LED Garage Wall Lights: A Better Alternative to Overhead Lights?

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Are you struggling with poor lighting in your garage? You’re not alone.

Many homeowners grapple with the limitations of traditional overhead lights, especially when garage doors block the light. This has led them to consider mounting LED lights on their garage walls.

I’ve spent years tackling home improvement challenges, including garage lighting. My experience has taught me what works and what doesn’t.

In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of LED garage wall lights. Spoiler: they’re great for direct light but can take up space you might need for other things.

Don’t worry. I’ll also cover overhead alternatives that can light up your garage without getting in the way.

Let’s dive in and find the right lighting solution for you.


Why Use Wall-Mounted Lighting?

When it comes to garage lighting, most homeowners face a common set of problems, especially with traditional overhead lighting systems.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: you open the garage door to let in some fresh air or perhaps to move larger items in or out, and suddenly, your well-lit space turns dim and shadowy.

Most garage doors block the light from overhead fixtures, creating an impractical working environment, especially when the door needs to be closed for security or weather-related reasons.

This becomes even more pronounced in garages with multiple doors, which leads to a constant juggle between lighting needs and door positions.

Moreover, the need for adequate lighting often varies with the climate and the likelihood of working with the doors open.

Alternatives like high lift tracks or windowed doors can provide some relief. Still, they might not be feasible or sufficient for all garage layouts and uses.

This is where wall-mounted lighting comes into play. By positioning fixtures on the walls, you can circumvent the problems caused by overhead doors.

Garage lighting guide: Wall lighting

There are a couple of effective strategies to consider:

  • Mounting Beside the Rails: Placing light fixtures beside the garage door rails ensures that the light spreads evenly across the space, unaffected by the position of the garage doors. This setup maintains consistent illumination, whether the doors are open or closed.
  • Floor-Level Fixtures: Another innovative approach is using cast-in concrete fixtures at floor level. These fixtures can provide upward lighting that fills the space more uniformly, reducing shadows and dark corners.

Additionally, incorporating reflective material on the door panels can significantly enhance light distribution. This material reflects light from the wall-mounted fixtures, ensuring light is optimally dispersed throughout the garage even when the door is down.


LED Garage Wall Lights: The Good

The benefits of wall-mounted garage lights extend far beyond just illumination. These fixtures redefine how we light our garages, blending direct, focused lighting and an obstruction-free environment.

Let’s explore these advantages in detail.

Direct Lighting Where You Need It

Wall-mounted lights excel in providing direct illumination to specific areas within the garage. This is particularly useful for task lighting or highlighting specific parts of the garage, where precision and clarity are essential.

Whether you’re working on intricate projects, organizing your workspace, or detailing your car, the focused light from wall-mounted fixtures ensures that you have the visibility you need, exactly where you need it.

LED garage wall lights are best used to supplement to overhead lights.

Ensuring all areas are well-lit is crucial in a garage that doubles as a workshop or has various uses. Wall-mounted lights fill any illumination gaps, eliminating shadows and dark spots, thus making the space safer and more efficient for work.

For automotive enthusiasts working under the hood, wall-mounted garage lights might offer better illumination than overhead options. This becomes particularly noticeable when working inside the vehicle or in areas overhead lights can’t effectively reach.

Nothing In The Way

The best advantage to garage wall lighting is that is provides consistent lighting without being obstructed.

This is a stark contrast to overhead lights that can be blocked by open garage doors. With wall-mounted fixtures, the light remains steady and unblocked, whether the doors are open or closed, which is especially valuable in garages used for various activities and hobbies.

Additionally, opting for wall-mounted lights frees up ceiling storage space.

This added space can be a boon for those looking to maximize the functionality of their garage.

It opens up possibilities like setting up a DIY spray booth or adding extra storage, thereby enhancing the overall utility of the space.

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LED Garage Wall Lights: The Bad

However, wall mounted garage lights also have drawbacks.

They Take Up Valuable Wall Space

One of the primary downsides of wall-mounted lights is that they take up valuable wall space that could be used for storage.

Every inch counts in a garage, where space is often at a premium.

Depending on their size and placement, wall-mounted lights could take up space that might otherwise be used for storage, tools, or work areas.

Illumination Coverage & Shadows

Although wall-mounted lights excel in providing direct lighting to specific areas, they may fall short in terms of overall illumination coverage compared to overhead lights.

Overhead lighting is generally more effective in delivering uniform general illumination across the entire garage space.

Additionally, wall-mounted lights can create shadows, especially if placed at a lower height.

These shadows might be inconvenient or hazardous when working on projects or moving around the garage. In contrast, overhead lighting, illuminating from above, tends to minimize the potential for shadow formation, ensuring a more consistent light spread.

Potential for Damage

Wall-mounted lights, being within reach, are more susceptible to accidental bumps or knocks, particularly when moving items in and out of the garage. This can lead to more frequent maintenance or replacements.

Overhead lights, typically out of the way of daily activities, are less likely to suffer from such accidental damage.

Cost

Installation cost is another factor to consider.

Wall-mounted lighting might incur higher installation expenses due to the need for additional wiring and fixtures, especially in garages not initially designed for wall lighting. This contrasts with overhead lights, often a standard feature in garages, and may require less extensive installation work.

Adjustability

Unlike overhead lights, which may come on tracks or with adjustable arms for repositioning, wall-mounted lights usually offer less flexibility.

This could be a limitation if your lighting needs evolve over time, requiring different lighting configurations.


Better Alternatives to Wall-Mounted Garage Lights

Several innovative overhead lighting alternatives can be considered in addressing the limitations of wall-mounted garage lights, such as space consumption, shadow creation, and limited adjustability. These solutions aim to provide adequate lighting while circumventing issues like door obstruction and uneven light distribution.

Non-Permanent Lighting Solutions

For flexible lighting, non-permanent solutions like retractable cord reels are ideal. These allow the cable to extend or retract as needed, maintaining tension and providing adaptability in lighting placement.

This setup is instrumental in garages where the lighting needs may change based on the task or the garage door’s position.

Adjustable Fixtures

A DIY approach involves using a conduit bent at a 90-degree angle, attached to the wall or rack.

This fixture can be rotated to provide light under the door when it’s open and moved out of the way when it’s closed. It offers a practical solution to the issue of blocked overhead lights by garage doors.

Track-Mounted Fixtures

One innovative solution shared by a member involves mounting 8′ fixtures directly on the door tracks.

This setup ensures good lighting regardless of the door’s position, effectively addressing the problem of overhead doors casting shadows or blocking light.

Lights Mounted on the Garage Door

Mounting lights on the inside of the garage door is a simple yet effective solution.

LED strips or shop lights can be attached to the garage door, although permanent wiring might pose a challenge. However, this method may cause vibrations that affect the light fixtures if the doors use electric openers.

Dock Lights

Dock lights were proposed as a potential solution, offering robust illumination. The primary consideration here is cost, as dock lights can be more expensive than standard garage lighting options.

Unistrut Suspension

Another solution is to suspend a 20-foot-wide stick of unistrut just below the door track to mount fluorescent or industrial-type fixtures.

Unistrut, being stiff and relatively inexpensive, offers a stable platform for mounting lights across the span of an overhead door. A more budget-friendly alternative involves using 1″ X 4″ lumber for a similar purpose.

Custom Garage Door Placement

Some garage doors, like one that retracts up and into the ceiling, provide novel solutions to lighting challenges. This design ensures that the door doesn’t obstruct overhead lights when open.

Natural Light and High Lift Track

During the daytime, natural sunlight can offset the need for artificial lighting when the garage door is open.

Additionally, high lift garage door tracks can prevent the door from covering lights and installing windows in the doors enhances natural light, addressing both the need for illumination and the issue of door obstruction.


Wrapping It Up

We’ve covered numerous garage wall lighting options in this article, including some alternative solutions that are better than LED garage wall lights for most homeowners.

Each brings its own set of perks and quirks, whether it’s the direct, focused lighting of wall mounts or the dynamic adaptability of overhead solutions like retractable cord reels and track-mounted fixtures.

Remember, the best choice depends on your garage’s unique needs and your personal style. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast, a car lover, or just looking to spruce up your space, there’s a lighting solution that’s just right for you.

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Tim Wells

Tim Wells, the founder of Garage Transformed, has been featured in dozens of home renovation publications, including BobVila.com, Home Stratosphere, House Digest, Livingetc, and SFGate. Since 2018, he has helped over two million people transform their everyday garages into something they can be proud of. He lives in Central Florida with his wife and bulldog.

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