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barn reno - Lighting choice for high vaulted space?

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  • barn reno - Lighting choice for high vaulted space?

    The center aisle of our old barn is very tall and dark. There are currently three incandescent bulbs spaced on the side wall, and it's sufficient to move around and do basic stuff, but it's dim and gloomy. We're putting in a crushed stone floor in a cpl weeks, so having a light colored floor will help a little, but I need to figure out the best kind of o'head fixtures to install. If anyone has expertise in this area, I'd be grateful. I've been reading up on high-bay lighting, but in the end, I am still stumped on how many and what kind of fixtures I should put in (metal halide? fluorescent? T5, T8? what is he right wattage/output?).

    I want the lighting to be good enough for a vet visit. Not surgery but want general, ambient lighting so it's not like the topside of the horse is shiny bright but everything else is in pitch-dark shadow.

    Here is a picture of the center aisle, before we had it cleared it out. There are two cross beams in this space, both about 20ft high (in the picture, one of the beams isn't visible b/c it's over the head of the photographer).
    The space is 19ft wide by 30ft deep. Very tall overall ceiling height, not sure exactly how tall. There will be 2 stalls built in the back of this section. The o'head beam that you can see sits right where the front wall of the stalls will be. The other beam is directly over the area I'll be using to groom, pretty much centered in the grooming space.

    For the stalls, I'm thinking two fixtures mounted on the back beam and aimed at an angle down into each stall. I worry that a regular shop light kind of fixture that's pointed straight down would just be washing the stall wall with light and not the stall interior.
    Any suggestions on what kind of fixture?

    For the grooming area in front of the stalls, I'm thinking two 4ft fluorescent fixtures spaced evenly across that beam. Overkill? Not enough output for the space? I'd prefer to mount them on the beam directly and not to hang them because when the barn door is open they'd swing in the wind.

    We have very cold winter temps (ten to 15 below zero is usually the worst we get). I'm fine with the lights taking a a little bit to warm up, as long as eventually they'll hit full "strength". Any advantage betw metal halide and fluorescent in this regard?

    Thanks for taking the time to wade through this!

  • #2
    I know the story, just a little repair and what a wonderful outcome.... we rebuilt a 1820s log cabin as our first home and I learned that it would have been easier and cheaper to burn the thing down and start over. I looked backwards through your barn photos and the amount of work you have done is amazing.

    As for lighting basically it comes down to what amount of electrical power do you have available? The new warehouse type fixtures I believe would not fit into the overall design.

    Have you considered mounting some upward aimed fixtures to bounce light back down from the roof to lighten the interior?

    I defer to Tom King as he works with rehabs daily


    • Original Poster

      Yeah, it's a big project, but we knew what we were in for. I've been saving up for the reno for years. Goal is not to have a museum-perfect old barn, but safe and functional and when it's painted it will be pretty.
      Service from the main pole to the barn's elec panel is new, we had our electrician upgrade the line when he was here last year doing something else. We have a 50amp panel in the barn with a couple of circuits wide open. (and the 2 circuits in use have room to add more fixtures. Right now we're jusr running 8- 60w lightbulbs in there, and two outlets.
      But basically we're trying now to decide what new fixtures I want (and their electrical load), and we'll upgrade the panel if needed (or decide where to sacrifice lighting/outlets).


      • #4
        Originally posted by HungarianHippo View Post
        Service from the main pole to the barn's elec panel is new, we had our electrician upgrade the line when he was here last year doing something else. We have a 50amp panel in the barn ).
        This service, is it from a meter base or is this a branch panel from the primary?

        If from a meter base you could go to a 200AMP service panel... if this a sub-panel you will be restricted by the gauge of the interface wiring between the main and sub panels

        But it appears you have a good plan; your barn will be nice


        • Original Poster

          Thanks for the guidance. That's good to know about the meter vs sub panel. Luckily the line is straight from the main panel at the meter, so we have plenty of room to increase. <yay>


          • #6
            just seems you guys are thinking long term, do something once then on to the next phase of the project

            We live in a much warm area then you. We went with the compact fluorescent lights in explosion proof housings which I like as they are not an instant blazing sun but come up at pace that allows you (or Mr/Mrs Horse) to not be surprised/shock/taken back by suddenly being exposed to a solar flare in the middle of the night with an instant on 200 watt lamp.


            • #7
              Whatever you put up, be sure you are illuminating the horses from the side, not straight overhead and then you can't see under them, is all shadows.

              Some fluorescents high on the walls of the aisle will be better than above it.


              • #8
                I'm having a hard time deciding. I'd buy some lights from Lowes or Home Depot, be very careful with the packaging, hook them up to pigtails to plug into an extension cord, try them in different positions at night, and see how you like them. If you don't like them, need more or less light, carefully repackage them so someone else won't mind buying the package, and return. Lowes and Home Depot are really good with returns.

                You don't want to be changing lamps often that high, so I'd like MH up high, with some LEDs down low that will come on quickly while waiting for the MHs. Cree is going to be selling cheap LEDs pretty soon in Home Depot in standard household sizes.


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks for the advice. What sticks out is the comments that you don't want the light coming from directly overhead, and Tom mentioning the hassle of changing bulbs when they wear out.... So tonight I'm standing in the barn after putting out hay, and had a giant DUH! moment. Just because those cross beams are there doesn't mean I have to use them. I know, that's an idiotically simple thought, but for whatever reason I've been ignoring the fact that there are perfectly good side walls where I can hang the fixtures lower, and direct the light from both sides rather than down. Like I said, DUH. Guess I'll cancel the order for the articulated boom lift that I would have needed to install lights on those friggin beams and just break out the old aluminum ladder. Much less exciting. LOL


                  • #10
                    The barn where I used to board used 100-Watt-equivalent CFL floodlamps spaced every 10 feet along the 20 foot high peak of the roof. To change them we used a telescoping pole designed specifically for the purpose. Lowe's carries them.

                    For grooming, we used 100-Watt equivalent CFL bulbs in vaportight fixtures mounted about 8' above grade.
                    The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
                    Winston Churchill


                    • #11
                      Still hard to beat 8' HO fluorescent fixtures. Make sure you get electronic ballasts and cold weather bulbs. When the LED fixtures become more reasonable, I will start switching out, but $500+ per fixture is pretty hard to swallow right now.