Adequate lighting inside a shed or garage makes it easy to find what you are looking for. Even without electricity, plenty of options are available.
We’ve all been there, stumbling around inside a shed or garage to find something we left inside months ago. Without lighting, it’s difficult to see exactly what items are inside and reduces the use of the outbuilding to a limited period throughout the day.
As many homeowners invest more into their properties, sheds and garages are becoming a valuable extra space that goes beyond just storing garden tools. Many garden buildings are now used as workshops or even converted into a gym in the garden. There’s plenty of great uses for an outdoor building, once the basics of heat and lighting are taken care of. Even if the shed or garage is just being used for storage, additional lighting makes it quicker to navigate and find what you are looking for.
However the building is used, one of the challenges is getting a consistent amount of light inside. During the winter, with limited hours of sunlight, there may only be good lighting inside a shed for a short period each day. While electricity may sound like an easy fix, the installation can be expensive and not always possible for a shed or garage detached from the property.
Improvements in artificial lighting and also taking advantage of natural lighting have come a long way in recent years. There are many great options to get lighting in a shed or garage without electricity.
- Where is the outbuilding located – The location of the shed or garage can affect the lighting options available. If the building is in a garden with plenty of sunlight, natural lighting options are the best solution to maximise the use of the sun’s light source. Solutions such as larger windows can transform the lighting inside, and there’s always solar power to take advantage of at night. If the shed is covered by trees and doesn’t get much light, alternative options will be required.
- How will the outbuilding be used – When the shed or garage is being used for storage, bright lighting is required to light up every nook and cranny where items may be placed. If the outbuilding is used as a workshop or gym, a consistent amount of lighting is required that isn’t overly bright or dazzling. When the building is used for spending time inside, it’s worth investing in quality lighting that provides a comfortable atmosphere.
- How much time will be spent inside – The amount of time spent inside the outbuilding can change the type of lighting required. If the shed is only being used for storage, lighting may only be needed in short bursts each day. Whereas if a lot of time is spent inside a workshop, the solution must be able to remain bright for an extended period. With artificial lighting, an option with good battery storage will allow for use over several hours each day.
Add extra windows
Most sheds come with at least one window as standard, but garages often do not. One of the most effective ways to increase light inside an outbuilding is to install an additional window. The natural light from the sun can quickly brighten up the interior space and provide a constant source of light throughout the day. Natural lighting is often the best solution when an extended period of time is spent inside the shed or garage, such as for use as a workshop.
With the suns natural light, we are not reliant on batteries being charged and there are no running costs when the building is in use. If an opening window is installed, we can also leave this open to improve ventilation inside the building and allow fresh air to flow inside.
Of course, there are some drawbacks to installing an additional window. The benefit of the sunlight is only available through the day and not much use if you plan to use the building late into the evening. During the colder months, the sunlight can often be gone by the time you get home from work. There is also the security aspect to consider, but this can be overcome by only using small windows and placing them higher up.
Shed windows are often easier to install compared with garage windows, due to the timber construction of the building. Brick and metal garages require more work but a window can still be installed. To install a window in a timber shed, a section of the wood facing the sun can be removed easily. Acrylic windows are most popular and can be cut to any size required, but options such as safety glass are also available. Be sure to check the window is sealed correctly to avoid any leaks or water getting inside.
Improve the location
The location where a shed or garage is positioned can have a massive effect on the amount of light inside. An outbuilding surrounded by lots of overhanging trees will find it difficult to get much natural light, even during the summer months. This limits the lighting from both windows and solar options at night.
We recommend positioning an outbuilding where there is nothing directly above the building and also at least a metre gap on every side. As well as letting in more natural light, leaving a gap on each side also allows easier access for maintenance. It may be possible to move a shed, even without dismantling the building if it is only small. For larger structures, especially if they are not very old, it’s entirely possible to dismantle and then resemble them in a better location.
Wherever the building is positioned, the windows should be facing the sun. While it’s great having lots of windows, they won’t do much if they are not facing the right direction. If solar panels are going to be used at night, they should also be tilted to point in the best position for maximum sunlight.
Paint the interior white
Many sheds and particularly garages feature interior walls painted in a dark colour. A simple way to brighten the internal appearance is to paint the walls in a light colour such as white. While white won’t actually increase the amount of light coming in, it will make the best use of the light available.
When a light source (e.g. sunlight) hits walls painted in a dark colour, most of the light is absorbed into the wall. However, with a white wall, most of that light is reflected around the room, maximising the use of the available light. Painting the walls and ceiling white also creates the appearance of a large room and adds a sense of openness to the outbuilding. As white walls don’t absorb as much of the suns energy, a shed can feel cooler in the summer when positioned in direct sunlight.
Different paint choices will be required between a shed and a garage. For a shed, specific garden paint is used that’s also suitable for the exterior. The paint gets deep into the wood to provide long-term protection against weathering. Depending on the construction of the garage, a paint that’s suitable to apply directly to brickwork may be required.
Fit a transparent roof
Fitting a transparent roof is aimed at garages rather than sheds, but it may be possible to add a small section to a shed roof. Most metal detached garages feature roofing sheets that lay at the top of the construction. Roof sheeting is easy and quick to install and the roof can often be replaced in a day. A typical garage will feature metal roof sheets that are popular due to their ability to withstand all weather conditions.
A drawback of metal roofing is that it blocks the natural light. Using transparent plastic roof sheets as an alternative lets in all of the sunlight from above. Plastic roofs are also very cost-effective and lightweight. PVC is commonly used and can be cut to size to fit any garage. The results are often better than installing a window, making it easy to see everything inside clearly.
Install solar shed lights
Without electric cabling connected into the shed or garage, solar lighting makes a great alternative. Unlike mains powered lighting, solar systems get all of their energy from the sun and can store the energy collected during the day. Once installed, there are no running costs associated with solar power as all of the energy is available for free from the sun.
Specific systems are available for sheds and garages that can be purchased online. As well as the solar panel, the system also includes a battery to store collected energy and outlets to connect electrical devices. LED lights typically use around 20W of electricity and shed solar kits come in a variety of power levels, topping out at just over 200W. Solar power won’t be capable of running high powered devices such as a heater but is great for low power requirements. Lighting and also USB powered devices such as a fan work well from solar power systems.
Solar panels are usually installed on the shed or garage roof, which must be sturdy to support the weight. To maximise the performance, the panels should be positioned in a location that gets direct sunlight for most of the day. The usage time of solar lighting can be a lot less during the winter, but a good-sized battery can keep the power stored for when it’s needed.
Use battery powered lights
Lighting technology has evolved a lot over recent years, to a point where battery lights are both bright and long-lasting. If the shed or garage is in a potion that doesn’t get much sunlight, battery-powered lighting is the best solution. Unlike solar systems, battery-powered lights are self-contained units and do not require any additional wiring to work.
The installation of battery-powered lighting is incredibly simple as it can just attach to the ceiling or wall. This allows flexibility for the lights to be positioned wherever provides the best result. The initial costs are also low as no other accessories are required. LED lighting provides a high-lumen output whilst only using a few watts of electricity.
Battery-powered lights only have a finite running time though before the internal batteries need to be replaced. This makes them best suited to outbuildings where you won’t spend extended periods inside. Rechargeable batteries could be used if purchasing lots of batteries is a concern.
It’s still possible to add light into a shed or garage without electricity and plenty of options are available. Installing lighting increases how often the outbuilding can be used, particularly during the darker months. Lots of light always makes it easy to find exactly what you are looking for without stumbling around in the dark.
Solutions that take advantage of natural light are great if the shed or garage gets most of its use during the day. Adding an extra window or using a transparent roof can let in a lot more sunlight. Where artificial lighting is required, solar panel systems are great to provide light for an extended period, but the installation can be complex.