I will be putting in a lot of can incandescent lights into my basement.
Are there any dimmer switches available that I can use that can handle
more that 600W total? I would like to get more than 8 lights per
switch. What's out there?
With that much light you may want to rethink the incandescent can thing
as it will be pretty expensive if you have them on a lot. Recessed cans
are also a pretty poor way to light an area unless it has a fairly high
ceiling which basements typically don't.
With a low ceiling and a lot of recessed cans you get a bunch of spots
of light on the floor with dim spots between them and very little light
on the walls or ceiling, making the room seem dark even though you have
a couple kilowatts of light.
Bi-directional wall sconces (up/down) and / or soffit / cove lighting
combined with specific area lighting such as floor lamps in a reading
area or an overhead light over a pool table will give much better
results and overall room feel.
In theory yes, in practice, not really. Look at the beam angle specs for
the fixture and translate that to the spot size on the floor for the
given ceiling height.
You can of course adjust the lamp position in the fixture lower to get
more beam spread, but by the time you get a decent spread from a low
ceiling the lamp isn't very recessed any more and you still haven't
solved the dark walls and ceiling issue.
Light colored walls and ceiling with wall sconce light washing the walls
and ceiling combined with task lighting produce a much lighter overall
feel and use less energy as well.
I've seen plenty of basements done with recessed cans and all felt dark
and cramped despite the high wattage in use. I've seen other basements
done as I noted and they felt much lighter and more open despite using
significantly less wattage.
Everyone should check out www.lightingplans.com for some *basic*
They have example plans and good descriptions of the most basic
lighting design concepts.
Richard Reid, LC
Pete C. wrote:
I don't know the size of the area in question or its intended use, but
thirty 75-watt fixtures strikes me as a whole lot of light AND
heat.... 2,250 watts at full load. Is that amount of heat likely to
cause any thermal discomfort?
Recessed lighting can provide big punches of light that, if done
correctly, can add considerable drama to any room. But having
installed a large number of these fixtures throughout my home, I find
I seldom use them. I've pretty much gone back to using table lamps
equipped with good quality CFLs because of their softer, more
home-like light and significant energy savings. If I were to do it
all over again, I would go with far fewer recessed fixtures
strategically placed to highlight key focal points, i.e., a painting,
piece of furniture or some architectural feature in the room.
Right, people tend to go overboard with recessed cans since they are
cheap and unobtrusive, unfortunately they rarely spend any time looking
at specs and coming up with an actual lighting plan. Ultimately, unless
you have 15'+ ceilings, recessed lighting is really task lighting, not
Do you really need "dimmable" lighting ?
How about selected groups on separate switches.
While you're at it, DO consider compact flourescant bulbs.
( 25 watts = 100 watts worth of light output )
The GE brand sold at WalMart give excellent results.
Walmart has committed to selling 100 million CFL bulbs per year. They are
promoting and price-cutting something fierce. GE and other makers of
old-fashioned incandescent bulbs are not pleased.
See today's NY Times:
I bought a bunch about a month ago. I liked the reasonably normal
shape of Walmart**, at 10 dollars for 4 60Watt-EQuivalent, but HD was
even cheaper at 10 dollars for 6 60WE. I didn't like the coiled shape
of HD, but they are now short enough to go in my 6 inch spheres, where
the coil is not really visible anyway.
**I avoid walmart, but I was already there. I was going to every store
in town looking for the perfect Shop-Vac. Looking for something about
5 gallons, it seems that no two companies sell the same model. Target,
Lowes, Sears, Walmart, PepBoys all had different sizes with different
size motors and different features from the other stores. No
repetition. I know this sort of thing is done, but to this degree, it
was quite amazing. I ended up going with PepBoys, which was the most
expensive, but had the biggest motor (intended for cleaning the
furnace) and a built in handle (one other store just had indentations
so one really needed two hands) and other stuff. 10 dollars more
expensive. PepBoys only had one and might have been out of them.
I'm thinking about going with some type of low profile surface mount
fixtures instead of using can lights. With this type of light, I think
I can greatly reduce the number of lights I will need to nicely light
the room. Probably down to about 10 lights max. Wall sconces would
have been a neat idea but drywall is already up and not coming down to
run more wiring.
Anybody have any recommendations for some nice low profile surface
mount fixtures (attached to joints but sit on lower furface of ceiling
tiles)? Fixtures that can take CFLs would be nice as an option but not
You've raised a couple of good points. In my family room, I have
fourteen 100-watt halogen IR PAR38 lamps on five independently
switched runs, each with its own programmable dimmer. I seldom turn
on more than one or two sets of lights at a time, and when I do,
they're always at full power. Flexible switching, as it turns out, is
a lot more useful to me then dimming and, in hindsight, a simple
on-off switch would have done the job just as well.
I ended up removing the halogen lamps and dimmers from my kitchen, den
and various parts of my house to put in these:
I believe these lamps are rebranded MaxLites but I'm not absolutely
I've been using the 3,500K version indoors and the 5,000K outdoors.
Excellent performers all around. I especially like the fact that they
look exactly like a standard halogens with their flat glass face.
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