How to Choose The Right Lights?

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Table of Contents

Lighting is crucial in every aspect of detailing. From estimating the pad/compound combo for paint defect removal to levelling coatings or highlighting dog hair caught in carpet, each job requires a different type of light.

At the start you can get away with a simple floodlight from Bunnings, but truth be told, some investment is required to ensure your detailing rises to that next level.

Different Types of Lighting

A combination of handheld lights, head torches, tripod lights and overhead lighting leads to the perfect detail. The best studios have a mix of fluorescent and downlights filling the overhead space and removing the majority of shadows in the area. 

@rossonicardetail on Instagram is regarded as the best detailer to date. The workspace is out of this world. A quick scroll of his feed shows ample overhead lighting. While the average joe would not have the budget for this type of setup, it’s easy to see why overhead lighting is critical.

Key Lighting Features

Utilising a tripod light for your works is by far one of the easiest ways to move an abundance of light into whatever position you need- especially if it’s rocking a set of wheels.

High CRI, adjustable Kelvins and Lumens are just the beginning. Shock and waterproof battery-operated devices reduce the clutter and improve the visibility of faults in your work at hand. Whether it be swirls, buffing a window and flattening high spots on a ceramic coat, you can work confidently with a dedicated detailing light over that $40 Arlec tripod.

If you cannot justify the cost of a dedicated work light as suggested above, a handheld inspection light is an absolute must. It functions not just to illuminate the area, but to catch defects that may have been missed.

Yes, your workspace may be well-lit, but to really highlight scratches you need these pinpoint accurate hand-held lighting systems.

Lighting Setup in a Garage

Honestly, I did struggle to decide which lights were most important but definitely a handheld system along with a floodlight is a great start. It takes time to build up a repertoire of lighting systems in your space, so work yourself up from there.

Here’s a sneak peak of the lighting system in my home garage consisting of:

  • Ceiling: 6 downlights, 1 Fluro
  • Light Tower: 14 fluros, varying temperatures on separate switches, two floodlights at 45 degrees.
  • Head Torch
  • Detail Light
  • Inspection Light
  • 8000 Lumen Iron Horse Tripod

The image below shows how various types of lights and colour temperatures highlight different paint imperfections. Particularly during paint correction and ceramic coating applications, lights with a higher CRI+ (colour rendering index) allows light colour customization to provide ideal conditions for discovering paint defects.

Thomas Mayer Automotive

OE+ Refinisher

FB / IG: @mayer.detailing

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