How many recessed lights do you need for your finished basement? That's what you're wondering. Right?
I thought about scouring the internet for that perfect illumination calculator that GE probably built. I'm sure it has some crazy complicated math that hinges on the light spectrum, what phase the moon is in and the color your eyes… but then I thought, "F" that.
I'm going to shoot a video of me, walking around my basement, showing you how many recessed lights I put in and where I put them and then I'm going to give you 5 awesome tips to help you finish your basement with recessed lighting.
Here's the video
The truth is that there is no universal basement lighting truth. Everybody has an opinion and to a degree they're all kind of right.
So please allow me to sprinkle some of my insights into your basement dreams and desires (in regards to lighting). These aren't the end all be all - these are just 5 rules of thumb to consider when designing your lighting. If you follow these, you'll be pretty happy with how things turn out.
When in Doubt - Add an Extra Light
Basements are dark. Even though it may seem like 5 lights should be plenty, one extra is probably the right answer.
Yes, that means another $25 or so worth of lighting material. Yes, that means one more pot light to wire. But you'll thank me later.
Think in Terms of Rooms
When trying to decide where the light switch for a set of lights should go think about the "room". Even if it's a big open space (like mine) you have to imagine each section of that space as a room.
Once you've done that you can say to yourself "If I was going to walk in this "room" to watch TV where would I want the light switch?"
Divide A Room By Task
For my workshop I have two distinct areas in a single room. The workbench and then the rest of the room. The work bench has its own switch, separate from the other area.
If one room as two distinct tasks then give them their own lights and light switch. Think dart boards, foosball table, air hockey, pool table, etc.
I Love Surprises...NOT!
If you want your basement to feel natural, comfortable and a part of the house, then try not to surprise people.
Install a switch near the entrance of the basement that will illuminate the entire basement just enough so someone can see what they're walking into. Don't make me walk in the dark to get to that next room.
Oh, and don't get cute and put a switch really high on the wall or 4 feet away from the door. Measure the height of the switch in your house and not how far away they are from the door. Do the same in your basement.
With LED light bulbs and timers you can basically set it and forget it. Plan on incorporating some cool or wacky lighting into your plan. It doesn't have to be switched.
You don't want to just have a bunch of boring ceiling lights. Plan for some light to be at eye level. Pre-plan a plug-in the ceiling so you can have lighting behind some crown molding.
For my basement I installed a light in the art niche and plug-in light above the Foosball table. I also pre-installed a switched plug-in the ceiling of the family room for some up lighting in the crown molding.
So, was the video helpful?
What other cool lighting ideas am I forgetting? Do you have any questions or suggestions for additional content? Leave a message in the comments below. Remember, this is a basement, it's okay to get a crazy.
More Lighting Brilliance:
- How to install recessed lighting - it's not as bad as you think
- LED light bulbs and lighting kits - How you can save $700 or more
- Wiring a basement - Everything I know and have written down
- An entire book on Basement Finishing + Free Bonus Design Files.