Recently, a customer contacted Access Fixtures looking for a lighting solution in his Illinois auto detail and waxing shop. His primary goals, which are the goals of any auto body and detailing shop, were to achieve high light levels, consistent light levels, and to limit shadowing.
This customer’s space was originally lit with fluorescent T8s hung from a 25’ ceiling. In order to create more space in the shop, the customer had installed a mezzanine; this essentially turned the mechanic shop into a two-story facility. The two-story layout prevented the light from the T8s from reaching the bottom level.
The mezzanine was 15’ off the ground. The first-floor space was further divided by a curtain, which sectioned off the area used for washing vehicles. The customer wanted to create “laboratory-level” light in all areas to eliminate all dark spots or shadows. He also mentioned wanting a high-Kelvin light close to that of natural sunlight; this would make it easy for his team to identify any imperfections or “swirls” when waxing.
Linear Lighting Solutions
Initially, the customer was looking at traditional, linear fixtures. Having used the T8 fixtures for so long, the customer was most familiar with this kind of form factor. Linear T5 or LED high bay fixtures can provide bright light, little shadows, and excellent quality color rendition, all of which are important when doing the close work of car detailing.
Open or caged linear T5 fluorescents were a potential solution, but their poor rated lives and lack of an ingress protection (IP) rating against dust and moisture were problematic. The fixtures used in the washing area certainly needed to be water-safe; and, since the washing area was only sectioned off by a curtain, the Access Fixtures team thought it prudent to waterproof all fixtures in the first-floor space. IP65-rated fixtures are fully protected against both water and dust—the customer could even spray these kinds of fixtures from below to clean them.
The differences between fixtures rated as IP65, IP66, and IP67 are very important when considering protection against water and dust. When you select the correct fixture and IP rating for your environment, you can be assured that your fixture will perform as it should without interruption. For these mechanic shop lights, an IP65 rating (water resistant) was sufficient.
Knowing this requirement, our lighting specialists suggested fixtures in the KOTA product family. These fixtures had become popular high bay options as LED shop lights, garage lights, high bay lights, low bay lights, and more . . . and for good reason. They are versatile and able to provide reliable, high-powered, long-lasting light in many locations. Additionally, they utilize copper-cooled heat sinks; super-modern IP65-rated housings; and an unmatched ability to redistribute heat. They use special drivers that only run the LED chips to 30%-40% power to improve rated life.
KOTA High Bays
The KOTA 185w LED high bay is an incredibly powerful fixture offering exceptional performance for 15’ ceilings. This fixture delivers up to 20,324 lumens and offers a rated life of over 100,000 hours (Note: That is over 11 years). A key feature of the KOTA 185w LED high bay is its patented heat sink and LEDs that work together to passively cool the all internal components. The COB LEDs outperform regular LED chips largely due to a heat dispersion tunnel that allows heat to escape away from the chip surface. Mounting and adjusting this KOTA fixture is simple, as each fixture comes standard with an adjustable mounting arm made from durable, stamped stainless steel. These fixtures are virtually maintenance free, making them ideal for use in an auto-detailing shop since it means no dead spots, no flickering, and no downtime due to lamp replacements.
How Many Fixtures Were Needed?
While the technical viability of the KOTA fixtures was clear, the light requirements and layout of this auto body shop made it important to run a photometric study. These studies are computer simulations of lighting projects that make it easy for our lighting specialists to add or remove fixtures from a layout, adjust angles, and incorporate elements like curtains or objects that might get in the way of even lighting.
Because shadowing can be so detrimental to a mechanic shop or detailing center, our team thought it best to guarantee success via a photometric report. We used an in-house high bay calculator to come up with an estimate for the number of required fixtures and then plugged them into the photometric design.
Simulating the results with the photometric allowed the Access Fixtures lighting team and the customer to make changes before purchasing and installation. Our initial design, using the number of fixtures suggested by our high bay calculator, provided approximately 82 footcandles, a minimum of 39 FC, a maximum of 104 FC, and a uniformity ratio of 2.66. These levels are good, sure, but we wanted to do better. We discussed the options with the customer and collectively decided to add fixtures to both the curtained-off area and the open area. We then ran another report.
The results of the second analysis gave an average of 83 footcandles, a minimum of 59 FC, a maximum of 103 FC, and a uniformity ratio of 1.75. The customer was thrilled with these results—his auto body shop would be evenly lit with efficient and waterproof LED lighting.
The Ultimate LED Shop Lighting
This auto-detail shop was and is a busy space with many vehicles being worked on at the same time, each of which needed to be well lit to ensure a quality job. A priority for this project was to create a solution which provided natural light, but his concern was that a high Kelvin temperature would look fake and be difficult to work under for long periods of time.
The customer had originally requested high-Kelvin lighting, but we were concerned about him and his team working under that kind of light for long periods of time. We suggested neutral-white, 4000K light as a high-visibility alternative that wouldn’t be disruptive to the work environment. For maximum light distribution, this customer chose 120-degree optics. For easy aiming, he chose an adjustable angle bracket made from durable, stamped stainless steel. This adjustable angle bracket allows him to aim and lock the KOTA high bay along one axis so the light can be directed appropriately. This customer chose the standard CRI of 80, which makes for clear, accurate, and natural color display, perfect for ensuring every detail of every vehicle.
This customer came to Access Fixtures looking for the best lighting solution for his auto-detailing/waxing shop. In just a few weeks, our lighting team had gathered the details about his space and needs, run multiple photometric reports, went through each one with the customer on the phone, discussed other options, changed the layout, and sold a solution. Working closely with the customer allowed our lighting specialists to leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of a successfully lit facility.
After installation, the customer was extremely happy with the outcome. He was so excited with the performance and quality of the fixtures and decided to purchase some lights for the office area as well. He wanted a lower upfront cost for the office fixtures and decided to go with a traditional linear option for the office space. There was also no moisture concern in the office area, so open T5 fixtures were great options.
Access Fixtures offered HENO 6-lamp T5 fluorescent high bays, which were tried-and-true fluorescents at an unbeatable price. Their sticker price was lower than that of LED fixtures and their lumen output is fantastic. The customer is content with KOTA 185w fixtures in the shop spaces and HENO 6-lamp fixtures in the office.
Speak to an Access Fixtures Lighting Specialist about Choosing the Right Fixture
Do you have an auto-detailing shop in need of better lighting? Access Fixtures will assign a team to your project who will work closely with you to make sure you receive the ideal solution for your performance and budget requirements. We are passionate about lighting and love what we do—we’ll find the best solution for your project. Call us today at 800-468-9925.