This is 12 Helpful tips for hanging shop lights. If you’re planning on installing shop lights on the ceiling of your workshop, knowing how to hang them is super important, and these tips will make the job so much easier. Enjoy.
Shop Lighting is Very Important
The quality of your shop lighting is one of the most important decisions that you can make as a woodworker. Not only will the quality of light make your shop more comfortable, it will also make it safer, and more efficient.
How does light do all these things you might ask? Light has a direct effect on your mood, how much you can see in an environment, and consequently how efficiently you work. If you’re in a happier mood, and you can see better so you’re safer, you’ll also work better.
If you have crappy lighting in your shop right now, the absolute best hundred dollars you could spend is on a nice set of LED lights from Amazon. You will feel like you are in a brand new shop, and it can be a night and day difference over cheesy fluorescent bulbs.
Since you’re here about learning how to hang shop lights, I’m assuming that you’ve already bought a set, or you’re entertaining the idea of buying a set. I promise it’s a very good idea, and it made a remarkable difference in my shop when I finally pulled the trigger.
Best hundred bucks I ever spent.
Most Lights Hang from the Ceiling
Most shop lights hang from the ceiling. By hang, that means they either literally hang from some sort of chain or wire, or they kind of metaphorically hang by being stuck to the ceiling itself. Either way, you need to figure out how to stick them to the ceiling.
Since most lights hang from the ceiling, you can keep them out of the way, and use that information to design your layout. Lights that are above you don’t cause any additional glare, and they can spread their light out in a wide pattern.
This means it won’t take a whole lot of light fixtures to illuminate the place really well. That’s good news for you, and even though LED lights are inexpensive, you still don’t want to have to buy more than you need.
Design a Layout on Paper First
Before you can start hanging your shop lights, you need to design the layout first, that way you know how much to buy. Again, you don’t want to buy too many and you don’t want to buy too few. You need it to be just right.
Get some graph paper and do a quick overhead sketch of your shop, and place all of your major tools so that way you know where you need the most light. Add in your benches and assembly tables as well, and any places that you spend a lot of time.
Start marking out where the lights should be. Space them a few feet apart at least, and see where you’re at. For most LED lights, you don’t need to space them tightly in order to get a lot of light. Look at some of the kits online, and check the description.
Most of the time there will be at least a little bit of a recommendation as far as what type of size your room can be, and about how far apart to put them. However, starting about every 4 to 6 feet is a good reference point.
How to Safely Hang Shop Lights
Hanging shop lights is all about safety. It’s really easy to get the distribution of the light correct, and have the entire shop well lit. However, the part that’s easier to overlook is hanging the lights in a way that is safe.
Even lightweight LED shop lights can cause harm if they fall from the ceiling. They can also cause a shock if they pull down some of the wiring with them. They can crash into projects, and in general created a lot of problems that you don’t need.
However, it is easy to hang the lights in a secure way, and I’ll show you several different methods coming up. Make sure to install these lights with a lot of care, and hang them like you plan on leaving them there forever.
When you do, and you have safety and security in the front of your mind instead of the back, you’ll naturally hang the lights better. In this way, your shop will both be a well lit space and a safer space.
Watch for the Garage Door
One of the big rookie mistakes when hanging shop light is not taking into account the position of the garage door when it is open. Most of the time, you’ll go out into the garage and start hanging the lights with the overhead door closed.
When you do, it’s easy to forget that the door comes back up sometimes, and that depending on your light placement, they can be covered. While it’s not the end of the world to cover a light, it’s another thing entirely to rip one off the ceiling with the garage door.
In the case of hanging shop lights that swing perhaps several inches or more down from the ceiling, this is a reality. The garage door isn’t programmed to stop on the way up, so when it encounters some resistance, it just keeps on pushing.
Though it may be a funny story to tell later on, it won’t be very funny when the garage door rips your freshly installed shop lights off the ceiling and throws them on the ground. Check the garage door path first, and then install your lights.
Find Studs as the Number One Method
For safety and security, the number one way to anchor shop lights to the ceiling is to find wooden studs. These are typically placed at an even distance behind the wall board, and they are much stronger.
The framing of your house carries the weight of the structure. If you drill and screw into these wooden beams, your shop lights will hang very securely. It’s just a matter of finding them, and using them as a guide to install your lights.
The easiest way to do this is with the stud finder. These are a battery powered item typically that shows you the location of the beams behind the ceiling. Purchase one of these, and mark out your studs. Then, secure your lights with wood screws.
Use Strong Wall Anchors as Second Method
If you don’t have the ability to find the studs, or your light placement doesn’t allow you to anchor into them, then your next bet is wall anchors. These are great, and they come in a lot of different configurations.
Though wall anchors are typically meant for the wall, and their weight rating is for downward force in a wall, they also add additional strength to a ceiling. Take a look at the manufacturer for the specifics, but they can make your anchor point much stronger.
Anchors spread out the force from the attachment point, which makes it easier for them to hold on. All you need to do is use the correct anchors, and your attachment points on the lights will be a lot stronger and be able to hold more.
Adjust the Hanging Distance with Chain
Shop lights that hang from a chain offer you the additional convenience of being able to adjust the position of the light itself. There are some cases where you might want the light lower or higher, and the chain allows you to make that adjustment.
In general, lights that are closer to the ceiling will cast a wider beam and then those that are lower. The trade off is the further the light is away from you, the lower the power of the light itself.
You can use this to your advantage by hanging a light a little lower over a workbench to give you more light, and then hang the other ones a little higher to cast a wider beam. This gives you the best of both worlds, and it’s all simply by adjusting the chain.
Make Sure the Lights are Secure
Which ever way you attach your lights to the ceiling, the most important thing is that you take all steps necessary to make sure that they are secure. Depending on the style of light, some are a lot heavier than others.
With heavier lights, really consider going for the studs as your main attachment method. These are far stronger than using wall anchors, and you will feel a lot more secure when you walk away from the shop.
If you are using LED lights, which are a lot lighter, you can get away with using wall anchors to hold your lights to the ceiling. Again, make sure that your particular lights will work with anchors, and don’t hang something too heavy.
Not being with you myself, all I can offer is a guide for using the wall anchors. I use them quite often, and I make sure that there are way more anchors than there probably should be just to be on the safe side.
Have All of Your Tools Close to the Ladder
Another secret to hanging shop lights, which prevents a lot of unnecessary trips, and even some swearwords is to keep all of your tools close to the ladder. This will help when you’re going up and down.
With all your tools are nice and close, anytime you need something you can easily grab it, or when you do climb down it’s very close by. This helps you get the job done quicker, and more efficiently.
Think of everything that you will need to install your lights, and gather it near where you will be working. Place it in a central location, where it’s easy to grab. We need something, you’ll know exactly where it is, and that’ll make the process much easier.
Wear a Tool Belt or Pouch to Minimize Ladder Trips
Another thing you can do that super helpful for installing anything on the ceiling is to wear a total pouch with your smaller items inside. This allows you to bring more with you up the latter, and minimize your trips.
It’s a pain in the butt to be constantly up and down a ladder. If you carry most of your things with you in a tool pouch, you can reduce the trips that you have to take, then it will alleviate some fatigue on your legs.
You don’t have to have a giant tool pouch, just something that’s big enough to hold your screws, brackets, anchors, and other small items. You might even have a spot to clip your drill so that you can go up and do everything in one trip.
Basic Ladder Safety
When you’re using a ladder, it’s important not to take for granted that you’ve seen the latter used a million times before. Just because it looks easy, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. Especially when it comes to carrying tools up and down.
More people are hurt with ladder related accidents than you probably think. It’s definitely worth the time to understand the basic operation of your latter, and understand the safety aspects that will help you live longer.
Things like how much weight your ladder can support, how many points of contact you should have at all times, and how you safely climb up and down are important to know. All of these things make a big difference, especially if you’ve never done them before.
Hang One Light at a Time
When you’re hanging your lights, it’s important to hang one at a time. Get one light fully installed, and completely functioning. This is important for building momentum, and it’s also important for making the job easier with every successful light.
Building momentum is huge. If you have 20 lights to hang, it can seem like an overwhelming task, especially if you hang 20 chains and that’s as far as you get. Hang the lights one at a time, then you’ll start to see the number dwindling.
The other nice thing is that you can turn on the first couple of lights to add additional light to the space that you are working in. Light increases mood, and that will help you build momentum to finish the rest.
See Also: 9 Great Tips for Storing Wood Clamps
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know all of these tips on hanging shop lights, it’s time to get out in the shop and take action. Plan for a new set of lights for your shop, and it will have a gigantic impact on the way that you work.
Shop lights are pretty easy to hang if you follow the tips, and you work safely. Think about safety and security in the way that you hang your lights, and the process will move along at a much better pace.
Finish each light one at a time, and when you turn them on you will be so excited at how your new shop looks. If you have any questions on hanging shop plates, please Post a Question in the Q&A Forum and I’ll be glad to help. Happy building.
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