Perhaps you are the type of person who believes, as I often do, that if one is enough, two would be better, and six would be best. That type of person would definitely be inclined to seek commercial instead of residential type lighting for his or her garage, thinking the commercial grade is bound to be better engineered, last longer, and be of better overall quality. If it’s designed for the wear and tear of commercial use, it must be better for my garage, right?
Well, not exactly. Let’s start with the biggest problem first:
Most people have fluorescent overhead lighting in their garages. In this case, bigger is definitely not better. In fact, the FCC actually forbids commercial fixtures for residential use due to the increased heat of commercial ballasts. Add to this that the designs are intended for higher ceilings than those of most residential garages, and you have a fixture that overall puts out more heat, too much light, and you are talking overkill. You might even be talking a fire hazard, which is the reason the states have the laws against them.
There are a lot of design flaws in looking at commercial fixtures as well. Commercial designers are geared more towards efficiency in the garage than toward the homeowner’s aesthetic. What appears totally appropriate in the large parking garage may appear cold or unappealing in a residential setting. The two types of designers are simply working with two different goals in mind.
Size is an issue. The large boxy features of commercial incandescent fixtures will certainly work in the homeowner’s garage, but how will they look? They are designed to light a huge area from overhead, and in the lower ceilings of a smaller garage, they may cast a garish, stark light that is unappealing.
Overall, I was convinced there was no room in the residential market for commercial garage lighting until the advent of one new commercial product: light emitting diodes (LED’s). These little pieces of technology have single-handed begun to revolutionize the world of lighting. As the movement of electrons along a semiconductor, they transmit light in a different way, accounting for much less heat, and lasting up to six times longer than a fluorescent bulb. We now have a new, commercial technology that is viable in the home market as well, and is both energy efficient and cost efficient over the long haul.
Within the next two years, I suspect we are going to see LED light strips replacing regular fluorescent tubes in many home garages and workshops. They can be retro-fitted to most fixtures with little or no extra cash outlay. Although the initial cash expense for the lights may be up to sixty percent higher, the savings over the first ten years will more than make up for that outlay. (http://www.mcwhole.com/LED_Garage_Lighting.html)
Do I need commercial garage lighting? If I want to be on the forefront of new technology, be energy-efficient, and save myself from replacing bulbs over the next ten years, then the answer is a surprising yes!