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nthomp16 02-13-2008 10:22 AM

Recessed Lights for Basement
I am about to start finishing my basement and wondered if there is any formula for the number of recessed lights recommended for specific square feet. I relaize this is somewhat subjective, but don't want to end up wishing later I had added more.

borninpa 02-13-2008 11:09 AM

recessed light spacing guidelines
The general rule of thump is that when using downlighting flood lights, you should space the lights the same length apart as they are high. So if they are 8' high from the space they are lighting (floor?), then they can be placed about 8' apart (maximum). I generally space a little closer for better light and the flexibility to use lower watt bulb if I want.

Here is a general guideline from

  • For downlighting with incandescent flood light bulbs your spacing should vary between 3/4:1 to a maximum of 1:1, the first number being the spacing in relation to the second number which is the height of the ceiling from the level that matters. The level that matters might be the kitchen counter, or it may be the living room floor.
  • For downlighting with halogen flood lights the spacing ratios should vary between 1/2:1 to a maximum of 3/4:1.
  • For wallwashing you want the distance between the lights, and the distance between the lights and the wall to be equal to 1/4 of the height of the wall, also you're going to want to aim the lights 1/4 the way down the wall.
  • for grazing you want the lights to be from 6-12" away from the wall, and about 12-18" between lights.
  • For highlighting paintings you want to use a ratio of about 2/3:1, with the second number representing the distance from the center of the painting to the ceiling, and the first number is the distance between light and wall.
  • For highlighting three dimensional pieces of art, like a statue you would use the same 2/3:1 ratio, but you would need to hit it with multiple directions about 18" between lights.

jcalvin 02-13-2008 03:54 PM

As an electrician we always to people that it is easier to turn off a light than it is to add another one. If you put in x amount off lights and they are too bright, you can either prewire for additional switches so you can turn certain ones off or just drop the wattage in the lightbulbs you are using.

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