View Full Version : How many Lights Do I need?

May. 31, 2012, 10:15 AM
Hoping you can help me plan my lights/outlets in my barn. I have essentially a 10 stall center aisle barn...1 stall is my feed room, and 2 stalls are currently enclosed where my baby goats live. I have a loft on one side of the stalls for hay and then the rest of the barn is wide open with extra tall ceilings. Aisle way is probably 10-12 ft. wide...enough for my truck to get inside.

So...how many lights do you recommend down the aisle way? They will need to be hung on the sides or I will need to build some type of support if they go down the middle...I'm thinking I need at least 4 florescent lights down each side? But someone was trying to convince me I only need 3? Would 3 be enough light if they were on either side? Also, what type would you buy? Do I need the vapor sealed ones? Is it really that much safer? They seem to be almost triple the price of the others??

Do you recommend the florescent lights in each stall as well and if so how many? My current barn has the cage lights throughout the barn and that can be really shadowy which drives me nuts...

What about outlets? Is one outlet per every two stalls enough? How many do you think I need in the feed/tack room? I currently have one GFCI...is that sufficient?


May. 31, 2012, 10:20 AM
I found that it is practical to have lights over the stalls, so you can see in case you have to doctor. You can mount them between stalls to cut down on the number. Also, I would put at least one outlet by each stall, more is always better. You can always not use one, vs having to run extentions.

Also, having one lower light in the barn aisle is good, so you start up the stadium lights when you do night checks.

(and of course everything in metal conduit...)

May. 31, 2012, 12:09 PM
think through your needs:
heated buckets
also your vet's neeeds, your farrier's needs
They must all be safe, covered etc, but needing to use extension cords is not safe.

I agree with having a set of lights that is "minimal", to do a late night walk through without really getting everybody fully awake, but you have to have full good lights for doctoring etc.

Although low light makes grooming and tack cleaning go faster, it doesn't mean you will like the results when the sun comes up ;-)

think through where you will be standing, where the light is and where the shadow will be.

May. 31, 2012, 12:25 PM
think through where you will be standing, where the light is and where the shadow will be.

This is why I'd prefer stall lights on 2 walls instead of a single overhead. Inevidibly you're going to have a time when you have a cut on a leg... an overhead light means said leg (take your pick) is going to be in a shadow created by the horse's body. Even a single light on a wall, and you know whatever injury is lurking or needing treatment is going to end up on teh far side of however the horse prefers (insist) to stand... thus putting it in shadow.

Same idea for grooming or treatment areas.

May. 31, 2012, 12:28 PM
As many as you can get on different switches (aisle one switch, left side stalls one switch, right side stalls another switch, etc). I have 2 different types of lights, one is center and one is at the front, in my stalls and the front one can be controlled separately by a switch at the stall, then I have 2-3 plugs at each stall (some have 2 and some have 3).

May. 31, 2012, 01:18 PM
I have 4 8ft flourescents down the center aisle of my 84' long barn. It's about 12 ft to the bottom of the trusses where the lights are hung. When the bulbs were new/clean, it was super bright in the barn. They light up the stalls enough so I never felt the need to install stall lights. It's plenty of light to groom, tack up, change a bandage, clip, or whatever- though out of habit I don't do any of these things in a stall anyway- I have a wash rack/cross tie area for all of that. I don't have any outlets for the stalls, and have never needed them. I don't run fans in my barn except for a big one at the end of the barn on occasion- I have great cross breezes in the summer.

At my suggestion, a friend who runs fans constantly in the summer, put one outlet per 2 stalls up high to run the fans off of- and switched them one switch for each side of the barn. The fans are mounted high- out of the reach of horses. It's so nice to just flip a switch to turn all of the fans on. They're on GFI circuits, though arc-fault would be better.

At my old barn I had 4ft flourescents in the aisle, but the ceiling was lower, so I put a single incandescent in a cage above each stall (none of my stalls have ever had a ceiling- they're open to the trusses). I switched them separately, too. One for the center lights, one each for the left and right sides of the barn. Again, I never felt the need for an outlet at each stall.

May. 31, 2012, 05:38 PM
Depends what you are using your barn for and what your personal needs are. For example, a breeder will want a lot of lights, not only down the aisle, but also an individual light for each stall - perhaps 2 lights per stall if you put mares under lights to induce early estrus. You may also want an GFCI electric outlet placed high for each pair of stalls in case a vet needs power; however, if you are just wanting to have a general purpose barn, you may want to just install 1-3 outlets at your tack-up/cross-tie stall. If you find this is unsatisfactory, it is not hard to add outlets later on as long as you haven't maxed out your panel.

When installing your lights, think of your usage needs. Do you want to only be able to turn on a section of lights at a time? I was in one barn where one light switch turned on every alternating light down the aisle. The second switch threw on the other ones. I was in a different barn where one light switch threw on the front half bank of lights, the second switch the back half. Both of these ideas are handy if you don't want to disturb the whole barn for the one horse you need to attend to.

Personally in my barn, I prefer front half/back half bank of lights for the aisles plus individual switches/lights for each individual stall. As well, I have one GFCI outlet for every pair of stalls, plus more GFCI outlets at the cross-tie/stocks areas and this area is lit with several lights that can be individually turned on and off, depending on needs. When a vet is ultrasounding, he wants dimmer light so he can see the U/S screen. Plus, having this variability is very handy if you only want light for the individual horse you are working on. It saves energy costs - no point lighting up the whole barn for just 1 horse. Because I'm a breeder, I don't always need brilliant light inside each stall so each stall light is on a dimmer switch... when a mare is foaling I can keep it dim and soft so I can observe; then, if something appears to be going wrong, I can flip it really bright so we can get to work. It was more expensive to get this all installed, but the convenience is worth its weight in gold bricks.

Generally, in the aisleway, one light fixture per every 10 feet is sufficient. I personally prefer having them dangle from the ceiling as long as they're easy to reach with a basic ladder to switch out lightbulbs.

You also don't need to install those long fluorescent tube type lights. That can get expensive. You can just install a plain ordinary light fixture that takes a screw-in bulb, and then these fit the simple CF lightbulbs you use for your home. Way cheaper and easier to maintain. They come in very bright capabilities and half the cost of the tubes.

Jun. 1, 2012, 03:38 AM
It really depends on how much light you want or need for what you plan to do in the barn. Don't forget that with no white ceiling to reflect the light, you'll need more lumen output than you would in a normal household room.
Our barn houses animals and I installed decent quality damp area linear fluorescent fixtures with two 32-watt lamps each. One is in the center, and one is over each of the two animal stalls, all separately switched. It's plenty of light for our needs.
I fitted protective polycarbonate tubes over the lamps just for safety, even though the lamps are WAY out of animal reach.

Jun. 1, 2012, 08:31 AM
Thanks for all the suggestions and ideas. I have a general idea of what i want, but getting all this input always adds more to the thought process.

I was thinking of having left side barn light switch, center aisle and right side barn switch to start and then having a separate light for the feed/tack room. on the left side of my barn there are only two useable horse stalls as the feed room is the first area and its enclosed. Then the last two stalls were completely closed off into a room which i originally thought would be some hay storage, but the goats are in there now...however, I would like to open up the outside walls in that area and either turn it into a run in shed for the horses or tractor storage or both...

Then there are 5 stalls on the right...one of which will be my wash stall down the road...

I really don't like shadows, but reality is i only need to worry about clipping in the winter, stall cleaning and any vet needs...thinking that the back half / front half idea might be cool for the center aisle at least. That way I could do two florescent lights on either side of the aisle to start with as the front half and since i need to budget money, the back half could be done later...i may end up also just doing the one side of the barn for stall lights initially as well...

Whats your preference on light manufacturers or types?

Jun. 1, 2012, 10:05 AM
(just a side note: Tractor and hay storage adds a fie hazard to the barn...)

Jun. 3, 2012, 06:03 AM
Tractor and Hay storage are not in the same location in the barn. the enclosed room was originally planned for hay storage, but i have 5 stalls to use for that so the tractor will be on one end of the barn in a shed like conversion....but that is even down the road. for awhile, the tractor will be outside. I may actually have to build a shed attachment to the outside of the barn to cover everything or look into one of those "garages" that are inexpensive...not sure yet. but for now, tractor and riding lawnmower will be in back of the barn.

Jun. 3, 2012, 08:45 AM
Question is sort of like How much does it cost to build a barn? Which is answered by 10% to 30% more than the contract told you it would be.

Lights... often never always enough. Put in what you can have switches that can turn various combination on/off

We changed all of barn lights over to compact fluoresces... some such isle ways and outside are instant on, but the stall lights are the slow on as they do allow a build up of the light level