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#1010320 - 04/27/18 01:40 PM Home improvement: let there be (garage) light  
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Joe Frickin' Friday Offline
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Joe Frickin' Friday  Offline

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Ann Arbor, MI (USA)
“Just enough light to prevent tripping and dying” seems to be the default for residential garages. Builders will install one (maybe two) standard light bulb sockets in the ceiling of a two-car garage and call it good; likewise, garage door openers are usually equipped with one or two sockets and a low power limit.

Such was the case in my garage, which had a single light socket in the middle of the ceiling when we moved in. Over the years, I tried to make it better. I put two additional light sockets in the ceiling. When CFLs came along, I put 150-watt-equivalent CFLs in each socket. The garage door opener had two sockets of its own, but they were each restricted to 100 watts of actual power. I put 150-watt-equivalents there too, since they each only drew an actual 45 watts. But all of this was still a weak solution:

  • When CFLs are cold, they don’t put out much light. Tell you what, Michigan is pretty damn cold for a good part of the year; you turn on the lights to take out the garbage, they won’t deliver full brightness until after you’re done. That sucks.

  • The CFLs in the garage door opener were under the steady-state power limit, but the in-rush current during startup was very high – so high that sometimes the tiny relay contacts in the garage door opener got tack-welded together. You’d come home from work in the evening, go out to the garage the next morning and discover that the lights had been stuck on all night; the only recourse was to cycle the light button on the opener repeatedly until the contacts broke loose and the light turned off.

LED lighting is maturing nicely, and these days you can quality fixtures with useful brightness. So a few weeks go I finally bit the bullet and went shopping. I found these LED fixtures at Home Depot: 5200 lumens each.

[Linked Image]


But how many to get? A bit of Googling turns up lots of guides, like this one. In the end I bought four fixtures, giving me 50 lumens per square foot; by that guide, not as bright as a bathroom, but brighter than a kitchen. Sounds about right.

But in addition to more light, I went one step further: I didn’t just want brighter lights, I wanted those bright lights to come on/off with my garage door opener so that I could have that bright light while walking out to my car on dark mornings or coming home after sunset. But four fixtures = 232 watts, beyond the garage door opener’s stated limit.

What to do????

It turns out I had a big relay gathering dust in my junk drawer, so I bought a project box and some other bits and pieces, and spliced in some cords:

[Linked Image]


The idea is that the relay (in the box) draws power from an outlet using the male end of the big black cord. The brown cord connects to the little white lamp socket adapter, and is the thing that controls the big relay. So the garage door opener closes its little internal relay, powering its lamp socket, which turns on the big relay in my project box and supplies mucho power from the male end of the big black cord to the female end of the big black cord.

So how to keep the wiring tidy? Simple. You need a marine charging inlet. Here’s my relay box, installed on the garage door opener frame:

[Linked Image]


That CFL on the ceiling is in the original single socket the garage was built with. Look behind it, and you can see where the charging inlet is installed (the female end of the big black cord isn’t plugged into it in that pic):

[Linked Image]


The back side of that charging inlet is wired to all four LED fixtures installed elsewhere on the garage ceiling. Here’s the brown cord and socket adapter, connected to the opener’s lamp socket:

[Linked Image]


My experience with CFLs has been that their brightness is typically overstated. I assumed the same would be true for these LED fixtures, but now that I see them, I think they’re understating their brightness. These things are awesome:

[Linked Image]


Now we get full bright lights welcoming us home in the evening or seeing us out to our cars in the morning. And they will deliver full brightness as soon as they turn on, no matter how cold it gets. I still have the three old light bulb sockets in the ceiling (you can see two of them in that photo), controlled by a wall switch, but I don’t foresee using them much; I’ll probably just use the light switch on the garage door opener.

cool cool cool cool cool cool cool cool








#1010324 - 04/27/18 02:39 PM Re: Home improvement: let there be (garage) light [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]  
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Dennis Andress Offline
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Nice work, nerd. I have four similar LED lights waiting for my 'round-to-it to empty...


These lights caught my eye. They're too expensive for mere mortals, but 13,000 Lumens sounds really nice.

#1010325 - 04/27/18 02:52 PM Re: Home improvement: let there be (garage) light [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]  
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realshelby Offline
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I converted the 13 fluorescent light fixtures in my shop about 2 years ago. They were ok, but they did put off some heat and my AC is a bit weak at high temps.

The LED fixtures use less power. They have SIGNIFICANTLY more light output and a very nice light color to work by. While they look like CFL bulbs, they don't require a plastic cover over the housing. There is a plastic cover over the LED emitters as part of the tube assembly. What is really effective about these is that unlike CFL where light comes out 360 degrees, the LED emitters are facing downward. No wasted lumens going up and trying to get out of the dirt that collects on the top of the CFL tube. All the light goes into the work area. So far all of these are still working like the day I installed them. No warmup, no flickering ( I blame that on my diminished mental state ).

#1010326 - 04/27/18 02:59 PM Re: Home improvement: let there be (garage) light [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]  
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Living the Dream Offline
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Walnut Cove, North Carolina
Not enough. In my basement garage, I have six 4'LED shop lights, slightly less lumens, but still bright and two 4' Fluorescents. Still has that dark feel, will eventually paint everything bright white as it is currently, cinderblock gray.

My upstairs garage has four 4' LED shop lights that I put in and rather than tying them to the opener, I put a motion sensor in. Walk in the garage, poof, lights, door opens, poof lights, AC blowing directly on sensor, poof air movement, lights. While the upstairs is bright, the shadowing is kinda bad off when working low to the ground.......next idea is floor lights shining up wink


Richard
Laborare pugnare paratus sum
2014 HP4
2010 Shadow RS
2006 R1200rt
PRC-E7
#1010328 - 04/27/18 03:20 PM Re: Home improvement: let there be (garage) light [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]  
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Lone_RT_rider Offline
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Germantown, WI
And then there is the solution for those of us that are truly lazy....

[Linked Image]


2018 Harley-Davidson FLHTP Electra-Glide
2008 BMW R1200RT
2007 Buell Ulysses XB12X
1999 BMW R1100RT

#1010329 - 04/27/18 03:32 PM Re: Home improvement: let there be (garage) light [Re: Lone_RT_rider]  
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Joe Frickin' Friday Offline
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Joe Frickin' Friday  Offline

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Originally Posted by Lone_RT_rider
And then there is the solution for those of us that are truly lazy....


There is beauty in brute-force simplicity. My solution took me several days and cost hundreds of dollars, whereas that seven-bulb adapter is cheap, and quick to implement; I bet you were done in five minutes. Only improvement would be if the designer splayed out the sockets a bit so that instead of the bulbs all pointing straight at the floor below them, they angle outward a bit to spread the light around.

#1010330 - 04/27/18 03:52 PM Re: Home improvement: let there be (garage) light [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]  
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Living the Dream Offline
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Living the Dream  Offline
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Walnut Cove, North Carolina
Originally Posted by Joe Frickin' Friday


My solution took me several days and cost hundreds of dollars


Converted the two original single light sockets to plugs (hot wired), spliced in the motion sensor (hot wired), equally measured the hanging lights, ........half day, pushing it. While you got the flush mounts, I went cheaper with the hangers wink I'll take a happy snap at some point during darkness.


Richard
Laborare pugnare paratus sum
2014 HP4
2010 Shadow RS
2006 R1200rt
PRC-E7
#1010335 - 04/27/18 06:26 PM Re: Home improvement: let there be (garage) light [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]  
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Lone_RT_rider Offline
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Germantown, WI
Originally Posted by Joe Frickin' Friday
I bet you were done in five minutes.


Yeah, I did take a short break between putting up the two fixtures. smile .....So, 5 minutes total.


2018 Harley-Davidson FLHTP Electra-Glide
2008 BMW R1200RT
2007 Buell Ulysses XB12X
1999 BMW R1100RT

#1010360 - 04/28/18 12:27 PM Re: Home improvement: let there be (garage) light [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]  
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Doug_Baliko Offline
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Doug
12 R1200RT - The Green Machine
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#1010434 - 04/30/18 11:38 AM Re: Home improvement: let there be (garage) light [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]  
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Sonor Offline
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Oh heavens, there's a garage picture I can't show the wife. If I did, I would spend the rest of the year's free time cleaning and organizing. :-)
Not that isn't a bad idea mind you, just I would rather ride.


aka "Z-Man"
R1200RT 05
"If cagers can do something stupid, they will."
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