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benleef 12-12-2012 11:03 AM

Help with Lighting Basement
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Hi all. I am working on slowly remodeling my basement. First thing is to get some decent lighting down there so I can see what I am doing.

I have decided on recessed lighting and I would like to do LED if I can find some options at affordable prices.

My question is, I am at a loss for how to arrange the cans given the room layout. Below is a picture. I definitely want to add a light at the bottom of the stairs (as shown in the picture), which will be on a separate three-way switch at the top of the stairs and at the bottom. There is also a light at the top of the stairs which illuminates my house's side-door entrance.

Otherwise, I can't figure out the best way to arrange the lighting. I know I want all lights on dimmers, perhaps three-four on each dimmer. The soffit down the middle will likely block out much of the light from the other side of the room, so I think it best to treat as two separate areas.

Any tips or ideas.


Beepster 12-12-2012 11:22 AM

I would say 2 at minimum and 3 at maximum recessed lights centered on each side of the soffit spaced evenly along the 15'.

You have on the drawing that the walls on the right side next to the stairs will eventually be removed. What will be behind it? Will that need to have a recessed light also? Plan ahead.

LED are so expensive. I just ended up getting the basic Halo at HD and using a BR30 (?) bulbs for my basement


benleef 12-12-2012 11:37 AM


Do you think Three (centered) in addition to the light at the bottom of the stairs would be OK?

The walls are basically just splitting the basement in half. The other side consists of a a bathroom, laundry area and boiler area. The room in the picture will likely open up a bit, but not too much. You make a good point of planning ahead. Perhaps I can space the lights so that if I needed to add one more in the opened up area it would line up correctly.

rebelranger 12-12-2012 05:02 PM

Because of only a 6'6" ceiling height you really need to be worried about bulb heat and size. LEDs are really going to be your best bet although the most expensive. I would use 4 to 6 4" cans with LED bulbs. If it were me at least. However if it were me and the cost was an issue I would use 3 recessed fluorescent 4' T8s.

gregzoll 12-12-2012 05:29 PM

15x15, just hang some dual bulb fluorescent fixtures if not finished. Six 48" T-12 two bulb should work fine down there.

benleef 12-12-2012 05:36 PM

There are some florescent fixtures down there already. They don't provide enough light, they take forever to turn on, they are not dimmable, and the plan is to finish the basement. Why not spend the money on what I'm going to use in the finished space?

gregzoll 12-12-2012 07:04 PM

Depends on what kind of ballasts are in them. How high from floor to ceiling are we talking at the lowest & highest spots?

benleef 12-12-2012 07:21 PM

It's about 6.5 at highest and 6 at lowest.

gregzoll 12-12-2012 07:47 PM

You are not going to be able to finish that basement. Too low for headroom. Not even good for anything unless you are 4 foot or 5'-4". Best would be to go with the fluorescent T-12 48" fixtures mounted up in the joist bays.

benleef 12-12-2012 07:55 PM

The headroom is not going to keep me from finishing the space for nice bright clean storage and extra TV area. It obviously won't be a living space but something better than cold concrete and dusty and dingy space.

gregzoll 12-12-2012 08:05 PM

Even for putting a tv down there, you cannot finish it, due to your local permit office will never let it fly. After you figure floor, ceiling, you are going to loose a lot more headroom. Best to just use for storage.

benleef 12-12-2012 08:21 PM

I'm obviously not going to have my living room down there, but I don't see the issue putting up drywall and a floor. I'm not going to be getting a permit to do it. Even if I were, there are people with legalized finished basements with the same houses as I have. It obviously isn't considered "habitable" space, but its square footage that can be utilized.

gregzoll 12-12-2012 08:59 PM

It is because your local permit office will never allow it. Unless you are placing the drywall on the ceiling for fireproofing, and sealing the main living area from the cold zone, being the basement, that would be the only way you could get away with it.

It is just not feasible for being able to finish it and use it as a place to hang out, let alone get decent lighting at that low of height.

benleef 12-12-2012 09:10 PM

Not getting a permit. Not sure how you know what they'll allow but thanks for your help I get that it's not best place to invest in work. I'd still like to see down there. Ill look into fluorescents

gregzoll 12-12-2012 09:25 PM

Because you are wanting to finish it. That means that you are wanting to use it as a living space. That means when your local city finds out, you will not get permits to finish as a living space. Good luck on this, but personally the head room is the part that I cannot get past as the kicker, why not to use it for hanging out, due to all you are going to do is stand up stooping over all of the time, unless you are under 5'-4".

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