Lighting Options for Attic Storage

An unfinished attic
Kevin Bowman / Flickr / Creative Commons

Whether you have a walk-up attic used for frequent storage or even just a hatchway access, some kind of lighting in your attic space is a good idea. If your attic is a storage space, then you'll need to see what's stored there. And even if you go up into your attic space only infrequently for inspection or repairs, it's much easier if you have lighting. Here are some options:

Safety note. Light fixtures or work lights that use incandescent bulbs generate a lot of heat. Don't leave one of these lights turned on when you are not in the attic. A better option for these spaces might a CFL or LED bulb. 

  • Install a ​hard-wired light fixture. Attics often have electrical cabling running through them, so an electrician or experienced DIYer can easily tap into an existing circuit. Place the light switch near the entry for convenience, and use a switch with a warning light that reminds you when the light is on. 
  • Pull-string fixture. This is also a hard-wired fixture, but one operated simply by a pull string. If wiring a wall switch is too much trouble, install a pull-string light fixture, preferably near the entry. You can also install additional pull-string fixtures spaced throughout the attic space. 
  • Install a battery-operated light fixture. These are often sold as closet lights. Most of these types of fixtures don't produce a lot of light, but they can be installed easily. Put one near where your items are stored and you should be able to find what you need.
  • Head-mounted flashlight. A small flashlight attached to a strap that wraps around your head allows you see where you're going in the attic without having to hold a flashlight in your hand. Very handy.
  • Work light. A corded work light (attached, if necessary, to a long extension cord) can cast a lot of light in an attic. Even better, work lights usually have hooks on them that allow you to hang them up (from a nail driven into a rafter, for example) while conducting your business. You can also find cordless work lights.
  • Regular flashlight. For occasional trips into the attic, a standard flashlight is often sufficient.