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Guide to Automotive Shop Lights

If you’ve spent any time working on a car you know how important lighting is. It doesn’t matter if you’re climbing under a car or working on the body, you need to be able to see every detail.

Not only is it a safety concern, but you’ll need it to make sure your work is perfect, that there are no drips in the paint, no scratches in the surface, that all the wires are connected properly.

Due to the importance of body shop lighting and the wide variety of work that’s completed in this space, there are many options available.

Overhead Lighting

This is the overall lighting used to illuminate the body shop space as a whole. What you need may depend on the type of work you are doing.

Wet/Damp Lights

In a body shop, the conditions tend to be a little wetter. There’s splatter from paint, moisture pulled through filters, and moisture from polishing which means these locations might require wet/ damp hanging lights.

There is a difference between wet lights and damp lights, and that’s important to keep in mind.

  • Wet lights are used in wet locations because they use waterproof seals to keep the lumen and other internal components protected. They can handle direct exposure to water and other liquids.
  • Damp lights are used in areas that have some contact with damp areas, but aren’t exposed on a constant or direct basis.

Many of the lighting options available are good for both wet or damp locations. This type of lighting should be used in the area of your shop where you believe the most work with water and moisture will be completed.

Dust-proof Hanging Lights

Dust proof hanging lights are fluorescent lighting fixtures for wet conditions that are regularly exposed to such things as steam, smoke, dust, chemical vapors, and other particles that would otherwise damage or block out lighting.

Dust proof lighting has become more important over the decades as more cases of dust explosions occur.

If your lights aren’t appropriate for the environment they are in, the vapors and chemicals (that are often flammable) will build up on the surface of the lighting, sometimes affecting the cooling of the lights. It’s a good idea to have this type of lighting throughout the shop space where any mechanical work is going to be completed.


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Portable Lighting

These are often used around a shop due to the flexibility and ease of movement. Mechanics tend to need close up lighting for many jobs, so being able to pull a light closer to the specific area you’re working on is a huge plus. Other portable lighting benefits include:

  • Keep areas and equipment clean by quickly being able to see and clean after a job
  • Help avoid tripping and accidents (with cordless options)
  • Rechargeable
  • Easily and readily available
  • Good option for car detailing lighting where closer inspection is needed
  • Great for under the hood work

Portable LED Lights for Body Shop

LED lighting is said to be 75% more energy efficient and lasts 25 times longer than incandescent lighting. The light produced is also more concentrated, which makes it easier to see when you’re working in the truck, under the car, or under the hood.

While this is great for a lot of different applications, they are especially a good option for auto shop lighting because they are extremely resistant to shocks, and come sealed in moisture proof casings.

Some of portable LED lights offer more flexibility, such as if they come with a suction cup or a hook to hang it with, some have stables to position them on the floor, others come with a fan, while still others are meant to fit over the head for hands- free application. All will be handy for small, tight spaces.

Inspection Light

Car detailing lights (aka inspection lights) are used specifically within the automotive industry as a way to inspect surface paint finishes for defects such as dirt, paint runs, sages, craters, or other imperfections.

Inspection lights are designed to focus light on a narrowed area making them perfect for spotting the tiniest imperfections.

Telescoping Work Lights

Dual head telescoping lights illuminate your entire workspace with dedicated light that can be adjusted for height. It can be titled and swiveled, making it versatile enough for all your projects.

Because this light is weather proof and is easily adjusted with excellent brightness and focus illumination, it’s a great option for automotive lighting.


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Underhood Lighting

Underhood lighting combines the best advantages of many other lights, including the LED bulb, portable ability, and weatherproofing.

What makes them different is that they have a hook that attaches to the hood. Good under the hood lights are shock resistant and have an intense beam that is either focused or can illuminate everything under the hood. This type of lighting also can be used for work under the car.

Flood Light

Flood lights are broad beamed, high-intensity lights and are often brighter than most other options.

These can be positioned on the floor or on an adjustable pole making them a very flexible option.  

Body Shop Lights for Home Shops

If you have your own body shop at home, you might be wondering which light or which combination would be adequate.

Truth is, the needs of a home body shop won’t be quite as extensive. Depending on the size of the space, you may want to install one main overhead light fixture that’s dustproof as well as wet/damp. It’s also beneficial to have some portable lights that are adjustable to your needs. Dual head lights, inspection lights, and a few portable lights may be enough.

What All Shops Need to Consider

What you’ll want to ensure is that you’re getting the strength/ watt that you need. This will be dependent on the size of the space and the type of work being done.

Overall, it is best to have a good balance of all of these lights so that there is more flexibility when performing different types of work.

If You Have a Paint Booth

If you have a paint booth in your body shop, you’ll want to use lights that are approved for wet/ damp areas.

For more information, use this guide to paint booth lighting.

No matter what type of shop you operate, your lighting is important, and you’ll need to consider what conditions you’re working in and the type of work you’re doing before choosing the best automotive shop lights for your situation.

When you decide, Auto Body Toolmart has everything you need.

 

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