Having plenty of light makes working your workshop a lot nicer.
In this episode we are going to talk a bit about some of the theory of how light works. Then move into some particulars to know about light.
Finally end on how to light up your workshop effectively. All while giving you some base knowledge to do some research on your own if you want to so you can light your workspace well.
If you would prefer to watch here is the video:
Hello and welcome to the 11th episode of the BudDIY Podcast. I’m your host Buddy Lindsey and today we’re going to talk about lighting and lighting up your shop and just kind of how light works. It’s a super fun topic in my opinion. We’re going to go through that today. But first if you’re watching on YouTube, please feel free to hit subscribe, hit that notification bell and turn on notifications so that you know when a new episode is released. If you’re listening on the website, our podcast is available on most major podcasting platforms. You can just subscribe on your phone or other device as well. If you’re watching or listening anywhere else in the website and if you’re on the website, please feel free to visit us at buddiy.net and sign up for our email newsletter so that you know when new content is released, not just podcast episodes, but other content as well.
With that, let’s go ahead and jump into today. We’re going to start off with my thoughts and just what’s going on around the shop this week. One of the things that happened this week as I’m going to save that… It has to deal with my table saw and the blade towards my failure. But otherwise I got in some stuff today to start working on today this week to start working on Arduino projects and I kind of pulled everything out and kind of got organized a little bit.
The first project and I’m going to do is actually going to be a temperature and humidity sensor that I can put it out in the shop and just put on the wall and I can have a digital readout of what the current temperature is and what the humidity level is, since I don’t have the conditioned space. I’ve got the sensor in that does both the temperature and humidity measurements. Yeah, I started doing a little bit of basic research to start the process on that, so I’m super excited about that.
I also got the final chunk of lights that I’ve wanted to put in the shop up and that’s looking really nice and I’m actually going to talk about that more in a little bit, but I’m just excited that it’s there and a few dark spots that had been bugging me and now those are gone.
Everything that I got done was I got the cable run from the breaker box over to my shop area to run the two 20 volts so that I can plug in my planer as well so I can start using the planer. I also found out my jointer is a 110, so I didn’t necessarily need to do anything about that to get that working, which is exciting.
The next thing I had to do for wiring in the shop is my father in law is going to come over and he’s going to wire everything in this week hopefully sometime. All I got to do is put longer cables on the different tools in the shop and I should be ready to go and be able to buy some floor protector things so I don’t trip over cables and don’t had a tripping hazard because you don’t want trip around woodworking tools. That could not be fun.
With that, it’s been kind of a light week. I’ve had a lot of extra work at work going on, so I haven’t really been able to be out in the shop as much as I’d like. Plus I had a couple things on order blocking progress in a few areas. But this week it looks like we’re going to get back on track and I’m going to start working on projects again because I have everything in and I’m ready to start working.
With that, let’s go ahead and jump into the main topic of today, and that is to deal with lighting. What we’re going to do is we’re going to go over lighting and let’s start with some theory going through just kind of some context and some definitions and things like that. Then I’m going to run into what you should do about lighting up areas in your house, your shop, whatever. The goal for this podcast episode is to hit on, what does it take to light the area that you want to light and be effective about it? I hope I’m giving enough background and understanding of how light works and then give you some practical tips, give you some idea of what to do, some generalized idea of what to do and how to calculate things. Then I’ll give you some practical advice after that that’s just, if you don’t want to go through all of this, just do this X, Y, and Z thing and you’ll most likely be fine.
With that, let’s go ahead and jump in. I’m going to tell you about myself a little bit to kind of set the stage for some of the rest of the stuff in this episode. I just got done, like I said earlier, finishing up putting up lights in my shop. I have a 20 by 20 shop area that I’m doing woodworking in, and I probably could have spaced things out a little bit better. But in the end, I’m talking about 24 lights in my shop area if you include the four foot and eight foot sections. I actually totaled out at around 114,000 lumens, which in all honesty is high for what I need or for that area because of two main factors.
One is it’s not a completely enclosed shop and so some of the rest of the shop kind of sucks the light out of the shop area. So I have to overpower that. I had to have some extra. I also want to do filming and recording out there as well and I need extra light out there that fills in so I don’t have any dark spots that exist to kind of make it a little funky, and I have to add extra supplemental lighting. My goal is not have to have any extra lighting out there other than what’s in the ceiling. We’ll see if I can get away with that, but that was my goal and that’s why I went with such a large amount of light in that space. You don’t generally need 114,000 lumens in a 20 by 20 space.
I’m also a little bit crazy when it comes to lighting. I have very specific opinions when it comes to lighting. Like my office here, I have about, I think it’s 10,000 lumens in here and 10,000 lumens in the back room here. That’s honestly overkill for this area, but it produces the light that I like, and it’s a 5,000k light and I love the way it looks. I love the way it feels, and I love the brightness that it provides if I need that brightness. I also have a dimmer on it so I can just turn the lights down if I need to. Like I said, I have some very specific ideas of what I like and that’s what I did my shop. I think it turned out pretty well for me.
With that, let’s go ahead and jump into some of the specifics. We’re going to start with a little bit of theory and how light works. Light is very interesting. As an example, if you look at movies like very large movies, you have two people that work in movies. That’s the lighting person and the grip, and you probably looked at me like what’s a gripper? It’s just a weird name. Basically the lighting person adds light to a scene and the grip removes light from a scene. It’s a really cool and interesting relationship, especially the fact that you can have two crews in a sense, depending on the area, that one just adds light to a scene and one just removes light from a scene. It’s totally crazy.
But as an example of how that happens, like I said in my shop, I have dark areas at the top of my shop and it kind of sucks light out because it’s adding a dark area for light to infiltrate into and not bounce back out because what you’re really seeing in a sense is light moving through the air, the photons moving the air and then bouncing off of stuff. The light that reflects back out as it bounce off of is the colors, the color of the light of the object is what you’re seeing. That can have interesting effects.
One thing, I was doing a photo shoot at my dad’s church trying to do a church directory with them. We had some good light, but in a couple of different places they had a really light shirt on and so there was too much light in their face that was reflecting off. All I did was I grabbed a black box. It was about that big. I kind of set it at their feet underneath where the frame of the picture would be and that absorbed enough light that it pulled some of that light away from the face and we had a pretty good picture. It’s just kind of interesting that you can do that.
So if you have black in different areas, depending on how everything works, it can actually suck the light out of an area and leave you with just the right amount of light or too little light. So that’s kind of one of the things that you have to be careful of. Currently I have silver walls that kind of take some of the light away, and so I have to overpower that until I can get out there and do some white walls. Then I might have to back off some of my light, but probably not. And we’ll see. Anyway, so that’s kind of some of the theory on how light moves and structures without going into too much more detail. It’s a lot of fun.
The next thing I really wanted to hit on is lighting and the terminology of lighting when it relates to rooms and shops and things of that nature. There’s really three terms that you need to be aware of, but you don’t really need to know exactly what they are. The first definition that you need to know is a foot candle, and I’m going to read the definition of that so that I don’t mess it up because I probably will. A foot candle represents the amount of visible light that is emitted from a [inaudible 00:08:45] source striking at the surface one foot away. One foot candle is equal to one lumen of square foot. So what that mean? That means somebody took a candle, they stood one foot away from thing, and the amount of light that it produced onto that wall is one foot candle.
That’s about all you need to know about that. If you get heavily into lighting an area and you start working with professionals that are lighting, you’ll use foot candles more often. You don’t need to know much more than that for the sake of what we’re discussing and lighting your shop if you’re going to do it yourself.
The next term is a lumen, and this is actually what we’re going to use the most. You don’t really have to understand too much of the underlying theory of a lumen and how it’s calculated and all of that because we just use a total number of lumens for specific amount of space and we can work from there to be able to determine what we need and don’t need for an area. But I just want to give you what a lumen is. A lumen is a unit of measurement indicating the visible light output of a light source. Basically lumens tell you how bright a light bulb is. The higher number of the lumens, the brighter the bulb. We generally use lumens per square foot to ensure a place has sufficient lighting.
Finally, let’s go to the LUX and you can after this point, forget about LUX and foot candles. The LUX is an SI unit of measurement of illuminance, i.e. the total luminous flux of incident light on a unit of surface area. It’s a super technical way to say it, but it is a measure of how much incident light illuminates the surface, and it gives an indication of the perception of intensity of the light by a human eye. LUX is defined as the number of lumens per a unit area. That might or might not make a lot of sense. Again, you don’t need to understand it too well. I just kind of want to give you an understanding.
I’m going to read a couple more things I wrote down about lumens and LUX, and then I’m just going to stop this altogether. I just wanted to let you hear about it for the jumps in your brain and your brain can either think about it or not think about it, but it’s at least there. So if you ever deal with lighting again in the future, you have a couple of terms to be able to latch onto and do more research on.
Finally, a lumen measures the amount of light, the photon output from a light source, weighted by the luminous function to account for the sensitivity of the human eye. The LUX measures how bright the light appears, and the LUX takes into account the spread of light over an area. Lumen is how bright the bulb is, and the LUX is how you perceive it in your eye over a specific area. Basically a foot candle is how much light a single candle called a candela that’s a specific size is focused on the wall from one foot. A lumen is how bright a bulb is and a LUX is how your perception of how much light is over a given area. That’s really all you need to know.
Now that we have the more scientific side of it and the stuff that you don’t really need to know a lot about, but it’s good to hear about, let’s jump into something that’s a little more crucial to what we’re doing, and that is the color scale of light. This one is kind of cool. I’m going to discuss some of the theory and some of the terminology, most of which you probably don’t really need to know about, but I wanted to kind of go over because A, it’s interesting and B, it’s good to have a little bit of base of understanding of what’s going on. Let’s jump into something that’s a little more relevant and let’s talk about the light spectrum and the colors involved in lighting. It’s actually really cool once I figured out the first part that I’m going to tell you.
The color spectrum that people talk about is on the Kelvin range and actually goes from infrared to ultraviolet. The color going from the infrared to ultraviolet is the color scale on the Kelvin scale that determines those two things. So if something would say, just for argument’s sake, zero Kelvin, it would be infrared. If something was, I think it’s something like 12,000 Kelvin or 20,000 Kelvin. I don’t remember. You’re not going to get a bulb that high. It’s going to be a ultraviolet. The color is between zero and say 20,000 Kelvin is what you’re going to be looking at. I think it’s 12,000 Kelvin. It doesn’t matter. Those are going to be infrared and ultraviolet.
The number in between is what we care about. So by talking about the foot candles, so one foot candle is about 1200 Kelvin and it’s going to have a very orange look. 800 Kelvin is actually what an ember in a fire would be. That’s the color that it would produce, that really red orangy. Again, a candle is a little more orange. Then if you’re going to get to about a 3000 Kelvin area, 3,500 Kelvin area, that’s what most of your incandescent light bulbs in your house are. So it kind of gives you that yellowish orange look. I actually hate this color altogether. I just don’t like it. I think it makes photographs look terrible and it’s just not my thing.
When you get to about a 4,000 Kelvin, it has more of that orange but it’s going to start turning a little white and it’s a little bit more manageable. 5,000 Kelvin, this is where I think the sweet spot is for most people. 5,000 Kelvin is more of a daylight and white color, and to me, is the most neutral color for doing everything for the most part and I think is the best compromise of all the different things. I do all of my life now at 5,000 Kelvin.
Then you get up to say 6,500 Kelvin and you’re starting to look at more of a blue tint to it. You actually see this like when you walk into a room and the room looks a little blue. It’s because they’re maybe running at a 6,500 Kelvin. Finally, you also have a 12,000 Kelvin area and that’s actually like a clear blue sky. So when you look up at the sky and it’s just clear blue, perfect day, not a cloud in sight, it’s actually a 12,000 Kelvin range of light in that spot. Generally you’re not going to get a light for the most part at that high. They might make it, I’m not sure, but if they do you’d be getting that for something very specific and not what we’re doing.
Again, that’s the color range going from infrared to ultraviolet. It’s super interesting. When you would use those, to me, generally for in your house, most people are going to go with a 3,500 Kelvin because it’s just generally what everyone has. I know of a YouTuber, I don’t remember his channel at the moment, but he shoots at 3,500 Kelvin because he’s going for a very specific look and he’s trying to get kind of a comfortable classic look in the stuff that he does and he mostly does hand tools. He’s going for a very specific look. Most everyone else hits between the 5,000 and the 6,000 Kelvin range to get a very white color and a very normal production style look. Most of your shops and your industrial facilities are going to have a 5,000 to 6,500 Kelvin range, and it’s going to be tons of lumens in there to make sure you can see everything. Yeah, that’s the color scale.
Next, let’s move on it to how many lumens do you need for your area? Now that we’ve discussed the color spectrum based on the Kelvin scale, let’s go ahead and talk a little on the lumens per square foot based on the area that you are in. Let’s go ahead and start kind of on the low end and work our way up to what needs more light. There’s really two types of places that you’re kind of at on a day to day basis in buildings. One is a living space and that’s in your house generally. Say your bedroom or your hallway, your kitchen, your living room, things like that. The other is a shop or a business. So based on where you are, there are recommendations that are kind of all over the internet, and even provided by OSHA in some cases, how much light that you need for specific areas.
There’s no real hard and fast rule that you need to have this much light in a specific area. These are generalities to kind of get you in a place where you need to be so that you’re consistent with everybody else. You can do whatever you want. If you want to put 20,000 lumens per square foot, that’s up to you. Have fun with that. I would like to see pictures if you do. Anyway, so let’s kind of start at the low end and let’s talk about hallways. In reality, hallways don’t need a lot of light. You can get away with anywhere from five to 10 lumens in hallways because all you need to do is see where you’re going. Your eyes are really great about adjusting and bringing in visible light and showing you what’s there. So it’s walking down a hallway with five lumens, it’s still going to be bright and offense to your eyes because the human eye is amazing.
From there, general areas in your house like your dining room and your kitchen. Not your kitchen, but your dining room, your living room, things like. If you have a second living room like some people do or your bedroom, things like that, are going to have anywhere from 20 to 50 lumens. 50 lumens are a little on the high end for those areas because you’re going to spend a little more time in there than you will hallways and you’re going to just need to see a little bit more, maybe reading or whatever.
From there, we get into like say from the 45 to 70 range for kitchens and work areas, kind of the general overhead lighting for that area, so that you can have plenty of options to see what’s going on. Then in specific task areas, you might actually have like under cabinet lighting or overhead lighting to shine down directly and you might get anywhere from a 70 to 90 lumens in that area so that you can definitely see what’s going on in those locations because you need more light so you don’t cut off a finger while you’re trying to cut up onions.
Then finally, let’s get into where we kind of want a light and we’re trying to figure this out for the most, that’s our shop area. Generally the guidelines from there is anywhere from a 100 to 200 lumens per square foot. Depending on what you want and what you like and what you’re doing, the more light that’s out there, the more you can see in doing fine detailed stuff. Less light, say at the 100 perspective, you’ll still see everything. You might have shadowed here and there that you aren’t expecting because it’s not filling as well. But you’re going to be just fine if you go with 100. Me on the other hand, I have 285 lumens per square foot, which is ridiculous. But it’s what I like and we’ll see how it works. I also gave you the reasons why I kind of went overboard on the lighting earlier.
There’s some general guidelines to follow when you want to deal with lighting. We’re on our last two chunks of this. One is kind of some of the math about doing placement. Then finally, I’m going to kind of run through what I recommend you to do so you can ignore the entire rest of this podcast. Notice how I left that at the end so you actually listen to the rest.
Anyway, so placement is kind of interesting. What you want to do is you want to figure out what your ceiling height is based on what your work surface area is. If your ceiling is nine feet tall and your work area is three foot tall, the top of the work area, then you have a six foot rise in that work area that you want to deal with on doing a light.
General guidelines, nothing major, nothing like hard and set in stone, hard and fast. If you have a six foot, let’s say for the ceiling, it’s eight foot. It would be five foot. You want each of your fixtures… Let’s say you’re running length wise down your ceiling of an eight foot fixture, for example. You want that other fixture to be no more than five feet away to the side. One to 1.5 in the distance away from each other. I recommend no more than the one. That’s me personally. So in this case, if it’s an eight foot ceiling and you’re three feet from the floor, then you go five feet away from each fixture. That gives you good cover based on the angle that the light comes out of the fixture.
From there you have to also figure out how far from walls because walls are kind of a different thing as well. What you want to do is whatever that measurement is, it’s between the two light fixtures. You want to do at most half of that away from the wall. So it’s preferably a third. So if it’s six foot apart, I know I did five in the last. This just makes math easier. Say if the fixtures are six foot apart previously, then if you did half, you would make sure that the light is at most three feet from the wall so that you get a good amount of coverage over near the wall and you don’t have dark spots on your wall. The better is actually to have hit, say at two feet from the wall, which is one third of the distance and that way it’s more intense and that you have better angled coverage as well.
With that in mind, that’s kind of a lot of information and a lot of math and jerry-rigging around trying to figure out what do you want where. Here’s what I recommend if you want to generally just light your shop and you don’t want to deal with all of the math and all of the figuring out, you just want to know what to do. Here’s what I recommend to get good coverage and good light but without trying to do something extra specific. That is if you get eight foot bulbs, I recommend getting about a 5,000 to 6,000 lumen bulb. If you go with four foot, get about 3000 lumen bulbs. Unless you want to get a little bit bigger, kind of doesn’t matter.
For placement, I recommend running around all walls doing three feet from the wall, just kind of make a continuous loop all the way around the shop, just all the way around three feet from the wall. Just make sure you get good coverage along all four walls and down. From there, I recommend doing the math and figuring out how to split everything. From the wall lights that you have, come in four to five feet. I would recommend more four feet in, and just go four feet all the way until you reach the other side.
Now you might have to adjust things from there. So four foot might be too much or it might be just right. Then the next spot, they might cross over because you don’t have that wide of a shop. What you might do is if you want three rows, you might move everything a little closer so you get it evenly spaced across the shop, or you just might throw everything in the middle or you might widen it from four to five feet and you get good coverage all the way across so you can play. That’s why I recommend the four foot is you can play with it in and out a little bit and you’re still going to get good coverage.
So if you hit those things. Three feet from the wall and about four feet from every fixture and you go one direction down the length of the shop, preferably the longest length of the shop, then you’re going to get really good coverage at 3000 lumens for four foot and 5,000 to 6,000 lumens for eight foot bulbs and you should be good to go. That should cover most instances of what you need for getting good light all over the shop and being able to see really, really well.
That was really it on lighting. Those were kind of some of the theories, what’s going on, some of the math and then finally, what I recommend if you just want to get something done. I don’t have any recommendations on companies because there are so many different LED companies. I’ve seen people get great success out of cheap Harbor Freight light light bulbs, and then I’ve seen people get good success out of the really expensive things. I will say there are companies online. If you don’t even want to do this, if you can just go online and you can just pay them and they’ll do a study. They’ll take a look at your shop that you have, the tools that you have, how much intimate lighting you want on specific pieces of tools. They will draw up a plan and give you exactly all the little in particulars that you need for lighting for a specific area and they can get it done.
For me, this is just how to get something done and you’re going to be happy with it the most without going to that other extreme and figuring out all of that other stuff. Like I said, if you pay somebody to do all that, you’re going to have perfect lighting for what you want and you’re going to have them just kind of give you what you need and you’re not going to have to figure out what you want to do. So it’ll save you a little time, but it’ll cost you a little bit of money.
The two that come to mind that I know of that did that are Jay Bates and Marc Spagnuolo, The Wood Whisperer. I know that they’ve used this specific company. I don’t remember who it was. It was green something. So you might go check them out if you want to check out a company that can do it for you.
So with that, let’s wrap up the lighting and let’s move on to the last segment of the day and that’s a failure. This one is not so much like a major failure. It’s like you goofed up and you found another problem and so it delayed your project for a little bit. That is at some point I over tightened the nut on my table saw blade and I basically could not take the table saw blade off without having to buy a new wrench first, which was really annoying. What happened is, again, I over tightened the nut, probably not realizing. I was just tightening it down and just in kind of automatic mode. Oh it’s a nut? Get it tight.
Anyway, there’s the part that holds the arbor so it doesn’t spin. Well, apparently the wrench that I got with table saw has a slight crack in it and because I tightened it so much when I was turning it, it split the crack open a little more and now that wrench is too big and it moves too much to be able to hold the arbor in place so that I can actually take off the nut, which really sucked. Without a new wrench, I couldn’t get the stupid saw blade off. In all honesty, if I hadn’t tightened it down too much, it probably would have worked out just fine. I kind of threw myself over.
However, I did go ahead and buy a new set of wrenches. I got the flat wrench because one of the downside is I was trying to measure to find the right size of wrench. It was because of a split in the [inaudible 00:26:38] and all of it. I couldn’t figure out the exact size wrench. I think it turned out to be a 7/8. So I had to buy an entire kit of thin wrenches that came with everything so that I can just try several in there and be able to finally get it. But hey, that came I think on Thursday this week. Went out there and tried it, got the saw blade off and I’m ready to go for this next week to put the dado blade on there and do some cuts for the next project that I’m working on. It’s my first time using a dado blade, so this will be fun. The thing I learned from that is make sure you have tools that are actually working right and make sure you don’t overtighten the nut on the saw blade. Live and learn.
Anyway. With that, I thank you for your time and I [inaudible 00:27:17] website, sign up for the email newsletter and stay tuned for the next episode, episode 12. I’ll talk to you later. Have a good day.