Lighting a basement. Need help

grangermanMay 13, 2009

I have a basement room I am finishing. The room is 18' x 14' two thirds of the room has an 8' high ceiling. one third is 7'high (soffit). Wish to use recessed can lighting. Can use incandescent or fluorescent. I am using accent lighting to highlight a small 24"w x 20"h fireplace. Will also use a track light (3 lights) along the 14' wall to highlight wall pictures. Need suggestions on accent lighting types, but more particularly the recessed lighting size and placement is what I really need help with. The recessed lights will be on two switches so I can section the room into areas (front and back). Hope someone can help me. Thanks, Grangerman

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Here are some shots of my basement that I finished a couple of years ago. I think the key to lighting a basement is to use a combination of uplighting and downlighting. I used wall sconces for uplighting and then used GU-10 pots for downlighting. I also used some low voltage MR-11 spotlights for accent lighting over the movie plaques.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 2:46PM
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Awesome basement! I really like your idea of mixing up/down lighting. It looks as though those GU10 pots provide a decent amount of light. I will check them out. Do you have dimmers on any of your lights? Are those receptacles nights lights as well? Thanks for your input.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 11:12PM
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Yes, all the lights are on dimmer switches. I have them zoned off to 8 dimmer switches in fact. I have 2 banks of 5 switches right next to the door and another bank of 5 switches behind the bar to control the bar specific lights. Needless to say, I have great control over the lights and can adjust the light levels any way I want.

Those are indeed nightlights plugged into the receptacles. They use next to no power and provide a bit of light when the lights are dimmed down or turned off when we watch movies.

The GU-10s put off a nice light and the size looks appropriate for use in a basement. Nothing looks worse to me that those 6 or 8 inch pot lights in a low ceiling. As you may know, the GU-10 bulb is the 120v equivalent to the 12v MR-16. I went with line voltage GU-10s to avoid transformers and expensive dimmer switches.

As far as spacing goes, I found that with the uplighting that the wall sconces provide, I didn't need to put tons of pot lights in to cover every square inch of floor area. Instead, I put fewer pots in and they provide a dramatic look.

Here are some pics that really show the lighting well when the room was still empty:

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 6:16AM
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Sea Dragon, Thank you for the photos that can be used to explain GU10s. The last two photos of the empty room with the GU10 lamps aimed at the wall are a good example of the hot spot and striation issues. A quality 12V lamp produces a more even beam of light due to the more precisely controlled filament and reflector arrangement.

The question of which to use, partly based on cost, has come up before. Your choice may be OK for basement rec room movie posters but would not be good for display of art. There are lenses available to smooth the beam of light some.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 10:46AM
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I should clarify...

The lights aimed at the wall are not GU-10s. They are low voltage fixtures with MR-11 bulbs. The GU-10s are the flush mounted pots that are aimed at the floor.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 10:50AM
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So what's up with the MR11's then? Is that reflection from a trim ring? Can you take a close up of a fixture?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 12:53AM
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Here is a link that shows the exact light that I'm using for the walls:

There is no trim ring and the bulb sits exposed. These fixtures came with the bulb so I'm sure the bulb quality isn't the best.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 6:11AM
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