Choosing the Best Lights for Your Basement

Unless your basement has a big window and a few doors, there’s a pretty good chance that it receives little-to-no natural light daily. With that being said, many are taking advantage of the space because they’re finding it useful for many different things.


Whether you plan to change it into your personal office, a gym to use on your off days, a playroom for your kids or a place to do arts and crafts, it’s important that you get the correct lighting so that you can maximize its potential. Remember, just because it’s a basement, that doesn’t mean it needs to feel dark and damp. This is a guide to choosing the best lights so that your basement can thrive.


What’s the best way to light a basement?

The most important thing to do at the beginning of this project, or any project for that matter, is to ensure that you have enough outlets installed before closing any walls so you don’t have to rip it back down again. According to HGTV, you should focus on general, all-over lighting, which is best achieved through recessed ceiling cans as long as the ceiling height is 7’6”, or preferably 8’ high.


What you want to do next is space the cans 8’ to 10’ apart, depending on size and function. The goal is to have even lighting throughout the basement rather than having some bright areas and some dark. By going with reflector bulbs with a flood beam spread, you will have broad light distribution, and your basement will be lit everywhere.


Besides the aforementioned recessed ceiling cans, there are other (albeit smaller) ways to maximize the amount of lighting in your room. Other things in the room like mirrors, metallic accents, and shiny floors are great ways to reflect light.  Depending on the color of the basement, that can help reflect light as well. If it’s a light color, it’ll not only reflect light, but it’ll make the room seem bigger too.


Adding more light to enhance your basement

Just like the rest of your house, the basement’s lights should be layered. That means the ambient lighting should be augmented by task lighting and accent lighting. Pendants are a great source of task lighting, as they are lighting fixtures that drop from the ceiling and hover over an area that needs illumination.


Even though they may seem only useful for lighting up a pool table, dining table or desk, their sculptural shapes and glowing colors help define the space around them. A great function of the pendant lighting is that it offers things like focused task lighting, overall ambient lighting and color accent lighting, giving the homeowner a variety of options to choose from.


Adding accent lighting is extremely helpful in a basement where you want to highlight a specific object. Whether it’s a piece of art, or you want to light a specific hallway, it helps to create visual interest in a room. When you mix the recessed ceilings cans along with the pendant and accent lighting, you can truly help brighten your basement area.


If you’re like many other homeowners around the country who have support beams in your basement, it’s time to use them to your advantage. You may not realize this, but support beams run the length of the room, which means that it can be effectively used to run your basement’s lighting. You can weld or mount light fixtures to the beams, or you can use it to create a drop ceiling. You have so many different ways you can illuminate your basement. Take full advantage of it.


Other forms of lighting that are an option

Besides your basic recessed ceiling can and pendant lights, homeowners have several different lighting options they should consider before running out and buying anything. Track lighting is a great option for those who need something easy. It’s easy to install, it doesn’t take up floor or wall space and it’s extremely flexible.


Many track lighting systems combine both spot fixtures and pendant/flood fixtures in order to provide ambient and accent lighting.  If you ever want to rearrange your basement’s furniture or the design itself, track lighting allows you to change the lighting in the room easily without having to actually change the fixtures. Its flexibility gives the homeowner the opportunity to make changes without having to worry about paying for a new lighting system.


If you don’t want a pendant light hanging over your bar or pool table, homeowners can consider installing recessed miniature can lights. They are the exact same style as the regular recessed can light, minus the size, and have the same effect as the pendant lights. These lights can help show the vibrancy of your wood cabinetry and granite countertops. The best part? You can put a set of lights on a separate dimmer strip, allowing you to put on the specific amount of light you feel necessary to create the perfect ambiance.  


If you really want to think outside of the box and go for something cool, installing a fake lighted window is an option to brighten your basement. All that needs to be done is the frame needs to be placed and the “window” opening needs to be trimmed. The concrete wall behind it should be painted reflective white, and several inexpensive fluorescent fixtures should be mounted on the wall and equipped with daylight-spectrum bulbs. Adding this design, along with a recessed can fixture and a desk lamp will be plenty of light.   


What type of bulb is best for basement lighting?

HGTV came up with a guide that helps homeowners try and decipher which light bulbs they should be picking for their basement and why. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs) are your best bet when it comes to installing overhead lights. What makes them so great is that they produce an extraordinary amount of light while consuming little energy and giving off less heat than the traditional incandescent bulb.


CFL and LED lights are also better in the long run. Incandescent lights only last an average of 1,200 hours, whereas CFL lights last 8,000 hours and LED lights last 25,000. Not only are you getting more life out of the bulbs, but you also aren’t running to the store more often and spending money. Over a span of 25,000 hours, you would need to buy 21 incandescent light bulbs to get the job done when you could’ve just bought three CFL or one LED light. It’s truly a no-brainer.


The average cost of a 60-Watt incandescent bulb is around $1, and a 14-Watt CFL bulb goes for nearly $2 and a 7-Watt LED bulb goes for $4. Why spend $23 on incandescent bulbs when you can spend $6 on CFLs or $4 on an LED bulb and get the same results?


Lighting your basement can be an extremely tough challenge, which is why it’s worth giving Tandem Contracting a call. Our team of skilled, experienced professionals allows us to provide you with the service of giving your basement the lighting it deserves. If you’re ready to get started, get in touch with us. For a quote, call us at 973-864-3100 or fill out our online contact form.

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