Because I want to add around 10 to 12 of them and don't want to be
spending all day long in the basement!
I plan to use big compact fluorescents (40W each). Just a simple
screw-in bulb holder that screws directly onto the floor joists. Just
want something simple to wire.
Well, back in the stone age, for unfinished basements, we used 4" octagon
boxes with nailer tabs or the expanding bracket that fits between 2 joists,
and porcelain bases, either unswitched for the spots controlled by the
stairway switch, or pull-chain elsewhere. Can't get much cheaper or quicker
than that. I presume they are still legal. Other alternative, if basement
may ever be finished, is to tack up 'new work' high-hat can fixtures,
leaving enough slack in the feeds so they can be moved around a little if
needed to accommodate a drop ceiling.
Speaking as a 6'+ person, make sure you mount them so low point of the bulb
is at least 6'-6" off the floor. The price of CFs versus vanilla
incandescent may make wire-cage fixtures worthwhile, at least for locations
with kids or supplies being carried around. Bad enough when you bust a
vanilla bulb with the end of a 2x4, but a five-dollar bulb hurts. Make sure
you Google or check the DIY book for instructions about how to string the
wires to code. (ie, not stapled to bottom of joists, don't notch joists,
drill a hole at centerline, etc.)
When I did my basement over, I put in 1X4 flourescent lighting that fit
in between the floor joists. They are something for you to consider if
you ever decide to finish your basement and close the ceiling. Plus
they don't steal any headroom.
OK, you want to save a couple of hours in the basement today so you are
willing to utilize crappy lighting for then next 20 years?
The right way is to determine the lighting needs first, consider future
use, then do the install. With the proper choice of fixtures, you may not
need 10 to 12 of them, but perhaps only three or four.
You didn't post the dimensions of your basement or where you would be
getting your feed from, but if you are looking to save labor you might be
better off installing some brighter light fixtures than a compact
Installing 6 - 4' two lamp fluorescent channel fixtures would give you more
light over a wider area and would have less labor than 12 porcelain sockets.
You have to take into consideration the going up and down on the ladder,
moving from one location to another, running cable, drilling holes in
joists, stapling the cable, installing a connector, grounding the box or
fixture, making splices and so forth. All of those little tasks add up to a
lot of time.
You would also save money on wire and electrical boxes. The two lamp
fluorescent channel fixtures with a magnetic T12 ballast can be bought at
Home Depot for around the same price as two compact fluorescent lamps. The
electronic ballast will be more money of course.
Thanks for all the help, I will certainly think about what you all
said, The basement is 70' x 30', and there is a pre-wired fluorescent
run with 3 double 4' tubes, but none of them work and I don't like the
hospital white color anyway, the CFs are much more pleasing to the eyes
(I have serious issues with flickering too).
Personally, I'd rip out the old fluorescent fixtures and replace them with a
fixture that has an electronic ballast and uses T12 bulbs. Startup is
instantaneous, flicker is on par with CF ballasts (and I too hate the "strobe
light" effect of the old magnetic ballasts), and you can pick the color
temperature of your bulbs to suit your fancy.
Yet another plus is you can probably get by with using your old wiring.
For some applications, good quality magnetic ballasts might be better.
But for this, installing an electronic ballast will allow you to use
F32T8 lamps, which are cheaper and better than standard T12 lamps, and
they are usually quieter.
(Well, 25W F40T12-SHOPLITE lamps and some of the 36W F40T12 "wattmiser"
lamps are a little cheaper than F32T8's but they are dim, they flicker,
they don't maintain luminence very well, are hard to start when cold,
and just basically suck)
Expect to pay about $20 for an electronic ballast, and make sure you get
one for the right supply voltage (120V, not 277V) and the right number
of lamps. You should be able to connect the new ballast to the old
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