Easy Ways to Update Your Garage Lighting

Don't let your garage lighting be an afterthought. Smartly placed and stylishly chosen garage lighting fixtures can maximize function and exterior design.

Unless a lightbulb burns out, many homeowners rarely think about their garage lighting. There might be a motion sensor fixture that turns on when they pull a car in, and there might be some fluorescent fixtures left over from the 1990s to light the interior. But in general, whatever was there when the homeowner moved in is what's there for them to rely on to light their garage today.

For a space that's used on a daily basis, that's too bad: Garage lighting can work wonders to help provide safe passage from outside to inside and highlight landscape features as well as improve usability for amenities such as workbenches and outdoor storage. Here are ways to update your old garage lighting.

eclectic home exterior with mixed materials
Rett Peek

Outdoor Garage Lighting Ideas

1. Add a sconce or two to illuminate a garage entry door.

Even if your main point of entry and exit is the garage door, a sconce to one side of a traditional door will help with safe passage. If you have exterior wall space, consider a sconce on both sides; the head-height installation of sconces helps prevent blinding glare.

2. Flank the garage car doors with fixtures.

To enable easier pulling in and backing out during nighttime hours, install fixtures to each side of your garage doors. Shaded fixtures such as sconces help to direct light downward and reduce glare. You might also want to look for garage lighting that utilizes photocells to turn lights off and on as daylight increases or decreases. Another option: Consider adding incrementally placed fixtures on the soffit above the garage doors.

3. Use portable lights if needed.

Easily movable work lights are a great option to add directed illumination on shelves or work surfaces. They can also be used as necessary to provide light for additional work projects.

4. Install motion sensors at key points on the garage.

One of the added benefits of garage lighting is to cast light outward to the landscape to illuminate dark areas. Install garage light sensors that react to motion for added safety and security.

5. Install uplights at the corners to highlight architecture.

Many garages reflect interesting architecture found on homes, and uplights—also called accent lights—can accent those features.

For both indoor and outdoor garage lighting, research wireless controls that enable you to control illumination from inside your home. These newest options offer flexibility without the hassle of invasive and often expensive wiring.

blue garage makeover tour after lighting red overhead

Indoor Garage Lighting Ideas

1. Add more overhead indoor garage lighting.

Many garages have a single bulb overhead, which isn't enough light for the most basic of tasks—even pulling in to park a car. The goal for overhead garage lighting is to illuminate as much of the garage floor as possible; that might mean adding fixtures every 4-5 feet. To increase the amount of overhead garage lighting, you might need to consult with an electrician to determine the proper wiring, electrical load, and fixture installation. A variety of outdoor fixtures, powered by single or multiple bulbs, can be used.

2. Install garage task lighting.

Most garages have either storage shelves or a workbench that might require task lighting. Simple undercabinet fixtures—many of them an easy DIY project—can help illuminate shelves and make finding toys and tools easier. For work surfaces, many homeowners choose to install sturdy compact fluorescent work lights. Many of these hang from the ceiling and can be adjusted based on height requirements.

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