Gas Monkey Garage (GMG) is arguably America's most recognized hot rod shop. Founded in 2004 by charismatic serial entrepreneur Richard Rawlings, the Dallas, Texas garage is a state-of-the-art restoration and fabrication operation, well-known for turning out stunningly restored, show-stopping rare cars and hot rod creations, all under the watchful eye of millions of TV viewers each week.

Dialight LED Linears installed in Gas Monkey Garage above some new and classic cars.

Driven by huge demand for its creative work, GMG has recently begun expanding its shop to make room for more builds and other endeavors to support the Gas Monkey brand. For a business that focuses on precision work, outstanding aesthetics, and edgy design, lighting is a critical factor in the GMG facility.

“Our business depends on being able to see clearly, whether that be to see the finest paint details or to safely work with our equipment,” Rawlings said. “Dim, unreliable lighting was simply not an option for our facility.”

Dialight Vigilant® LED High Bays installed in the Gas Monkey Garage Man Cave.

In addition to the demand for visual clarity, GMG has zero room for downtime in its incredibly tight production schedules. The crew cannot afford to stop work and move cars and other equipment around in order to maintain lighting in the facility. Time is money, and time spent changing lightbulbs is wasted money. Looking for a cutting-edge lighting technology that would meet GMG's stringent standards for quality and performance — and live up to its demand for maintenance-free equipment — Rawlings and GMG turned to Dialight industrial LED lighting for new fixtures in its workshop, “man cave”, merchandise warehouse, paint booth and exterior areas.

“We know a thing or two about industrial grade performance and design,” Rawlings said. “When we saw the Dialight fixtures, that was it. The rugged design, performance and longevity of these fixtures sold us, and we've been blown away by just how much better we can see now versus the fluorescent fixtures we used to have.”

Dialight LED Linears installed in the garage ceiling at Gas Monkey.

Inside the main shop, GMG replaced all of its 8-foot, two-lamp T12 and 4-foot, four-and six-lamp T8 fluorescents with 152 of Dialight's DuroSite 4-foot Linear fixtures. Most of the lights were 4,100K with some 3,500K mixed in, typically on the T8 fixtures only. It all depended on who ordered or installed replacement bulbs whenever the ones in the shop burned out. Their existing T12 fixtures had an approximate lumen per watt of 64 based on a ballast factor of 0.88. The 66-watt Dialight linear fixtures are at 110lm/w with very minimal degradation of the light levels over the LM70 of >100,000 hrs estimated lifespan. The new fixtures provide the crystal-clear clarity and brightness the mechanics and fabricators need for precision work in a safe environment.

In its new “man cave” and outdoor lounge area, the team chose Dialight's 26,500-lumen Vigilant High Bay fixtures to replace the 4-foot, four- and six-lamp T8 fluorescents, and another 44 DuroSite Linears went into its expanded merchandise building. The result was a drastic improvement in both lighting quality perception and measured light levels. Foot-candle levels, on average, doubled across the facility. Additionally, even with the change from 4,100 Kelvin with the old T12 lamps to 4,800 Kelvin with the Dialight linear fixtures, the CRI (color rendering index) increased from 75 to 85.

Dialight LED Linears illuminate both classic and new sports cars at twilight in the Gas Monkey Garage.

Outside, GMG installed a combination of 5 new Dual Vigilant Flood Lights and DuroSite single floods, along with 8 new 40-watt Vigilant Area Lights to replace its antiquated 250-watt HID wall packs. While the primary goal in outdoor illumination was to improve exterior aesthetics, presence and security, the energy savings from the new high-efficiency Dialight fixtures is an added bonus, going from 250-watt per wall pack to 40-watt at 145 lm/w. Light pollution was also dramatically improved as the new fixtures keep all light at 90° and below.

Gas Monkey Garage is home to first and second of their kind cars like this vintage Firebird.

“Upgrading to Dialight LED High Bay and Linear fixtures meant we were actually able to use fewer fixtures, saving money on top of significant energy savings from the superior efficiency of these fixtures,” Rawlings said. “Plus, these lights will last for the long haul without any maintenance. I can't say that for fluorescents.” The amount of mechanical and electrical work needed to make the transition was also kept to a minimum. Most replacements were a simple one-for-one swap, while the others were tied together via through-wiring utilizing existing single drops.

This article was written by Jon Rud, Director of Sales, Dialight (Houston, TX). For more information, visit here.