Splice into shop lights (to add more) AND/or also replace with LED fixture


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Old 10-08-16, 08:35 AM
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Splice into shop lights (to add more) AND/or also replace with LED fixture

So never being handy but now with the time to try I am starting off trying to improve lighting in a 1400 square foot garage.

Current/backstory:


Currently there are 4 shop lights (the 4-ish foot, 2 fluorescent bulb kind) that are hard wired to a single pole motion activated light switch. Two of these lights the may have a bad ballast since new bulbs don't work well. I noticed there are LED shop lights out there now, but I also want more light in the garage as there are a lot of dark spots. I'd prefer to add 2-4 more lights.

Getting up in the attic is problematic for me not only physically/age but also I looked this morning and it was sprayed in with insulation...not sure I want to go traipsing through all of that.

Questions:

  1. After figuring out how to remove the existing shop light, can I splice into the wires and run a new wire along the ceiling (adhering with C clips or something) about 6-8 feet away to hang another shop light? I am hoping I can just match up whatever color wires (after shutting electricity off of course).
  2. Assuming so, can I do this to each of the 4 existing shop lights, so I'd have a total of 8 now? All connected to the same switch since I spliced in?
  3. Any issues with getting new LED shop lights and having 8 of those? Any thoughs on brand/model (if that is allowed to be asked, if not, ignore this question)?

Thanks much, hopefully this is the start of a lot of household projects that I may need help with, but I'll try to give back in the forums where I can!
 
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Old 10-08-16, 09:56 AM
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One thing to consider is replacing your 4' fixtures with 8' long ones either fluorescent or LED. This would not require splicing in to add additional fixtures and the longer length would provide more light and spread it out more in your garage.

How much time do you spend in the garage with the lights on? If you don't have the lights on more than 4 hours every day I'd consider modern, T8 electronic ballasted fluorescent lights. The new fluorescents are more energy efficient than the old and the fixtures are much less expensive than LED.
 
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Old 10-08-16, 10:55 AM
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That is a good thought on going 8' long, but I'll have to see if I can turn them 90 degrees and still be able to securely attach. The garage is a big rectangle with the current 4 lights running perpendicular to the long side. This causes the light to not reach as far. But maybe turning the lights if possible, and going 8' long would work. I'll have to take a look and see if that will work.

On the LED vs fluorescent I was thinking LED for the brightness mostly, and hopefully longer lasting bulbs. Maybe I should compare the lumen output to see if it is worth it though.
 
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Old 10-08-16, 12:01 PM
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Several years ago I read that eight-foot fluorescent tubes (and fixtures) were going to be discontinued. At that time I bought several fixtures and a box of tubes for my shop/garage figuring that I would have enough tubes for a complete change and they would last until l was long dead. Although I haven't checked lately to see if eight-foot tubes are still available this IS something to consider.

Also, burnt out fluorescent tubes are considered as hazardous waste and must be disposed of in a legal manner. Since eight-foot tubes are considered commercial many household hazardous waste facilities will NOT accept them. Plus there is the problem of transporting the long tubes.

For me the high cost of the LED lights and my relatively low electrical rates deters me from going that route.
 
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Old 10-08-16, 02:31 PM
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Yes, the 8' long and all other T12 fluorescent lights are going the way of the dodo. More modern T8 fixtures 8' long use 4' long bulbs end to end to get to the 8' length.

As for brightness that has to do with the power you choose. It's the same as with old fashioned incandescent bulbs a 100 watt bulb will be brighter than a 20 watt. LED is not brighter than fluorescent or incandescent. LED is just the technology used to make the light. A LED producing 100 lumens is the same brightness as a fluorescent producing 100 lumens. The big difference is that fluorescent is much cheaper than LED especially when you get into more powerful fixtures.
 
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Old 10-08-16, 02:46 PM
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Thanks Pilot Dane, I may look for those 8 foot fixtures taking two 4' tubes. That may still allow me to rotate the mounting and going with the 8' long fixture along the length of the rectangle garage vs across it.

Or the original idea of splicing into the new fixtures and running wires along the ceiling to power 2-4 new fixtures. The cheaper way may end up winning, at least if I can't make the LED variety brighter.

As far as LED's being brighter or not, you are correct LED is just the technology. However, my experience with switching bulbs in indoor lights has been I've been able to put brighter LED bulbs in. I put 100w equivelent LED (19w actual) in a socket rated for 60w. Or in the B60 can lights I think it was a 70w equivalent LED instead of a 60w standard light. An incandescent in those sockets could only be 60w, but I was able to put a brighter watt equivalent in there when using LEDs since they draw less power. At least I haven't burnt the house down yet. The LEDs don't seem to run hotter. I was hoping the same would be true for the shop light variety, but maybe they don't have those bulbs yet.
 
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Old 10-09-16, 06:02 AM
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Yes, you can insert "higher equivalent" LED bulbs in incandescent fixtures. You can also do the same thing with compact fluorescents. Again it has nothing to do with the technology generating the light. 8' shop lights are available in different configurations.

There is sorta a limit for fluorescents. To get more light you need more bulbs. Most common are ones that take four 4' bulbs, two are end to end making up the 8' length. If that doesn't provide enough light you'll need to add more fixtures or find the more rare fluorescent that has more than four bulbs. This is one area where LED does give you more options. Fixtures are available in a multitude of shapes, sizes and light output. Just be ready for sticker shock. They get very expensive when you look at higher output fixtures. And I would not go cheap. LED are a sorta complex electronic device and you'll want good quality for a longer life. They may advertise a really long theoretical life span but usually that is referring only to the theoretical life of an LED emitter. There are a lot of other electronics needed to feed the LEDs the power they need. A failure of any one of those support components will cause the light to fail. Remember how5+ years ago towns went crazy swapping out their stoplights to LED. How many LED stoplights do you see these days? My town switched all the lights over to LEDs then within a few months you could see dead zones in the lights. Within 3 years of switching all the LED stoplights had been removed/replaced.
 
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Old 10-09-16, 07:04 AM
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Thanks for the info!

The easiest answer may be to just stick with fluorescent. As you say, there is a lot of tech with LEDs and there are some bad LED fixtures out there, and not a great way of telling, even when you are paying more, which ones are good.

I guess I'm not sure if I ever found out if it is OK to splice into the existing drops using some 12/3 cord and run along the ceiling for about 6 feet. I'll do some more googling. This way I could add 4 new fixtures, doubling my light capacity. If I have to run the wiring for the new fixtures back to the wall switch I will likely just stick with the 4 fixtures locations I have now.
 
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Old 10-09-16, 02:21 PM
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Don't get me wrong. I love LEDs but quality, high output fixtures are still crazy expensive. Unless you're running them 24/7 it's hard to get any payback.

Yes, you can add on from your existing fixtures. The big thing is making proper connections inside an enclosure whether it be a separate box or within the fixture. I would work really hard to not have the new wires visible along the ceiling though. That just screams amateur. Pull the wires up and through the ceiling or go with 8' fixtures. As I get older I'm finding there is no such thing as too much light. So, if you are upgrading lights now is the time to really upgrade and make sure you don't have dark shadows in your garage.
 
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Old 10-10-16, 09:11 AM
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I have a 1040 sf garage with (8) 2 tube fixtures I converted to LEDs, best thing I ever did. I your fixtures are like mine you can convert them each in 5-10 minutes without taking the fixture down.

And if you live in cold country they work down to -25F, main reason I bought them.


https://www.amazon.com/Hyperikon-equ...d%2Bbulbs&th=1
 
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Old 10-10-16, 11:07 AM
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Lines to additional light fixtures can be tapped into outlet boxes on the ceiling above but not spliced inside fixture bodies (without built in junction boxes) and extended from there.
 
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Old 10-10-16, 02:57 PM
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I'm not sure if I ever found out if it is OK to splice into the existing drops using some 12/3 cord and run along the ceiling for about 6 feet.
No, using portable tool "cord" with a designation starting with S (SJOW for example) is NOT acceptable for running additional lighting. You MUST use a cable meant for permanent wiring, not rubber or vinyl insulated "cord". That would mean using type NM (non-metallic) cable of the proper size conductors for the circuit breaker used on the circuit.

Note well that your LOCAL electrical code may have some requirements that are more stringent than the national (model) code and could even require the use of conduit between fixtures.
 
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Old 10-10-16, 05:47 PM
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Thanks guys for the heads up on the cord types and junction box. Checking local code.
 
 

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