Lighting in a working garage is one of the most important aspects of keeping a garage useful. Lighting can take many forms in a garage. The ceiling needs lighting that works best for its height and there needs to be portable lighting that you can direct to areas that you have to see well in order to remain safe and do accurate work. There are fluorescent drop lights and halogen work lights that provide that kind of flexibility.
The ceiling lighting needs to be positioned to ensure that you have few shadows to deal with. One thing that can really improve lighting is paint. Yes, there is nothing so effective as making sure your ceiling is painted with a highly reflective ceiling paint. If you have a low ceiling then fluorescent lights are your best bet. Try to find fixtures that take the T-8 bulbs. They provide a good white wavelength of light and minimize power consumption.
When mounting fluorescent fixtures to a low ceiling you will have to think about how you physically mount them. One of the best ways I’ve found is to stand them off of the ceiling a couple of inches by using PVC pipe connectors and 1/4 x 4″ toggle bolts. That allows air to circulate around the fixture which is important in the hot summer. If you are no familiar with electrical work then find someone who is. Many garages are lucky to have a single outlet in the ceiling for the garage door opener. Others may have bare incandecent bulb fixtures. These can be converted to outlets giving you the flexibility to run cords to fluorescent lights placed in optimal locations.
Hopefully you have additional wall outlets in your garage. If not, have an electrician install at least two in each wall, especially by a work bench, if you have one. If you plan to ever use an air compressor or welder consider having that electrician provide a 220 volt outlet for that purpose.
Having outlets on the walls will provide you a place to plug in drop lights and work lights close to where you need them. There is no good reason for running cords where people will likely trip over them.
The halogen work lights that are available come in a couple of flavours. On is on a stand that can be extended in order to adjust the height and generally has two lights. The other is a floor model that may have a hook to hang it with. These lights get very hot in addition to providing excellent light. This may be advantageous in the colder months or an irritant in the hotter ones. These light can also be useful for drying paint or curing epoxy.
Keep in mind that how your garage’s wall are finished off will affect the lighting as well. If you can sheetrock the walls or use a product like Homasote and paint them with white or light colors you will find that your garage will become better lit. I even used white Formica on my bench top so that it was easier to see parts and keep it clean.
Find appropriate and bright lighting, position the fixtures to minimize shaddows, and paint things white.