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Old 02-17-2008, 07:54 PM   #1
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lighting for low basement ceiling


I'm doing a minor remodel on the basement to make part of it into a kid-friendly play area. This basically consists of putting up a partition wall, some paint, a rug etc. Nothing too fancy. The exposed ceiling joists are under 7', so to make it a liitle more appealing while not lowering it any further or losing access to plumbing, wiring, etc, I have decided to spray paint the exposed ceiling as-is (joists, wiring, pipes, everything). This brings me to my question, which is how to get overhead lighting that looks good but which doesn't intrude any lower into the living space. I initially thought about track lighting, but if I install the tracks to the bottom of the ceiling joists the lights will just about brush the top of my head -- too low. Recessed cans would obviously be the way to go, but since I'm going to the trouble of cleaning and refinishing to some extent, I wanted something that would look a little more finished with the exposed celling. The uncovered cans probably wouldn't look great. One thought I had was installing track lights to the side of the joists as opposed to the bottoms. With the rotation of the light fixtures I was thinking I might still be able to direct them enough to get good illumination throughout the room if I put up a couple of tracks. However, I have never seen or heard of this being done, and don't really know if it's doable/desirable. Any suggestions on whether this would work, or if there are other types of fixtures that might work for this situation? Any ideas are appreciated.

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Old 02-27-2008, 11:03 AM   #2
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I'm doing a minor remodel on the basement to make part of it into a kid-friendly play area. This basically consists of putting up a partition wall, some paint, a rug etc. Nothing too fancy. The exposed ceiling joists are under 7', so to make it a liitle more appealing while not lowering it any further or losing access to plumbing, wiring, etc, I have decided to spray paint the exposed ceiling as-is (joists, wiring, pipes, everything). This brings me to my question, which is how to get overhead lighting that looks good but which doesn't intrude any lower into the living space. I initially thought about track lighting, but if I install the tracks to the bottom of the ceiling joists the lights will just about brush the top of my head -- too low. Recessed cans would obviously be the way to go, but since I'm going to the trouble of cleaning and refinishing to some extent, I wanted something that would look a little more finished with the exposed celling. The uncovered cans probably wouldn't look great. One thought I had was installing track lights to the side of the joists as opposed to the bottoms. With the rotation of the light fixtures I was thinking I might still be able to direct them enough to get good illumination throughout the room if I put up a couple of tracks. However, I have never seen or heard of this being done, and don't really know if it's doable/desirable. Any suggestions on whether this would work, or if there are other types of fixtures that might work for this situation? Any ideas are appreciated.
Did you grt any answers ? I have the same dilema. kevinclancy@email.com

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Old 02-27-2008, 11:14 AM   #3
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Did you grt any answers ? I have the same dilema. kevinclancy@email.com
The last basement I did with the same problem, I put flourescent lighting in between the joists, effective but not pretty. I was hoping for an alternative for this project.
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Old 02-27-2008, 11:25 AM   #4
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I didn't get any replies but this is what I'm going to do. I'll tack 2x4s up between the joists so that they're touching the subfl;oor above. I'lll install boxes as needed to these 2x4s for the track lights, and then I'll tack in some more 2x4s between the joists every couple of feet for the length of the track. I'll sheetrock over the 2x4s and then install the tracks against the sheet rock (fastened to 2x4s hidden underneath). Using the short halogen fixtures, I figure that the tip of the lights should come just about even with the bottom of the joists, or maybe an inch or two below. Either way, I think it'll look pretty good and should give the clearance I want. Thoughts?
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Old 02-27-2008, 11:48 AM   #5
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What about wall sconces?
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Old 02-27-2008, 12:03 PM   #6
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Sounds like it will look pretty but how effective will the light be ? Its going to take an awful lot of halogens just for ambient light, and its more labor. I think I'm going to just stick to the fast easy proven way of recessed fluorescent and throw a couple of tracks up over the fire place, book cases and desk for accent lighting.
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Old 02-27-2008, 02:14 PM   #7
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I'll chime in as having the same problem. Currently the basement has Jboxes with old light sockets mounted between the joists. I did have some neon fixtures - took them out first thing - YUCK!

I have been looking around for an attractive alternative to the bare bulbs (and I think I read something about the 2008 NEC not allowing bare bulbs in basements anymore - PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong - I can't find the citation).

Any electricians or contractors care to volunteer what sort of light fixtures they use in unfinished basements? And or where to look. My local big box store doesn't seem to have much of a selection.

LFW
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Old 02-27-2008, 03:56 PM   #8
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That's a good point about whether track lights would give me enough illumination for ambient lighting. I've never worked with track lights before so I'm not sure what I'm getting into. The main room I'm talking about is a 10 x 12 space. I was thinking of putting up two parallel 8-foot tracks, with four fixutres on each track. These would be line voltage tracks with 50 or 75 watt PAR 30 halogen bulbs. I figured if I got the flood bulbs and alternated the angles of the heads I could get decent coverage throughout the room. Am I being too optimisitic? This is certainly more work and its going to use a lot more energy than a couple of fluorescent tubes that could probably light the same space. However, I was really hoping to improve the aesthetics a little bit. What kind of fluorescent fixture are you using and how is it mounted? Is it a fluorescent version of a recessed can light or something else? I've seen some ceiling mounted tube fixtures that might fit between the joists and look ok aesthetically. (Something like this: http://www.seagulllighting.com/59221LE-962.HTML?AltImage=&rotate=0&rotate90=0However, mounting them looks like it would involve the same extra labor that I'm talking about to frame out a space between the joists.
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Old 03-11-2008, 02:03 PM   #9
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I know I am reviving a dead-ish post. this weekend I found a solution I actually like for lighting my unfinished basement! At lowes (I know - I know) I found these exterior lights from Gampak. They are powdercoated (white grey black and some discounted almond) and go together nicely.

I like the industrial - yet polished look - and the have some hella-bright halogen lamps. I am going to replace all my bare bulbs with these fixtures.

it's not the solution for everyone - but I really like how it ended up looking.
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Old 03-11-2008, 03:56 PM   #10
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South Portlander,

I thought of doing the same thing with painting wires/joists/pipes, etc rotating lights, but persisted and found this product, which only adds 1" to the joist profile and gives you a nice finished look, AND with this products choice of translucent plastic panels to install lights behind AND you retain the ability to access the pipes....well, this is the way I am going to go soon. More expensive than paint, I would guess, but easy of install and end result I think will be real nice.

What I am looking for, and what lead me here, is what are the clearance specs for fluorescent lights installed with this application (kind of like troffer lights, I think, but troffers sit on the rails, which is something this system cannot handle) in terms of height and width, and even further than that, insulation clearance specs (I understand IC is what I should be looking for, which mean Insulation Contact).

Last edited by double-0-newb; 03-11-2008 at 04:07 PM.
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Old 03-11-2008, 04:15 PM   #11
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Install the track on the SIDE of the joists so the heads will be flush with the ceiling.
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Old 06-29-2008, 10:36 PM   #12
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Many months later.... Here is what it looks like with everything painted white (I blasted it with a rented sprayer) and track lights between the joists. I never got around to sheetrocking anything. After all, it's just the basement, right? I'm adding some color to the walls and putting down some carpet. Then it'll be pretty much done. I'm pretty happy with how it's coming considering the dungeon that it was before.
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Old 06-29-2008, 10:58 PM   #13
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It looks great!
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Old 01-24-2012, 11:09 AM   #14
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Many months later.... Here is what it looks like with everything painted white (I blasted it with a rented sprayer) and track lights between the joists. I never got around to sheetrocking anything. After all, it's just the basement, right? I'm adding some color to the walls and putting down some carpet. Then it'll be pretty much done. I'm pretty happy with how it's coming considering the dungeon that it was before.
Your basement looks great. We are planning the exact same thing. Where did you get the lights? Which brand/models? Are they all the same? A few look different. Thanks!

Last edited by sjsanford; 01-24-2012 at 11:10 AM. Reason: Correct typo
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Old 01-24-2012, 11:15 AM   #15
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You do know that this thread is over 3 years old.

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