I am currently renting an garage in an underground parking lot. The garage has no light inside nor electric plugs. The only form of illumination available comes from the few neon lights in the corridor/driveway of the underground parking lot.

What I did so far was to install a motion-activated, battery-operated, LED light that is as bright as a candle in the wind. Nevertheless this works well enough since it allows me to see what I'm doing as I back my vehicles in.

Now, I am looking for solutions on how to bring enough light down there so that I can work on the vehicles. A fuel-powered generator is a no-no since we are talking about an underground parking lot. As an added bonus I'd like to be able to use power tools, but that's not my priority as of now. Lighting is. Are there any smart and effective ways to light up a garage without relying on power outlets?

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    I have a collection of battery powered worklights and tools for working in my un-powered areas. Commented May 9, 2016 at 16:10
  • Reading between the lines - you have a lockup space inside a parking garage. So its intended for Parking/Storage of a vehicle, and not for working on it. Will you get in trouble for working on your vehicle in this location? Not sure what work you'll be doing, but sparks/smoke/fumes/painting may get you in hot-water with the others.
    – Criggie
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 19:37
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    @Criggie Yes exactly. You are spot on. I'm planning on doing maintenance work on motorbikes. Nothing too sparky/smokey/fumey/painty. I wouldn't have the equipment for that anyway.
    – JoErNanO
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 21:52

5 Answers 5


Battery operated flashlights or worklights which share batteries with your cordless tools would be a good option.

These will allow you to work on the car even with a dead or disconnected battery. Choosing the right tool will give you either an area light or a focused light.

Examples from one manufacturer: Ryobi area light (I own this one, it has a provision for battery or mains operation) Ryobi lantern Ryobi flashlight

Other major makers such as DeWalt and Milwaukee have similar options. These tools share batteries with other cordless tools like drills, impact drivers, and saws. This battery sharing allows you to charge up several of the same battery pack and get use from different tools.

These options should also be augmented with a good pocket flashlight (Surefire, Streamlight, or similar brands) and a handful of cheap pocket flashlights (Harbor Freight) for tight, dark corners.


There are a number of ways to do this, but the two that come immediately to mind are battery-powered LED work lights. (A quick internet search will turn up many). Two varieties might be of use/interest to you. Some can be powered by the vehicle's battery which is convenient unless you're doing something like replacing a flat battery. Others have their own rechargeable battery pack inside and can be recharged elsewhere (via connection to an outlet) and then brought to the site. In your situation, I think I'd recommend the vehicle battery powered work light. I have one that looks like this and works pretty well. I leave it in the vehicle just in case.enter image description here

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    Combine the suggestion above with a portable power/booster pack so that you're not relying on the car battery is a good solution. Commented May 9, 2016 at 20:02
  • @PaulDufresne Or just another car battery charged at home.
    – Agent_L
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 7:45

A "dead" car battery can still have more than enough juice to run things like LED lights, phone chargers, etc. - and lots of us have one kicking round the workshop we haven't got round to disposing of.

Sticking one in your boot (sorry, trunk) to take with you is easy enough, and then charge it as far as possible when you get back to civilisation. If you're feeling flush, 12v jump-start packs are a versatile thing to have round and can usually be charged from mains or in a car, and many also have a (tiny, asthmatic) air compressor in them which could be handy in an off-grid workshop.

As for lighting - take your pick, loads of assorted low-voltage lighting stuff out there these days. A 25m reel of white flexi LED strip will set you back very little from eBay and you can just hook it up & hang it around the place. 12v work lights are available, and lots of camping gear is 12v.

At a push you could run lighting from your vehicle battery, assuming it's being run from time to time to recharge the battery.


My take is slightly different, though related to what has been said. Obviously, LED lighting is the way to go. The reason for this is because the for the amount of light, it uses very little battery to operate (very low power consumption). The problem lies in the fact you need a few LED lights to make enough light to see anything with any real clarity. My suggestion to you is to get 12v rope LED lights which can be hung up via double stick tape. This will provide plenty of overhead light and give you illumination around the work area. Something like these.

enter image description here

While a pain the butt, you'll need to connect these to a 12vdc power source large enough to run it for a good long time. With that in mind, you'll want to get a marine battery. These batteries are used to power trolling motors for a long time. It will provide the low amperage draw of the LED lights for a long period of time without the need to worry about running out. When you are done for the day, take the battery home with you and charge it. The best part about this type of solution is, once you are done and you turn the area you are renting back over to the owner, the lights can go with you. You can also use as many as you need to give as much light as you need for the area.

These alone will not be enough to provide enough light to illuminate your work area so you can actually work (not like fluorescent bulbs might). You'll need another form of light to provide you with enough light right where you are working at to give you directed light to get your work done. These will be the battery powered lights like you've seen in the rest of the answers. You'll need to find one (or more) which fits your needs and can easily be taken home with you to be charged for the next time you go to your "shop".

  • Rope lights are for decoration and they're very bad at lightning things up. Mostly because they're designed to radiate in all directions (eg the tape you used to mount them). Fixtures dedicated to lightning have more focused beam that achieves better illumination with less energy.
    – Agent_L
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 7:44
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    @Agent_L - As I stated, this is not used as primary lighting. Mainly used so you aren't fumbling around in the dark. These are used all the time in trailers, such as enclosed auto haulers and towed equipment trailers. They work well so you don't kill yourself and don't use much juice at all. One page stated .04 amp draw per meter of rope ... that's less than a parked car draws. Commented May 10, 2016 at 11:40

Get a harbor freight solar security light the biggest one they sell. It has a remote solar collector you can put outside and they produce reasonable amounts of light with a motion detector to turn on when you need it. I don't think you can make one as inexpensive as they sell one.

  • The problem is that this garage is underground. I would have to find a space outside to put the solar panel, and then run a pretty long cable.
    – JoErNanO
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 14:32
  • Underground garage. . . nice. My spouse would never find me!! Commented May 10, 2016 at 15:11
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    @Darth, the OP is trying to escape the dark side. Commented May 10, 2016 at 15:53

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