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Pole Barn Lighting Calculator

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In the world of agriculture and DIY projects, pole barns serve a versatile role, from storage spaces to workshops. Ensuring these structures are adequately lit is vital for functionality and safety. Enter the pole barn lighting calculator, a tool designed to demystify the process of planning your barn's lighting needs.

Purpose and Functionality

The primary goal of the pole barn lighting calculator is to provide a user-friendly method for determining the optimal lighting setup. It takes into account various factors such as the barn's purpose, dimensions, and desired brightness level to suggest the necessary lumens and fixtures required.


To calculate the lighting needs for a pole barn in simple words, follow these steps:

  1. What You're Doing in the Barn: First, think about what you'll be doing in your pole barn. If you're just storing stuff, you won't need as much light. But if you're working on projects or using tools, you'll want it brighter.
  2. Figure Out How Bright: Decide how bright you want it inside. For just keeping things, a little bit of light is fine (10-20 bright spots, or "foot candles"). For work, you'll want it much brighter (30-50 foot candles).
  3. Calculate the Light You Need: Multiply the barn's length by its width to get its size in square feet. Then, multiply that number by how bright you want it (the foot candles). If you're unsure, aiming for 100-200 shiny dots (lumens) per square foot usually works well.
  4. Pick Your Lights: Based on how high your ceiling is, you might choose different lights. Lower ceilings (10-12 feet) do well with 120-watt round LED lights ("UFO fixtures"). For higher ceilings (12-15 feet), you might want 100-watt or even 160-watt lights to get enough brightness.
  5. How Many Lights and Where: Depending on how big your barn is and how you want to spread out the light, you'll need a certain number of fixtures. A smaller barn might need fewer lights, while a larger area might need more.
  6. Don't Forget Outside: Also, think about lighting around the outside of your barn for safety and to see where you're going at night. Lights that turn on by themselves when they sense movement are a great choice.

A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Determine Your Needs: First, decide how you'll use the barn. Different activities require different lighting levels.
  2. Calculate Required Lumens: Estimate the lumens needed per square foot based on your barn's use. The guideline is 100-200 lumens per square foot for interior spaces.
  3. Choosing the Right Lights: Select fixtures based on your barn's ceiling height and your activities. Lower ceilings may need 120-watt LED UFO fixtures, while higher ceilings might require 100 or 160-watt fixtures.
  4. Placement and Number of Fixtures: The size of your barn and the fixtures' mounting height will dictate how many lights you need and where they should go.

Examples and Relevant Information

Let's consider a 30x40 pole barn used as a workshop with a 12-foot ceiling. According to our guidelines:

  • Purpose: Workshop
  • Area: 1,200 sq. ft.
  • Desired Light Level: 50 foot candles
  • Required Lumens: 60,000-120,000 lumens
  • Suggested Fixtures: 4-6 LED UFO fixtures
Pole Barn UseDesired Brightness (Foot Candles)Ceiling HeightSuggested Fixtures
Storage10-20Any120-watt LED UFO for low ceilings
Workshop30-5010-12 ft120-watt LED UFO
Workshop (Heavy Use)30-5012-15 ft100-watt LED UFO or 160-watt for >50 fc
General Work Area50-70>15 ft160-watt LED UFO or higher
Exterior SafetyN/AOutdoorMotion-activated floodlights


The pole barn lighting calculator simplifies the complex process of planning your barn's lighting. By considering the barn's use, dimensions, and desired luminosity, it helps ensure your space is well-lit for any purpose. This tool not only enhances the functionality of your barn but also promotes safety and efficiency. Whether upgrading an existing barn or constructing a new one, starting with a detailed lighting plan is crucial for achieving the best results.

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