the larger T8's I have but I guess I've been mistaken. No wonder they are so bright.

  10. #10
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    And those are 49watt "saver" HO bulbs compared to 54watt normal HO. That explains the deep recess as they are meant for narrow light angle when mounted high. Might be great over the lathe if you can mount it so you don't see the bulbs directly.

    You have more light than the T-8 and coming out of a much smaller area so the real problem will be glare if you can see the bulb directly.

    Similar problem with people that use LED with clear covers instead of frosted.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg R Bradley View Post
    T-5 High Bay Lighting is almost certainly T-5HO and is generally used at a minimum of 12' and typically higher than that. IF those are actually high bay fixtures, they are probably T5HO. One of the reasons to use T-5HP fixtures is they have good light output at higher temperatures, which you get at higher mounting heights.

    There are some T-5HO fixtures that have the shroud come down past the bulbs that make them usable for lower lighting and TASK lighting since you don't see the bulb directly from the side making them seem "too bright".

    In true sawmillcreek tradition of massive oversimplification, everyone is assuming that all T-5 lights are the same. A good starting point would be a picture of the lamps and the type of bulb to indicate if it is HO.
    True, my experience was with HO fixtures.

  12. #12
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    I think I misunderstood the original question. It sounds like he was thinking the new 6 bulb high bay might be too much light.
    We use 2 bulb 8' T12VHO with reflectors over each workbench in a car shop I own and everyone loves them. Somewhat short bulb life and 2x215w but for limited use they are great. We wanted that much light even 45 years ago. LED bulb replacement were too narrow light output as the T-12 meant the light was coming out pretty evenly over an area of 1'x8'.
    I have a home work bench lit by a 4bulb T5HO High Bay mounted at 8'. It is fine but is tucked between the joists so you don't see the bulb directly.
    My main benches at home are lit by 6xT8 High Bay fixtures at 12'. Dual ballast so set to have 3 come on with the switch and 3 more at the pull of a chain. Light coming out pretty evenly from an area 20"x48".
    If you have a bit of glare and a white wall behind, angling the light slightly away from you can really help.
    6 bulb HO might still be a bit much. I bet they have two ballasts inside and are wired with two inputs that run 3 bulbs each with almost zero work. Probably can be setup 4+2 also with a bit of work.

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