How to light a two car garage for under $30

This layout uses seven 20” (50 cm) 5630 SMD bar lights powered by a 60W driver. The output is about 7000 lumens evenly dispersed over a 20’ X 20’ two car garage. The garage originally came with a single 100W wall mounted, bare bulb light near the door and a light switch to operate it. Over the years I tried a 2X 40W fluorescent light in the middle of the garage and 2X 20W fluorescent light over the inside door. A couple of years ago I added a 102 SMD 5050 LED bulb ceiling mounted light as a supplement. None of this evenly lit the garage. Some parts were brightly lit and others not so well.

When bar lights got really cheap a couple of years ago, I put up the current configuration. I like the amount and even dispersal of light so this is a keeper. The bar lights are very lightweight so easy to install. The only electrical modification was to remove the original light fixture and mount a double receptacle box in its place. This operates on 12V DC and the driver serves as an isolation transformer so you don’t need conduit or Romex wiring to meet code. You can substitute brighter bar lights (SMD

Current sources for the parts
Bar Light 36 SMD 5630 LED
DIY DC 12V 50cm 0.5M LED Rigid Strip 5630 SMD Car Bar Light Lamp Aluminum Shell $1.85 postpaid

Bar Light with cover and ends
$1.99 postpaid 36 SMD 5730 LED 12V 0.5M 5630 4014 7020 5050 SMD Hard Bar Led Strip Light+Aluminum Groove+Cover

12V 60W Driver - US seller
$7.99 postpaid Kasonic Universal 12V/24V DC Power Supply Driver Adapter For LED Strip

Wire connectors 10 pair color coded
$1.29 postpaid 10Pairs 2PIN Male and Female Connector Wire Cable For 3528 5050 LED Strip Lights

Wire clips for holding wire to wall and ceiling 30 pcs $.99 ’30X Cable Clips Adhesive Cord Black Management Wire Holder Organizer Clamp 30X Cable Clips Adhesive Cord Black Management Wire Holder Organizer Clamp

That looks amazing, thanks for sharing. Didn’t expect a well-lit garage for under 30 bucks! well done.

Really nice that you list and source all the parts. I see stuff I didn’t know was available.

Wow, those lights are really cheap. Thanks for sharing. I see you got the natural white tint. How does that look? For some reason I would think they would all look blue for only $1.99.

I made not good experience with light strips in cold weather outside, after 2 winters 60% on the LED pairs quit working, likely the lead free solder

If the garage stays above 0°C its likely no problem

No really, got some pics of your garage with the lights on that you could share?
Interested in how it plays out.

Edit: I read this for the driver “3.without flickering light & ensue the life span of your LED.”

Do you possible have access to an iPhone that you could download the flicker tester app and put a piece of paper in front of the led and check?


Edit again: not necessarily to check the flicker (would be fun to know tho) since I can only find that us seller that sells them and I don’t want to pay that shipping + tax.

Anyone else knows a good driver without flicker from Chinese seller that have that sweet free shipping?

I have played with LED strips in my garage before and the issue has always been the same: not enough light. If someone would need to inspect vehicle paint, not only would you need more light but also better CRI. Neither of it was possible so far with the strips I had. My garage appears to be a black hole right now.

Thanks for highlighting the BOM.

Sounds like you need some led strips with the Yuji VTC-series D50 5730-size midpower led.
But those won’t be cheap since those small LEDs cost about 1 USD each.
But for that price you get 98CRI.
Specced for 38 lumens at 150 mA.

Djozz tested them Here

You could have just used these Integrated driver COB chips. Costs only a couple of bucks for a 50W chip. You don’t have to invest extra on a driver.

You could get easy 10000 lumens for just 10 or 12$

Where would you get those?

I have bought a few of those integrated COB LEDs on Aliexpress. cheap too.

  1. when selecting cool white, the tint is pretty bad (the room feels like 1980s fluorescent tubes). CRI is awful, a red or orange object looks terrible.
  2. it runs on AC voltage. there are additional expenses to build something useful which complies with building & electric codes. Especially if used in the garage or outside.

Im using similar scheme as topicstarter. In my experience any non-waterproof dc power supply with more than 50% load are failing much before you will realize leds degrate or recognize many non-working 3-led segments.

It’s available on Aliexpress and Banggood.

Mine I used 2x Cool white and 2x Warm white alternatively and I got a Neutral whitish tint. I use them as outdoor floodlights so I did not have any high CRI requirement.

About the electric code compliance there are AC to DC drivers out there which doesn’t even have their ground wiring connected to their shell. There are many other safety problems to consider when using AC to DC drivers so I don’t see this running on AC as a drawback when compared to that.
Another thing is that these COB chips run on milli Amps whereas those DC drivers pumps out 6 Amps or more, so you could also save on power transmission.

Sorry for not having pictures of the actual garage but there are a bunch of things suspended from the ceiling (recumbent bikes and trikes among other things). I used the diagram because it is much clearer as to how the bars are located. I’m also not sure about the problem of bluish lights from LEDs that has often been mentioned. I just like my LEDs to be as close as possible to natural light and these fit my needs. I don’t see any flicker. I don’t own an iPhone so can’t do the flicker test requested.

I provided the link to the US seller for drivers because the price is about the same as what I paid when I ordered them from China. I bought all of my drivers like the ones shown from Banggood in China but that was a couple of years ago. This one appears to be what I ordered I checked the ground on the driver. The ground lead post is connected to the shell. When I put a meter to the ground wire screw and to the shell I got zero ohms for a reading.

These bar lights are cheap enough you could buy one and test it with any 12V DC converter like those used for printers and other electronic equipment. I used them for powering this same light as an under-counter light. At the worst, you would be out $1.85 if it wasn’t suitable. They have been in use for about two years now and all LEDs are still working. The garage temperatures here never get below zero but range from about 30 degrees F in winter to 125+ in the in the summer time. Heat is our problem, not cold.

I ordered a bunch of the IC Driver |COBs that are shown above. They are cheap, very bright, and compact. The seller I bought from has reduced the price again so now the 20W chips are $.99, 30W $1.55, and 50W are $1.59 with free shipping. 110v 220v LED Floodlight 20/30/50W Cool/Warm White COB Chip Smart IC Driver Lamp You need a pretty good heat sink, thermal paste, and then mount them in an enclosure on a metal base. I bought mine to convert the round lamps in a bunk room in the main lodge at my local Scout camp. The lighted portion of the chip is about an inch square so they generate a lot of heat and will self destruct if run without some way to dissipate the heat. Wiring them and meeting code is a lot more expensive and they are not suitable for use without an enclosure since there are exposed leads that are at 120V. They would make a nice retrofit in an existing fixture though. If they had been available when I converted the large fixtures in the house from fluorescent to LED I might have used them. Even so, the bar lights and strip lights still might be a better choice because I can use this inexpensive dimmer with remote control to dim the lights if desired. Mini RF Wireless Remote Switch Controller Dimmer For LED Strip Light 11 Keys $1.66 postpaid Just wire it in series between the lights and the driver. You can not use the universal drivers (85-240V AC) with a wall mounted dimmer switch even if the dimmer is rated for LEDs.

You can substantially reduce the size of the heatsink if you opt for active cooling. Oh, and I forgot, these COB chips will not heat up and self destruct like those old DC COB chips because these ones have a thermal regulation built in. If I’m correct the regulation is done by a Brightpower IC. Big Clive has done a neat review of these AC COB chips.

Additionally they also sell a Lens and Reflector which will act as a makeshift enclosure for these chips.

If you want more brightness they’ve also got 150W units.

Yeah sure, 10000 fake lumens.
Half of the emitters in the COB won’t work, the lumen ratings are like 10x more than what the true value is, they won’t light up uniformly, and they won’t have consistent colour temperature or tint.

A real COB that is actually good quality will cost anywhere from $50-500

Here are 2 CREE’s that I got.
This one from a reputable dealer. Not all LED’s light up at the same voltage but as voltage is increased, they even out.

This one came from FastTech, and it is flat out defective. I suspect FastTech of supplying seconds.

I also ordered a half dozen or so of the cheap no name ones as described above. They were soooo bad I never bothered to use them.

I wanted to check for the invisible light flicker.

Can you do a simple test?
Just start your camera on you phone and hold it close to the light.

Does it look like:

This? Or


Nice project. I hope that works well enough for you. I’ve found that even 16 thousand lumens doesn’t satisfy me in a 2 car garage. About 10x more might be okay as long as it’s spread out. Having open space against the walls would also help more light reflect into and under my vehicles.

I’d like this, but I can only find them up to 50W, not for 100W that I have.

Nope real 10,000 lumens. For the sake of argument let’s take 2,000 lumens per 50W COB chip. So 5x50W COB = 10,000 lumens and 5x2$ = 10$

:FACEPALM: The picture of the faulty COB you showed was the old DC type COB works by a series parallel bead array combination. They were mostly rejects sold at a very cheap price by chinese vendors. Big Clive has done 2 videos about them and I can see that on your screenshot.

The AC driverless COB I linked will light up their beads evenly and here are some pics showing that, you can check those videos and see for yourself if you still don’t believe, One of those videos was done by Big Clive himself.

You can find them in Aliexpress.

For me ~5,000 lumens from 2x 40W T8 fluorescent tubes in my 250 sq ft dining room was like overkill.