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Basement Lighting Options

Mix and Match Fixture Styles and Bulbs for the Perfect Lighting Solution

Basements don't offer much in the way of natural light, and the lighting that's installed throughout the rest of the house – usually overhead fixtures and lamps – won't necessarily work for the basement. When it comes to illuminating the basement, then, you'll need to consider some other options.

Types of Basement Lighting

For smaller basements, experts recommend light aimed upwards toward the ceiling. A more expansive basement, however, should be lit from above. Keep that in mind as you read the following descriptions of popular basement lighting styles: Recessed Lighting: Recessed lights, which are flush mounted on the ceiling, provide a basement with a clean, modern look. They're also a great option for basements with minimal ceiling space. Hundreds of recessed light fixture sizes and colors are available.

Track Lighting: With very little electrical work needed in the ceiling – meaning lower labor costs for the homeowner – track lighting is a great budget option. These systems are also versatile, as you can move lights along the track, dim (or brighten) them, and swivel the heads 360 degrees. Many come with spot lighting as well as accent lighting.

Soffit Lighting: Many homeowners choose to install soffit lights as a form of ambient lighting (they shine up at the ceiling), but recessed lights that shine down can also be added to a soffit. In either case, your basement needs to have soffits (they can be constructed, but this is generally quite expensive). The brightness of soffit lights and their color can have a strong influence of the room's atmosphere.

Wall Mount Sconces: While not useful for lighting an entire basement, sconce lights add excellent secondary and/or accent lighting. Use them to bring an area of the room or an object into focus. Wall sconces are sold in a huge range of styles, from an antique-looking stationary gas lamp look to modern metallic swiveling fixtures.

Lighting Considerations

In many cases, more than one lighting style is needed for a basement. For example, you might use soffit lighting to provide the room with a warm, inviting background and recessed lights to illuminate more commonly-used basement areas, such as a coffee table or television.

The type of light bulbs used in fixtures is an equally important lighting consideration. There are many shades of light, including warm, soft light bulbs to cool, bright lights, and everything in between. Different hues are also available for decorative purposes. Eco-friendly and energy-efficient bulbs are now widely sold for all manners of lighting.

Basement Lighting Costs

The cost of hiring a professional to install basement lighting varies according to the area of the country you live in (because each state has its own licensing and registration procedures for electricians, different rates are charged in different states). Please also note that the prices described below assume that there are several electrical junction boxes in the basement ceiling to tie into. If this isn't the case, or the installation proves to be exceptionally difficult for another reason, costs can rise significantly.
  • Average-quality recessed lighting costs $200 to $250 per light, including installation. Purchasing high-end recessed lights can easily double these costs.
  • Track lighting costs $200 to $400 per unit with installation, depending on the model selected and the difficulty of installation.
  • Soffit lighting might cost $20 to $30 per foot of soffit, including soffit construction and light installation. If the basement already has soffits, lighting can be installed for $200 to $300 per fixture.
  • Wall mount sconces typically cost $200 to $400 apiece, including installation. As with recessed lighting, costlier high-end options are available.

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