Recessed Lights in Garage

Recessed Lights in Garage

Recessed Lights in Garage: Expert Installation Tips and Benefits

Recessed lighting in the garage is an increasingly popular choice for homeowners looking to upgrade their spaces. These fixtures are installed above the ceiling line, with just a small clearance, and emit a focused beam of light directed downwards. This type of lighting not only provides efficient illumination for various tasks but also adds a touch of sophistication to the overall aesthetic of a garage.

Garages often serve as multipurpose spaces, utilized for storage, hobbies, and vehicle maintenance. Therefore, selecting the most suitable lighting solution is essential for maximizing comfort, safety, and functionality. Recessed lights offer a sleek, modern option that can enhance the ambiance and usability of a garage without taking up unnecessary space.

Benefits of Recessed Lights in Garage

Recessed lighting is an excellent choice for garage spaces due to its energy efficiency, safety, and aesthetics. These features make it a popular choice among homeowners looking to enhance their garages’ illuminations.

Energy Efficiency

Recessed lights, specifically LED lights, are known for their energy efficiency. They consume less power compared to traditional light sources, like incandescent and halogen bulbs. LED recessed lights provide the following energy-efficient benefits:

  • Longevity: They last significantly longer than traditional bulbs, minimizing replacement costs and reducing waste.
  • Reduced Energy Consumption: LED lights use fewer watts, resulting in lower electricity bills.
  • Less Heat Output: LEDs generate less heat, reducing the risk of overheating or causing damage to insulation material in the garage.


Safety is a top priority when it comes to garage lighting. Recessed lights contribute to a safer environment in the following ways:

  • Even Illumination: They spread light evenly, minimizing shadows and dark spots, increasing visibility and reducing the risk of accidents.
  • No Protruding Fixtures: Since these lights are flush with the ceiling, there is no risk of collision or injury from dangling or protruding fixtures.
  • Appropriate Housing: IC-rated housings ensure insulation contact, providing extra heat protection and reducing fire hazards.


Recessed lights offer a sleek and unobtrusive appearance, enhancing the overall aesthetics of a garage. They cater to various design styles and preferences, offering the following advantages:

  • Customizable Layouts: You can arrange multiple recessed lights to create a tailored lighting design for your garage space.
  • Low Profile: The flush-mounted design integrates seamlessly with the ceiling, avoiding any visual clutter that other lighting fixtures might create.
  • Dimming Function: Some recessed lights offer dimmable features, allowing you to adjust the ambiance according to your preferences.

Selecting the Right Recessed Lights

Size and Type

When choosing recessed lights for your garage, consider the size and type of light that would best suit your space. There are various sizes available, ranging from 3 to 6 inches in diameter. The size you choose will depend on the ceiling height and the desired level of illumination. Additionally, consider the types of recessed lights available, such as lighted, unlighted, and frosted. Each type serves a different purpose and creates a distinct atmosphere within the garage.

Color Temperature and Brightness

Selecting the appropriate color temperature and brightness for your recessed lighting is essential for creating a comfortable and functional garage space. Color temperature is measured in Kelvins (K), with warmer colors ranging around 2700K and cooler colors closer to 5000K. Warmer temperatures create a cozy atmosphere, while cooler temperatures provide a more energetic environment. As for brightness, consider the wattage of your lights, with options such as 100 watts, 150 watts, or 200 watts. Ensure the lights are bright enough without being overwhelming or causing glare.

Damp or Wet Rating

When installing recessed lights in your garage, it is crucial to determine if they require a damp or wet rating. A damp rating is suitable for areas that are occasionally exposed to moisture, while a wet rating is necessary for locations where direct water contact is possible. In most garages, a damp-rated light will suffice as long as there is no direct exposure to water. However, if you plan on washing your car or using water-based equipment in your garage, wet-rated lights may be the safer and more durable option.

Planning Your Garage Lighting Layout

When selecting the proper lighting for your garage, it’s essential to create a layout that maximizes functionality and efficiency. In this guide, we will discuss some key factors to consider when planning your garage lighting layout, including spacing and placement, as well as illumination levels.

Spacing and Placement

The ideal spacing and placement of your recessed lights depend on the size of your garage and the desired lighting coverage. Here are some recommendations for spacing and placement:

  • Start by measuring your garage’s dimensions and noting the locations where you need the most illumination (e.g., workbenches, tool storage areas).
  • Create a grid pattern by dividing the garage’s floor area into 1-meter squares. This will help you visualize where to install your lights.
  • Aim to place a light source with approximately 2800 lumens over each square. This ensures even and sufficient lighting throughout your garage.
  • For larger garages or those with particularly high ceilings, consider using additional or higher-lumen light fixtures to provide more illumination.

Remember that these are just general guidelines. It’s essential to adapt your lighting layout according to your specific needs and preferences.

For home owners that have a garage gym like me it is important to think about equipment placement and lighting. Sometimes you need a little more light in certain places. The great thing about recessed lighting is that you get more room in because there aren’t any Light fixtures hanging down.

I have a few of these. When we bought the house the previous owner had already insulated and covered the walls in our detached garage. They used plywood instead of drywall for the walls, but that was ok because it looked good and worked.

The ceiling however was drywall and worked great for the recessed lights.

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Illumination Levels

To promote safety and make it easy to work and locate items in your garage, maintaining proper illumination levels is crucial. Here are some key considerations for optimizing your garage’s illumination levels:

  • Ambient lighting: Ensure that your garage has adequate ambient lighting, which is the general lighting needed for visibility and safety. Recessed lights are ideal for creating consistent and even ambient lighting throughout your space.
  • Task lighting: In addition to recessed lights, consider adding task lighting to areas where you need extra illumination for specific activities such as workbenches, tool storage, or car maintenance.
  • Accent lighting: Although not always essential in a garage, accent lighting can be used to highlight unique features or add visual interest.

By carefully planning your garage lighting layout and making adjustments based on your unique space and requirements, you can create an organized, well-lit, and functional environment.

Installation Process

Wiring Considerations

When installing recessed lighting in a garage, it’s essential to consider the wiring. Start by turning off the power to the area where the lights will be installed. Locate and identify the existing electrical circuit, and check whether it can handle the additional load of the new lights. Determine the type of wiring (e.g., copper or aluminum), as some recessed lights may require specific wiring types.

Plan a clear and safe route for the new wiring, taking into consideration any obstacles or potential hazards. It’s crucial to follow local building codes and regulations for proper wiring installation. If you’re unfamiliar with electrical work, it may be best to consult a licensed electrician to ensure safe and proper installation.

Mounting and Housing

Select the appropriate recessed lighting housing for your garage. There are two common types: new construction and remodel housings. New construction housings are typically used when the ceiling is still open or exposed, while remodel housings are designed for installations in existing, closed ceilings.

New Construction Housing:

  1. Attach the housing to the ceiling structure using the provided brackets or hangers.
  2. Use a template from the light kit to trace the outline of the hole required on the ceiling.
  3. Cut the hole using a drywall saw or hole saw, following the traced outline.

Remodel Housing:

  1. Use a template provided with your light kit to draw the outline for the required hole opening.
  2. Cut the hole using a drywall saw or hole saw, following the traced outline.

Once the housing is installed, move on to mounting the recessed light. Secure the light in the housing using the provided clips or tension springs. Finally, attach the trim and cover, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and local building codes during the installation process. If you’re ever unsure about any aspect of the installation, consult a licensed electrician for assistance.

Maintenance and Troubleshooting


Regular cleaning of recessed lights in the garage can help ensure their longevity and proper functioning. Dust and debris can accumulate on the fixtures, reducing the light output and causing the fixtures to overheat. To clean, turn off the power to the garage lights and allow the fixtures to cool down. Carefully remove the bulb and use a soft cloth or a dry scrubbing sponge to clean the inside of the fixture while avoiding the electrical socket. Use a soft brush or microfiber cloth to dust the outer surface of the fixture. Make sure the fixture is completely dry before reinserting the bulb and turning the power back on.

Replacing Bulbs or Fixtures

When a recessed light in the garage stops working, it could indicate that the bulb needs replacement or there is a problem with the fixture itself. First, inspect the bulb for any visible damage and replace it with a new one, making sure to use the correct wattage and type as specified by the manufacturer. If the problem persists, there might be an issue with the fixture, such as a blown fuse or wiring problem. Check your circuit breaker for any tripped switches or damaged fuses, and consult an electrician for further assistance if necessary.

  • Bulb replacement:
    • Turn off power to the fixture
    • Allow the fixture to cool down
    • Carefully remove the old bulb
    • Insert a new bulb with the correct wattage and type
    • Turn the power back on
  • Fixture replacement:
    • Consult an electrician
    • Turn off power to the fixture
    • Remove the old fixture carefully, ensuring no damage to the wires
    • Install the new fixture, following the manufacturer’s instructions
    • Turn the power back on

By regularly maintaining and troubleshooting your garage’s recessed lights, you can ensure their optimal performance and increase their lifespan.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal spacing for recessed lights in a garage?

The ideal spacing for recessed lights in a garage largely depends on the size of the area and the desired brightness. Generally, it is recommended to space recessed lights approximately 4-6 feet apart. To ensure even illumination, measure the space and divide it evenly among the planned number of lights. Keep in mind that additional factors such as ceiling height, workspace requirements, and specific functional areas might also influence the desired spacing.

Are LED recessed lights suitable for garage use?

Yes, LED recessed lights are suitable for garage use. They are energy-efficient, long-lasting, and produce minimal heat. Moreover, LED lights are available in various brightness levels and color temperatures, allowing you to customize the lighting in your garage based on your needs, preferences, and the tasks being performed in the space.

How can I calculate the number of recessed lights needed for my garage?

To calculate the number of recessed lights needed for your garage, first determine the area of your garage in square feet. Next, consider the amount of light required per square foot for your specific use case. For general garage lighting, 1-2 foot candles (lumens per square foot) are usually sufficient. Multiply the garage area by the desired foot candles to determine the total lumens needed. Then, divide the total lumens by the lumens per light output of the recessed lights you’re planning to use. Round up to the nearest whole number to get the number of lights required.

What are the safety considerations for installing recessed lighting in a garage?

Some important safety considerations for installing recessed lighting in a garage include selecting the appropriate housing based on insulation (IC-rated housing for insulated ceilings, non-IC-rated housing for uninsulated ceilings), following local building codes and regulations, and ensuring proper wiring. It is also essential to use the correct wattage and type of light bulbs, as well as protecting the lighting from moisture, dirt, and other potentially damaging elements common in garages.

Should I use bright white or soft white recessed lights in my garage?

The choice between bright white and soft white recessed lights in your garage depends on your personal preference and the activities performed in the space. Bright white lights have a higher color temperature (4000K-5000K), producing a cool, bluish-white light ideal for task-oriented spaces, such as workshops or garages used for intricate work. Soft white lights have a lower color temperature (2700K-3000K), emitting a warm, yellow-white light better suited for casual, cozy environments.

Do recessed lights require professional installation in a garage?

Although it’s possible for experienced DIY enthusiasts to install recessed lights in a garage, hiring a licensed electrician is recommended, especially for those with limited electrical experience. Professional installation ensures adherence to safety guidelines, local building codes, and proper electrical connections, reducing the risk of accidents and ensuring the durability and functionality of your lighting system.