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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking to improve the lighting in my shop and thinking about using CFL bulbs and wanted to get some inputs from those who are using them.

My shop is 30' x60' concrete block with 10' walls. The bottom rafters are at 10' from the floor. The shop is currently lighted with two rows of 8 incandescent lights with pull chains and large (200W?) incandescent bulbs. Not sure exactly what the bulbs are, they don't have any writing on them, and are original from when my dad built the shop in 1956. The socket is a standard bulb size, but the bulbs themselves are about 6-8" long and 1.5X larger in diameter than a standard bulb.

The lights are on ~ 6' centers and the two rows are ~ 10' apart, and ~ 10' from each wall, running the length of the shop. These are supplemented with hanging 4', 2 bulb flourescents over the work benches. I've got a 4' fixture hanging just over the lathe and the mill, along with incandescent lights on goose necks.

I've read the posts on lighting, and realize that most people are using 4' or 8' flourescents, but to do that would be a considerable expense since I would have to do a lot of rewiring and getting new fixtures, so I'd rather try something that would work with my current fixtures.

I'm thinking about getting a few of the largest CFL's and giving them a try. The only thing I don't like about the CFL's I have in the house are the delay in achieving full brightness.

Is anyone using CFL's, and if so which ones and how do you like them? I'd really be interested in ones which come on fairly quickly. Another thought I had was LED's, but I don't think they have 200W+ equivalent ones that are affordable yet??

Any inputs greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

John
 

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We have 4 of the 85W cfls in my friends 50x100 shop, we put them in so we had light quicker then the high bay lights which take a few minutes to warm up.

With only 4 of them for 5000 square feet they don't provide enough light for major work but they are plenty for hanging out and drinking.

Most people are amazed that 4 bulbs can provide as much light as they do, several have added them to there own shops.
 

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I'm adding a 65 watt CFL outside security type light in the shop today. I'm hoping it will fill in some of the gaps.

I replaced all of my 200 watt incandescents with CFLs mainly to reduce current usage. It got darker.
 

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For area where you need more lightning, you can use "Y" adapters and use 2 or even 4 CFL bulbs.

Here's an exemple for the LOL:

 

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I tried the BIG CFL's in my house garage. Between them failing repeatedly, and the ones that actually do work, I was not impressed. Yeah, it's more light than an incandescent, but not worthy of shop light.

I installed 4 T5 High Bay lights (4 bulbs each) in my shop, and they are bright as hell! I thought I was going to add more, but have decided that I have plenty. There is no delay in them coming on, even in 15 degrees. I've been very pleased with them in my 30x40 with 14' walls.




You can see them in the top of this picture. I have canned incandescents along the back wall, but they are off. I have no problems with light with these T5's.

 

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Nice lighting - in a shop you want no bullshit bright light that comes on when you flick the switch...

3 car garage with 12 8' T5's - newbies require sunglasses, it looks like a grow op from outside, lol. :smokin:


Sorry about the mess, under construction.
My father build everything by hand - it's almost too nice to work in... for now.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Appreciate the feedback! Obviously I'd like to keep costs down, but if the CFL's aren't going to cut it I may have to bite the bullet.

I may get a couple to try out as it would be a cheap and easy experiment.

Thanks,

John
 

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If I remember right the high wattage CFL's were about $20-45 each. I spent $120 on each T5 High bay in my shop. So yeah, there is a substantial cost difference. But if you are looking at 10 or more CFL's I would strongly urge you to look at the T5 High bays, not just regular T5's. The high bays will be higher wattage with a reflector as well.
 

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I have 12 13w (100w incandescent) in my 24x36' attached garage. Ceiling is painted white. There's no shortage of light and it takes less than a minute to achieve full power. I'm usually getting tools together or putting coveralls on anyhow for that minute.
 

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If you are going to do it, I would suggest some high intensity, high color rendition ones that photographers use. They'll be spendy, but I think it would be worth doing if you don't want to put in new fixtures. You can search for fluorescent at bhphotovideo.com. Just watch to be sure you don't get the mogul base ones because they won't fit a standard socket, assuming that is what you have got.
 

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My shop is 36x48 with 13.5 ceilings. I went with 2 rows of 5 and one row of 3 because the 12x12 garage doors would have hit the other two in that row. I did them because by time I bought all the 2x4 or 2x8 old school ones it would have been WAY more expensive since I would need the cold starts in Michigan. Starting fresh I just wired in the $2 bulb bases and the 43 watt (175 equilivelent) flor bulbs. My mistake was getting the first batch from Lowes for $8 each, they were plenty bright for about 2 months, then they got dimmer and dimmer till they burned out in another month or two. I took them all back to Lowes and got my money back and went to a real electrical supply house and paid $13 each for GE bulbs and they have lasted for 3 years so far and still as bright as new. I have white metal siding inside my shop too though so that helps.
 

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If energy saving is not an object, find a couple of these:


http://www.westronlighting.com/industrial-lighting/e23/

Self ballasted mercury vapor lamps, they screw in regular sockets and they throw some mad amount of pure white light, you can't look straight at them. If your ceiling isn't white you can make some reflectors from large stainless steel bowls or aluminum thin.
 

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If energy saving is not an object, find a couple of these:


http://www.westronlighting.com/industrial-lighting/e23/

Self ballasted mercury vapor lamps, they screw in regular sockets and they throw some mad amount of pure white light, you can't look straight at them. If your ceiling isn't white you can make some reflectors from large stainless steel bowls or aluminum thin.
I have a bunch of 250 metal halide fixtures. My only issue is running cable or chain to hang the damn things, they weigh about 35 pounds with ballast and reflector!

The 100 watt MH I just put up does a nice job filling in the dim spots.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
If energy saving is not an object, find a couple of these:

Self ballasted mercury vapor lamps, they screw in regular sockets and they throw some mad amount of pure white light, you can't look straight at them. If your ceiling isn't white you can make some reflectors from large stainless steel bowls or aluminum thin.
Thanks. My ceiling is actually brown and slanted. The roof is a lean-to design, with ~ 2.5' tall windows along the top of the block wall on the high side, sloping down to the top of the blocks on the low side and the underside is masonite, so no reflectivity from the roof. Current lights are attached to the underside of the horizontal rafter beams. The current fixtures have metal circular reflectors painted white inside.

Are these made for more high-bay applications or would they work for my 10' heights as well?

John
 

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I guess they'd work best at 14ft or higher, but I had one of these in the center of my 32x32 basement, 8ft unfinished ceiling and pretty much everywhere in the basement it was like working outside a sunny day.

They're so bright you can't look straight at them from 20 ft.
 

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I have 8 cfl's in recess housings in my 36'x24' 3 car and most of the time I only run 4 at a time, only 9' ceilings though.
 

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My shop is 36x48 with 13.5 ceilings. I went with 2 rows of 5 and one row of 3 because the 12x12 garage doors would have hit the other two in that row. I did them because by time I bought all the 2x4 or 2x8 old school ones it would have been WAY more expensive since I would need the cold starts in Michigan. Starting fresh I just wired in the $2 bulb bases and the 43 watt (175 equilivelent) flor bulbs. My mistake was getting the first batch from Lowes for $8 each, they were plenty bright for about 2 months, then they got dimmer and dimmer till they burned out in another month or two. I took them all back to Lowes and got my money back and went to a real electrical supply house and paid $13 each for GE bulbs and they have lasted for 3 years so far and still as bright as new. I have white metal siding inside my shop too though so that helps.
Do you have any pics of the bulbs installed and running?
 

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The way you describe your current lamps they sound like old traffic signal lamps especially considering how long they lasted. Where I work we have some rarely-used mechanical spaces and steam tunnels that use traffic lamps from the 40's and 50's still working great for the few hours a year they are on. You can still buy them too.

If I were in your shoes I might try just going to Wal Mart or Home Depot and getting some cheap self ballasted 20W CFL to use which would be like 120-150W of incandescent. I wouldn't spend any real money on the bigger CFL's. Most all of the self ballasted CFL's over maybe 12 watts specify base down or horizontal very few of them want to be base up or all position. In order to get an all position in the bigger lamps they are more expensive. If you aren't happy with the common cheapies then I would step up to T-8 or T-5. Like custoncj said those T-5 HO are so bright you would probably only need 4 of them.
 

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Another thing on CFLs... they are slower to light up and have reduced lumens at cold temperatures. And if you can't find a size/wattage you like at Walmart, Home Depot, etc. they may cost you a bundle.

4' T8 flourescents are still the best value in these parts. Probably because I'm in Canada. :p
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Follow-up:

I bought a couple of 300W equivalent (68W actual) spiral CFL's at Home Depot for ~ $17 each. First problem was that they didn't fit with the reflector in place. The original bulbs have a fairly narrow and long neck portion, whereas the CFL's have a large diameter ballast just after the threads. So the ballast would bottom out in the reflector before the threads engaged the socket.

I took the reflector off, and can safely say they doin't make them like they used to :) The reflector is fairly heavy gauge formed metal, with a real porcelain white interior, and three brass thumb screws to hold it in place. Not like the cheap flimsy junk of today!!

With the reflector off, the CFL seems to be fairly equivalent to the current bulbs. The color temp was 2700K, so it was also about the same color as the old incandescent bulbs. After further review, I'm thinking that the old bulbs are probably more than 200W, since the was a 200W bulb in one of the sockets already and it looked like a baby compared to the old 1950's bulb. I could probably modify the reflectors to fit, but by the time I did this to 16 reflectors and bought 16 CFL's I would have

Since this didn't really result in a huge lighting improvement, I'm thinking that I might be going to T8's like everybody else. According to what I've read, the T8's are recommended over the T5HO's for <14' ceilings (to avoid hot spots) and you can get a high output version of the T8's for a little more kick.

I can get the 8' T8 quadplex (4 x 4' bulbs) strips for ~ $40 each. I'm thinking two rows of four (or 5) spaced along the 60' length would be a significant improvement and it wouldn't really cost a whole lot more than buying 16 CFL's and modifying the reflectors to fit.

John
 
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