How Many Lumens per Square Foot For a Workshop?

If you’re looking to improve the lighting in your workshop, garage or other work space, it can sometimes be difficult to know how many lumens per square foot are recommended. This article will help answer that question and provide some tips on how to calculate lumens for various types of spaces. We’ll also discuss what you need to consider when installing new lighting fixtures like LED lights.


Lumens Per Square Foot for Garage Lighting

So how many lumens per square foot are needed in order to light a workshop, garage or other work space well enough for them to be productive and safe?

The recommended level of ambient general illumination is calculated by lumens per square foot, with the recommended lumen level set by the IES or The Illuminating Engineering Society in the USA & the SLL or Society of Light and Lighting in the UK. They recommend that you have at least 50 lumens per square feet of space.

So for a quick example, a one-car garage, you should have at least 13,200 lumens. For two cars, the minimum is 20,000 lumens.

The general illumination needs to be consistent and even across the space and more intense over task areas such as your workbench. Garage work lights can provide really helpful portable task lighting to light exactly where you need it when under the hood or even the car itself.

How to Calculate Lumens for Workshop Lighting

How many shop lights do I need? How do I calculate lumens lighting for a shop?

A workshop lighting calculator will calculate the number of lumens that will be necessary by multiplying your overall floor area in square feet by the recommended lumen level per square foot for your type of workshop or garage.

1. Calculate the Area of Your Workshop

Measure the length and multiply it by the width to find the area.

So for example a single garage size is 12′ x 22′, which gives it 264 sq. ft. of space.

2. Lumens Per Square Foot Workshop Recommendation

The recommended lumen level per square foot is 50lm for auto shops and showrooms (which is 538 lux).

3. Calculate the Total

Multiply the area x recommended lumen level

In this example a single garage is 264 sq.ft x 50 lm = 13,200 lumens in total

How Many Lumens Per Square Foot Workshop?

As another example let’s calculate the lumens required for a typical workshop size of 125 square feet.

Lumens per square foot workshop = the area x recommended lumen level

125 sq. ft x 50 = 6250 lumens

How Many LED Lumens Per Square Foot Workshop?

As the measurement of a lumen is not light source specific, LED lumens will be comparative with other lighting sources. So the LED lumens required for a workshop is also 50lm per square foot.

How to Choose a Workshop or Garage Light

So know you know the number of lumens you need, your job now is to make sure they are delivered correctly into your space and with the best specifications to ensure your workshop lighting is perfect.

There are some key considerations when deciding which light fixtures to choose for your workshop.

  1. Lumen Output
  2. Light Source
  3. Color Temperature
  4. Color Rendering Index
  5. Light Distribution
  6. Lighting Type
  7. Lighting Layout

Lumen Output

When we talk about lumens, what we actually mean is the total amount of visible light produced by a lamp. This means that you will need to take into account the number and type of lights in your workshop when calculating how many lumens per square foot are required for proper lighting.

Just like with home or restaurant lighting setups, there should be a combination of general illumination and task lighting. For example, if you plan to do woodworking in your shop, there should be overhead lights as well as those directed at the work area specifically.

When selecting garage or workshop lighting (or any other type), it’s important to look for fixtures that provide between 3000-5000 lumens per fixture. While this might seem like a lot, note that lumens are measured in the amount of light produced and not the wattage.

Light Source

While most people generally think about bulbs when they consider lighting their workshops or garages, there’s another option you should take into account: LED lights. These units produce more lumens per watt and last significantly longer than incandescent bulbs.

For example, a typical 60-watt halogen lamp would produce about 1800 lumens while an LED of the same size can put out between 3000 and 7000 lm (depending on the manufacturer). How many lumens you need for garage lighting will depend greatly on your budget and how much you want to spend on your lighting setup.

Color Temperature

The color temperature of a light source is measured in Kelvin (K). These units represent the hue or tint that we perceive from various types of lamps. How many lumens per square foot do I need for garage lighting? How about 5000 lm with 5000k light color temperature.

Lighting fixtures often have color temperatures between 2700K and 35000K, but the standard household light bulb is around 2400 to 3000 K while office spaces are usually lit with either cool or warm-white fluorescent bulbs that range from 4000 K to 5000 K.

For example, soft white incandescent bulbs have lower color temperature and can cause objects to look yellowish while bright white florescent lights can make colors look pastel or faded.

Color Rendering Index

Another important consideration when deciding on the best garage lighting is how it will affect colors. The accuracy of color representation under artificial lighting can be quantified by the color rendering index.

Color rendering index (CRI) is a measure of how accurately a light source makes the color of an object appear to human eyes and you need to be at least 80 Ra preferably 90+.

This is a crucial consideration when deciding how to light your workshop and can even affect the quality and accuracy of work you produce in it (especially if you’re working on detailed pieces like art or jewellery).

Light Distribution

Beyond just the number of lumens per square foot, it’s also important to consider how your lighting fixtures are set up in relation to each other. How many lumens do I need for garage lighting? How about 5000 lm with equal light distribution so that every area has enough light.

For example, if you have multiple lights hanging from your ceiling, you’ll want to make sure that they’re spaced out enough so that there are no ‘dark spots’ in your workshop. How many lumens per square foot for garage lighting can vary depending on the setup of your particular work area.

Lighting Type

Also note whether or not your ceiling is smooth and flat or if it has peaks, angles, or other irregularities that might impact the lighting. The lighting needs to be installed onto the ceiling or suspended, either way the light needs to travel without obstruction to ensure equal light distribution for every area in your workspacefor an even spread of light.

How Many Lights Are Required?

Before the layout of your workshop lighting can be designed, you need to calculate how many you require and that will depend on the strength of light that comes from your chosen product.

How many led lights for garage: You need to divide the product lumen output into the total:

Lighting Layout

The way in which lighting is arranged can affect the number of lumens per square foot you need for a workshop. Your aim is to create an even layer of light across the whole space and add workbench lighting for greater illumination in task areas.

The shape of your space will mostly determine the arrangement of the workshop lighting, but always keep these principles of lighting positioning in mind:

  1. Distance the product approximately one third to one half it’s length from all walls.
  2. Distance between each product should be no more than 1.5 times it’s length, less is fine.
  3. Use paper to draw out the walls of the workshop and use the above principles to approximate where the installation locations are best.

How Do You Calculate Lumens for a Workbench?

As some people use their garage as a workshop it will mean they need more light over the working areas. Just as we referenced the lumen per square foot for the workshop, the same goes for the workbench. The IES says that you should have 300 lumens per square foot in a workshop area. You can figure out how many lumens you need by figuring out how big your workbench is and then multiplying the size of the space by 300.

To light a workshop table, you need to put 300 lumens per foot. If the table is 6 feet by 2.5 feet, you need 4,500 lumens total. That is about what one 6ft LED batten fixture can give you at 38W and with a color temperature of 4000K.

A tip on how to combine workbench and workshop or garage lighting from the ceiling, is to ensure there is a dedicated light fixture directly over the bench that provides the adequate task light. Then spread out the rest of the fixtures ensuring that none are more than 1.5 times there length apart.

The Best LED Work Light will ensure you have always have plenty of light just where you need it.

If you are specifically working on a car then we take a look at the Best Garage Work Light to make sure that light is delivered even in the most awkward of spaces.

Types of Workshop Lighting

LED is the primary source of light choice in all types. Most are linear in format.


With some careful considerations, you can evenly light your workshop with the best quality lighting.

The lumens per square foot for garage lighting has a professional recommendation so it’s wise to ensure your space is lit to the same standard. Your chosen light fixture’s lumen output together with the area and shape of your workshop will determine how many lights are required. Follow the simple positioning guide to ensure that there are no dark spots in the workspace with evenly spread out lamps and you’ve done it!

Andrew Orange , the owner of Orange Lighting qualified and worked as an interior designer in 1993 before specialising in lighting working on high profile projects based in London. Since starting Orange Lighting Ltd in 2003 he has been sharing his knowledge and unique teaching style mostly to his designer clients, offering practical real life advice born from running a busy consultancy and lighting supply business. Launching in 2020, his blog has evolved into Quick & Easy Lighting, curating some 25 years design experience into making the lighting choice and design process achievable and easy to understand for all.