Everything You Need to Know About LED Shop Lights (2023)

LED shop lights are great lighting options for lighting a small work area or workbench. Before you move forward with a purchase, read our guide to make sure you purchase the right LED shop light!

1) What is an LED shop light?

LED shop lights are the new LED version of fluorescent shop lights.

Shop lights are commonly used in garages and workshops (hence the name) where a simple but cost-effective lighting fixture is needed to illuminate a small area such as a tabletop or workbench.

Traditional fluorescent shop light fixtures are designed to accommodate 4-ft fluorescent tubes, which, compared to incandescent bulbs, provided longer lifetimes, lower electrical consumption and daylight balanced color temperatures. This has made them very appealing for workshop type lighting applications.

With the adoption of LED technology, the performance exceeds that of fluorescent lamps, making LED versions of a shop light a technical no-brainer.

LED shop lights have longer lifetimes and higher efficiency than their fluorescent counterparts, but for the most part adopted the same linear fluorescent form factor and are typically available in 4-ft lengths using a very similar fixture style.

The advantages of shop lights are numerous, but the primary ones are:

  • Cost effective - a shop light fixture can be purchased for less than $15 USD

  • Simple to install - a shop light fixture does not require complex wiring or electrical knowledge

  • Adjustable - a shop light fixture's height and position can be adjusted easily.Typical 4-ft fluorescent/LED tube light fixtures are ceiling mounted, making them difficult to install, and permanently fixed into place.

  • Wastes less light - a shop light fixture can be positioned exactly where the light is needed, so less light is wasted on illuminating non-essential areas, contributing to further electrical cost savings

Given all of those advantages, it's clear that for workshop-style lighting, shop lights are an excellent choice. But what about comparing fluorescent shop lights to LED shop lights? We see even more benefits for LED shop lights:

  • The overall benefits of LED lights vs fluorescent lights hold true for shop lights - longer lifetimes, lower electrical consumption, no mercury

  • Because shop lights are typically positioned closer to the ground, they are more susceptible to being struck accidentally by power tools or stray objects. Fluorescent tube breakages can be hazardous and require extensive cleanup effort. LED shop lights are usually made of extremely durable polycarbonate plastic, and even if they break, do not lead to any hazardous chemical leakage.

  • Unlike fluorescent lamps that emit light in a 360 degree angle, LED tube lights direct light downwards. In a shop light fixture, this makes the actual efficiency of LED shop lights even higher than that of fluorescent shop lights, which lose some of the light directed upwards.

  • LED shop lights can utilize enhanced light spectrum options including high CRI and photosynthesis optimization. This can be useful for workshops that require color accuracy, or even for growing plants.

2) What types of LED shop lights are available?

There are two primary types of LED shop lights available today: integrated LED shop lights and LED shop light retrofits.

Integrated LED shop lights have the LED chips and electronics mounted directly into the fixture (i.e. integrated) such that there is no longer a "lamp" that can be replaced. With longer lifetimes of LED technology, the idea is that the light will continue to emit sufficient light until the fixture itself becomes decommissioned.

LED shop light retrofits, on the other hand, keep the lamp separate from the fixture, making them replaceable. This typically involves using a fluorescent shop light fixture and replacing the fluorescent tube with a LED tube light. A fluorescent shop light fixture will almost always have a fluorescent ballast built into it.

In principle, integrated LED shop lights are the preferred option. After all, these fixtures are designed around LEDs, the newer technology. As a result, they typically do not include features like "lampholders" and truly integrate the LED emitters into the fixture.

By definition, the LED tube light retrofit approach attempts to work around the older fluorescent fixture design. This means that the LED tube light is limited in terms of mechanical and electrical compatibility as it must fit in the shop light fixture originally designed for fluorescent lamps. This would surely seem to be a disadvantage in terms of product performance and options.

In reality, however, economic forces in the lighting industry make things less clear-cut. Specifically, the sheer quantity of fluorescent ceiling fixtures in existing buildings has made LED tube light retrofitting a lucrative and sizable market. As a result, significant R&D work has been invested into LED tube light design as well as manufacturing. For the end consumer, that means a wide variety of LED tube lights are available at competitive prices, and in some cases, it makes sense to continue using fluorescent shop light fixtures and retrofitting them with LED tube lights.

Below, we provide recommendations depending on your situation.

We recommend integrated LED shop lights if:

  • You are looking for maximum light efficiency and energy savings

  • You prefer a simple, plug-and-play light fixture without any replacement lamps to worry about

  • You do not own fluorescent shop light fixtures or can afford to purchase new LED shop light fixtures and pay upfront (primarily an issue for larger installations)

  • Light color and quality options (including "upgrading") are not as important to you

We recommend retrofit LED shop lights if:

  • You already own fluorescent shop light fixtures, or can purchase them at a low cost

  • You have more stringent requirements or needs when it comes to color quality, such as color rendering

  • You want to have the ability to easily change your lighting on a regular basis (for example, swapping out different LED tubes for different color temperatures)

  • You are optimistic about future developments in LED tube lights, and want to be able to "upgrade" to a new LED tube light without needing to replace the fixture

  • You are comfortable with potentially needing to rewire the fluorescent shop light fixture to bypass or remove the ballast

3) What are some features to look for in an LED shop light?

Below are some unique LED shop light features that you may find useful.

Light Output

The brightness of an LED shop light is usually given in lumens. If you aren't familiar with this metric, you can use the following as a rough ballpark estimate:

Incandescent bulbs: 15 lumens per watt

Fluorescent lamps: 50 lumens per watt

For example, a 1500 lumen LED shop light can be thought of as being roughly equivalent to a 100 Watt incandescent bulb (1500 lumens divided by 15 lumens per watt) or a 30 Watt fluorescent lamp (1500 lumens divided by 50 lumens per watt).

How is this useful? Well, if you have a fluorescent shop light that uses 2 lamps that are 30 Watts each, you can estimate that you will want roughly 3000 lumens from your shop light to maintain the same level of brightness.

Color Temperature

Color temperature is a number that describes how "yellow" or "blue" a light's color is.

  • 2700K is considered the same color as the classic incandescent light bulb

  • 3000K is slightly bluer and is similar to halogen bulb light color, but still has a warm, inviting yellow color to it.

  • 4000K is often called "neutral white" because it is neither blue nor yellow - and is the middle of the color temperature scale.

  • 5000K is commonly used for determining color, such as for prints and textiles

  • 6500K is considered natural daylight, and is a good way to approximate appearance in outdoor lighting conditions

The color temperature we recommend will depend on the specific use or activity, as well as your personal preference.

In general, lower color temperatures create a more relaxed or "warm" atmosphere. An LED shop light for a residential garage might be a good candidate for 4000K or below.

Higher color temperatures allow for better color acuity. 5000K allows for a very neutral and clean white light that allows for improved color perception that 4000K and below would not, due to its yellow bias.

If you want to replicate natural daylight conditions, 6500K would be the optimal color temperature.

CRI: pick 80 or above

CRI is a bit tricky to understand because it is not immediately visible from just simply looking at the emitted light from a shop light.

CRI is score ranging from 0 to 100 which measures how accurate objects appear under a light. The higher the score, the more accurate.

What does accurate really mean, anyway?

Let's say you are trying to paint your car in your garage, which doesn't get any natural light. A perfectly accurate LED shop light would make the paint color look exactly the same as it does under natural daylight.

An inaccurate (low CRI) LED shop light, however, would make the paint color look different. Despite your best efforts, you may find that once outside, your car's color no longer looks the way you thought it would!

Well, what is a sufficient CRI number?

  • For non-color critical tasks, we recommend purchasing LED shop lights with a minimum of 80 CRI.

  • For enhanced appearance and color accuracy, we recommend 90 CRI or above.

How do you know what an LED shop light's CCT or CRI is? Virtually all manufacturers will be able to provide this to you on the product specification sheet or packaging.

On/Off Switch

Shop lights have traditionally used a pull-chain for its on-off switch, and many LED shop lights continue to use this design.

Alternatively, you can also find some designs that use a rocker switch mounted onto the unit itself.

Daisy Chaining

If you are using multiple LED shop lights in a single area, you may find it challenging to have to separately run wires from each fixture to a single outlet or power source. Instead, daisy chaining allows the fixtures to connected one after another, simplifying your installation.

Mounting Method

Most LED shop lights include a chain that allows the fixture to hang from the ceiling. Some will also allow for flush mounting directly onto the ceiling.


Some LED shop lights will include reflectors on the side of the fixture, to help direct the light downwards. This can be helpful to increase the brightness over a specific area, and simultaneously reduce glare.

4) How do I install an LED shop light?

Below, we'll go over general tips and recommendations for installing an LED shop light. For specific mounting and usage instructions, please refer to your shop light manufacturer's manual.

Determining the Installation Location

The first step to installing the LED shop light is finding a suitable location. You'll want to make sure that the light is situated directly above the workbench or work area. Make sure that the ceiling or mounting surface above this location can support the weight of the shop light.

Most shop lights connect to electricity via a regular wall-plug. You will want to make sure that you can safely run an electrical cable to the shop light. Especially if you are daisy chaining, confirm that the power draw of the fixtures will not exceed that of your electrical cables.

Finally, confirm that the provided chain and mounting height allow for the fixture to hang at an acceptable level. A fixture that is too high may not provide enough directed light to the workspace, while a fixture that is too low could present a serious hazard if it gets in the way of people or other objects (especially power tools). Although LED shop lights do not contain mercury, they still operate on line voltage, which can cause serious injury or death.

Mounting the Shop Light Fixture

Follow your shop light's user manual. Always observe electrical safety, and cut power to all outlets and wires that you will be working with.

Once mounted, an integrated LED shop light fixture should be ready to go.

A retrofit LED shop light requires the fluorescent tube to be replaced with a compatible LED tube light. We recommend reading our LED tube lights guide for finding and installing an LED tube light into a fluorescent shop light fixture. A 3-in-1 LED tube light can make installation into a fluorescent shop light fixture a much simpler process, since it does not require any ballast rewiring.

Bottom Line

LED shop lights are an excellent choice for illuminating a work area. Integrated LED shop lights are available as a "lampless" solution, but LED retrofit shop light fixtures can present a wide range of possibilities as well.

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Everything You Need to Know About LED Shop Lights? ›

LED lighting differs from incandescent and fluorescent in several ways. When designed well, LED lighting is more efficient, versatile, and lasts longer. LEDs are “directional” light sources, which means they emit light in a specific direction, unlike incandescent and CFL, which emit light and heat in all directions.

What do I need to know about LED lights? ›

LED lighting differs from incandescent and fluorescent in several ways. When designed well, LED lighting is more efficient, versatile, and lasts longer. LEDs are “directional” light sources, which means they emit light in a specific direction, unlike incandescent and CFL, which emit light and heat in all directions.

How to choose LED lights for shop? ›

In LED bulbs, the color rendering index is 80-90. If the tasks performed in your shop call for color accuracy, you should choose LED lighting with a CRI of 82 or more. Check the LED light specification to ensure you're getting a product with the proper CRI rating.

How far apart should LED shop lights be? ›

This number, which is usually between 0.5 and 1.5, is multiplied by the ceiling height in order to determine the maximum distance allowed for each light. If a 6-inch light has a spacing criteria of 1.5 and the ceiling height is 8 feet, the maximum space between each light should be 12 feet.

How do I choose the right shop lights? ›

Check the color temperature of your lighting. Color temperature is measured in Kelvins (K). Light bulbs over 5000K, known as daylight, are best suited for workshops and areas where detailed visibility is needed. Use the same color temperatures for all lighting in an area for uniformity.

What are the disadvantages of LED lights *? ›

Perhaps the biggest drawback of LED light bulbs is that they emit more blue light than incandescent bulbs, which are more on the red end of the spectrum. Blue light can cause a disruption in your circadian rhythm, negatively affect your ability to fall asleep and the quality of your sleep.

Do you need an electrician for LED lights? ›

The Short Answer. Yes, you should use an electrician when conducting electrical work in your home. Using an electrician for light fitting installations means that the highest level of electrical expertise is applied to fitting your light.

How many LED lights do I need for a 30X40 shop? ›

The same answer applies here as above, but you will need more fixtures because the space is bigger. Nice 30X40 shop packages start with 4-6 fixtures and go up from there, depending on your needs.

Are LED shop lights worth it? ›

An LED light bulb will use 20% of the energy to produce the same light as an incandescent bulb. Fluorescent lamps use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs, while halogen lights use 30% less energy. By installing LED lights, you can reduce your utility bills. Longevity is another benefit that LED lights offer.

What is the best color for shop lights? ›

4000 - 4500K - light neutral, white. This is the second of the most popular colors when it comes to choosing the color of lighting. This lighting is perfect for general use, it does not distort colors and is therefore perfect for the workplace.

Do LED shop lights use a lot of electricity? ›

U.S. government studies have shown that LED lights can consume up to 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting in some cases. On average, these lights last at least twice as long for high energy consumers and use 50% less electricity.

How much does it cost to run LED shop lights? ›

What is the average energy consumption and cost of different types of LEDs?
Brightness (in Lumens)WattsAvg. Cost / month*
400 – 5008 – 12W$0.31
650 – 85013 – 18W$0.48
1000 – 140018 – 22W$0.6
1450 - 1700+23 – 30W$0.82
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How long do LED shop lights last? ›

LED lights last around four to seven years with frequent use. Excessive heat can shorten the lifespan of LED lights.

How many lumens is good for a shop light? ›

However, if you can't make calculations or quickly need to know how many lumens are needed per square foot for a garage or workshop, you can try the lumens quick guide below for an average estimate: Workspace or garage: 8,000 to 10,000 lumens. Kitchen work areas: 7,000 to 8,000 lumens. Bathroom: 7,000 to 8,000 lumens.

How many LED shop lights do I need? ›

Start by measuring your space and multiply the length by the width to get your square footage. Then multiply your square footage by 70 to get the minimum lumen requirement for your workshop. For example, my shop is 12' x 16' = 192 square feet. I would require a minimum of 192 x 70 = 13,440 lumens.

Is daylight or cool white better for garage? ›

A: The ideal color temperature for a garage depends on the specific use and personal preference. Cool white (4000-5000K) is often preferred for task-oriented areas like workshops, while daylight (5000-6500K) can provide a brighter and more vibrant illumination.

What is the common problem of LED light? ›

Unlike incandescent light bulbs, LEDs don't produce light using heat. This is part of what makes them so energy efficient. The downside is that their components can be sensitive to overheating, which can cause them to burn out prematurely.

What fails on a LED light? ›

There are a number of basic reasons for LED lights to fail but the primary issue is heat. Over-heating can be a result of a number of design and assembly issues but is still the cause of the majority of LED lamp failures – both in the fitting themselves and also the drivers.

When not to use LED? ›

Enclosed fixtures that don't allow for proper ventilation can drastically affect the temperature of the LED bulb, causing it to overheat and shortening the lifespan of the bulb. That's why some bulbs will tell you not to use it in an enclosed ceiling fan or fully enclosed porch light fixture.

Do LEDs raise electric bill? ›

Lighting accounts for around 15% of an average home's electricity use, and the average household saves about $225 in energy costs per year by using LED lighting. if you are still using incandescent light bulbs, switching to energy-efficient lighting is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bills.

What certification is required for LED lights? ›

This voluntary TÜV SÜD certification mark is awarded for LED lamps (LED light bulbs) with integrated LED modules and lamps with replaceable LED modules, for general purposes or indoor lighting. It demonstrates that the product has been tested and certified by the third-party expert organization TÜV SÜD Product Service.

How many LED shop lights can you connect together? ›

koda led shop light

Installation is easy and the mounting hardware is included. You can also link up to 8 total shop lights together.

Is 50 feet enough for LED lights? ›

50-foot LED lights, in particular, are just the right length to stretch across a whole room and add in a bright pop of color.

What is a good size for LED lights? ›

5mm LEDs can be so bright, they are often used as illumination (lighting something up, like a flashlight, we'll talk about this next). 3mm LEDs are not as bright but are smaller, and are good for indication (like an LED that tells you something is on).

Do I need to remove ballast for LED lights? ›

Do LED Lights Need Ballasts? An LED light does not require a ballast because it uses a component called a “driver” to regulate the power going into the bulb.

Do LED shop lights get hot? ›

In short, yes LED lights do get hot. This may be contrary to what many people think, as LED are cooler by far than the incandescent and halogen bulbs of the past.

Do LED shop lights work in cold weather? ›

Unlike traditional lighting, LEDs actually thrive in cold weather, and are just as efficient as they are in any other environmental conditions. This translates to more energy-efficient lighting, as LEDs require a lot less energy use that results in carbon emissions and higher electric bills.

Is 5000k too bright for garage? ›

Color temperatures range between 3,500K and 6,000K. The lower the number, the warmer or more yellow the lighting will be, whereas the higher the number, the cooler and more blue the lighting will be. The best temperature to aim for when it comes to garage lighting is around 5,000K.

What color temperature for shop LED? ›

The recommended color temperature usually falls between 3000 K and 5000 K. The right color temperature varies depending on the brand, atmosphere & location. However, it is common for retailers to choose lighting within the 2700 K to 4000 K range.

What color makes you shop more? ›

Market researchers have also determined that color affects shopping habits. Impulse shoppers respond best to red-orange, black and royal blue. Shoppers who plan and stick to budgets respond best to pink, teal, light blue and navy. Traditionalists respond to pastels — pink, rose, sky blue.

Do LEDs attract bugs? ›

Because most LED lights don't emit UV light or generate a lot of heat, they tend attract very few insects. Insects are attracted to light. However, LED light gives off less heat, and also emits the wrong colours of the visible light spectrum, resulting in less insects being attracted to them.

How much does it cost to leave an LED light on all day? ›

Leaving the bulb on the whole day will therefore cost you: 0.06 (60 watts / 1000) kilowatts x 24 hours x 12 cents = approximately 20 cents in one day.

How much does it cost to run an LED light bulb for 24 hours? ›

Comparison Between LED, CFL and Incandescent Light Bulbs:
Daily cost*$0.005$0.03
Annual cost*$1.83$10.95
Cost for 50k hours @ $0.10 kWh$50$300
Bulbs needed for 50k hours550
4 more rows

Can LED lights be left on 24 7? ›

To put it simply, well-manufactured LED lights are extremely long-lasting and can be left on 24 hours, 7 days a week. This is because, unlike conventional types of light, LEDs produce minimal amounts of heat, which means they are unlikely to overheat or set on fire.

Does turning LED lights on and off use more electricity? ›

Light Emitting Diodes (LED)

Light Emitting Diodes, or LEDs for short, are the most efficient bulbs you can use for home illumination. Like incandescent bulbs, they are generally unaffected by the number of times you turn them on or off.

How much should I charge to install LED lights? ›

The cost for an electrician to install recessed can or can less LED lights will generally be between $200 and $250 per fixture. Professionals charge at a rate of $85 to $105 per hour and each installation takes approximately two to three hours.

Can I leave LED lights on all night? ›

Because of the lifespan of an LED and its energy-saving capabilities, you'll end up saving a lot of money in the long run. So yes, you can keep LED lights on 24/7. Whether it's Christmas lights or strip lights, LED lights are the best option for prolonged usage.

Do LED lights get dimmer over time? ›

Light-emitting diodes—the components that provide illumination in LED bulbs—are different. Instead of experiencing sudden death, they grow dimmer over time, and according to industry standards, their useful life is over when their brightness is diminished by 30%. There's no convenient way to measure this at home.

What is better LED or integrated LED? ›

Because of the way they are installed, integrated LED bulbs have an even longer lifetime rating than screw-in LED bulbs. They are also more visually appealing, and much more energy-efficient.

How many square feet will 5000 lumens light up? ›

A 100-square-foot dining room, which needs 30-40 foot-candles, will need 3,000-4,000 lumens. For the average space of 250 square feet, you'll need roughly 5,000 lumens as your primary light source (20 lumens x 250 square feet).

How many lumens do I need for a 1200 square foot garage? ›

The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) Lighting Handbook recommends 50 lumens (a measure of light output) per square foot in residential garages and 300 lumens per square foot in workshop areas.

Is 20000 lumens brighter than 10000 lumens? ›

Either way, it is in part because of this difference in "Usable Lumens," that a traditional light rated at 20,000 Lumens would be observed to be less bright that a 10,000 Lumen LED light under the same conditions.

How many LED lights can you have on one breaker? ›

As a general rule of thumb, a total of 8-10 numbers of light bulbs can be installed on a single pole, single phase 15A, 120V circuit breaker.

What color temperature should a workshop be? ›


What is the best color temperature for detailing? ›

The average sunny day has a color temperature of 5,000 Ð 6,000 kelvins. That's a great target range for most cars, but working on darker cars may require a higher color temperature, even up to 7,000 kelvins, while silver cars, for example, may require a lower intensity, perhaps around 4,000 kelvins.

What is the best color combo for a garage? ›

Neutral colors like grey, beige, or tan will be easier to clean and maintain than a white shade and give you more design flexibility, too. To make the garage feel more relaxing, soothing tones such as blue, green, and grey can be used as one of your primary colors.

What 3 benefits do LED lights have? ›

The light-emitting diode (LED) is today's most energy-efficient and rapidly-developing lighting technology. Quality LED light bulbs last longer, are more durable, and offer comparable or better light quality than other types of lighting.

How can you tell if an LED light is good quality? ›

Quality LED lights of the same color temperature will all look consistent in color when installed. Lower quality LED lights will be inconsistent in color, even if they are marketed as the same color temperature. When looking for LED lights, ask to see them installed to check for color consistency.

How long do LED lights last? ›

One of the biggest advantages of LED light fixtures, is their extended lifespan. While incandescent light bulbs were built to last around 1,000 hours, the most enduring LED light fixtures have been tested to last as long as 100,000 hours. On average LED light bulbs will not have to be changed for at least 20 years.

What voltage is required for LED lights? ›

LEDs are designed to run on low voltage (12-24V), direct-current electricity. However, most places supply higher voltage (120-277V), alternating current electricity. An LED driver rectifies higher voltage, alternating current to low-voltage, direct current.

Do you need a special fixture for LED lights? ›

As long as the mounting base (socket) is the same size and type, you can use an LED bulb in an existing fixture. If the mounting base isn't the same size and type, the LED bulb will not fit the socket. You should never use a bulb with a higher wattage than what is recommended for the fixture.

Do LED lights need a special socket? ›

Screw-in LEDs require no retrofitting into existing sockets because they contain not just the light-emitting diode but also the electronic driver that makes it work.

Do LED lights get hot? ›

Yes, new technology LED lighting can and will get hot, but when compared to the lighting of the past, temperatures are much safer. The heat from the lighting will also warm your surrounding environment but in comparison to old incandescent lighting, this ambient heat is greatly reduced when using LED lighting.

What color of LED is best? ›

Nature white 4000–4500K or daylight white 6000–6500K is the best LED light color for studying.

Are expensive LED lights worth it? ›

The short answer is yes. As with many products, you get what you pay for when it comes to LED lighting. The difference in quality can be quite noticeable. An initial investment for high quality LED lights can actually cost less in the long run when you factor in maintenance, light quality and energy savings.

Why do my LED lights burn out so fast? ›

Unlike incandescent light bulbs, LEDs don't produce light using heat. This is part of what makes them so energy efficient. The downside is that their components can be sensitive to overheating, which can cause them to burn out prematurely.

Is it OK to leave my LED lights on all night? ›

Because of the lifespan of an LED and its energy-saving capabilities, you'll end up saving a lot of money in the long run. So yes, you can keep LED lights on 24/7. Whether it's Christmas lights or strip lights, LED lights are the best option for prolonged usage.

What happens if LED lights are too long? ›

If your string lights are too long, it could cause problems with plugging them into outlets. The extra slack can pull the light strand around to where you're unable to get a good grip on it and plug it in.


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