Basement Lighting Recommendations -Can Lights in Drop Ceiling


I'm finishing about 1300 square feet of my basement. I plan on putting in a drop ceiling with can lights.
I was thinking about spacing the 6-inch cans about 6 feet apart. Is that too close? That's a lot of lights (roughly 36) which seems like too much to me. Any thoughts/recommendations? Assuming 75W lights (total of 2700W), I'll probably need two or three separate 15A circuits for them as well, correct?
Another option is flourescent but I'm not sure I want to go that route. Doesn't look that nice and placement is not as flexible.
Thanks, Kevin
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snipped-for-privacy@blah.com wrote:

Depends on what you want/intend to use the room for. I did recessed in the basement initially and thought the same thing -- seemed like far more than should be necessary so cut back. Big mistake! The actually lighting effectiveness of the recessed fixtures is really not good so if you want good illumination for activities that need it, you want to go more rather than less. If they're only 75W each, definitely need that. I'd place them on separate circuits for area control depending on the area's intended use. A total of 12-1400 W per 15A circuit keeps you at the roughly 80% load range which isn't a bad target.
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A lot of people (including me) are buying flourescent for their canned lighting these days. Works well but takes a few minutes to get fully bright. But canned lighting does not go very far. You want the basement to be bright and cheerful. We went with recessed panel flourescents in our finished basement and haven't regretted it.

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snipped-for-privacy@blah.com wrote:

Don't pull something out of your butt (or someone else's) for something like this. Google for "lighting level calculations" to use some tools to properly determine your required fixture density for the lighting level that you want.
BRW
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I guess it depends on what you want to use the basement for and what your definition of "bright" is. The setup you suggest (36 x 75w bulbs) is going to be factory bright. In my 720 sq ft. basement I did the same thing (drop ceiling, 6-in. cans) for two rooms (home theater and bedroom). I used 12 cans with 50w mini-floods (you see them mostly in track lighting) and we like it fine. Six of the cans shine straight down on the floor for areas where you need to see your footing (stair landings and doors), and the rest are eyeballs that we put about 1 ft. from the wall and trained on the walls to diffuse the light and highlight wall hangings. Using that few places a couple areas in shadow but that was the effect we wanted, and we supplement the ceiling lamps with a couple of table lamps as needed for reading.
Whether it's too bright or not will also depend on the wall and floor colors. We used tongue-in-groove pine paneling on the walls with clear urethane and medium green w2w carpet, and the amount of light is just right. With off-white drywall walls and lighter carpeting or tile, we'd probably replace the bulbs with weaker ones.
One note about fluorescent: Just for grins I replaced one of the 50w eyeballs with a 14w fluorescent bulb. The fluorescent bulb is way, way brighter, almost painfully bright in comparison with the mini-flood.
Good luck with your project! John in MD

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GREAT FEEDBACK.
I will be using pine plank paneling too and I was concerned that, because the walls won't be bright, that I would have an even bigger lighting problem. I like your ideas with the eyeballs. I will get look for more online lighting calculators as mentioned above but I'll use your 60 sq. ft. per light as a starting point. Lamps and other fixture that are on tables and things will also provide illumination. We'll have a light colored carpet for sure.
Also, to make the drop in ceiling as small as possible, I think I'll be using this system to mount my ceiling tiles : http://www.kensa.com /
We will mainly be using the basement for parties and entertaining.
Thanks, Kevin
JP wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@blah.com wrote:

Remember that the ceiling height will likely be less than in most rooms, especially after you drop the ceiling. That means the pool of light from the fixtures will be a lot smaller than you might think. Also since all the light is down light any spot not covered by a light is going to be rather dark and those areas only covered by one are likely to have some strong shadows.
--
Joseph Meehan

Dia \'s Muire duit
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" snipped-for-privacy@blah.com" wrote:

Cans usually don't work real well in basements due to the typical low ceiling. Look in the lighting literature for the beam angle of the cans and plot that out based on ceiling height. Typically you get a bunch of bright polka dots on the floor with dark spaces in between.
My recommendation would be to do an uplight soffit around the perimeter and any other convenient areas with 4' T8 fluorescent strips in the soffit. Bounce all the light off the white ceiling tiles and you'll get a much more even light. They even make an offset double lamp fluorescent fixture for this type of use, offsetting the tubes by like 6" means there are no gaps in the light coverage.
Pete C.
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I was at somebody's house yesterday. They had can lights in their basement ceiling tiles. It looked like the curvature/body of the bulbs protruded past the trim slightly below the plane of the ceiling tiles which allowed the light to spread at a much wider angle than most other recessed lights I have seen.
Any idea what that set-up is? Are the bulbs, the trim, or the housings different?
I think I want that style for my basement since the ceiling is relatively low.
Thanks, Kevin
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There are dozens of manufacturers of can lights, and each makes at least 100 different fixtures. Generalizations about can lights are dangerous!
That said what you saw is likely a couple of things: 1. The bulb, the reflector flood style bulbs (coded BR75/FL for a 75W version,) have a very wide field (~80deg.) and are often set in an "open ring" trim just as you describe. The down side is that they can easily be too bright and glare blindingly. They are also fairly inefficient.
2. A decorative trim that mounts to a normal can. Some just look like a miniature ceiling fixture.
3. A decorative add-on to a normal trim. These can be quite wild, with rings, spokes, deeply colored glass accents, etc..
Richard Reid, LC
snipped-for-privacy@blah.com wrote:

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Hi Kevin,
Just to add to Richard's comments... some recessed fixtures allow you to adjust the position of the socket within the housing. By lowering the socket, the bulb can be brought closer to the trim or even extend past it. However, as Richard noted, this can result in considerable glare and visual "hot spots".
For this type of fixture, I would recommend PAR type halogen lamps over incandescent reflectors (e.g., a PAR38 versus a BR40). PAR lamps are more energy efficient, offer longer service life and provide a cleaner, crisper, white light. They come in various beam spreads, i.e., "spot"", "narrow flood", "flood" and "wide/extra wide flood", generally 10, 25, 40 and 65 degrees, respectively. For maximum light distribution, select the widest flood available.
I should also note there are compact fluorescent PAR and reflector style bulbs available, including a few that work with standard incandescent dimmers. A compact fluorescent PAR lamp will provide two to four times more light, watt for watt, than its halogen equivalent and four to six times that of a BR or incandescent reflector.
Cheers, Paul

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